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Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 10:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey everyone. First, hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Secondly, I have a question regarding ambient light in the studio. I currently shoot in my garage using two AB400's and one AB800. My problem is, that I am having trouble getting a perfect focus. I believe this isbecause the light is to dim with just the modeling lights to focus properly. What I am wondering is if I turn on my garage lights to be able to see better, would that impact the shot? Would that light be picked up in the exposure or not? The lights are in the garage are your normal 100watt bulbs (3 of them) and the garage is about 900sq ft. Also, the lense has a hard time autofocusing when it is just the modeling lights, so I have to go to manual.

Thanks,

KJ
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 11:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Kejacobson View Post
What I am wondering is if I turn on my garage lights to be able to see better, would that impact the shot?
in a word and from an exposure perspective, "no." i'm kind of surprised your camera can't auto-focus with the modeling lights. are the modeling lights tracking? if so, turn the mainlight's modeling light to full.
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 11:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Jimmy,

I do have them set to tracking...Next time I will just keep them on full. I also thought about putting larger modeling lights in them (150watt) which AB says you can do.
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 11:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Your garage lights are burning at different colors, much warmer than your studio lights so there will be color shift in your images. Changing your lights to flourescent tubes just might be more helpfull becuse they burn in cooler colors, I don't know for sure so you may have to experiment. If you shoot digital I have been told that adjusting white balance will do the trick. I never was confronted with this problem yet. I'm curious why you're using only one modeling light when you have three AB lights, why not use all three? Hope this helps a little, may be other will contribute more. Good luck.

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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 11:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I am using all three lights, but one is used to the back ground. The other I had turned down to provide some fill light. Also, this may be a stupid question. I am using a 70-200mm, I know if I change my distance from the subject, the focusing changes. Now if I am stationary, and have focused say at 70mm....would it still be in focus at 200mm and vice versa?

KJ
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 12:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Unless you are shooting at a very high ISO, your room lights should not affect your image. Strobes that strong are way more powerful than a simple light bulb.

Your ambient light is probably about 1/60 at 2.8 I imagine you can get a lot more "f" out of your Alien Bees. Also, a way to eliminate ambient is to shoot at the highest shutter speed that your camera syncs at --- most cases 1/125 or 1/200. Your Bees will simply overpower the ambient..

One of the tricks I learned with autofocus is that it doesn't like solid colors. I try to give some contrast to focus on. That can be something as simple as the contrast between an eyebrow and skin color or a white shirt and a dark jacket.

Next, try using a camera that has a one shot focus - it autofocuses and then locks until you tell it to focus again. My Canons are set so that it focuses when I push (and hold) the little asterisk button on the upper right of the camera back. I believe this is Custom Function (CF) #4.

My thumb presses the button while my index finger rests on the shutter. The camera focuses, locks and I fire. Press the button again and it refocuses. Personally, I could never get the hang of that focus and fire with the shutter. My finger would twitch and I would fire before I was focused.

And finally, you probably don't need to focus between every shot if you have a "one shot" or focus lock. You are probably shooting at f8 or better. As long as your subject stays about the same distance from you, they should remain in focus. This will be taken care of by your depth of field.

For instance, you're shooting a series of head shots with your zoom at 200. She turns her face right *pow*, left *pow*, dead center and she hits you with that gaze *pow* Gee, just like in the movies, huh Dad?

Bruce
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 09:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't believe you mentioned which camera you are using.

I have had some similar autofocus situations with my S2 in studio type situations. I've found that using a selected viewfinder focusing point and then picking the center point helps a bit. If that doesn't make sense to you, your camera may not have the ability to select the focusing point.

Also, I believe someone has mentioned that some cameras want to see a sharp edge in order to autofocus. That's definitely the situation I've encountered with the S2.

Extra light does help in many situations, but not always. And if your camera has an autofocus assist light as the S2 does, it can provide some additional focusing light albeit at the expense of shortened battery life and possible model squint.

I usually shoot at F8 @ 125th with ASO 200 using strobes and ambient light from normal room lighting isn't an issue.

So it's a combination of things, and only experience can be your guide. If you do find a magic bullet, let us all know...
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-26-2006, 09:50 PM   #8 (permalink)
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this is an interesting thread.

al brought up some good points. personally, i have my cameras set to center-point focus. i usually tilt up, focus on the eyes, tilt down, frame and shoot.

i wouldnt recommend using flourescents as someone suggested. they're not just cooler in terms of color temp, they also can produce a very slight green cast-- green (not blue) is more where flourescents are at in the color temp spectrum and, generally speaking, adding green to properly balanced skin tone isn't flattering.

i've never shot with an S2 so I have no idea what it's idiosyncrasies might be.
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-27-2006, 07:37 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyd View Post
this is an interesting thread.
al brought up some good points. personally, i have my cameras set to center-point focus. i usually tilt up, focus on the eyes, tilt down, frame and shoot.
We had this in another thread around here. After reading and understanding this info http://visual-vacations.com/Photogra...pose_sucks.htm (link provided here by frederick, I think) I changed my method. Now I always try to set the AF point there where I need it. The problem gets worse when using longer tele and smaller f-stops.
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Re: Ambient light in the studio
Old 11-27-2006, 08:31 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Hey Kev -

Lot of good answers here that all support what I would tell you - ambient room light shouldn't affect your shot because your Bees will over power it. 99% of the time I shoot with the room lights on because my D100 has trouble focusing. In fact, when I do evening shoots, I usually turn on some halogen torchierie lights just so I can focus on the model. Only time I don't use ambient light (and use modeling lights only) is when I'm shooting against a black background and want it to look jet black.

All that said ... for a change of pace, use the ambient light as an additional light source!

For many of my images, I incorporate the ambient light as part of my shot. If you spend a little time learning about light temperature (Kelvin) and how it affects the color of an image, you can expand your lighting arsenal with many different types of lights. I have 3 Alien Bees and 4 Norman strobes, but I regularly use incandescent, flourescent, halogen, tungston, mercury vapor and daylight in my shots (mostly as background lights). You'll need to master the art of rear sync and dragging the shutter, but it's something that can be learned with a few hours of practice.

In this example image of Jennifer, I used one Alien Bee to light her face ... but rather than letting the background drop off to black, I used several incandescent lights in the background to give the image a golden look.

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