Studio Portraits with Monolights

Those of you following me on Instagram (@joefarace)already know that my basement, where my in-home studio is located was flooded last month. As I write this, repairs are bring made inside while they are made outside to prevent a recurrence of the problems. In the meantime here’s some thoughts about stio lighitng and an image from a previous shoot…

QT600_04_1024x1024“Light,” as a wise photographer once advised, “is light.” The most important characteristics of any studio lighting system are the quality and the quantity of the output. The kind of lighting hardware you use will have an impact on both aspects but the quality of the light can further be affected by using light modifiers.

A monolight or monobloc to our European friends is a self-contained studio flash, typically but not always, powered by an AC source allowing fitting of light modification attachments, such as reflectors, lightbanks, or umbrellas. It consists of a power source and a head within a single, compact housing. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of monolights. If during a shoot the power supply fails in a power pack and head system, you have no lights. If you have two or three monolights and one fails you still have others available.

amanda.vinylMonolights typically have variable output settings allowing to you change their output from full down to 1/32’nd power. Most monolight have a modeling light that allows you to preview what the flash will look like on your subject and whose intensity can be varied to match the output as in more power equals more light and vice versa. For more on monolights take a look at my post Monolight Shopping Check List.

For this low-key setup for a portrait of Amanda Fairbanks, I placed a Godox QT600 with a Westcott 16 x 30-inch Apollo Strip light at camera left. A Godox DS200 with standard reflector is at camera right and placed behind the subject. I first though I’d need a snoot (which I didn’t have) on this light but the standard reflector worked fine.

Amanda Fairbanks was photographed against black Savage Infinity vinyl backdrop and was made with a Panasonic Lumix GH4 and a Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 (at 45mm) with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 200.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.13.43 AMIf you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from with, as I write this, new copies selling for$17.50 (plus shipping,) just a few bucks more than used ($16.24,) both cheaper than the Prime price.

Author: Joe Farace

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