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It’s been a few weeks since I posted a P52 image—we have had a lot going on, and I am behind on everything! I mentioned in my last post that, in addition to my new macro lens, I was getting some off-camera flash equipment for my birthday. Studio lighting is something that, for a long time, I had no interest in learning. It seemed way too complicated and scary, not to mention expensive! But lately I have found myself itching to stretch out of my comfort zone and learn some new skills. I’ve had a Canon Speedlight 580 EXII for a few years now, and hardly ever used it. I couldn’t seem to get results I liked, that didn’t look too “flashy.” (Probably because I didn’t practice nearly enough with it.) And studio lighting? That always brought to mind stuffy, old-school formal portraits that just aren’t something I enjoy.

But recently, I started to see images that I loved that were lit with studio lights, often just one light with a reflector. With that simple setup, photographers were achieving soft but directional light with beautiful catchlights. And I did have that Speedlight collecting dust . . .

So I looked into what I would need to move my flash off camera and into a softbox. I ended up with a heavy-duty lightstand and bracket (in case I decide to move into studio strobes one day), a Westcott 50×50 Giant Apollo softbox, and Paul C Buff Cybersync triggers, which ended up costing me about $400 from B&H Photo and Paul C Buff. (If you are interested in trying out OCF on an even smaller budget, check out the Beginner’s Lighting Kit recommended by Strobist’s David Hobby. You can get everything but the flash for about a hundred dollars, or a kit that includes a flash for less than $300!)

When my equipment came, I sat it in the corner and looked at it for several days before I got up the nerve to set it up. I went to the library and checked out Joe McNally’s Sketching Light and got online and read through Strobist’s Lighting 101. After a few days of reading everything I could get my hands on, I set up my shiny new equipment and gave it a try.

Head and shoulders photo of a little girl against a pale gray blue background

I think I’m in love.

The soft light, the crispness, the catchlights—I have a long way to go to master OCF, but I can tell already I am going to enjoy the journey!

Luckily, this week was our “Spring Break” for the Clickin Moms P52 project, and we got to choose our own theme for the week. My theme? Studio lighting! Let’s hear it for trying new things.

Continue on around our blog circle to see what Michele chose for her submission this week. Thanks for stopping by!

{Settings: Canon 5D MarkII, Canon 100 mm 2.8, ISO 200 |  f3.2 | 1/80 | ISO 200
Canon 580 EXII in Westcott 50×50 Apollo Softbox @1/8 power zoomed to 50 mm}


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  1. Nancy says:

    Amanda, this is a beautiful photo – I can’t believe you are just starting out with flash. I just took Michelle Turner’s one light OCF class and learned so much. Great catch lights and perfect flat light.

    • Amanda says:

      Thank you so much, Nancy! I am definitely a newbie with flash. I was just looking at Michelle’s class & thinking about signing up for it. Thank you for the recommendation – I always like to hear from people who have actually taken the class!

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