Last February I made the big switch over from natural light to studio lighting. It was a tough choice for me because I was so in love with natural light. It was easy (and free), and I didn’t have to try and figure out all that complicated studio lighting equipment.
I eventually started to feel frustrated with my work and really wanted more consistency in regards to my lighting. With natural light, it’s up to the day. Sure, I can set up in the same spot, but if its cloudy, sunny, time of day, time of year, the light will always look a little bit different. I just knew that for me, personally, this move would help me move to the next level.
I took to the great and mighty google (ok, and Facebook Photography Groups) to figure out what I would need to move over to studio light and what would give me the lighting “look” I thought I was going for. After months of research (about 6 months worth) and going back and forth, I decided on a Paul C Buff Alien Bee 400 and a 64″ soft silver PLM umbrella with a white diffuser.
Here is an example one of my last newborn sessions with natural light (left), and one of my first with studio (right) using a 64″ Soft Silver PLM bounced with white diffuser cover:
Another Example of a natural light session (left) and a recent studio session using my 86″ white PLM bounced.
Moving to Studio Light was also a movement of figuring out my “style”. I would play with my light, angle it different ways, turn it up and down, etc. I figured out that I wasnt going to get the look I wanted with the modifier I had (64″ soft silver). The shadows were too strong for my liking and the light was very directed. So, after more research, I chose to go with the 64″ white PLM with the white diffuser.
At this time, I had a smaller shooting area that had to be set up and taken down at the time of my shoots. I had considered getting the BIG ONE (86″ white) but went with the 64″ for the quick take down and convenient size.
It was ALMOST perfect. Since I really loved the look of soft natural light, I was really trying to re-create that with my studio light, and the 64″ PLM shadows were just a little too strong for the Look I wanted, although not as strong as the Soft Silver. So I went back online and ordered the 86″ white PLM with the white diffuser cover.
Here is an example from using a 64″ soft silver for a family shot (left) and using my 86″ white bounced with a white cover (right).
When I pulled it out of the box and opened it up, it was HUGE! It took a few uses to get used to the size of it and to decide if I wanted to shoot through or bounce, but I eventually got the hang of it! 🙂
Now it’s all I use and I swear by it! I cant imagine moving back to natural light now after the amazing consistency and convenience of studio lights.
So, what exactly is the point of this post? Well, when I was researching and trying to decide what kind of modifier I wanted to use, I could not find any comparisons with examples. So now one exists!
My husband was kind enough to play along with me today and took some of photos of me with the different modifiers and a pullback shot so you can SEE the difference for yourselves!
GEAR: Nikon D610 with Sigma 50 1.4 Art Lens
A quick side by side comparison first:
All of these images are straight out of Raw, with only the clarity slider adjusted to 18.
CAMERA SETTINGS FOR ALL PORTRAIT IMAGES:
50MM (sigma 50 1.4 art lens)
f stop 3.2
AB 1/8th power
I stood on the piece of tape for each shot and the light did not move.