I watched a behind-the-scenes video this morning wherein a pro photographer took viewers on a short, guided tour of his lighting set-up. In the video, the photographer was employing Nikon SB-900 small flash instruments. He was shooting in a somewhat small, location "studio" (a room at his client's facility) and had set up a white seamless as a backdrop.
The photographer's lighting set-up included a main source consisting of three SB-900s (a "tri-flash" he called it) mounted behind a 60" shoot-thru umbrella with a reflector set below it and angled up for a bit of fill coming from below. He also set a medium-sized softbox on the fill side using another SB-900 as the light source. On either side of the seamless, he employed a couple of more SB-900s to light the seamless. Finally, he boomed an SB-900 from behind which was set for a hair light. All the SB-900s were powered by batteries, albeit external battery sources, possibly Quantums, even though the "studio" had A/C available. In all, seven SB-900s with external battery packs were being used to light his models.
Let's do some arithmetic: B&H sells SB-900s for $499.95/ea. I'll round that off to $500/ea. The Quantums go for about, I believe, $200 each. With seven SB-900s (plus power sources) being used, the photographer was employing $4900 worth of small flash lighting sources. Since some tax or shipping or something more was probably spent purchasing that gear, I'll round that off to $5,000.
Someone explain to me how small-flash photography (leastwise, the way many shooters seem to use this gear) rather than using monolights or packs-n-heads, is the economical approach to shooting models? (Especially in an interior location where A/C is available.)
Sure, it's certainly easier to schlep that small-flash gear around but, frankly, I could have used two or three "plugged-in" monolights (at about $500/ea) or heads plus a couple of reflectors and achieved nearly the identical results, altho I'll admit the photographer in the video got more light on his background seamless than I could using only two or three light sources. And we all know how incredibly important it is to get that white seamless brightly and evenly lit because, in spite of all the processing most shooters perform in post, getting that white seamless perfectly exposed in production is absolutely critical to the final images. (Not.)
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The pretty girl with the rhinestone outfit is Cytherea, captured in my studio a few years ago.