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Thread: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

  1. #1
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    I thought emulate sounded so much better than 'copy' although isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery...anyway I digress (surprisingly )

    I have purchased some inexpensive items that Colin uses/told us about in the 'school of portraiture' classes.

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique


    these being shown as above - I have put them to use here with my wee Baby friend

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    the flash and brolley on bracket were just on a shelf as the VAL ( mum) got called away on the phone
    from the image you can see
    - babies move quick the catchlight in 1 eye is a bit soft - either he moved or I shook or both - but also it is too low
    so when wanting to use this technique outside and/or with bigger people I want to attach the bracket to something so it can be held higher than their face .....

    1 light bracket can be supported by a piece of hardwood dowling through the bottom hole and screwed on...seems to stay fairly secure.

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    pop a piece of this the right size in the bottom of the bracket and off you go....

    Only then you get as far as thinking....but what if I want 2 lights! and the length of dowl is not telescopic, so a bit tricky to carry around..

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    So then you think ...what if I had a piece of aluminium that went through the cross holes - of 2 brackets, both could hold a strobe and 1 could hold an umbrella...

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    then (obviously having room on either side of the screw for a bracket ) you could then theoretically screw this whole sche-bang onto a painters pole.....

    Or so I thought

    But the standard style of painters pole that we had in the shed have the screw thread on the outside for attaching rollers etc
    we tried to use a plasterboard plug which expanded and then and screw on the inside....but it was pretty wobbly even without any weight on it...

    So my choices are use 1 light/ 1 stand with the piece of dowl.....or
    get this wee gizmo from B&H

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    which whilst it looks the right thing a) I was wanting to build something and have the satisfaction of solving the problem without resorting to the credit card with stuff from the shed..
    But I still want it to be safe when I get 2 lights on it - so this is probably the best bet...

    But finally I get to my question....the bit 'greyed out' in the bottom of the picture...is that 'another bracket attachment' required to fix the setup to the 'pole'

    And I'm guessing these guys don't intend us to use painters poles - Colin do you use a monopod or a light stand and just not fold the legs out... ?

    We know I will be really embarrassed when the obvious simple answer is revealed...but hopefully now that I've braved my silly question in public, others will be inspired to put a similar set up to use.
    The aim is to use this instead of relying on the sun to be where you want it and using a reflector....this is the 'bring the sun along and put it where you want it tool'.

    Thanks Colin and anyone else who has experience in these areas for your 'secrets revealed'.

  2. #2

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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Hi Kay,

    Sorry, I'd love to help, but my designs are both propryatree and lisenced (ok ok, they're not - but they would be if I could spell either of those two words!).

    But seriously ...

    ... there's a couple of (similar) ways that I do it ...

    1. Attach the holder you have to a standard-issue light stand, or

    2. Attach the holder to a boom arm which inturn attaches to a light stand

    The 2nd option is more expensive, but it then gives you the option to have the lights held by just the pole (eg if your VAL is standing in the sea) (you don't want to make the rig any heavier than it needs to be, and you don't want the legs of a light stand in salt water if at all possible).

    The big question though is "how are you triggering these lights"? Ideally you really need to be using a PocketWizard TT1 / TT5 combination ... which - if you do - you can mount the 580EX II directly onto a TT5, and the TT5 in turn can be screwed onto your crossmember (if using two) or directly onto your bracket if using just the one. Unfortunately, there are two problems doing it the way you're doing it:

    (a) The plastic bit where the flash mounts on the ministand is fragile - and the first time you give the rig a good jolt (and trust me, it WILL happen eventually), the top of the stand will break away, and your expensive flash(s) will go crashing to the ground.

    (b) The plastic hole on the underside of the ministand is fragile too - and the first time (... as per "a" above)

    A couple of other things to keep in mind ...

    1. Most umbrellas have very thin tubing, apart from a tiny solid bit of what looks like brass right at the end. The tubing crushes very easily when you screw the retainer on the bracket into it ... and the little "brass" bit is usually "glued" on with a glue that has all the strength of a dried gravy stain ... so what I do now is purchase a length of aluminium tubing - cut it into about 3" lengths - and glue it securely to the end of the shaft - thus overcoming the two issues mentioned above.

    2. When your rig does fall over, umbrellas make wonderful shock absorbers!

    If you haven't seen it before, this is the rig I use ...

    Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Pretty much the direction I'm steering you towards, except that (a) I feed the 580EX IIs with external power ("fake battery" approach"), and (b) I connect the flashes to their respective TT5s via off-camera shoe cords to get the TT5s a bit further away from the flash and to make the whole setup a bit more rugged.
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 6th March 2011 at 05:02 AM.

  3. #3
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Thankyou ...I shall digest and investigate further..
    Am just using 7D wireless trigger facility so far no separate wireless receiver/transmitters and also don't have separate battery packs, which I have thought of, as I've taken some shots in quick succession and always the one that's fired before the recharge is the 1 I prefer expression wise...it's just underexposed.
    Anyway Thanks again and I'll browse the net and play with what I have and compare with your examples and see what I need.
    We might find other bits & pieces should jump the wish list queue.
    I have some musicians portraits for school to do this week - so I am very fortunate that I will have lots of opportunities to practice.

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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    No worries

    If I'm reading this right, probably the next thing you need to get would be the light stand or boom arm (assuming that the flash can be mounted on that metal bracket in the first shot) (I wouldn't trust the mini-stand; there's just too much torque on the mount if it's not fairly vertical). Keep in mind too, that a boom arm can also double as a reflector holder (with another adaptor).

    After that, I'm afraid it's time for the TT1 / TT5 / AC3 (it's a biggie, but it's the doorway to "the next dimension"!)

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    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Thankyou - I had a feeling you were going to say that
    Well it should be ok as long as my shopping list of 'priorities' gets in before a certain someone here goes the path of the 'R' word...

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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Quote Originally Posted by wilgk View Post
    Thankyou - I had a feeling you were going to say that
    Well it should be ok as long as my shopping list of 'priorities' gets in before a certain someone here goes the path of the 'R' word...
    R = Ride-on lawn mower?

    OMG no, not Rennovate?

  7. #7
    wilgk's Avatar
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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    .......redundancy or failing that retirement ...either 1 of the 2 will save him from 3 plus hour commute every day.
    Although he does need to follow Elise & Peter's examples of having an alternate income stream lined up.... I have suggested he might need to reconsider his plan of windsurfing every day

  8. #8

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    Re: Trying to emulate Colin's lighting technique

    Prototype and Licensed - though, you English types have a way with "s's", so it might be Licenced - as to assisting with your lighting module...no can do, Missy.

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