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...In any case, my project has me doing portraits of very elderly people, mainly in their homes or otherwise indoors. The theme is somber, so I'm picturing low key lighting maybe with a butterfly effect. ...I need to pick up lighting gear now, and I'm open to all suggestions, but my budget is kind of tight (~$500-$1000 and I don't mind buying used). I also have to keep things lightweight and portable. Any help? I'm thinking I need two flashes, two light stands, umbrellas, a soft box, and collapsible background w/ stand.
Also, does anyone have ideas for how best...Show more →
For portraits in the home -- what are often called environmental portraits -- I like to show a bit of the environment the subject lives in. If find the most versatile lightweight and portable solution to be two Speedlights; one an-camera or on a bracket, and one on a light stand.
You can spin a Speedlight head backward to bounce soft, even fill off the walls and ceiling, and use an off-camera Speedlight for the key light, or you can use forward-facing ceiling bounce for a semi-butterfly look, and many oither permutations.
I don't usually use a softbox or other modifiers for these; if the subject has "character lines" I want to show them, and I can minimize them with bounced fill or eccentuate them with high-angle key and little to no fill.
$1,000 would easily get you two used Speedlights, a modestly-priced bracket, an iTTL cord for the bracket-mounted flash, and a light stand for the off-camera Speedlight. (If you really want a background and supports, you could stay in budget by getting just one Speedlight for now.)
Nikon makes an iTTL cord that has a built-in focus assist lamp, something I really wish Canon (which is what I use) had.
Good luck with you project.