If I had a dollar for every time I lugged a ton of lighting equipment to a shoot and then didn’t use it for whatever reason… I’d have, like, $32. Maybe more. While it’s always better to have more equipment than not enough, at some point within the last couple years I decided I was tired of dragging so much stuff around for location shoots.
My ongoing effort to slim down my bag means I’ve done most of my beach photo shoots this year with nothing more than a DSLR body and two lenses. Last week I felt like a change, though, and decided to pack some extra gear for my shoot with my favourite green-haired model. The models always have it easier, of course — a couple bikinis will fit in nothing more than a purse. And when we’re talking about bikinis as small as the Cotton Candy bikini from Dangerous Curves, all you need then is an average-sized pants pocket.
So in addition to my Nikon D750 and Nikon 70-200mm lens, I brought along a Manfrotto light stand, Paul C. Buff Einstein monolight, and an Impact 22" Beauty Dish. The beauty dish is really what puts this gear over the top in size — it’s fairly lightweight for its size, but it’s a rather awkward and beastly thing to be carrying. I like it better than umbrellas for its quality of light, and with a diffusion sock on the face it seems to stay upright in stuff winds a little better than an umbrella does (without needing excessive sandbagging). I still can’t help but wonder if something like a Photek Softlighter II would provide similar benefits while being easier to travel with.
This was also my first chance to try out my new Vello Freewave LR Wireless Flash Triggers. I previously had a set of Bowens triggers which were getting long in the tooth — the battery covers now being held on with gaffer tape, the little antennas annoyed me, and strange “phantom” triggers would happen via stray radio signals (I guess). The cheap Chinese-manufactured flash accessories category has grown exponentially in recent years, so thankfully there’s a lot of choice. During my decision process, I noticed this tweet from Strobist’s David Hobby:
— David Hobby (@strobist) August 25, 2016
The internet’s reigning king of strobe education recommended the Phottix Ares as a decent set of flash triggers (read the article linked above, it’s very informative). After some research, it seems like the Vello Freewave LR triggers are a rebadged version of the Phottix — everything about them seems identical, right down to the handy carrying case. So I got them and they work fantastically. No “phantom” triggering of the flash! They just worked. Yay!
The night before we did this sunrise photo shoot, we tried to hit the beach for a sunset photo shoot. In what’s become a comical series of events, we once again had to cancel our plans after arriving (fourth time this year), this time because there were a surprisingly large and stubbornly unmovable amount of people at the beach, despite being a weekday in September (why aren’t you people at work?!). So we rescheduled for the following morning.
Though it was a chilly 16°C when we hit the beach at sunrise, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, meaning the sunset was bound to have some strong colour. Since the sun rises right over Lake Ontario and I planned on shooting directly into it, I needed a strong light to illuminate the model. The first seven images in the gallery below were shot with the Paul C. Buff Einstein monolight and Impact beauty dish (with diffusion sock). I started out with settings of ISO 100, shutter speed of 1/200, and aperture at f/4. As the sun quickly rose and got brighter, I had to stop down to f/5.6 to prevent the background from getting too bright. The light stand was setup just out of frame to camera left, a few feet in front of the model (the closer the better).
After shooting in Cortana Blue’s swimwear from Victoria’s Secret, she changed into her Cotton Candy bikini from Dangerous Curves, for which I used just natural sunlight without any modifiers.
A quick 45 minutes were all we needed for the entire shoot, from start to finish.
- Pink and white Cotton Candy bikini from Dangerous Curves
- Blue mesh top, blue bandeau bikini top, and blue bikini bottoms from Victoria’s Secret
Shop for this gear
- Nikon D750 FX DSLR Camera with Meike MK-DR750 Battery Grip
- Nikon 70-200mm FX ƒ/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Zoom Lens
- Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 monolight with Vagabond Mini Lithium
- Impact 22" Beauty Dish with diffusion sock
- Manfrotto 1052BAC Air Cushioned Light Stand (Quick Stack System)
- Vello Freewave LR Wireless Flash Trigger Kit
Click images of Cortana Blue below to enlarge