Often when I have commercial shoots that require use of lighting at a location outdoors or within a large indoor area it is not so convenient for me to shoot using studio strobes. Sometimes finding power outlets close by for my monopods can also be a challenge. And when moving around a lot within the location, the setting up and taking down of strobes again and again to move them can really slow down the workflow. At times I also have a lot of shots to carry out in one day, so using a large lighting setup would certainly become more of a burden.
Recently, I had an industrial photo shoot at a manufacturing plant where it was one of those challenging lighting situations. I had to carry out many different shots in a day, with people in most of the shots, and within a large area where I was changing locations for every shot. The easiest way to shoot under these circumstances is to use small, remote, portable flashes like speedlites. For this recent job I decided to use 3 of my Yongnuo speedlight flashes mounted on lightweight studio light stands and all triggered wirelessly by the camera. The result was great and I was able to cover a lot more ground and quickly this way. And because speedlites are small, it also made it easier to get the flashes into tighter spaces when needed.
The first shot below was taken with one speedlite placed at about 8:00 to the subject as the main key-light. Then I had a second speedlight placed at about 11:00 to throw some backlight onto the machinery in the background, which would have been rather dark otherwise. And lastly, I had a 3rd speedlight positioned at about 3:00 to the subject to add a bit of backlight onto the subject’s torso. This 3 light setup gave me a nice amount of contrast for this image:
The main key-light in front of the subject had an umbrella attached to it, but one of the down sides with speedlights is that even with a modifier like an umbrella that diffuses light, and helps disperse the beam a bit it wider, you still get a rather focused light point.
In this second shot the lighting setup was pretty similar. There was a main light at about 4:00 to the subject. Then a second light at about 7:30 aimed at the person in the background. And a third light at about 3:00 to the subject.
Here is how I mount the speedlights to the light stands and set the lights up to trigger wirelessly. First, I use all Yongnuo speedlights as I mentioned because they are economical, so I don’t worry about them getting damaged in an industrial location, and they also recycle very quickly. So shooting multiple frames in fast succession is easy with these flashes. I used to use Canon flashes, but recently switched to all Yongnuo flashes. You can see my other article here which explains why I switched from Canon to Yongnuo. The Yongnuo flashes I use cost less than $75 each and you can buy them here online from Amazon with free delivery.
As for the rest of my setup, I use Manfrotto 1052BAC Compact Light Stands. To attach my speedlights to the light stands I use very inexpensive (but well made) light stand mounting units that I buy on eBay for about $4 each. They also have a pivoting head so I can tilt the position of the flash forward and backward if needed.
Plus these mounts have an adjustable hotshoe mount too so that you can attach any brand of flash onto them. Then they also have a universal connector which allows them to connect to any brand or model of light stand too and an umbrella mount which allows you to attach an umbrella to the speedlight too if you like. See below:
To trigger my main flash I use a remote radio trigger, which I also buy on eBay for $13 a set. They aren’t top quality, but they are reliable and I also don’t worry about them dropping, breaking, or getting misplaced for that price. They will also work with any brand of speedlite flash. The triggers come in a set with both a small transmitter (which attaches to the camera’s hotshoe) and then a receiver which attaches directly to the base of the flash. I then use a 1/4″ to 3/8″ adapter to screw the receiver with the flash directly onto one of my Manfrotto 1052BAC Compact Light Stands. See below:
What is nice about these receivers is that also have a small mount to add an umbrella too. So I am able to add an umbrella to the speedlight flashes that are attached directly to a receiver unit as well:
I actually only need to trigger one of the three flashes and then the light emitted from the first flash will trigger the others using the optical sensors built directly into the flash units. So I only attach a receiver to the flash unit that will be placed closest to the camera and the others are triggered automatically by the one connected to the trigger receiver.
If you have any questions about my setup, how it works, or the equipment I am using, please feel free to post your questions below.
*UPDATE #1 / 6-March-17* – I just posted a new article about speedlight flashes entitled “The Pros & Cons Of Speedlight Flash Photography” which you can read here. I am also now only using the high quality but inexpensive Yongnuo RF-603C-II-C3 Wireless Remote Flash Trigger Transceivers which can be found here to trigger my Yongnuo speedlight flashes. They work beautifully and don’t require the connection of an additional trigger receiver when used with with the newer generation Yongnuo YN-560 III and Yongnuo YN-560 IV speedlight flashes.