Home Photo Tips Poor Man's Studio Lighting

Poor Man’s Studio Lighting

Studio Lighting

Inexpensive Photography LightingLast weekend I did some head shots for a friend of mine and her band.  I don’t have a lot of studio lighting equipment, I generally rent it when I need it, but this particular time renting was out of the question because the budget was very small.  I knew we were going to be shooting indoors due to a massive snowstorm that was raging outside.  Because of the storm I knew I probably wouldn’t have any great window light at the hotel we were shooting at.  If I am being completely honest with you, readers, I didn’t have any high hopes for this shoot, but I grabbed what I had and wished for inspiration.

I left the house with a speedlight, a Rogue Flash Bender from Expo Imaging, a tripod, Pocket Wizards, my camera and my 50mm 1.2 Canon lens. Panic ensued. But then I arrived at the hotel and discovered the best thing I could have hoped for.  In the dark interior of the ballroom where we were meeting, they were setting up for a party that night, and someone, some wonderful person, had already set the beautiful orange colored up-lighting.  I set my speedlight on a tripod and wrapped the Rogue Flash Bender around the head.  I used the ttl setting on Inexpensive Photography Lightingthe flash and then I set it at about a 45 degree angle from my subject, who I had sitting on a stool about four feet in front of the wall that had the lighting on it.   I then exposed for the orange back light and let the flash act as a fill on the subject.

I did have to mess with the direction of the flash a little bit to make sure it was landing where I wanted it to land on the subjects face, but eventually I got it figured out.  I was very pleased with the result and even more pleased that it was all with equipment that I already had and lights that were already in place.  The whole thing took me five minutes or less to set up.  Readers, I am sure there are better ways to get these shots.

I am sure there are things I would have done differently if I had an unlimited supply of equipment, but let’s be real for a second.  Not all of us can afford all of the gear it would require.  I am not saying for a second that these are award winning photos or anything, but for those of you who are like me and sometimes lack the funds for real portable studio equipment, I feel like this is a pretty good poor mans substitute.

  Inexpensive Photography Lighting


  1. I agree with scott. The framing is impeccable carrie, but the skin tone is gone…except in the first one. Background could have been something subtle…not that I would have done anything better. Just a thought. Cheers.

  2. These are great shots – interestingly, if you’d set your camera’s white balance to compensate for the ambient, and then popped a gel onto your flash, you could have actually corrected the orange ambient on the models themselves. Not that your way was “wrong”, by any stretch – this is just another way to approach it when you have such a strong ambient. Good job!


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