A post for the photographers! This is for anyone who is new to studio lighting and needs a little help getting setup. It’s a step-by-step guide in picture form of how to setup your Paul C Buff Einstein and PLM umbrella! This is the lighting system I use and I love it (along with many other newborn photographers). First, though, one of the most important things you need to be aware of is the sync speed for your camera. I currently shoot with a Canon 5DMKIV and I know that I can shoot up to 1/200th second with no problems, but if I shoot at 1/250th second you’ll see a black box at the bottom of my pictures. The black part will get bigger the faster your shutter speed gets. I generally shoot at 1/160th in case I accidentally bump the shutter speed during a session.
Now, to get started, you’ll need a light stand, of course! I’ve had this one for so many years I don’t know where I got it anymore. If you have a stand like this you need to have it weighted down. This is not optional. You can get specific bags for this. I’m using my scuba weights because they might as well be used somehow. Just make sure you’re using enough weight, the stand is safe, and it cannot tip over.
*Note, I have since changed my light stand to this one. The base is bigger, but it’s FAR more stable and so much easier to move the light up and down.
I love this case! If you ever have a need to take down your light or moving it this is great for keeping it safe.
Behold the Einstein.
This is important! You’ll need to take this back cover off before you put the umbrella or any other modifier on and before turning the power on. If you don’t take it off the modeling light will heat up and burn a hole in the plastic, which can obviously cause problems. Lift the little lever (there’s one on each side, use two hands for this) and carefully remove the black cover. Keep it in the carrying case or a safe place you won’t forget.
I keep the black cover on at all times. The picture below shows how you secure it to the edges.
Next is the diffuser. I have this one. Put it around the middle and then pull it over the edges a little at a time until you get it around the whole thing.
To put the umbrella on the light make sure the top screw is loose so there’s room to fit the pole in and then slide it in! After you do that tighten the screw on top so it stays in place and pull and tighten the diffuser around the Einstein so the light doesn’t burn it.
- Loosen screw on top
- Put umbrella pole in the hole
- Tighten screw on top to a point where it feels secure, but don’t force it
- Make sure diffuser is pulled around the light case so it’s not touching the frosted glass dome.
I recommend getting these instead, though! A cord is a pain because it gets tangled in things, kids trip over it and can damage the cord or pull down your light or camera. Unless you’re photographing products or something that never moves, get these. Don’t wait. The transmitter is on the left and goes on your camera and the transceiver is on the right and goes on the Einstein.
Put the transceiver in that spot on top of the Einstein.
This transmitter goes on your camera’s hot shoe.
But first you’ll need to take the cover off and insert the CR2032 Lithium coin cell battery that should come with it. You can get extras anywhere (like these). Then put the cover back on. I recommend using a rubber band around the cover as they are extremely prone to breaking.
To turn on the light hit the power button. The modeling light is what is always on, and is much dimmer than the actual flash, which only flashes when you take a picture. To adjust both at the same time hit the adjust button while that top box is blue.
If you want to adjust the modeling light and make it stronger, but leave the flash dim so you can use a shallow depth of field, hit the function button until the box that is blue is the one shown below. While that box is blue you can hit the adjust button and it will only adjust the modeling light while leaving the flash at a lower power. You can see in this image that the modeling light (the yellow line) is at a higher power.
Hit function again several times until the box that says READY is blue (like below) and then you can turn on and off the beep and whether or not the modeling light powers down between shots. I keep this set at off.
Last thing to note, eventually your modeling light and flash tube will burn out, just like any other light. I keep extras on hand for when that happens! You can get the modeling light here and the flash tube here.
Now you’re ready to experiment! Have fun! If you need some tips on how to light a newborn session you can look at this post!
Comprehensive list of everything I linked above:
Lightstand (this is what I currently use)
Avenger Lightstand (another stand people like, but I don’t have)
Einstein Flash unit
Black outer cover
Modeling lamp (extra)