Where does a photographer already armed with camera, tripod and computer begin building their lighting tool kit? What lights? Stands? Grip equipment? Modifiers–think flags, scrims, soft boxes, panels, reflectors and so on? This burning question will be answered during my workshop Light It! Starting from Scratch the day before Photoshop World this September 3, in Las Vegas, Nevada at Mandalay Bay.

My studio in Atlanta is very well equipped. That’s been a years–OK decades–long process. At the workshop I’ll share my experiences, particularly the mistakes so participants won’t have to along with strategies for gathering the gear that provide career long returns on investment.
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Want a fast track to lighting proficiency? Shoot with your camera tethered to a computer. This behind-the-scenes photo shows the lighting setup along with the latest photo displayed on a large monitor. Compare that image size to the dinky one on the camera’s back. With the raw file open in Camera Raw, I zoom in to the actual pixels view of 100%. I check how the light is working. Then I check the focus. The final hero must really work…

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To kick off this series of “where to start?” questions, Let’s begin with light itself; not creating it though. Measuring it is the initial step. So the first tool in the lighting toolkit is a great handheld light meter. More on the meters I like and use in an upcoming post.