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What we use:


Film :  I personally use both Fuji and Kodak films usually   ISO 100 slide (or transparency ) film. For the Outdoor Workshops I prefer Fuji's Astia for its great color and natural warm tone. For the Studio Workshops I use Fuji's Provia. My recommendation is for any film in the ISO 100 to 160 range. To do available light work at a Studio Workshop or late in the day at Outdoor Workshops a high speed 800+ comes in very handy.

Lighting Equipment: Over the years I have sold and used most of the professional lighting equipment that is available, frankly they are all good and to some extent light is light. What a Studio Strobe needs to do is be consistent both in light output , UV and color temperature. The best is by far BronColor, Swiss made and very expensive , if price is no object it is the only way to go. I have a more limited budget so I went with Novatron, US made and a lot less expensive. When I was selling them we never had a defective unit, in fact the only ones we ever sent out to service were either a result of impact damage or one that was submerged in a flood and still had water in it ! Since I started using them for the workshops  I have had one head develop a short and I dropped one head breaking the Flash tube and Modeling lamp. Where some strobes modeling lamps can cost over $100 and a flash tube over $500 a complete Novatron Flash Head is less than $200! Some photographers prefer self contained monolights I prefer the Power Pack and Head units. Power Pack units are usually less expensive , often come with carrying cases and since the heads are a fraction of the weight of a Monolight the stands necessary to support the light are much lighter and in the case of Novatron fit in the carrying case with the power supply and four Flash Heads. An advantage of Monolights is that each light has individual  controls for light output, but those controls may be eight feet up in the air. Power pack units like the Novatron may have individual controls on the Head but you can vary the entire system from the power pack as well as disconnect any light from the pack. My experience with Novaton is that it is within 1/10 of a f stop of light output, many other systems I have sold varied as much as a half stop! With negative film that half stop is manageable but not with slide film! Inconsistent light output can also affect the relationship between the light in your system.

Regardless of the light source light is light and what is important is what you do with it after it leaves the flash tube. Light leaving the reflector is going to be harsh and unflattering so the usual practice is to use an Umbrella or Soft Box to soften the light to minimize shadows and skin imperfections. Background lights and hair light will often be equipped with either a snoot (called a High Hat in the movie /TV industry) or a Grid Spot, both confine the light to a smaller area. Ideally all the lights in your system should take the same accessories, sadly some companies do not. Novatron does.

Light Modifiers: Light modifiers fall into several categories:

Light discs: collapsible fabric reflectors round or oval , designed to reflect light. May be used either indoors or out with natural light of strobe
Umbrellas: provide great soft light and are very inexpensive with a large area with the right exposure ( inverse sq  law for exposure doe not apply with umbrellas. Usually white but sometimes silver for less light loss or gold for adding warmth. Very poor control of light.
Soft Boxes: similar to umbrellas soft boxes provide a softer light but with better control of light, especially when equipped with a lip or louvers.
Mirrors: provide maximum light reflection and specula highlights, very useful for hair or body rimlighting.
Light Panels:are similar to  lite disks except they are either square or rectangular rather than round or oval and with lite disc the fabric is permanently attached to a flexible frame while light panels have a removable fabric on a modular frame. Lite discs tend to be smaller in the 36" or smaller, light panels can be as large as 12' square  usually 78" square or 36" x 77". Colors can be white, silver, gold .translucent white or Black (for blocking light).

Cameras: Presently I shoot Leicas both R and M series. Over the years I have used all the Nikons from the original F to the F 4, Nikormats, FE,FM, FA and in Medium Format Hasselblad, Bronica, and Mamiya 645's and RZ67. Am getting ready to go digital but have not made a decision as to which way to go.
The most commonly used lenses are the  90mm for indoor workshops and the 90mmf2, 180mmf2. and 300mmf2.8. I use a lot of soft focus filter,  Tiffen Softnet 3B's, Softars and Tiffen  Promist.