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Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 02:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm not sure that this is where I should ask this but being an IT techie by trade I figured I'd give it a shot in the tech forum. I've been one of those daily lurkers (sorry for looking at not commenting but who am I to say a darn thing to anyone? ) but I've admired the art on this site and now I'm going to attempt a start at it. My previous experience is no more than a GWC, I have been buying equipment though, learing how it works, and bought DVD's (Rolando's), and many books and mags trying to grasp the concept of this art and light. Probably I'm going at this to technical, but as I previously stated, that's my learned nature and the only way I know now how to start. What all this rambling boils down to is I now want to start getting kicked, hit, slam dunked, poked fun at, and blasted just like everyone else starting out. I have a thick skin as long as it's not personal, but I also have a strong sense of humor on that too. Anyway, below is my equipment and I want to start indoors. My area is a measily 10W x 20L x 8H' so please bare with me on that. It ain't perfect, but goodness knows I ain't either. Could anyone give me any technical (there's that word again) advice from what I've written as to what they would consider appropriate lighting and distance with what I have to work with? I have seen and read on these forums that experimenting is a key factor in all of this, but I'd at least like a place to start from and some ideas on what folks think may be problems I could encounter. Frankly I just don't want to scare anyone I photograph away by making them look as ignorant as I am for now. :::grinning:::

2 YAKE M-110 unbrella's 5600K 110WS. (not great, but what I have for now)
1 SB800 Nikon Flash
2 Chromakey backdrops green/blue w/stand (plus what I can build or steal [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] )
1 Nikon D70s
1 AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm 1:3-4.5G lense
1 AF Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4-5.8G lense
2 White bounce screens (made from huge foam cooler tops)
2 White softboxes (made from the huge foam coolers fitted for the YAKES)

and finally, a lot of fear of falling flat on my face and showing folks what a moron I am! One more thing, a special THNX to my wonderful wife who's tolerance and patients make this possible.

THNX In advance!


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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 04:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the board. Your space is certainly large enough to do some nice work in. I wish I had that much room! You'll probably get lots of advice, but I suggest that you start with one light and experiment to see what you get. Then add one reflector to discover how it softens the shadows. The beauty of digital is it cost next to nothing to play around until you get it right. Try a few with one light and post them here for feedback. Good luck!
Mark Harper
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 04:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Dennis,

Good to have you ask. This board is a great way to monitor what problems photographers have and how they solve them. I am certainly no authority, but will make a couple of suggestions.
1. Since you have a small workspace, it is important that you have the walls a neutral color so the reflections from your lights do not tint your subject. A light colored wall in a small area will also serve as a large reflector. Your lights should be more than adequate for this area.
2. With your lighting/flash combination, you may have to do a lot of calculation or trial and error to get the effect you are looking for. I would suggest a flashmeter should be high on your list of needed equipment. Minolta and Sekonic are two good companies (check the back cover of the July Shutterbug).
3. Now that you have studied the video and read the books, it is time to jump in and start shooting. If your wife is wonderful and understanding, she will no doubt be your most understanding and patient model. Practice, practice, practice.

Good shooting,

Tom
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 04:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Tom, I can't Thank You enough for your insight and frankly I'm ashamed that I didn't let others know that the walls and ceiling are flat white. I painted the place and you'd think I would have remembered to include that tidbit of necessary information. THNX for the compliment no the wife too but she will not pose for me at all. (little self conscience) However I am lining up victims now with enticements like "Hey come on over for BBQ and drinks!" Again, THNX for the reply and I'll be showing my stuff soon I promise. Hopefully it won't be just my a$$ I'm showing either! THNX AGAIN!
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 04:49 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Mike, I'll have a heck of a time explaining all the other gear to the wife if I don't use it! Could you please forward me some excuses as to 'why' I bought all these extras if I'm not going to use them? :::just kidding::: I actually appreciate your input and I strongly believe that would be the best method to start with. I saw some great photo's with just one light and I even bought a book on single lighting techniques. See,,, this is why I started asking around here, I've read the info, but I needed someone to point out to me that I should employ the methods too! THNX TONS! Dennis
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 06:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Tom mentioned this in his post, item #2, but I'll call it out specifically: get yourself a flashmeter, aka a lightmeter that can measure flash. The techie in you may get a perverse sense of joy out of calculating your f-stops based upon the flash's guide number divided by the distance from the flash to the subject, but you'll get farther faster if you get a meter to do that for you. Get one before you buy another lens, another light, another stand, another background, another kidney (no wait.... you might actually need a kidney more than a lightmeter). It's that important.

-Chip
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 09:24 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just one other note in addition to all the other free advice you've been given. If you get you a gray card, then you use the camera's histogram and the gray card to figure the fstop for your flash exposures and that will let you put off buying a flashmeter for awhile.

This is the gray card I use (the model is Dee, the card is what she's holding just to be sure there is no confusion):



Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 10:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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RFS, well as I inventory more and more I suppose that I do have some other stuff to mention and one of them is a gray card. Not quite as fancy as yours (it's just 18% gray) but since we're conversing I wanted to Thank You cause I saw in a previous post that you gave this advice to some others and thus I bought a cheap gray card of my own just to see what you were talking about. I have used it on occassion to white balance outside in various conditions while I was snapshooting and I want to say You Da Man! It works wonderfully. Least to my tired ole eyes it does. So THNX Again, and let me say your advice was well taken and I learned a trick that gave me some really balanced shots. (unlike the others that were blue or yellow!) Of course I still gotta lotta learning to do but that's why I'm here.
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-13-2005, 10:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Chip, well you sniffed me out didn't you. You've figured out that since my base knowledge deals in calculations and technology that I'll probably get-off on the mathmatical perverse sense of photography. (HMMM??? Maybe I could! :::evil grin: However I'm having enough problems with focus fields and light dropoff now. I've been looking at light meters and such but now I've put on hold purchases till I start shooting. SO,,, a light meter is in the future, but not for now. Once I can prove to myself and others that I can reasonably do this, then maybe I'll get more cool techie stuff to work with. It's a good thought though, and believe me, one that I should dive into, but not till I get started and see the light first! THNX
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Re: Just getting started
Old 07-14-2005, 03:02 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think the fear of falling flat on your face is what makes this endeavour so fun! This is one undertaking where success/failure is "almost" totally up to you!
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