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New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 12:13 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Took this tonight at home.

D70s
WB: Auto
ISO: 200
F 5.6
Focal Length 112mm
Shutter 1/15 sec

The lights are 2x500 watt halogen work lamps behind some white ripstop nylon to the right of the model. The backdrop is white felt. I haven't done any post production at all, including cropping.



Looking for any constructive feedback
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 12:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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First of all....she's a very pretty model. Hope you will get more images of her.

It appears there is something to camera right that is providing fill in the photo as well. She is lit from both sides...from her left the light is coming from slightly below her chin.

I would probably change the angle and bring the camera down even with her nose so as not to be shooting down at her. (not so much of the top of her head). Also, I would crop the image and take away almost all of the background above her...bring her eyes above the midline of the image.
Make your lighting stronger from one direction or the other...a little less fill. You've definately got the idea! Keep shooting!

Cheers,
Jason
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 12:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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d'oh, totally right, I had a white reflector to the left of the model reflecting some of the spill from the halogens.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 12:39 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Nice first shot and first post.

The first thing that strikes me is that the image is a little flat in the face - meaning that it is so evenly lit that there is very little dimension to it. One of the great things about working with hot lights is what you see is what you get. I would put the camera in another room for an hour and just experiment with moving your setup around the model, varying angles (both horizontal and vertical axis) and distance. Watch the effect this has on the way the light hits your model.

There is so much to learn regarding controlling light that I would go to any good bookstore in your area and pick up some books on portraiture. But for right now, and with what you have to work with, I would suggest doing what I wrote above. Once you see something you like, then capture it. Taking a picture is no big deal, with modern cameras any monkey can do it. MAKING a picture however is a life long endeavor. So that's where your focus should be...

And you will always like and then dislike something as you learn. I used to really like the following image, now all I see are it's flaws. It's the nature of the beast.

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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 01:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice shot. I work with the shop lights myself sometimes and they can work really great and they are economical. I usually do custom white balance when I use them and that helps to avoid color casts that you can sometimes get. You also need to be careful because sometimes they can produce rather hard lighting.

As already mentioned by others, try for a greater lighting ratio so you have a bit more dimension and less flatness. You can just move the reflector closer to change the ratio.

Here is an example I shot with just one of the halogen lights of the two light shop light set:



Here is the lighting shot, so you can see one way to work with the halogens that you might like to try:

http://www.rfredricksmith.com/liz48-light.jpg
Model is Liz in both shots.

cheers,
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 07:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckafader

The lights are 2x500 watt halogen work lamps behind some white ripstop nylon to the right of the model. The backdrop is white felt. I haven't done any post production at all, including cropping.
Don't take this as me being unkind or elitist but the odds of you or anyone else who is new to shooting in a studio and who are using shop lights and who are hoping to capture images that are dynamic, polished, and professional-looking are remote. More than likely, doing so would be accidental and/or the product of dumb luck.

Shooting portraiture with shop lights and obtaining great results requires greater skill than shooting with lighting designed for such uses. Shop lights are, by their own design, popular with many people using them for many applications because of their ability to scatter a lot of light, flatly and broadly. Controlling and modifying shoplights, for photographic purposes, is difficult at best.

My suggestion: If you're serious about shooting studio portraits and even if you're on a shoestring budget get yourself some lights that are designed for us in photography. Heck, even old camera-mounted strobes (which you can find at swap meets, thrift stores, and yard sales, can be adapted to stands or in other ways to hold them in place and will be easier to control and modify than shoplights. Plus they'll keep color temperature better. Or, buy the really, really cheap strobes on ebay. You don't need the bells and whistles that expensive gear costs. Maybe you'll have to wait for them to recycle a bit longer and maybe you'll have to treat them gingerly to keep from breaking and maybe the color temp will drift a bit but, again, they will infinitely better for your development as a shooter than shop lights.
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 10:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I think there is a place for shop lights.

You are right -- they do take considerable skill to use and may not give you the flexibility of strobes systems. But one can learn a lot from using hot lights in that you get an more exact preview of what the photo is going to look like. You can also experiment with certain styles of lighting that are difficult to do with strobes, such as imitating the 40 and 50's style Hollywood glamour (ala Hurrell and others). Granted, one would be better off with hot lights that are designed for photographic use and can be focused, or can use Fresnels for the special effects that are possible.

When I first learned studio lighting 40 years ago, I used 4 simple 500 watt bulbs in 10" reflectors. That was what I had. I learned a lot about lighting, ratios, reflectors, and so forth by experimenting with these lights. By the time I bought my first strobe system (Novatron power pack with 4 heads), I new the basics of lighting and how to set them up, how to choose a main or key light, how to set the fill, how to use accent lighting and how to use black flags to subtract light, and so forth.

Maybe more people need to learn the basics first with a simpler lighting system -- and cheap hot lights can work for this very well. But, yes, they can also produce some perfectly awful photos if not used properly. The lighting can often be harsh and unforgiving. But that is one of the things that must be learned. Ultimately a photographer who learns the lighting basics with a thorough understanding of fstops, light fall off, reflector techniques, light subtraction and modification will end up taking much better photos when they graduate to strobe systems.

Personally, when shooting with hot lights, I prefer to use one of several different fluorescent systems. The ones I use are home made, but they work great once one understands how to use them.

Here is a shot made using a homemade fluorescent:

http://www.glamour1.com/photopost/da...elpinghand.jpg
Its a nude study, so I'm providing the link.

The 4 shots of Liz in my earlier post illustrate the use of a simple shop light. Granted, the proper use of flags was needed to control the light. See the diagram that I linked to in that post for the details.

This shot of Kami, was taken using 4 sets of fluorescent shop lights to form a square and then shoot through it (similar to what Rolando sets up at some of his workshops using two light stands). These are best used with daylight balanced bulbs:

http://www.glamour1.com/photopost/data/500/kami01a.jpg

Cheers,
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 09-29-2006, 10:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i'm 100% with you on this. i too learned with hot lights. in fact, i didn't start using strobes until ... i dunno ... 3 or 4 years ago when i started putting more emphasis on photography then videography and cinematography. but i wasn't using shop lights. i was using hotlights designed for photographic or cinematic uses. heck, 30 years ago i was taking stills of actors and actors--headshots--in my converted studio/garage with some 500w photo-bulbs with reflectors that my dad used in the 50s and 60s for taking super-8 home movies! i had my own darkroom and processed everything myself... all b&w of course. then i bought some cinema lights and i thought i was in hog heaven suddenly having focusable lights with doors and snoots and all that good stuff. i remember putting spun glass diffusion on the front of them amd bouncing off of big white card stock or tin foil and using just about anything--sometimes plywood painted black--for flags.
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 10-01-2006, 02:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So what I'm hearing you say is "Don't try and drive a Datsun until you have raced a Ferrari"?

Seriously though, I can get behind what you are saying, but some other site (DIY Photography) suggested that I could "learn" lighting for less than $100. All told I've spent well over $300, more than it would have cost me to buy a cheap strobe setup from Adorama. So lesson learned there.

But really what I'm looking for isn't advice on how I could have better equipment. Eventually I'll end up making that investment. If I have a light, be it a strobe or a shop light, and I put it behind the model, and have no light in front of or to the side of the model, my shot will be bad right? But if I have most of my light on the left side and place the camera on the right side so that the shadow falls across the nose of the model, and creates depth, and blah, blah, blah....

So that's the advice I'm looking for. Make sense?
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Re: New to studio lighting, please don't be kind
Old 10-01-2006, 09:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckafader
Took this tonight at home.

D70s
WB: Auto
ISO: 200
F 5.6
Focal Length 112mm
Shutter 1/15 sec

The lights are 2x500 watt halogen work lamps behind some white ripstop nylon to the right of the model. The backdrop is white felt. I haven't done any post production at all, including cropping.
Jeff Black is one of those who has posted some excellent results using
halogen shop lights. One of the tricks to using these is how well you can
diffuse the lights to avoid any hot spots or uneven light.
Here are a couple of my own photographs using halogen lights with a diffusion
panel.
.

.

.
Jim
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