Learning about photographic studio lighting at the Welshot Creative Hub in Llandudno, North Wales is now something we are able to offer – either on a one to one basis or in small groups of two, three or four people. Have you always wanted to learn your butterfly from your Rembrandt, your split lighting from your side lighting or maybe you want to know (and learn) about the different types of modifiers on the market and what they do and how they are used to create the effects you’ve seen others do but not quite mastered yourself. These sessions are completely tailor made to YOU and YOUR needs as a photographer, so whether it’s a one to one you need or you and a group of friends fancy having a different kind of ‘Day Out’ we can help you get to grips with your photographic studio lighting techniques.

Learning About Photographic Studio Lighting by Sarah Rushton

Saturday found me heading off to the Welshot Creative Hub in Llandudno for a photographic studio lighting workshop.

Before I started with Welshot I had never imagined that this is something that I would have been doing – because I would never have considered doing any portrait photography or (ideally) having any people in any of my shots! So a small group of just four (we all knew each other from previous events) gathered to see if Eifion could work his magic and explain how to use lighting to our advantage both inside and out for portraits.

Black and white photos of Eifion Williams from Welshot Imaging Photographic Academy - Demonstrating how to use Photographic Studio Lighting

We started off with off-camera flash and the three standard lighting set ups for portraits. Eifion explained the easiest set up for equipment and how to put it together (some people went onto Amazon at this stage and started their shopping lists). It’s really helpful to have advice on what you could get and the pros and cons of each different set up, and also to know how well different set ups last based on Welshot’s experience over the years. It was fascinating to see how much a grid in front of a soft-box affected the outcome of a shot – it made the light a lot more direct with less lighting leaking out sideways.

Eifion took us through the three standard lighting set ups in terms of the model’s location in relation to the light. Because of the difference with and without the grid over the soft box, I thought it would be helpful to have a comparison shot showing the lighting for each option – and Eifion went through each position with and without the grid so that we could capture these.

Black and White Photo of a Man being photographed using a variety of different photographic techniques - Learning About Photographic Studio Lighting

It was clear from these that the grid on the soft box focused the light in terms of direction and this could be particularly important if you want to have a dark background. However, the light without the grid was slightly softer, which can be helpful at times.

We also had a play with a reflector to see how much difference that could make to lifting shadows on the opposite side to the light, particularly when the subject was wearing a hat, and also looked at the difference that a beauty dish rather than the soft box made to the light.

After a delicious buffet style lunch we took the beauty dish outside to try out using off-camera flash to fill in shadows against bright backgrounds or when in shady locations.

Black and white side portrait photo of a woman having her photo taken in the Welshot Photographic Academy Lighting Workshop in Llandudno

Coming back to the studio we had a chance to use the studio lighting and discovered the advantages of having a low-level of lighting at all times, with an additional flash synced to the camera: this obviously means you can have a much better idea of how the light is striking your model’s face rather than having to wait to see what the photograph looks like when the flash goes off.

Several of us found that one of the things we needed to remember is that the camera ignores some of what we can see – so, for instance, if you’re using a flash that is not pointing at the background, you might completely lose the background in darkness even if you can see it when you’re setting up the shot.

Finally we had a play at some very dramatic portraits where we were feathering the light so hardly lighting the model at all – I think Eifion had got fed up with all the flashes by this time so we had to model for each other!

I have returned feeling that I could attempt to use off-camera flash without someone else setting it all up for me, so definite progress.

Sarah Rushton

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