Folks seem to want to try to learn lighting with speedlight-based kits. But why does that impede the learning how to master the setup? Simply, because you cannot SEE the effects of placement, you have to guess the effect. Or have a less appealing photo which is merely 'illuminated' , and not 'lighted to show off' someone or something at its best. I talk about this principle on POTN a lot. I decided to use this opportunity to illustrate my points in action.
My youngest stepdaughter is getting married soon. Little details still being worked out, like how the florist would like to augment table decorations. Jackie told her mother, "Send me a picture" after her mother explained that the suggested addition would increase the apparent height of the centerpieces and the glittery characteristic would dress up the arrangement. So now I had a request to 'take a quick picture and send it in an email'. Enter studio lighting...
Here is a series of shots. First of all I set the light on the right with a snoot, and I wanted to set the light on the left with a grid. I wanted to feature the light falling upon the 'set' so that it would illuminate as little of the back wall as possible, and also illuminate the table as little as possible, both accomplished with 'feathering' the light falling upon the set. No complex and time consuming 'set design' here, as I was not being paid and the request was for an emailed picture 'as soon as possible'. The work was done in my family room with distracting things around, not in a pro studio without bothersome cr*p laying all around the set. That's why I needed to control how my lighting fell (didn't fall) on adjacent things.
Speedlights would make it all total guesswork, and probably not even possible without a ton of shoot and chimp shots. By using studio flash with modeling lights, I could immediately SEE how the lighting fell on the 'set' and adjust it to suit my goal, with no guess work or shooting and chimping. I wanted to exhibit the 'sparkle' via critical angling of the subject piece along with critical placement of the light. Again, that would be a total guess with speedlights, but the modelling lights allowed me to immediately SEE how the lighting could create sparkle the best at certain key locations (like at the end of the tallest piece).
now for the series...
I shot three strobe-illuminated shots, at various exposure levels, to determine which exposure resulted in the most appealing balance of sparkle vs. 'ordinary' level of brilliance of the piece. Lastly, here is the shot I emailed, in which I adjusted the Tone Curve to best illuminate the piece while de-accentuating the table and background wall.
Home studio shooting in a few minutes effort, three shots in total (keep in mind the first three shots were simply to illustrate the process for posting on POTN and illustrate how I could SEE the results of placement!), and optimized to well present the proposed accents to my stepdaughter.
BTW, she absolutely loved the piece and is telling the florist "Go ahead!" Mission accomplished.
BTW, I am not the hired gun...I am the husband of the mother of the bride. Let some other sorry soul slave his a$$ off
...I am enjoying the wedding and free drinking -- it will have an open bar and the B&G are footing the tab!