Religious education stated at our church earlier this evening. As part of Jacci’s plan for the year, she is going to take photos of the students at the beginning, middle and end of the year to document their growth through the year. She asked me to set it up in a corner of the room and to take the photos during the class. Which leads to the obligatory setup shot:
In the photo, each flash sits atop a Ravelli ALS photo stand ($21/each). I recall that I bought the background stand off eBay for about $20. It came in a zipper bag and it’s not very heavy duty, but it works. I’d grabbed 3 sections for the top but ended up grabbing three ends rather than two ends and a middle. It was fortunate that two ends were just wide enough to fit the background. The background is a 5×9′ black glam cloth from Backdrop Outlet, which was $50 on sale (with a rather steep $15 shipping charge, though).
The flash pointed at the backdrop is a Nikon SB-600 (these are ridiculously overpriced at the moment, but I paid ~$200 two years ago). It was covered with a red gel cap ($10), held in place and gobo’ed with black paper tape. A Nikon SB-900 (picked up locally off CL for $340) sits behind the 43″ umbrella (eBay?, ~ $10). Both flashes are mounted with umbrella adapters (~$8 each). The flashes were fired wirelessly using Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS).
Everything in the setup above except the flashes were easily packed into a speaker bag ($15), which made transport very convenient.
What are the take aways from the above? Shopping around can save money. The portable portrait setup was assembled for around $160, excluding the flashes. Money could have been save by using older manual flashes and wired or optical slave triggers. While not nearly as convenient as Nikon’s CLS, once the exposure is set, there’s no real difference when taking a series of portraits. [In fact, I’ve picked up 3 older manual battery flashes: SB-24 for $65, SB-26 for $100, and a Sunpak 611 for $40.]
Enough of the equipment end…
To shoot the actual portraits, each student stood a little forward of the rear light stand with their toes on black tape I put on the floor. [Note that in the photo above, the red gel can be seen – that’s because I started taking things down when I remembered that I should take a documenting setup shot.]
Here is a composite shot of the results, all assembled into one photo: