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Small Studio Challenge With One Speedlight & Softbox

By Hanssie on January 2nd 2016

It’s January 2nd. How many of you have already broken your New Year’s resolutions? I didn’t make any since I knew I’d break them, but I did set a few goals. One of my photography-related goals is to be more creative with lighting. I use a pretty simple one-light set-up already, but I tend to get stuck in a rut with it. Whether out of sheer laziness or boredom, I just seem to get the same shots all the time. So, it’s time to change it up; which is why the following video caught my attention.

In this Adorama-sponsored video, Mark Wallace challenges Gavin Hoey to a photographer’s version of a duel. Using the same model, background and lighting gear, the pair went head to head to create some pretty rad images in a small studio setting. This video is Gavin’s portion of the challenge, and he begins with positioning his model and then using a light meter – the Sekonic L-308S Flashmate – to figure out what settings he’s going to use. Gavin is shooting with the Olympus EM5-ii with the Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 and a small softbox. After a little experimenting with the light, he adds some simple props – a book and some powder – and finishes it up with a few adjustments in Photoshop to create a dynamic image with movement and drama.

The final images are quite different – Mark’s image is a simple, well-lit headshot and Gavin’s image is very creative, with his added elements. Gavin admits he had the home advantage, with knowing the set, model, and gear, and that is quite important to making a great image. Here are the two images side-by-side. Which one is your favorite?



Watch Hoey vs. Wallace: Small Studio Challenge: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

If you want to learn all about lighting from the ground up and build a sure foundation to open up your creativity, be sure to check out our Lighting 101 and Lighting 201 instructional DVDs.

In other news, you might have noticed that the site looks a little different! Our developers have been working around the clock for many, many months, and we are so excited to finally have it LIVE. Take a look around and let us know what you think about our new 2016 look in the comments below!

[Via ISO1200]

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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. Lee G

    Speed lights are pretty cool. For awhile I was using a speed light (430exii or Neewer TT120) in a Cowboy Studio umbrella octa. Even when after purchasing my strobe I still use that setup sometimes. With manual speed lights being pretty low in price it’s good to keep a few and if your accidentally break one they’re pretty inexpensive to replace.

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  2. Fisnik Islami

    thank you

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  3. nd1979

    Love these two. Make things very simple.

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  4. Andy & Amii Kauth

    It’s an entertaining and informative video … not sure why he used the book, though it’s certainly well done … And way to use the word “rad,” Hanssie!

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  5. Stephen Glass

    I meant to add that my basement is an 8 foot ceiling! So the slim profile of a little speedlight with a small softbox works great as a hairlight. For dark hair. For lighter hair I don’t need one. My ceiling is a reflector.

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  6. Stephen Glass

    The studio is a great place to use speedlights! You don’t need to spend a fortune. My work is mostly on location at law, doctor’s, and other offices. But I do actors in my basement studio before we go outside. After struggling for years for a hairlight I now use a YongNuo 460 a $35 flash. I use the Godox 180 for a background light a lot. I’ve shot with a lot of different strobes as a second and personally. Never having a big budget I’m settling back into Einsteins after getting out of them for the mounting issue which they later fixed. But if you’re into speedlights check out the Godox S-type brackeet mount. It’s a secure pressure fit mount that centers the light in an umbrella. But more than that once in that mount you can now change our your speed ring flanges to Bowens S-type flanges and you now have a wide range of modifiers for your speedlights. From circular reflectors with grids to sturdy salad bowl style beauty dishes.
    Check it out on Amazon. It saves so much space in my bag. It’s a tilt bracket and ubmrella mount in one and you don’t need the little 1/4-20 attachment either.
    With one piece of gear you put your speedlight, or barebulb style light, into service without worrying about any other little attachments.

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  7. Joseph Ford

    it’s wonderful to watch to photographers approach the same subject and get two entirely different results.

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    • Hanssie

      I agree! I love how Gavin used the powder. So simple, but something I wouldn’t have ever thought of.

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