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Fashion shoot in Victorian dingy theatre - what lighting set up shall I use?

TSM 5 7
19 Dec 2012 8:32PM

I am doing a fashion photography shoot for my uni project revolving around the theme of the Victorian era and identical twins. I have mainly been inspired by Victorian archival images and the enchanting works of Wendy Bevan. I have my location and identical twins already booked.

For my location, I am using an old Victorian theatre. I checked it out today and soon realised that the theatre was rather dingy. In order to take a decent image I had to bump my ISO up to 1000!

Obviously, I can't be shooting with an ISO that high, my uni tutors will mark be down for sure.

Therefore, I was wondering what sort of lighting equipment I should invest in in order to achieve a brighter light?

I like the lighting set ups below:





Can anyone help me achieve a similar set up?

I have thought about purchasing a speedlight with a soft box, will that produce a decent result or will that merely act as a harsh flash?

Thanks in advance!

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duratorque 12 426 United Kingdom
19 Dec 2012 9:52PM
I think you will have to bump up your ISO to control the ambient light level. Otherwise your background will be very dark. You just need to balance the ambient light level with you speedlights. On the other hand the dark interior of the theatre will help you regard lighting. The lower power of speedlight will not be such an issue in dark places.

You can get a manual flash like the Yongnuo YN560, umbrella bracket, small light stand, shoot through umbrella and radio trigger in the region of 150. Have a look at eBay and 7dayshop. I think the last photo was taken with large softbox, seeing how the light wrap around the model and the shadow on the wall is very soft and not harsh. Most of my photo were shot using manual flash guns in softboxes. As long as you are not in a very bright environment, speedlights will be OK.
User_Removed 11 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
19 Dec 2012 10:19PM
You can open the shutter for longer to bring the background out, the softbox should light the models fine and blur should be well-controlled so long as they aren't moving too much if you use softbox properly you shouldn't get harsh light.

This is all I've used and it's served me well for years, I think it's worth investing in a good brand.
User_Removed 11 3.3k 4 United Kingdom
19 Dec 2012 10:27PM
PS, if you're going to invest money in lights, invest a small amount in learning how to use them
Paul Morgan Plus
14 17.4k 6 England
19 Dec 2012 10:28PM
What is your lighting budget.

A lot can be achieved with very little.
TSM 5 7
20 Dec 2012 12:23AM
thank you for your help everyone, I think I may purchase a speedlight or a manual flash with a softbox. Ideally I would like to invest just in the Bowen' s explorer kit but I cannot afford it at the minute.

My budget is around 300- I love using natural light as I hate conventional fashion shoots with harsh lighting - therefore I don't want a set up which will make my model look artificial.

I have only been granted 3 hours in the theatre which I am predicting will be rather stressful with the lighting issue!
Paul Morgan Plus
14 17.4k 6 England
20 Dec 2012 5:01AM
300 is a pretty good budget, if your planning on getting Bowen lighting at some point, get light modifiers that use the standard s fitting, they also fit bowens.

Firstly get a set of wireless triggers, 30 or less on Amazon, enough to trigger a least couple of flash units.

Then find some suitable units, even very old units will do, high trigger voltages will not matter provided there not attached directly to a camera, these can be picked up for as little as 5.

Then add a couple of stands, these start at around 10 each.


Add a couple of flash brackets that accept standard S fitting modifiers, I use these, and they come with a standard 7" reflector, about 30 each including reflector.


Now pick your modifiers, there`s a wide choice between grids, beauty dishes, soft boxes, barn doors etc. make sure that these are in standard s fitting, and get some colour gels.

Here`s an example of just one modifier, with a video of how to use them and what they do.



Books, I would not bother, there`s plenty of information already at your finger tips, places like this are good.

mikeweeks 11 960 3 England
24 Dec 2012 10:53AM
A good model can hold a pose so go the other way and use a tripod and longer exposure - I have shot group shots on 1/4 second without real issue, just take a couple to ensure no blinking.

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