Will you be shooting in the studio for the first time? Not sure how to work with studio lighting? What do all these buttons mean on monoblocks of constant and pulsed sources? We tell you how to set up a studio light, what it consists of, what a monoblock is and what settings it has.
Light for a photo studio — what it consists of
Studio light is not just a light bulb hanging in the air. This is a whole system that can scare you with a variety of incomprehensible nozzles, devices, racks. Especially when there are several lighting devices, they are scattered around the studio in chaos, and you need to understand what to do with it and what to approach.
Let’s take a look at what a studio lighting kit consists of.
A device that gives light. In fact, the same flash, but it is called a “monoblock” due to the fact that it combines several functions: it shines; allows you to adjust the light power and synchronization channel; turns on modeling light (a weak constant light that illuminates the shooting scene for the convenience of models and the photographer), for which additional lamps are built into it, and also saves the light from overheating using the built-in cooling system.
There are monoblocks of pulsed light and constant light.
— Monoblock of pulsed light or pulsed light. It does not shine constantly and is triggered when the photographer presses the shutter button. In order for the flash to understand when it fires, you need a synchronizer. Such light is characterized by high power, which allows you to get high-quality images even on the most budget equipment.
— Monoblock constant light. Lights up continuously. In order to work with it, you do not need a synchronizer. Such light is easier for a beginner: the cut-off pattern is immediately visible, and there is no need to deal with the synchronizer settings. But such light is less common in studios, and it also requires high-aperture optics.
Details about the differences between pulsed and constant light.
The stand is what the monoblock is attached to so that you do not have to hold it in your hands. What distinguishes them from tripods is their increased strength and heavy weight — they must be ultra-stable in order to withstand heavy light sources and attachments. For some racks, manufacturers produce special wheels to make it easier for the photographer or assistant to move the light around the studio.
Most stands are similar to classic tripod tripods. But also in the studio you can find a special stand — a crane. This is a sophisticated counterweight system that allows the light to be raised high above the model and also supports heavy light shaping attachments. For example, the crane Avenger A4050CS can withstand weight up to 30 kg.
Light Shaping Attachment
These are devices that are mounted on a monoblock and change the type of light. They can make the light soft or hard.
Soft light — diffused, gives a smooth light-and-shadow pattern, when the shadow seems to be shaded and smoothly flows into the middle tone. In such light, the shadows are not very dark, and the highlights are not pronounced. Soft light can be obtained using softboxes and umbrellas.
Hard light is sharp and contrasting. The shadows of such light are thick, dark and well-defined. Glare is also pronounced. Such light is given by a tube, a reflector.
It is believed that the average light can be obtained using a beauty dish. But, if you put a modifier on it — a honeycomb, then the light will be rather hard. This is because the honeycomb directs the light flux, and does not scatter.
Details about the types of nozzles for studio light and the cases in which it is better to use them, in the material.
Most often, the monoblock is powered from sockets using a special cable. It comes with a light, you don’t need to buy it in addition. But there are also wireless monoblocks that run on batteries. For example, Jinbei HD-200pro.
How to set up the light — managing the settings of the pulsed monoblock
To set up a flash or constant light in a photo studio, you need to work with the panel on the back of the monoblock. We understand what levers and buttons are there, as well as what they mean.
Turns the monoblock on or off.
- light power
It can be denoted by numbers (for example, from 4 to 10), percentages or aperture numbers, which are called steps. With percentages, it’s simple — the smaller the number, the weaker the light, and the countdown itself goes from 0 to 100%. It is the same with numbers — the smaller the number, the weaker the flash.
If on the device you see 1/1, ½, ¼, ⅛, 1/64, 1/128, then the monoblock manufacturer displays the power in aperture numbers. The number 1/1 is the maximum power that this light is capable of, and 1/128 or 1/256 is the minimum. The minimum power depends on the specific light model.
Sometimes when you adjust the power of the light, there may be others with + or — next to these numbers. For example, +0.3. These are “steps” that allow you to fine-tune the power by slightly increasing or decreasing it.
If you press the button, the flash will reset the accumulated charge. This is useful if you have changed the power up or down and want to “zero out” the monoblock so that the next frame will turn out with the setting you need.
A button that links the flash studio light and the synchronizer. You can choose one of two options depending on the type of synchronizer: RADIO or IR (from the word “infrared”). Radio synchronizers are more convenient because it and the light source can be at a great distance from each other. Infrared have a shorter range, but they can “set fire” to flashes of different models. How to choose a suitable synchronizer, read this text. Constant light does not have such a button.
So that in the same studio or in the same room the radio synchronizers do not conflict with each other, we can set a channel for each synchronizer-monoblock pair. It’s like choosing the right radio frequency in a car. By pressing this button, you can select the desired channel and letter with the power adjustment button. The same channel and letter must be on the synchronizer.
The pulsed light needs some time to recharge. With this setting, you can choose how the flash indicates when it is ready to fire.
There are three modes for this:
- BEEP/AUDIO (different manufacturers have different names). The flash beeps when reloaded.
- DIM. The monobloc turns on modeling light when the flash is ready to fire.
- FC (flash check). The modeling light turns off when the flash light is ready.
That is, in the first case, we understand that the light is ready for work, by sound, and in the second and third — by light.
If none of these functions is highlighted, then the flash will not signal in any way that it has accumulated a charge of the required power. In this case, if it does not have time to recharge, then some of the frames will be slightly darker than the rest.
Adjusts the modeling light. Modeling light is a constant light of low power for pulsed sources. It is turned on to understand what kind of black and white pattern will be on the model, to help focus if you are shooting in a dark room, and to inform you that the flash is ready to fire (if Ready is in DIM mode).
— Prop (from “proportional”). The stronger the pulsed light, the more powerful the pilot will shine.
— Free. Allows you to independently adjust the power of the modeling light. To do this, press the Model Set button and select the desired number.
— Full. Always the brightest modeling light possible, no matter how powerful the flash is.
Allows you to control the monoblock remotely if there is a special remote control (suitable for Raylab RL-100 Sunlight) that needs to be purchased in addition. But, for example, the Godox SL150II comes with a remote control.
Setting up a constant studio light
Constant light tends to have fewer settings. Many models, especially budget ones, may have only two buttons — power on and power adjustment. More expensive models also allow you to adjust the color temperature. Using the Godox SZ150R RGB as an example, let’s figure out how to set up a professional constant light for photos and videos.
- Power button. Turns the light source on or off.
- MENU. Allows you to set up a channel for wireless control, enable Bluetooth control, or turn on a fan for cooling.
- fx. Allows you to set one of 37 lighting effects. For example, imitate a broken light bulb, light from a candle, a flasher of a police car.
- DIM. Light power.
- HSI. Allows you to select the color of the light, its saturation and brightness.
- CCT. Mode for adjusting the white balance. You can make the color warmer/colder, as well as adjust the hue — greener or purpler.
Types of synchronizers. How to set up a synchronizer
What is a beauty dish and how to use it