Using Continuous Lighting over Flash as a Beginner by James Marson

Who Am I?

"I'm James, I'm 31, and I'm a Recruiter & Photographer. The majority of my photography follows no set genre or discipline, however I have photographed a variety of sport, football, rugby, boxing, cricket some of which has been published in UK Press, as well as covering nightclub events, I also enjoy street photography.

Studio Portrait Experience

Let me tell you about my first experience using continuous lighting for portrait studio work. Now before we go any further, I must profess that I am by no means an expert in studio or portrait photography, or even photography. What I am though, is someone who is willing to try anything and learn something new!

Much of the portrait photography that I have done in the past has been with studio flash or speedlights, such as the Godox TT685 (similar to the Li-ION Series of speedlights). I found these relatively easy to get initially set up, however my limited knowledge of portrait/studio lighting meant I found myself fiddling between shots to find the right lighting settings. This involved making sure I'd selected the right flash on the trigger, changing the flash setting, taking a test shot to see the result and then repeating if it wasn't right.

However, recently at a camera club event I had the opportunity to shoot a model, actor Paul Candelent, using the Godox SL200. Having never used constant light before, let alone in the studio, I was a little apprehensive about how this was going to turn out. No sooner was the lighting set up and the session underway did I realize how much easier this was going to be than using ‘traditional’ studio flash.

There's no hassle with swapping triggers between camera brands, or passing them between people, and if you use a mirrorless camera like myself then what you see through the viewfinder is generally what you get in the camera, also shaping the light on the model's face becomes much easier too.

Now for those of you reading that are experienced with studio lights you may argue, ‘but you can do all of that with studio flash too’, whilst yes you maybe able to if you’re experienced with flash and studio portraiture, but for someone like myself who has had limited exposure to flash I found this to be much quicker and easier to get to grips with. The benefit of the SL200 is also its versatility, as if you ever need a light for video, it's more than suitable.

The Setup & Equipment

The ‘studio’, a large hall, was set up with one large white PVC backdrop, two Godox SL200s mounted on Air Cushioned Stands at around 6ft high with a 90cm Octagonal Softbox, pointing slightly downwards at 45 degree angles about 6ft in front of the model on either side.

The light to the right of the camera was the main light at between 70-75% power, and the light to the left at 45-50% power. My camera of choice is the Fuji XT-2, and on this particular evening I choose to use the 18-55mm ‘kit lens’. Now I do have a selection of prime lens which I know would be the go-to for many of you reading this, however I enjoy the flexibility of the zoom aspect of the lens, and it allows me to get close to the model without physically getting closer.

For the first session with the model I kept both lights on and did not adjust any of the settings, as I was unsure about if or how to change them. For my second session with the model my confidence had grown, and I decided I wanted to adjust the left hand light to have a darker shadow on the models face.

This is a very simple process, a case of just twisting the dial to the left and watching the percentage drop on the LCD display. Ultimately, I decided to turn the light all together, with the flick of a switch it was off.

The Results



Now, remember that portraiture is not my genre of choice, nor is it something I would say I was good at, however during my relatively short session with the model I was able to produce some images that I was proud of. Would I use constant lights again for portrait photography? Absolutely! In fact, as soon as I get the slightest hint that my wife wouldn’t be displeased at the purchase, I’ll be clicking buy on the Godox SL200!"

To see more of James' work, why not visit his Instagram page

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