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What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 09:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I have a 6 foot tall softbox in front of her and 2 lights on the background.. I keep getting a nasty grey around her feet... any help??

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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 10:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not sure what your setup is but I can see the light poles there and they look like they might be a bit close to the background. I use a two light setup to blow out my background. I've done it two ways. One with umbrellas and the other just bare bulb. Move them back 3-4 feet with an umbrella and see how you like it.

The image below was actually only one light, bare bulb.

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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 10:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I was using a 6 foot tall softbox for my main and 2 lights with just 9inch reflectors on them.. I will try again this week .. I was wondering if my main has to be at the floor or can it be up higher to get better light on the model?
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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 12:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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No mine is where I want it. Doesn't seem to make a difference. The background lights take care of it all. One thing I do though, like I mentioned. Is I have the background lights 3 or 4 feet from the background. Which means my models is probably 6,7 or 8 feet maybe from the background. You'll just have to experiment a little bit.

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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 01:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Not that I'm a wealth of knowledge, as I'm still learning myself... but I would say that not only do you need to get your background lights further from the BG, the main light needs to be directed downward more. Usually it works best if the mainlight is shining downward, and the light is somewhat "feathered" on your subject. Almost like you're trying to bounce the light off the floor back onto the model.

In your "test" pic it looks like your model is just a hair underexposed, but then I'm on my work computer and it's not exactly calibrated.

Also, make sure your model is far enough from the BG not to catch any spill off the BG lights or bounce off the BG. If her outline dissapears and she looks like she's fading into the cloth, she's either too close, or your BG lights are too strong. The exposure on the BG should be no more than 2 stops higher than on the model. (If the light at the model meters f8, the light at the BG should be f11-f16)

Most importantly, have fun!

larry
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Everything is too close!
Old 10-12-2004, 02:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Everything is too close to the background. Being that close, the 'cones of light' from your background lights don't have time to spread. Move the background lights at least three or four feet to the sides (if possible) and toward the camera position. I generally set one background light on each side of the background, pointed so that the lights spreads across the background paper and overlaps. Then move the model at least five or six feet farther from the background. For a pure white background, have about three stops more light on the background than on the model.

In the attached shot, the model was about six feet from the background and the background lights about half way between her and the background and a bit to the side of the paper. Main light was a softbox slightly higher than the models face. Since the background was white fabric instead of paper, I allowed just enough exposure to let some of the folds show (more visible on the print than on this small image).

Distinctive Images
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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 08:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with the previous responses, but mostly b/c I don't have much experience at this kind of shot. I am however, getting ready to do a few high key shots and was wonder about paper Vs. cloth? I currently have a white cloth BG which is 10x20, but I am concerned that I wont be able to achieve the pure white background with cloth. Does anyone have a recomendation for how to get a slightly wrinkeled BG to look pure white? Is it all about the exposure of the BG?
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Looks like...
Old 10-12-2004, 11:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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...You don't have the correct exposure on your subject. You didn't mention where you had the 6' softbox placed, but with six feet of softbox you should be able to get a constant reading from head to toe(including the floor), but keep in mind that the center of the light beam(for lack of a better term) will be hotter than the edges, and whatever is closer to the light source will be hotter.

For example, if you want to place the light higher than the camera, like what was suggested in a previous response, aim the light at her feet or knees, it will take a little experimenting. The hotter light, from the center of the softbox, will have further to travel, and the light from the edge of the softbox, which isn't as hot, will have less distance to travel, and should even out your exposure, overall. Like I said, it will take a little experimenting.

In addition to the distance items, mentioned in other responses, try this. It looks like your background lighting isn't balanced. Turn off the background lights and get the exposure on your subject the way you want, as described above. Then meter your background lights, individually, with the meter at the background, aiming toward the light. Set them for two stops hotter than your main light. Then meter them both together, with the meter aiming at the camera. It should be close, or a fraction of a stop less.

We'll be looking forward to the results.
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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-12-2004, 11:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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First, you need to have a clean white background, preferably seamless paper. BTW, white seamless comes in two flavors - color and B&w (believe it or not). The color is the "normal", the B/W has a little more phosphor in it to make it look whiter, to aid in "dropping out" the background for this kind of shot in B/W. Now I haven't seen it for a while, but they did make it for a long time. I only get color anyway.

Second, you need to get the lights on your background at least 5 feet from the background, and at least a couple feet behind the model (more is better on both of these). You should use 4 heads unless you have something like umbrellas to soften it and give it some spread. Then - very important - get some large black foamcore or something solid, to flag the spill of the background lights and the lights themselves (especially wtih umbrellas) to hit the model, and especially the camera, and also to soak up the stray white light bouncing all over the place. Contrary to previous opinions, the background should be between 1/2 stop and 1 stop over the reading on the model. Any hotter and you will get flare in the camera from the bounce-back off the background. The background is already white - you can't make it any more white than that. (I usually settle on 2/3 hotter than the model). If the light is soft, it will flow down to the model's feet and reduce the shadow.

If the model is far enough in front of the background, the main light can be almost anything you want. One or two umbrellas or a softbox. In the shot of Jaime Bergman below, the main light is one large (8' tall) softbox off to one side, about 4 feet away. The was no fill light or reflector on the other side. There was still some bounce back from the background, which means this background was still a bit too hot, but it did flare nicely and give some wrap around her body. And there is no retouching around her feet.



Obviously one thing you want to do on these kind of shots, basic catalog stuff as in the other shot (front lit by two even softboxes), is keep the contrast in your subject. There are three ways to keep this from happening: 1) Don't overlight the background, 2) Keep your lens clean, 3) Keep the model larger in the frame to give the backgound less image area in which to blast. Some photographers I know also build large black foamcore frames around the whole set, like a proscenium in a theater, to reduce the bounceback from the background.

I personally wouldn't get too anal about keeping shadows off the floor from the model's fee. Imagers have been retouching those out for years, long before Photoshop made it really easy. (Being on white paper meant the graphics people could do it in the printing process). In fact it is so commonplace that when I do catalogs we no longer make an effort to keep footprints off the paper, or change paper when it gets dirty, its easier to clean in Photoshop.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio



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Re: What am I doing wrong?
Old 10-13-2004, 09:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Mr. Andy... Are you saying use 2 softboxes for the background or subject?
If you are saying 2 boxes on her... how would you position them?

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