Yep. My spread pattern is very similar to the patches of light seen on the cars in all four shots, don't you agree? The stairs in the second shot would need a big light, but all the rest could be blended from speedlite exposures, which lets face it, you are going to be doing even with big lights.
OK, I see what you're saying now. Yes, if you composite 5-6 exposures together, then the Speedlites will work in a pinch. When you have multiple pops of light on multiple sections of the car coming from multiple angles, it's hard to blend it all together while making it look natural and convincing. Removing all the hot spots would take about five years, too. With two AB800s, I can get better results in a single exposure. I don't particularly enjoy Photoshop, so the monolights are a much more appealing option
My shot is five stops under metered for the ambient at 100 iso and f8, that s a pretty dramatic ambient drop along with good iso and useful aperture, especially at the distances the car images are framed at.
Different colors and types of paint play a big role in how far a Speedlight will get you.
With a light colored, highly reflective metallic paint and no ambient light to battle, two Speedlites (on on side and one on front of car) works quite well, even at ISO 100 and f/8.
With slightly darker colors like this, again with two Speedlites, you have to crank it up to ISO 400 at f/8 even though it's 30 minutes after sunset at this point.
Throw in a darker color and more ambient light, and suddenly you need ISO 1250 at f/8. The ambient is three to four stops under in this shot.
Make it a black car, and now you need ISO 1600 at f/8, even though there's zero ambient light at this stage in the evening.
I love the Speedlites, but they definitely have their limitations. Power is really the secondary issue. The primary benefit of monolights for this type of use is that they give off a far more pleasing quality of light with more favorable fall-off characteristics.
But don't forget, any studio light using a faked HSS is only providing a fraction of its light power to the exposure, just like speedlites.
Good point. That's why going with my original plan of upgrading to two 1320ws White Lightnings and pulling the ND grads out of the attic might be the best option.