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Create Dramatic Studio Portraits Anywhere With High Speed Flash

By Hanssie on June 5th 2015

Lighting is really the magic trick up a photographer’s sleeve. We can manipulate light to create some truly stunning images, only if we know how to use it properly. Conquering light can be an expensive endeavor though and you can find yourself spending a pretty penny to amass a collection worthy of Hollywood film set, but it doesn’t have to be. A couple of speedlights can be more than enough to create some dramatic and wow-worthy images any time of the day and at any place.


Gary Fong, creator of one of the most recognizable flash accessory in the photography industry, the Lightsphere, shows us in the following video, how to acheive some pretty dramatic lighting on the middle of a trade show floor. If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you’ll know that the bright overhead fluorescent light is not flattering in the least, and there is very little room to maneuver due to the crowds of people. You need some magic in the form of lighting to make someone look good and not much space to do so. Gary shows that using only a set of speedlights and a few lighting accessories, you can go from this image:


Image via screencap

to this image:


Image via Screencap

Watch this quick demonstration,Achieve Lighting In Awful Places With Gary Fong”

Using high-speed flash, Gary was able to turn the background completely dark with a lovely red glow in the model’s hair. To achieve this, he placed one speedlight with a Snoot and a Power Grid in front of the model and one behind her with a Snoot and a Red Gel to create the look.

I love this video by Gary, and I love how he transformed the terrible background of a trade show floor to something so pretty and dramatic. Personally, Gary’s Lightsphere really helped me better understand how to use my flash and how to use light to my advantage when I was a new photographer. Now that I have a much better grasp of light, I still love the simplicity and the portability of his products.

You can see more of Gary’s tutorials and the original article on his website here.

If you are new to lighting, make sure you have a solid foundation of understanding. If you haven’t done so already, check out our SLR Lounge Lighting 101 workshop and these articles to help you get started.


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Patrick Shipstad

    I own some Gary Fong products, I subscribe to his premium videos so I’m not harshing on him, but his statement to photographers who don’t know better… “High speed sync won’t work unless you have one of MY snoots”? Sorry, that sales pitch is completely false. The control of light spill via a light modifier contributes nothing towards the ability to do or not do high speed sync.

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  2. Paul Empson

    always good fun…. doing settings that your think.. how can this ever look good…. experimentation, marvellous..

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  3. William Emmett

    In the video he spoke of the second strobe, but did not talk about its positioning. Nor did he talk about the strobe using the red gel. Mentioning ” you can only do this using flashes” is probably not correct either. You have to remember though he is at a trade show, trying to sell his snoots, and other products that mount to flashes. I don’t have a problem with how he articulates about his products in the video, that is a personal thought and does not have a place in a review. Gary is a photographer first, and public speaker second. I did have to watch the video twice myself. Just to see if he mentioned the second flash further.


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  4. Moise Oiknine

    A very creative technique, however his way of articulation is really confusing. He also mentions that using speed lights is the only way to do this…a very incorrect statement. I have at many times used my studio strobes (Dynalite, Buff Einstein & Alien Bees, Flashpoint Rovelight & Streaklight) at hypersync (not HSS) and come out with similar results.

    Dont get me wrong, he is a creative professional and does his job well. I just can’t listen to the way he speaks because it gets me so confused and I am sure others not as well versed in the photography lingo will be more confused.

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  5. Tom Johnson

    Great stuff, always love these problem solving tutorials.

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