In the Navy (ok, no comments from the peanut gallery), if we are operating a ship on one electrical generator, it’s called single generator ops. (Ops is short for operations by the way.) In photography, when I’m only using one strobe (speedlight) I call it Single Strobe Ops. Call me a Lifer, call me a Sailor, call me what you will… it’s just who I am.
For most of us, we don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around and so what and how much gear we buy can often be a little (ok, a lot) limited. When you are out and you see someone shooting at a wedding or other event and they have a couple of studio strobes with them, what comes to your mind? Are you jealous? If so, you really shouldn’t be. I used to feel that way myself until I started reading and came across some great resources and wised up a bit. In other words, I got smart!
I’ve said this before, but I love shooting with speedlights off-camera because I can do it wirelessly and they are ultra-portable. More so than any studio strobe or flashhead/power pack combo could ever be. Now if you only have one speedlight, all isn’t lost. You can even shoot portraits that look like they were shot in a studio with one light and a few tools. I’ve covered this before, but one technique I picked up from Lighting Essentials is the V-Card.
The V-Card allows you to do so much with one speedlight and you can get them super cheap! You can simultaneously reflect soft light back onto your subject and background or just light your subject. You can also use them to block light. The possibilities are endless. They are made from foam board or fome core. The largest pieces of foam board come in 4’x8′ sheets and you use white gaffers tape to form a hinge on the long side of two pieces. Leave a 1/4″ gap between the two pieces when you put them together so you can adjust them as you need to. If you don’t have a resource to get the larger sheets, you can by 30″x40″ pieces in 3 packs for $20.00 from your favorite office supply store. You can stack two pieces together and tape them to form a larger 30″x80″ piece. You can then tape those to pieces together as I described above to make your V-Card. It won’t be as wide, but will still be just as useful.
As you can see, you can do a whole lot with just a little and not spend a fortune. Hopefully you can put this to good use. Let me know how it works out for you and if you send me some images using your V-Card, I will post them here for all to see.