Studio Lighting vs. Natural Light, the Vacation Camera, and More

Studio Lighting vs. Natural Light

It’s an old argument amongst photographers. Which is better, studio lighting or natural light? To me, the strengths and advantages of studio lighting are easily noticeable. However, both have their place and there are occasions when natural light might be preferred. But, in most cases, studio lighting will just make photos pop much more. Or, at least it provides you more control to make it happen.

Even in an outdoor shoot, using a mix of studio lighting with natural light can improve the image. In other words, if you’re looking to do portraits, headshots, lifestyle or editorial, if it involves people, be sure some of the session includes studio lighting. It’s not always going to be the case but, it should be more the norm than not.

While studio lighting will almost always improve an image, the quality and reliability of the studio lighting is also important. While there are many brands to choose from, in my opinion two brands stand apart as the cream of the crop: Profoto or Broncolor. Don’t forget the modifiers too, their quality is also important. Yes, so is the quality of the camera and the lens. It’s like a chain – one weak link can make it all fall apart.


The Camera to Use When You’re Vacationing

Another debate amongst photographers is what camera should you bring when on vacation or travelling? I’ve brought my Nikon D810 (usually do) and Fujifilm X-T10. I love both these cameras for different reasons. The Fujifilm obviously has a smaller footprint and weighs a bit less to lug around. But, I still usually go to my D810, whether it’s a road trip in-state or to a neighboring state or going overseas.

In the end, I want great quality. I also want to be able to photograph at night. This inevitably means I’ll also bring a tripod. I’ve walked around full days with a loaded backup throughout Italy, Spain, etc. I and my family have accepted that photography is an important part of my life. It will dominate most special occasions. So, I don’t debate whether my photography will take over a vacation or not. Vacations and travels are planned with photography in mind.

For example, if a trip to Arizona is planned I will consider adding days to the trips to ensure we get to see and do the sights we want and also photograph them without concern either will suffer less time. I don’t mind if this means lugging a tripod and 2-3 lenses. Because when I return, I will be looking at those pictures on a 4K screen or will make them ready for printing to put on a wall. So, I always want the utmost quality. I don’t mind carrying a few extra pounds to make sure of it.


Saving Your Work

I’ve previously mentioned my storage and backup setup. To go over it again, I have a NAS RAID unit at the studio, which if you don’t know essentially has two or more drives in one box on a network. So, what you save to one drive is immediately duplicated to the second drive. If the main drive should fail, it switches to the other one, allowing your data to be saved and for you to keep working. You can then replace the failed drive for the data to be duplicated to it once installed.

I do way more than just this. I have the exact same unit at home and each hour they do a sync between each other. Whichever unit has the latest or a new file on it, or a deleted file, is updated to the other unit. So, this means I have a full redundant off-site backup as well. I don’t have to rely on a cloud vendor to back up my data. This also has the advantage of allowing me to seamlessly work at the studio or home. I can save a file regardless of where I am and within an hour each location will have the latest version. It could be quicker too. I just choose to not unnecessarily bog down the network with syncing every minute or so. This setup saves me from having to place files on thumb drives or email them to myself, from putting them in the cloud, etc. to work on them from different locations. So, it’s more than just an off-site backup.

In addition, each NAS unit has an external USB hard drive connected to it and a full backup is done to each of these every day. As Fstoppers points out, this setup helps me protect against the three big potentials for data loss: a hard drive failure, theft, fire or other damage, or accidental deletion.


Capture One 11 and Wacom Tablet Issues

I made the switch to Capture One some time ago and am very much enjoying it. But, it’s also not without its faults. Maybe it’s just me but, half the time I try to access the metadata tab, it crashes. Also, I will give a star-rating to a photo and when I return to Capture One the rating is gone. This could be that maybe the rating didn’t save before I exited but, I’ve also now tried waiting a few seconds before closing out and the issue still repeats. The fact these two issues happen to me on my studio and home workstations leads me to believe it’s likely not just me.

I also love my Wacom tablets. It’s funny that when I bought them years ago I thought how I would never adapt to it. Now, I can’t imagine it not being part of my workflow. But, I recently had an issue. At random, the pen starts to move an image instead of applying a brush stroke. There appears to be no rhyme or reason as to when it chooses to stroke versus move. And, again, the issue happens on both my workstations. I found a fix online that disabling the “Use Windows Ink” option in the Wacom properties stops the issue. It does but, it creates another issue. Now I cannot apply different sized brush strokes based on pen pressure. I have to resize the brush each time I want a smaller footprint or larger one. Naturally this slows down workflows. The blame has been placed on a Windows updates but, I don’t care about that – just fix it, please.

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