I saw a deal on Slickdeals yesterday for this entry-level studio lighting kit from Cowboy Studio. For $45 it comes with 3 light stands, 2 white umbrellas, 3 light & umbrella holders, and 3, 45-watt CFL daylight bulbs (~225-watt incandescent equivalent). I certainly wasn't expecting professional quality components, but they're better than what I had for staging a picture (which was nothing but my off-camera flash).
First, I'm quite pleased with Amazon. I placed the order Wednesday afternoon with 2-day shipping, and it arrived Thursday morning. Can't argue with that.
Second, I'm quite pleased with the products. Definitely worth $45. Many of the components are plastic, rather than metal, but I even so they seem pretty sturdy. For hobbyist use they seem like they'll be fine.
Heather, as usual, was super excited to find out what was in the box that arrived this morning, so I told her she could help me test out the equipment after work.
So here are a few test shots. The only lighting used was from the kit. I'll probably get a shoe mount to hook up my flash with one of the umbrellas at some point so I can get more power and a faster shutter speed; or maybe just some brighter / more-directional lights.
The setup for these photos was 2 lights behind an umbrella in-front of her to the left at about eye-level and the 3rd light & umbrella below, behind, and to her right.
Really decent soft lighting!
The first picture is Heather's natural face when I ask her to look at something. Not sure why she looks so sad. Afterwards Jess came in and got Heather laughing. Since she's moving around so much the images aren't as crisp, but that's where the flash would help. She also stood up, so the lights on the left were now below eye-level, so her eyes ended up shadowed in this next picture since her head is tilted back.