Lighting can separate you from the pack, using light to define your style and elevate the quality of your work is as important now as it was back in the day when you had to light to capture an image.

Today the cameras we use can capture an image in just about any light; they can shoot at crazy high ISOs far beyond what film was able to do. I’m not against using available light or shooting at HIGH ISO when the subject dictates, but for the work that I get hired to produce, my clients expect me to capture them in their best LIGHT. I shoot in all kinds of environments, dark reception venues, hallways, offices, fields; you name it I’ve had to shoot there. And I’m not always able to work when the natural light is best; this is where your knowledge of lighting comes into play. My primary lighting tools are Speedlites, just because I’m using a small light source does not mean I have to sacrifice quality. I LOVE all my Westcott light modifiers and use them in different situations. I let the subject and environment speak to me as to how I’m going to light.

Gear Used

Camera: Canon EOS 1DX
Lenses: 24-70 f/2.8 II & 70-200 f/2.8 II
Lighting: 4 Canon 600EX RT Speedlites, 2 STE-3 Speedlite Transmitters
Strobes: 2 battery-powered strobes
Triggers: Radiopopper Jr2 for Canon Light
Modifiers: 1 Rapid Box 26" Octa with Rapid Box Deflector Plate and 40° Grid for Rapid Box 26" Octa, 2 Rapid Box 10" x 24" Strip and 40° Grid for Rapid Box 10" x 24" Strip, 2

The Shoot

I shoot BIG ballroom weddings and it’s not uncommon that we will spend two hours photographing the formals. Since we going to be capturing a lot of posed bridal party, family and every ideation there of I want my lighting to be the best I can produce on location. For this wedding we did just that this was a large bridal party with 24 people including the bride and groom. The venue is a gorgeous old world private club; it’s part of the character of their wedding day. The room is dark with walnut paneling and very dim lighting.

Bob Davis Location Lighting with the Rapid Box
I choose a battery powered strobe shaped with OTB Universal Halo for my main lights, they are large and produce a beautiful buttery smooth quality of light with soft shadows that allow me to photograph large formals without much worry about loosing detail in the shadows by producing hard light. I used two side rim lights to separate the subjects from the dark wall behind them using two Rapid Box Strip lights with diffusion and 40* grids with Speedlites as the light source. The grids focus the light and control the spill as to not flare the light back into my lens.

Bob Davis Location Lighting Setup with the Rapid Box
I trigger everything I used with the Radiopopper Jr2 transmitter and receivers for Canon. They allow me to control the flash output from the Canon Speedlites in manual mode and give me four groups. The strobes are in groups 1&2 and the Speedlites are in groups 3&4. While I may adjust the flash output for the Speedlites, I have to manually dial in the flash power level on the strobes. I’m always tweaking the rim lights as the size of the group changes. All my lights are gelled with full CTO (correct to orange) to match the lighting in the environment, and I’m shooting with a higher ISO and slower shutter speed to allow the wall sconce to become a part of the scene.

Bob Davis Location Portrait with the Rapid Box

SO: 800 • Aperture: 5 • Shutter: 1/50 • Camera: Manual Mode • Lens: 24-70mm @70mm • Tungsten White Balance

This article is courtesy of renowned wedding photographer Bob Davis.

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