My Lightweight Lighting Essentials Kit

This lighting kit contains all the essentials to create the 3 basic lighting styles I teach in my workshops: Large Window, Medium Diffused, and Crisp & Direct. With this setup and a little education, you can create amazing lighting in any situation, indoors or out. The kit uses speedlights exclusively, as they are super portable, powerful, and extremely versatile. Optionally, you can use 2 speedlights behind some of the modifiers to double your light output. 

Note: this page will be updated as I find newer and more betterer options ;-)

This is the full Kit. See below for details on each item.

This is the full Kit. See below for details on each item.

My Lighting Notebook. Knowledge is king! 101 lighting setups shown and explained so you know exactly how to use all this stuff.

 

Westcott Scrim Jim 4’x6’ kit on B&H. Perfect window light anywhere. Fire your speedlights through it or diffuse the sun. 

 

Westcott LunaGrip 5-in-1 Kit: Designed by Kevin Kubota. This is my main tool for the most useful lighting style, medium diffused. Comes with collapsible 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser. Similar to a 40" soft box, but easier to pack, faster to setup, better in the wind, and more versatile. Use also as a perfect flat reflector holder with the silver/white cover. I use two of these – one as a main light, and the other with reflector for fill.

Rogue Grid for speedlights. Give your speedlight a soft spot light for dramatic lighting and controlled beam spread.

 

Gorillapod Focus for holding speedlights and attaching them to just about anything or anyone.

Cullman CB 2.7 mini ballhead for attaching your flash to the Gorillapod, or a lightstand

Sticky Filters for Flash. Instantly gel your flash for color balancing or groovy effects.

Singh-Ray 77mm (Thin Mount) Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter. These are optional, but really cool for creating some dramatic lighting effects outside with flash. When you want to combine flash with sun, these are more efficient than using high-speed sync on your speedlight.

Westcott Light Stands Simple, basic, affordable. With some simple clamps, two of these will hold your Scrim Jim straight up. You can get dedicated clamps for the scrim if you anticipate holding the frame up at different angles. 

 

Kupo tilting adapter for attaching your LunaGrip to a light stand or handle. Technically, you could attach it without the tilt adapter, but then you have less flexibility for positioning. 

Lastolite Extending Handle. A handle is much more mobile than a light stand, assuming you have a handy assistant to hold it. I love using a handle because it enables me to move around more, perfecting my light, and getting a wider variety of images in a shorter amount of time. 

Yongnuo Nikon starter 2-pack (includes on-camera controller and one flash transceiver): 

2-pack Nikon additional transceivers for extra flash units: 

 

For Canon, order below models. Not sure why B&H doesn’t have the Canon starter set same as Nikon. 

Yongnuo Canon on-camera controller (need one of these and also transceivers below for each flash): 

Nikon SB910 Speedlights These are my favorites so far. There is a new Nikon SB5000 that I haven't tried yet. These lights have much more power than any of the generic brands.

 

Optional, but will come in handy eventually:

Triple Flash holder for combining speedlights to increase output or decrease recycle times.

Bolt battery pack for speedlights give 1400 full-power flashes with 1-second recycle time! Pow! I love this pack because it's very compact and light. Make sure to order the appropriate cable for your brand and model flash. Nikon cable here. Canon Cable here. You can even charge your phone or tablet with this and the USB adapter cable.

Watch the WPPI 2016 Photographers Ignite presentations online now!

 
Every year this event gets better and better, and this year was no exception. We had 12 great presentations that made us laugh, cry, and go home inspired. We could not put on a show like this without our wonderful sponsors, who not only helped to support us, but who also provided many fantastic prizes to both the presenters and live audience.

Thanks to everyone who attended our Photographers Ignite at the WPPI 2016 convention in Las Vegas. If you missed the live show or simply can't get enough, don’t worry, you can WATCH it on our website now for FREE!
 
   
    Joe Photo
The [b]est Man Speech
  Travis Stitt
Two Simple Rules
   
Andrew Funderburg
The Power of Story
  Tomayia Colvin
Photographers Unboxed!
Step Out of Your Photography Box and into Your Community
  Roy Ashen & Ali Handal
What Does Your Story
Sound Like?
   
Tamara Lackey
How Much You Don't Need to Know to Change the World
  Kelsey Goodwin
The Business Systems Pyramid
  Eddie Tapp
Droneography
   
Taylor Jackson
Double Your Photography Income in Under a Year
  Cortney Kelley
The Art of Embellishment
  Phillip Blume
Let Thy "No" Be "Yes!"
     
Max Grey
Get Out of Your Way!
  HeARTs Speak
Featured Nonprofit
   
 

Dramatic One-light Lighting, without the Drama

Don’t you love it when you have one shoulder bag of camera gear, and you arrive at a brand new location to create a dramatic portrait, the existing light sucks, and you have 5 minutes to figure out what you’re going to do, set up and start shooting? And there is a crowd of people watching you? Yah, I actually DO love it!

This situation is not uncommon for wedding and event photographers. It is also common for me, when I go to teach at trade shows. Fortunately, with the right gear and a little knowledge of how to use it, you can confidently create a beautiful portrait anywhere. I really do believe that…anywhere.

At WPPI, I was doing presentations in the Westcott Lighting booth. I was demonstrating our new product, the LunaGrip, but the results I’ll talk about could also be achieved with a large soft box, if you already have one.

To create a “dramatic” portrait, you generally would use lighting with more shadows, to shape and emphasize your subject’s features, and to create the mystery, or drama. Shadows can be used for good, or evil! For them to be flattering, they should have soft transitional edges from light to dark. It should be gradual, without harsh lines.

To create this with just one light, the key is to use a diffused light source that is fairly large in relation to your subject. For lighting a single person, a 40” round diffused light is absolute beautiful. It should be positioned about 2 feet from the subject and the subject should be posed so that their face is turned slightly towards the light, creating short lighting. This is generally best for one-light setups and also very flattering to most faces.

I use my LunaGrip because it is very compact when folded (fitting in the side of my shoulder bag), and sets up in less than a minute. A speedlight mounts behind it and I have an instant, perfectly round, 40” soft box.

I kept my subject – the lovely dancer, Jaylene, about 10 feet from the background so that it would stay deep black. Also, instead of mounting my LunaGrip on a light stand (which I could have done) I asked an innocent bystander to hold it for me, allowing us to easily follow Jaylene’s face movement, keeping the lighting pattern optimized (maintaining short light shaping).

With this simple setup, we could do close-up headshots, 3/4 shots, and even full-length portraits. This single light setup is great for full-length images because there is a natural and gradual light fall-off from head to toe – keeping emphasis on her face while still shaping her body and revealing detail in her clothing.

Finally, I added a second LunaGrip, this time with the silver reflective cover on it, as a fill light. I placed it directly under the model’s face, secured on a light stand. I placed my main diffused LunaGrip directly above her face, forming a V-shape or “clamshell” type of lighting. I placed my camera in the narrow opening of the V and voila! Beautiful, softer light with amazing catchlights in the eyes.

The point of this demo was to illustrate how little gear you actually need to create professional, beautiful lighting. With a single diffused main light, roughly 40” in diameter, you can usually forgo the traditional fill-light or reflector on the opposite side of the face, simplifying your setups. The key is in bringing the front edge of the light source forward, and towards the lens, as much as possible. When done correctly, the spill light wraps the subject and shapes with beautiful shadows.

Do you have any favorite single-light setups? Share them with us and I appreciate any feedback!

The single light works perfect for a dramatic headshot.

The single light works perfect for a dramatic headshot.

For a 3/4 pose, we still kept Jaylene facing the light, but turned her body slightly away. We moved the LunaGrip just a bit further away as well and the shadows become more dramatic.

For a 3/4 pose, we still kept Jaylene facing the light, but turned her body slightly away. We moved the LunaGrip just a bit further away as well and the shadows become more dramatic.

For the full-length image, a single light source about 40" in diameter works beautifully when placed just above head height. Notice the emphasis on her face, with a gradual and natural fall-off towards her feet.

For the full-length image, a single light source about 40" in diameter works beautifully when placed just above head height. Notice the emphasis on her face, with a gradual and natural fall-off towards her feet.

For this close-up, we placed the diffused LunaGrip directly above and a silver reflector mounted LunaGrip just below her face. You can see a wee bit of its shadow in the bottom left. 

For this close-up, we placed the diffused LunaGrip directly above and a silver reflector mounted LunaGrip just below her face. You can see a wee bit of its shadow in the bottom left. 

The Westcott LunaGrip is a patented product I designed for them and it never leaves my camera bag! It is available at: www.LunaGrip.com

The Westcott LunaGrip is a patented product I designed for them and it never leaves my camera bag! It is available at: www.LunaGrip.com