Using Strobes to Enhance Your Lighting

Settings for photo above: [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/6, ƒ/9, (35mm = 24)]

I shoot a lot in restaurants. The hardest part for these photo shoots is that there are four walls and three of them are all glass. Just the front counter isn’t backlit during the daytime hours.

Dining Room [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/160, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

I love to hang strobes from the drop ceilings using a bracket.

Not the light I use but same bracket

I just used the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL Battery-Powered Monolight as a bare bulb and point the light straight up.

That lets me keep the outside windows from being blown out in the background and gives me most of the time great light on people’s faces.

Dining Room [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 24)]

The light from the window is lighting the employee and the strobe in the ceiling is lighting the customer in this photo.

The other great thing using this setup is the strobes are battery powered and so there are no cords. I am just adjusting the power with the Godox X1T-N TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter.

Godox X1T-N TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter

I could change the power of the lights even tho they were mounted on the ceiling away from the camera. I first check to see what the existing light settings would be and then set the camera to use that ISO and settings so that the flash is just cleaning up the light and where there are shadows [like the man’s face would have been] are no longer silhouettes.

[NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Manual, ISO 100, 1/6, ƒ/9, (35mm = 24)]

Now to get the photo like the one here and the very top photo, I just slowed the shutter speed to 1/6 and cranked the aperture up to ƒ/9 and ISO 100. The flash is on the ceiling as I mentioned and since it is TTL it just popped in to get a clean light on the face and then me panning blurred the rest of the photo.

Dining Room [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/125, ƒ/4, (35mm = 75)]

Just get the flash off the camera is the best tip I can give. Try the mounting of the flash to the ceiling rather than on a light stand.

Try some experimenting. You don’t always shoot the lowest ISO and at the flash sync speed when shooting with the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 HSS TTL Battery-Powered Monolight.

Dining Room [NIKON Z 6, 24.0-105.0 mm f/4.0, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1000, 1/320, ƒ/4, (35mm = 52)]

New brick background for that location feel

If you don’t have a good headshot, you need one in today’s business world. For actors they need them for all the shows they are in. For the average person you need one as part of your resume, which many use LinkedIn as the way to deliver a resume.

I have steered away from picture backgrounds, because they can look really fake. However, recently more and more people want photos outside on location.

Katie King [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 85)]

So while the traditional solid background works for inside portraits, outside portraits on weather challenging days is difficult to do with your model.

Bought this on Amazon. Click on image for more information.
[SM-G970U, Mode = Normal, ISO 640, 1/39, ƒ/1.5, (35mm = 26)]

So this is the setup I was using to do actor headshots at Columbus State University in Columbus, Georgia.

Photo by Dorie Griggs [SM-G970U, Mode = Normal, ISO 640, 1/29, ƒ/2.2, (35mm = 13)]

Before I shot the models with it on location, I did some testing in my house.

Photo by Dorie Griggs [SM-G970U, , Mode = Normal, ISO 320, 1/39, ƒ/2.4, (35mm = 26)]

I tried a few lighting setups. I went with the Pall Buff 86” Soft Silver PLM™ Umbrella. It produces a controlled, feathered falloff with very soft shadows.

Photo by Dorie Griggs [SM-G970U, , Mode = Normal, ISO 1250, 1/9, ƒ/2.2, (35mm = 13)]

I had two setups. One with a large white muslin background that I could make grey or white depending on the light I put on the background.

Katie King [NIKON Z 6, 85.0 mm f/1.8, Mode = Manual, ISO 50, 1/125, ƒ/4.5, (35mm = 85)]

Here is a video my wife took when I was shooting my daughter on the brick background.

Here are some of those photos:

I did less coaching with Chelle since she has done this many times before she needed no real direction. For others who are doing this for the first time I did more direction.

I shot with my Nikon Z6 with the focus setting on AF-S and Auto Area with the AF face/eye detection turned on. If you use the Nikon ViewNX-i software it will let you see where you were focused when the photo was taken as you can see here. This is great for trouble shooting your focus.

I find that actors/models love having the freedom to try new expressions and just experiment.

This was the setup I finally used after experimenting.