Sara B. ©Kirk Tuck
As most of my blog readers know I've been more or less immersed in the use of continuous lighting for portrait work over the last few years. It's a practice I started back when I was working on a book about LED lighting back in 2009-2010. Recently, I've had to travel more often to light and shoot both video and photographs and it's been a challenge to figure out how to pack to get the most bang per ounce across both media.
I recently bought bunch of Godox small flashes because they pack down so well and require fewer light stands on which to hang light modifiers, etc. I think the traditional flash equipment that I used for decades (mono lights, pack and head strobes) are now mostly obsolete for most working photographers (with exceptions) who need
to pack and travel with less staff (or none) and under the thumb of airline baggage limitations. With better camera sensors and ever changing styles the smaller flashes seem to provide all the power I usually need along with the portability that has always been their promise.
But any time a photographer changes methods it's a good idea to take some time to go through the process of setting up and working with the lights and modifiers and generally shake out the procedures to make sure everything works they way you might want it to.
When one of my favorite actors, Sara B., called and asked if I'd create a new headshot for her I was pretty happy. It was the perfect chance to test out the new Godox AD200, along with several of the Godox V850 (lithium battery powered) flashes, along with the FT-16s flash trigger.
The lighting was pretty simple. I used the AD200 with its fresnel head over to Sara's left (right side of frame) and pushed its light through a 4x6 foot Lastolite panel with two stop diffusion on it. I used one of the V850s in a big white umbrella, and at a much lower power, to provide a more active fill than I have been using. There is a second V850 in a small softbox aimed at the gray seamless background.
Finally, there is one more Godox flash on a high stand bouncing out of a Rogue Flashbender as a very, very subtle hair light.
I usually use a shooting table to give my subjects a place to rest their hands and give them some welcome stability; it's also a good platform on which to place a white board to act as a small bit of fill under their chins. I love my shooting table. I've had it around for a long time and it's a great tool for helping to position people into flattering poses and, being able to lean on it provides a more comfortable way of being photographed.
Here's what I use:
I've still got some fine-tuning to do. The AD200 needs a better mounting mechanism. If you have one and you've tamed it well I'd love to hear about your adaptation. As far as performance goes the light pumped out 400+ images at half power and still showed three of five bars left for the battery. It's really pretty darn good.
The Godox V850 lights are stereotypical top-of-the-camera flashes that have two nice features: they use their own lithium battery packs that go on seemingly forever and, they have an inexpensive but very reliable radio flash trigger. I was counting on the V850 that was doing duty as a fill light to trigger the AD200 (not the same radio trigger frequency) via its optical slave, and that worked fine.
All of the flashes triggered flawlessly and, in a studio with lots of daylight flowing in and bouncing around I did not miss not having modeling lights at all. I've set up shots like this one so often that I should be able to figure out where to put the lights.
Most of my images from my shoot with Sara were done with a Sony a7ii coupled to a 70-200mm f4.0 G lens. I worked mostly at the long end. I used face detection AF for all the shots done with the 70/200 and the combination of camera and lens nailed eye focus every time.
I like working with the small flashes. They are quick and easy to set up and it's great to work without power cables criss crossing my floor. I am reminded of just how easy it is to work with small flashes. I'll use them more often.
Oh, one more thing, the CRI of the electronic flashes is +/- 99.9 CRI. Nice.