As we bring the curtain down on 2013 and as I look back on this year, one of the highlights for me was simply getting better at my photography hobby. One of the things that makes me really proud is to see my work in print with major lighting manufacturers. After all these are the folks actually selling gear to photographers and they are probably going to be pickiest about how their products are represented. I’ve had a good relationship with F.J. Westcott and I was thrilled to see my work represented once again in the Westcott Catalog. Check out their Late 2013 Edition here in PDF. Not only is my work in it, but it’s one heck of a catalog covering all of their gear. See more of my photography here. Also check out my Westcott Terry White Travel Portrait Lighting Kit Here.
Year End Deals
Also check out year end deals on their gear here.
I'm a fan of big beautiful soft light for the beauty and fashion stuff that I shoot. As you might imagine I have a collection of large softboxes. While I love them and use them all the time, sometimes I need something that's large and more portable. Nothing is more portable than and travels as easily as an umbrella. Heck you can even carry an umbrella on a plane (as of today TSA has not banned them). Not long ago FJ Westcott introduced 3 NEW 7 FOOT Parabolic Umbrellas. You can get either a white one with a black cover, silver one with a black cover or white diffused shoot through one. It's a tough choice to make as I like all three for different situations. However, for starters I went with the white diffused one. Since it's a standard umbrella it should fit in any light setup/stand that you have that has an umbrella hole. In my case I used the Spiderlite TD6, which has an umbrella hole right on the included tilt bracket. Unlike the 1st two, you actually aim the light source into the umbrella and the light is diffused out from the other side. With the white and silver models you're bouncing your light source into the umbrella and back out the same way.
The bigger the light source and the closer to your subject, the softer it will be. 7 feet/6 feet curved is pretty big as you can see above in the production shot. The Spiderlites are already pretty soft and shooting though this umbrella makes them even more natural and soft.
The umbrellas come with a carrying case to store them and make it even easier to travel with. You can use what ever lights you want with them. Like I said above, i used mine with a Spiderlite TD6 to produce the shot below.
ISO 200, 85mm, f/1.4, 1/80 sec shot with my Nikon D700.
Model: Liz Hoang, Makeup/Hair: Joey Killmeyer
You can get the Parabolic Umbrellas here:
White with Black Cover – $99.90 Amazon or $99.90 B&H
Silver with Black Cover – $99.90 Amazon or $99.90 B&H
White Diffused (the one I used above) – $99.90 Amazon or $96.48 B&H
Sometimes it's easier just to show you a product that I use rather than write paragraphs about it. Today is one of those times. I started using the Westcott Shallow Softboxes earlier this year during a workshop that I taught in Texas. I've been enjoying not only the new shallow boxes, but also the size of the new "large" one.
Advantages of a shallow softbox
You probably wouldn't use one with a strobe because more than likely you'd create a big hot spot having the strobe that much closer to your subject. However, with the Spiderlite TD6 (or TD5), you don't have to to worry about. By having a shallow softbox you can you can get it into to places that normally wouldn't accomodate a deeper one. I have a nice red wall in the hallway of my studio and it's really tight trying to shoot there with my other softboxes. However, with the new shallow ones from Westcott, it's much easier.
The new LARGE one is also ideal for those times when you're doing a portrait of more than one person or you're shooting a larger product such as a motorcycle.
Here's what I used in the video above:
72"x54" shallow softbox
48"x36" shallow softbox
If you're looking for a kit, I'd go with this one.
The shots were taken with my Nikon D700 and 70-200mm VRII lens.
ISO 200, f/4 to f/4.5 at 1/50th sec.
There is no easier lighting setup to use than the Westcott Spiderlite TD5's. While these lights are great, everyone that uses them says the same thing. "I wish they were brighter." In other words we all wish they output a little more light. Westcott has answered our wishes with the new Spiderlite TD6's. Instead of 5 daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs you not get to use 6. This means 1200W of output instead of 900W of output on the TD5s and that makes all the difference in the world. In fact for everything but their giant softbox, a 6 foot shallow rectangle softbox <-this softbox is amazing though, I can now shoot at 200 ISO as opposed to 400 ISO.
It's more than just an extra bulb
They also made some additional and welcomed improvements. The switches on the back and now more high quality and professional looking. They also added a much needed cord switch to turn the entire unit on/off without having to climb up on a ladder when you have the lights mounted high. Speaking of the cord it's longer too. Basically the TD6 is improves over the TD5 in just about every way possible.
The Bottom Line
Although I love my strobes, I'm still amazed by the results I get with the continuous lighting the Spiderlites. Life will only be better with the enhancements on the TD6's. They don't get hot and are great to use in workshops/classes where you will have multiple shooters. If you're doing product photography they rock for that too! Thanks Westcott!
You can get a single Spiderlite TD6 here for about $420. My recommendation is that if you have Spiderlites already, then perhaps one TD6 to replace your main TD5. Otherwise, I would recommend this kit if you're starting out. I use a setup like this one for most of the portrait work I do!