In the Studio: Light is Light

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

A long time ago an experienced photographer once told me, “light is light.”

What he was trying to say was that it doesn’t matter what kind of lighting equipment you use—speedlights, power pack and head systems, monolight—the most important this is the amount, color and direction of the light that it produces. Expensive computer controlled lighting systems may be more convenient to use and those that I’ve tested for Shutterbug have been amazing to use in the amount of control they provide but shooters getting started may not be able to afford them.

One alternative is to buy used lighting equipment and I had a friend upgrade his studio by getting rid of inexpensive monolights replacing them with a comprehensive power pack and head system and it works for him. Those last three word are extremely important. What works for him may not work for you depending on your particular situation.


Do you have a home studio, even one like the 11×15 foot one in my finished basement? Do you have to convert your living room, as Mary and I did when we first got started 30 years ago. (Then have to convert the room back into a living room.) Do you have to shoot in location? Most importantly what is your budget? Once again keeping in mind that “light is light.”

The studio lights I currently use are a 320 Ws Buff DigiBee DB800 and 320 Ws Alien Bee B800 monolights. They are simple to use, powerful enough and more importantly affordable, especially for their power output. They are work for me, all the while keeping in mind that “light is light.”

For the featured image the the main light, the DigiBee DB800 is at camera left with the Alien Bee B800 with standard reflector (with red gel taped to it.)  Background is a Savage Black Infinity vinyl backdrop hung on a older JTL background stand. Camera was a Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 lens with an exposure of 1/125 sec at f/8 and ISO 200.

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If you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from with new copies selling $17.50, just a few bucks more than used ($15.34.)