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Portable Lighting – Webinar Question

Brian, of Pottstown, PA asks:

Q: What type of portable lighting might you recommend for wedding photographers?

A: I don’t shoot many weddings but I often shoot documentary work with on-camera flash or fill flash. This is very much the same thing, in fact the prevailing popular style among wedding photographers is shooting with a documentary edge.

I use dedicated on-camera flash units, that also have full manual over ride. You also need to invest in flash units that have full tilt, swivel capability, you are often utilizing this on location, bouncing the light off a wall instead of direct flash. If you spin the light completely around, and bounce it into the wall directly behind you, the bride is lit by a soft 8×10 foot light source (the wall) instead of a nasty little 2×3 inch very contrasty light (the flash unit). To power these I use Quantum external battery packs, specifically the Quantum 2×2. They are expensive but will power two flash units simultaneously, and are rugged, dependable and with the flash set on Auto TTL, the recycle time is VERY fast and battery capacity lasts all night (1000+ exposures on Auto). I own three of them, use them constantly, and have never had a problem with the batteries or the flash.

At times I also incorporate a larger, more powerful, yet still portable lighting system on location. Lumedyne is a small, portable, battery and/or AC powered system, manufactured in Florida. The system is adaptable, expandable and powerful in relation to size. I know a number of wedding photographers who use this system. You can use it as I do, combined with on-camera flash, which syncs off the camera hot shoe and I trigger the Lumedyne lights with radio slaves (Pocket Wizard) plugged in to the PC sync connection on the camera body. This way you get the benefit of TTL up close to your subject with the Lumedyne filling in the shadows elsewhere in the room.

Alternatively if you want an AC only powered system (more power, more reliable, fewer batteries to carry) I like Dynalite, and again a number of wedding photographer friends use these. They are light, small and still pack a punch. The point when shooting weddings is you need to be fast, portable and unobtrusive, your lights have to be the same.

My photograph below, is from the Oct 27, 2009, Tricky Lighting Webinar. It shows an example of using on-camera and off-camera flash mixed with the available ambient light (existing light).

John Bentham is know for subtly mixing ambient light with supplemental fill flash. A tricky technique to master it requires a delicate touch with the flash, just enough to lighten the shadows to make a photo legible, but not so much that the photograph appears over lit. John has learned how to put his subjects at ease, to let them be themselves, and to be patient until the personality of the subject is revealed. His photograph above of Burlesque and Cabaret performer, Veronica Varlow, is a striking example of this style of shooting.

© John Bentham

Digital Photo Academy and LivinginHD present a free monthly series of photography webinars on Your host, John Bentham answers many questions live during the webinars. Additional questions and answers are posted here on You can also view the archived webinars for reference.

View the Oct 27, 2009, Tricky Lighting Webinar here:


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