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Dipping My Toes Into Studio Lighting>>>>>>

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Back in June, I mentioned that I signed up for online training at – I did a review of the online video training I had taken so far.  The training courses aren’t JUST Photoshop related – there’s all sorts of tutorials and training video segments on photography related topics.  Several of the segments deal with topics related to “studio lighting” – strobes, off-camera set ups, studio set up, etc. These are areas I’m weak in, because the type of macro/product photography I do in the luxury watch industry has lighting needs which vary greatly from what you would find in a traditional photographer’s studio.  Here’s an article I did on my watch photography “studio.”

I’ve always had a desire to learn more about studio lighting, as well as location lighting.  But lighting equipment is expensive.  And there’s a strong learning curve involved as well.  And since my paid work has always kept me pretty busy, I’ve sort of ignored learning about studio lighting and developing my skills.  But I’m determined to rectify that.

The first place I decided to start with equipment was remote triggers – used to wirelessly fire your lightsource (whether it be a flash, strobe, etc.).  The Pocket Wizard system is, by all accounts, the standard by which all other trigger systems are judged.  They’re also hideously expensive.  However, I found an open box deal from a Pocket Wizard authorized dealer, and bought some display models – a MiniTT1 transmitter which mounts on the camera:

Stock Photo From Pocket Wizard

Stock Photo From Pocket Wizard

…and two Flex TT5’s which mount on the light source:

Stock Photo From Pocket Wizard

In addition to the triggers, I ordered a couple of umbrellas and umbrella shoe mount clamps, a light stand, and a couple of other odds and ends – grand total just over $700.00…yikes!

My plan is to play around with this equipment and my existing flash guns, try to gain some mastery over it, and figure out a way to make money with it.  🙂  In particular, I want to experiment with using it for watch photography to see if I can get some new and interesting lighting effects.  I’ll slowly start adding more equipment – strobes, (I’d like to get a primary and a hair light to start) backgrounds, background supports, and MAYBE even some sort of a power pack for making the gear portable.

In researching this gear, I’ve run across several online resources which are valuable for both learning more about lighting, as well as helping to figure out all the equipment – what you need and what you don’t.

-The Strobist Blog site and their Flickr discussion group is a great source of information. is also a great site, with some great articles, and video tutorials.  David Griffin a.k.a. the “prince of cheap” is a contributor, and has some fantastic product reviews on cheap lighting solutions.

CowboyStudio is a fantastic supplier of low-cost studio gear.  Not high-end solutions, but a great starting point when trying to put together a studio on a budget.

Look for future installments here on ThruMyLens with some photos from my new set up!

About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of, as well as and *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

  1. Tom Barry says:

    Sounds like a plan, John. I have Novatron studio strobes and umbrellas, reflectors,gobos, etc., etc., and still use them sometimes. But I long ago realized that I primarily am a natural-light photographer, so I usually use shoe-mount flashes off-camera as fill or supplemental lights, even for portraits. I expect my existing strobes will see me through the rest of my days!


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