We all know photography technology changes and that change drives technology such as lighting. Today we have a lot of advanced lighting solutions that can make beautiful photos using flash.
My journey along the way has left a lot of “trial and error”, but with the trials and errors, I was given an opportunity to experiment with a LOT of lights, modifiers, and triggers. I NOW have a much better understanding and respect for good quality dependable lighting accessories.
For me – I try to Keep it Simple, for fixed studio work I use a mix of Elinchrom and Nikon Speedlight’s, keep in mind the name brands are just that and not a choice everyone will make.
For mobile outdoor work – I use my Nikon Speedlights, mostly SB – 5000s and some SB-910s. I am transitioning to all SB-5000s because Nikon is now offering a very small WR RF remote for their new line of cameras and speedlights. Since I mostly use Nikon it means I buy into their brand for simplistic reasons, you do what you need to do to keep YOUR setup simple. If just starting out keep an eye on Nissin.
Softboxes – These are specific to the environment. For indoor, I use the Lastolite 3-foot EZBox and other Lastolite Softboxes. I gave up trying to handle large softboxes outdoors – due to what most finally discover – wind and the objections from “security”. Of course, there are some exceptions to the rules – like specific planned events with readily available assistants – even then, I always carry my more portable solution as backup.
Outdoors and Portable Setup – I carry three speedlights/flash. The modifiers I use for these are a mix of MagMod, small slip on Lastolite diffusers, and some color gels. If I have one assistant available we work with the Joe McNally Tri-Flash mount that ratchets and attach two Speedlight’s forming a larger softer light.
Modifiers – there are so many modifiers on the market it is difficult to find one company that suits all needs, my closest fit come by way of MagMod, with drop-in gels, light shapers, grids, and some special effects – window like projection.
Triggers – Here is where things get a bit sketchy – creating a situation where you need to have several different brands to fire various manufactures lights. To the best of my ability, I now have and use three triggers, two primarily. I use the Nikon WR RF trigger for my SB-5000s – this works very well when I use my SB-5000s with Nikon specific cameras and no other lights. – If I have a mix of flash I use a Nissin Air/Air 1 – which are compatible with Canon and Nikon flash TTL and HSS. Finally, and begrudgingly the Elinchrom Skyport with is a costly way to control my Elinchrom and Rotolights – but if you want to maximize remote control of Rotolights then you shell out the $$.
What did I learn along the way? Pretty simple. Do your research on what lighting solution you wish to go with, and try to stick with that brand or ecosystem – Like I said I use two primary Elinchrom for studio and my Nikon Speedlights everywhere else; this reduces cost by eliminating incompatibilities with triggers and complexities – keep it simple to reduce your frustration and improve your enjoyment. Nothing more satisfying than showing up with equipment that works without having a lot of trial and error shots to get your light in the ballpark.