Making lemonade from lemons

I cannot believe its been two full months and a few days since I have written anything like a blog post. In that time from March 29 to now things on the business side have been all over the map, me closing a studio expecting to swing right into a new building, losing that, losing another, iffy negotiations and finally settling on a place which is so very close to complete. The new place is 2100 sqft., a large improvement over the old 46 West place. It offers much more potential, its location is as good as it gets and I get to stay in Aurora. More later....promise. 

In that span though, I did not have a studio to work from. Tough to find work. I did some location stuff but I was asked to shoot some real estate and I decided why not? Its work that can be done without need for a studio. Plus I was allowed to shoot it on my terms. Which brings us to the picture up top there. A dining room. Real estate poses many lighting problems, some get by them shooting HDR which is just bracketing and compositing resulting in one very unnatural looking picture. I prefer to light my subjects, always, if the natural light isn't good enough. So I light my rooms. Besides, even well lit rooms benefit from my lighting because I can accentuate things, make colors pop, and in general just improve everything about it. But rooms vary in size, in window treatments, and depending on which way they face the light, you get shadows, or sometimes just crappy dull light. But you have to shoot it anyway. The above dining room was flat, with yucky light. No pop at all. But you make lemonade from lemons right? So I put a light outside the window on a stand, triggered by a wireless remote. I have the option to vary power with this simple remote. Really nice when you are making sunlight. The light is the slickest flash I have ever used, the Cheetah CL-200X (200X from now on) which is made by Godox and is exact to the Godox AD200, and Adorama Evolv 200. I used Cheetah because Edward who runs the place ships fast and they also had the hard to find $16 XT-16 simple remote, so I bought mine there. All pieces and parts like batteries are interchangeable. 

My go to real estate kit, minus the portable Matthews folding stands, my camera and tripod. 

My go to real estate kit, minus the portable Matthews folding stands, my camera and tripod. 

As you can see the 200X has interchangeable heads! Nice. I like the bare bulb option and this mushroom headed soft reflector is way handier than I thought it would be. You can just use the fresnel head and boom that light into a white or gray wall/ceiling - and I do often but the soft mushroom works just as well and is more natural in most cases. Notice the size? The 200X is speed light size. Thats a full sized LumoPro 180R next to it. I use the 180R to provide the fill or evening out light, or to just splash light into a corner or off the floor to make it look better. Sometimes I use it to highlight colors. I mostly hand hold it or lay it on something. The 200X is on a stand usually but its light and easy to carry around. In the picture up top its outside as mentioned, the mushroom is on it and its firing about half power or 100 watt-seconds. Thats about 1.5 to 2 speed lights worth. it looks a lot like sunlight, eh? Understand, there is sunlight coming in the window, its not all flash but its a very dull, cloudy sort of light. In the corner, on the barrel covered by the wall, I have the 180R hooded to keep light off the wall and barrel, and sort of snooted to pop 1/128th power of light into the wine rack and unit on the left of of the door. Its not a large room, its about average I guess but with furniture its very hard to maneuver for a shot. Having a flash you can control remotely and is so EASY to transport and work with. I use the brass screw mounts with a umbrella holder that takes spigots most of the time. I can angle the light anyplace I want. The 200X uses its own Li-on battery so no AA's needed. Way cool. I'v grown to hate AA's. The battery is good for a rated 500 full pops too. I can only say in three houses of about 140-160 shots each, its not been charged yet. 

Totally compatible with the MagMod stuff when using the fresnel head. 

Totally compatible with the MagMod stuff when using the fresnel head. 

I have not had the chance to use the MagMod kit with the 200X yet but I did try it for fit and I did some light experimenting. Enough to know will work and I'm sort of anxious to try it. Maybe once I get into the new studio. I like this flash though. No cords, no AA's, VERY portable, with a sweet spot for power output. Its right in the range I use the most. I almost forgot to mention the 200X and it's variants are TTL compatible and it will do HSS in manual without being in TTL. Right now its only TTL supported for Nikon, Canon and Sony with testing as we speak for Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic. A firmware upgrade will make my 200X Fuji compatible when ready and I will have to invest in a TTL controller, a cost of $36. Eleven times less than a Profoto TTL controller. Eleven times! Yeah, this light is making me re-think my location and studio lighting. So far, I can tell there are slight color temp shifts from either the variance of the bulb or power fluctuations where each shot is not 100% uniform shot to shot. Something I see in ALL lights, especially speed lights. Not a show stopper but if you compare side to side you will see it occasionally. I'm seriously thinking of buying another and using it in place of the LumoPro. Right now I have to slave the LumoPro and while it works 90% of the time, its not optimal. Plus with two of these lights, I can go on location and move light and fast. The bare bulb in my QR soft boxes of 24x24 and 15x15 using the Godox bracket mentioned in a FB post, produces some of the best light ever out of those portable collapsible soft boxes. Same bracket takes umbrellas too. 

So yeah, I have been making a lot of lemonade. But for all the less than stellar events surrounding my studio and stifling my work, it has lead me to working with a new client shooting real estate and possibly other things. It gives me more insight into working with a few design houses showing interest. And its shown me the light, heh heh, at least a good portable solution that is plenty capable and very light on the wallet. Next up in a week or so, I promise, is my take on shooting real estate. I shoot it more like a product catalog which can be a problem with some clients. All they want are ceilings. Its a more technical style of shooting too. The creative part comes into play with lighting and angles and I do often "shoot for post", which I rarely do in studio or with people. Like I said, in a week or so. Till then stay safe. Enjoy the summer and when life tosses you a curve, go make some lemonade.