DON'T MISS: Italian conceptual portrait photographer Sara Lando is coming to the US to teach in Atlanta (8/16) and Baltimore (8/23). Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Today on the Lighting Porn Channel…

…photographer Amber Gray shows us how to stop wasting so much time on retouching. All it takes is the right lighting gear.

The Broncolor setup will set you back, oh, about twenty gees by the time you are done buying the pack, head and Para reflector. But think of the time you'll save at the retouching station!
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Basically the video should be titled, Just Stick This Bad Boy Behind You and You Can't Lose! Suffice to say that no one will mistake it for a cheap, Chinese knockoff of a Paul Buff PLM.

They even show you how to open it in a smoke-filled room, should the need ever arise. (Nice smoke, Broncolor. But no one out-lighting-porns the folks over at Briese.)

Amber Gray even goes as far as to play the Desert Island card:
"If I were to be stranded on a desert island with one light shaper … (and packs, and, you know, a generator) … it would be the Para."

Um, yeah, Amber. 'Cause I'm thinking that thing would also make a pretty damn good boat.
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48 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Camp Photography said...

For $500 you can get the Alienbees ABR-800, 56" Moon Unit with a carry bag and get a similar lighting effect. I use mine as a shoot thru source as well as just a light with really big softbox. Takes up a lot less space than a similarly sized Octobox (its much thinner).

March 08, 2012 9:22 AM  
Blogger Michael Quack - Visual Pursuit said...

Up to 330 mm in size?
Milimeters?

Wow, that is one foot already.....

I wonder who reads their video subtitles for correction before publishing....

March 08, 2012 9:53 AM  
Blogger Andor said...

'...also make a pretty damn good boat.'
How true!
LOL :-D

March 08, 2012 9:59 AM  
Blogger Disoculated said...

I'd imagine that you could do something with a beach or outside table umbrella and some flocking to get a similar effect for a lot less money.

March 08, 2012 10:34 AM  
Blogger Antares said...

Not sure what size they were measuring at the :55 mark. But 330mm does not sound all that big (1ft)

March 08, 2012 10:39 AM  
Blogger Will said...

DH, is there a huge difference in output and shape when using a reflective umbrella or equivalent size ?

I have two 60" bad boys (standard umbrellas) and they are pretty big, the paras seem to me to have a more circular shape and obviously a more sturdier design, but i was wondering if there is a huge in difference in shape or light quality between the two ?

March 08, 2012 10:47 AM  
Blogger Lucas Merrill said...

Looks like they added that little +1 to everything on the PLM. (Love my PLM)

My question is, how does it stand up to a light breeze? :-D

March 08, 2012 10:51 AM  
Blogger Will said...

Obviously i mean standard paras not this one that looks like the dudes that helped us built the pyramids just dropped it off.

Looks like some off an apollo mission.

March 08, 2012 10:52 AM  
Blogger Tim Piggott said...

Has any one noticed that this thing is like 10xs smaller than the Briese. It's Quoted at 330mm for the largest model that's like 11" Lot of money for such a tiny light modifier!

March 08, 2012 10:52 AM  
Blogger Adrian said...

Good for her! I had to debate long and hard about buying a second LP160 for $160 so I don't think that rig is in my future. It's fun to watch the other half sometimes though :)

March 08, 2012 10:56 AM  
Blogger Leland Oldershaw said...

You can probably fact-check me on this somewhere, but I'm pretty sure this thing can focus more light than the Death Star.

March 08, 2012 11:11 AM  
Blogger Paul S said...

I use my 7ft Westcott Para in much the same way, and sure enough, I rarely have to do much more than a light touch-up in Photoshop. In fact most of the time I just use the clarity slider in Lightroom and it's job done...

March 08, 2012 11:27 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

As an amateur photography, I have two PLMs, and I love them. I can't see how having that boat behind me would be worth $20,000.

March 08, 2012 11:32 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I love Amber's work—really phenomenal stuff. And the Broncolor Para looks nice, but as you said Dave, the Briese is the mother of 'em all. For the budget-minded people, I wonder how the Buff PLM compares. Especially since you can't focus the light like you can on the Bron or Briese and the PLM isn't as deep.

The ability to use the Para and Briese with continuous light is also fantastic. Both are used extensively in film/video productions.

I see many photographers using large, parabolic reflectors like the PLM, Para, and Briese as on-axis fill. I may get my hand son a PLM (since they're so cheap) to try it out.

March 08, 2012 11:49 AM  
Blogger visualley said...

I did exactly that on a Hasselblad day in London: http://www.flickr.com/photos/visu_alley/6439049163/

Everyone was using the cyc wall, but this Bron Para was too good to NOT use!

I am saving monies to get a PCB PLM at the soonest, I can't stretch to the full Bronc system, as much as I would love to.

March 08, 2012 11:56 AM  
Blogger Doug Sundseth said...

If you think the quality of light is nice with this modifier, just imagine what you could do with the 305m Arecibo dish and a photo-flash bomb.

Sure, there would be a few logistical issues (especially for a location shoot that isn't in Puerto Rico), but what do they matter to the kind of people this gear is targetted to?

;-)

March 08, 2012 12:15 PM  
Blogger RE said...

I'm thinking of discontinuing my studies in photography and just spend the tuition on one of these. Best gear equals best photographs....duh!? I also think if you check flash zebra they carry a stereo cable adapter for these to dial into intergalactic space transmissions......V'Ger is that you?

March 08, 2012 1:17 PM  
Blogger chase said...

Haven't watched the video yet but from what you are saying (aside from the humorous sarcasm) she does make a valid point.

With the right lighting, cost of the gear not being relevant, you will spend less time retouching. Imo anyway, she'd be right in suggesting that.

But then, what do I know...

March 08, 2012 1:19 PM  
Blogger Reed said...

From the "Truth in Advertising" Dept...

How do you square that "All done with one light" line with the reflections in the model's eye?

Looks like a beauty disk and a large ringlight, head on, one on top of the other.

March 08, 2012 1:35 PM  
Blogger Sean von Tagen said...

I think the 170, 220, 330mm refers to the height of the stack of hundred dollar bills you will need to buy it.

March 08, 2012 1:40 PM  
Blogger jglerum said...

"If I were to be stranded on a desert [sic] island with one light shaper, ah, and packs, and, you know, generator, it would the para."

lol

March 08, 2012 1:47 PM  
Blogger paintedfoot said...

@Will I was wondering the same thing. It seems like a deeper umbrella with a bare bulb flash facing out rather than in.

March 08, 2012 1:52 PM  
Blogger Scott E. Detweiler said...

I love my 86" Paul Buff PLM and I beet they are damn close in performance, and damn different in price.

March 08, 2012 2:08 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Reed said:

"From the "Truth in Advertising" Dept...

How do you square that "All done with one light" line with the reflections in the model's eye?

Looks like a beauty disk and a large ringlight, head on, one on top of the other."

Reed, Amber uses the Para as on-axis fill, not as a key light. In the shot you're talking about, the key light looks like a beauty dish (possibly a Mola) and the Para is for fill.

March 08, 2012 3:07 PM  
Blogger wade_beard said...

Heh. They pulled the video down for a while so they could fix the 330mm problem everyone was pointing out. Awesome.

March 08, 2012 3:09 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

While watching the video, I had the urge, on several occasions, to yell, "Rock!" Funny how that works.

March 08, 2012 3:18 PM  
Blogger OaklandMisfit said...

The sizes shown at 0:55 are in cm (centimeters), not mm. 330cm is about 130 inches (almost 11 feet), that's a big para.

Even if the light is very good, I don't understand how it reduces retouching. Blemishes and stray hairs will still need to be dealt with, and "improvements" are beyond lighting (yes, bad light can accentuate shapes, but that's a different thing).

But I can see how setting up in one place and using a single big light can make the photographer's life easier, and that will save time. It's a matter of style, I guess.

Personally, if I am stranded on a desert island, I would go for a satellite phone. For 20 grands I bet I can get a few satellite phones and spare batteries. And a 5d mk3.

March 08, 2012 3:27 PM  
Blogger NuTTyX said...

Why you keep commenting about "330mm"? It clearly says, both written and spoken, "330 cm" (centimeters) = 3.3 m = 10 ft.

March 08, 2012 3:30 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

look at the start of the video of the "unreached" blonde. If you look at her eyes you can see that she is being lit by the rim of the light, not the whole surface.

This means they are effectively using lots of edge lighting instead of a soft box effect. It is an interesting effect, and depends on the focus spot of the umbrella, because it is a focus issue.


They show off how the light modifier has nice soft even fill, then they go to take photos with it, and all of their example photos, are only lit from the very edge (rim) of the umbrella.

-Michael

March 08, 2012 3:51 PM  
Blogger Maiwa Handprints Ltd. said...

Looks like they have just corrected the measurement to 330 "cm" rather than "mm." The video vanished for a bit then came back. Nothing like the blogosphere to be your copy editor!

March 08, 2012 4:21 PM  
Blogger Kevin O'Connell said...

If you re-watch the video, the measurements are in centimeters. 330 cm is close to 11 feet. Pretty damn impressive, but I too will stick with my PLM.

March 08, 2012 4:21 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Dude, forget about all this photo stuff for a sec. I just saw you on Triple D!!! You rocked it! That was sweet!

Bill

March 08, 2012 8:01 PM  
Blogger Sharon Campagna said...

The flexibility of this light is appealing. Not for all situations but, I would get a lot of use out of it.

March 08, 2012 10:26 PM  
Blogger DougOrama said...

This gives me an idea. I have an old 8-foot fiberglass satellite dish in my back yard that's not doing anything right now...

March 08, 2012 10:27 PM  
Blogger brian mosd said...

Why rent, when you can own. Ha

March 09, 2012 12:41 AM  
Blogger michael margolies said...

I got to use one of the large Para a few years back and the results were startling how well and finished the images came out. I'm not running out to buy one but it was impressive.

March 09, 2012 1:10 AM  
Blogger gretsch said...

Only $10.5k over at B&H for the 330. Bargain! Wow. That's about as much as going MF. erm.

March 09, 2012 5:07 AM  
Blogger Nikica said...

Hm, I wonder if something like this could be modified?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sun-System-Vertical-Burning-48-Parabolic-Reflector-Grow-Light-Fixture-/200679674902?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2eb970d416

Of course-it has only 1.219,20mm in diameter but..;-)

March 09, 2012 8:35 AM  
Blogger Pete Tsai said...

Dave.. You totally missed why she would have it on an island! That thing is the perfect solar oven, she could cook, signal space ships flying by, its the perfect survival tool!

March 09, 2012 6:14 PM  
Blogger עמי סיאנו said...

I actually have a set of broncolor heads. most beautiful lights I had the pleasure working with.
While in switzerland (where the born's are being produced) I got the chance to test the Para.
it is a very nice light but it is also limiting. Basically if you have this big light, you hardly going to be creative with more lighting gear. So I prefer to work with smaller modifiers and perhaps a big umbrella and not having all my shots look exactly the same.
Plus, it takes a huge amount of space in the studio...

March 09, 2012 10:29 PM  
Blogger zeroplusplus said...

Let me begin with saying that Amber has fantastic images on her website.

For soft flattering lighting, we have so many options that cost much less than the Para. My personal favorite is just bouncing a monohead or two, into a white wall or two sheets of 8x10 foot foamcore.

A mola dish with two large white reflectors on either side of the subject works very well also.

Or this simple technique I use for catalog and lookbook shoots. http://www.zeroplusplus.com/one-light-lookbook-lighting/

A studio I shoot in has the large Broncolor Para, but I prefer the nylon and satin panel system for the majority of my work found here http://www.thorstenottphotography.com/

Cheers....T

March 10, 2012 8:29 AM  
Blogger layzieyez said...

So, if my wife makes any complaint about my photo gear buying, I should just point her to this lighting equipment to put it into perspective. I'm really not spending that much compared to this.

March 10, 2012 11:37 AM  
Blogger David H said...

What a joke! I mean it's nice and all but I can just use a large white wall to get a really large light source. I am sooooooo sick of the attitude that buying the largest most expensive stuff will somehow make you a good photographer. All you really need to do is use your brain and figure out how to use things already available around you. I mean make a good investment in a fairly decent lighting arrangement and then get creative. Photography is an art right??? Artists usually are creative right??? Use your money for better things than buying a monster light modifer that will most likely only see studio time. I can't imagine using that thing on location hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

March 14, 2012 9:24 PM  
Blogger belfox said...

"But no one out-lighting-porns the folks over at Briese."

Well, the guys from TopGear magazine used no less than 5 para's to "ambient" the cover shot of the article that compares 3 cars ...

March 15, 2012 11:52 AM  
Blogger maasg said...

Is that light 'flattering' or just 'flat' ?

March 17, 2012 1:28 PM  
Blogger Chris Vicari said...

This thread caught my eye and I kept coming back to it to see what people were saying. Then I starting Google-ing off-site reviews and watching YouTube videos about Briese light systems. I was then able to channel my desire to shoot with this light into a hi-end studio shoot. Any one who denies their desire to use this light is just silly. I would equate it to driving a Porsche, and sure a Hyundai will get you to the same place but the trip will not be quite the same. I'll post a link to my favs, and update you all on the Briese experience next week.

March 22, 2012 10:20 AM  
Blogger Mr. Kevin Geary said...

So is she just using it for fill or is that her key light?

April 01, 2012 10:03 PM  
Blogger Lennart said...

briese would be my first choice

April 03, 2012 3:27 PM  

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