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Studio Lighting Setup
Old 08-19-2005, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm starting to set up my studio lighing and just wondered what a good working distance for my 3 X 4 soft box would be shooting bust shots. I dont want to stick the box right in thier face. Im going to do a lot of test shots sunday and any input on things that work for you would be appreciated.
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Re: Studio Lighting Setup
Old 08-19-2005, 07:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Well the purpose of a soft box is to get soft light. The further it is from the model, the harder it becomes. I tend to place the softbox at 3-4 feet from the model, sometimes closer. I also sometimes use it as the background and shoot into it.



These shots of Haley had a softbox of about that size about 5 feet from her, but I was shooting more of her. But I had a huge reflector on the opposite side and reflectors behind her.



In the actual shots she was forward of the position she is in the image above.

Cheers,
rfs
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Re: Studio Lighting Setup
Old 08-19-2005, 07:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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What works for me is being able to SEE how the light is falling on a model. Where are the shadows and highlights? Are they pleasing or distracting? Does the lighting give dimension to the body?

There is no 'correct' working distance, angle, or anything else. That's why this is art and not science. You have to learn to how to see, you have to learn how to compose, and you have to learn how to interpret and analyze the results. The best way to do that is to practice - a lot -, take notes about your shoots, and then do it again.

Hear are some observations that may help you:

Sometimes you want the light as close as possible to the model without capturing the edge of the box in the image. The closer your light, the softer the transitions between highlight and shadow. The light wraps around the model and produces very smooth tones. The further away your light, the harder the edges appear. The light doesn't wrap nearly as much and you get a much harder or edgier look. Pointing the light directly at the model gives you a different look than pointing the light across the plane of the model and feathering the edge of the light towards him or her.

Here's an exercise that you might wish to try, since your shooting a lot of tests. It will show you what I mean when I talk about soft, hard, light wrapping around or not, edgy, etc. It's one of the first things you would do in an introduction to lighting course.

What you're going to do is make a series of photographs at the exact same exposure as you move the light in toward your model. Position your light to one side of the camera so that it forms an imaginary angle (between the light, the model, and your camera) of around 45 degrees. Now move the light as far away from the model as you (reasonably) can. 20 feet would be perfect, but try to get it at least 14 or 15 feet away even if it means narrowing the above angle somewhat from 45 degrees.

Set the power on the light fairly high so that you can lower the power (to keep the same exposure) as you move the light closer to the model. Adjust the power so that your meter reads a whole f-stop, something like f8 for example, and then photograph your subject. Now start moving your light closer to the model in 2' increments. Everytime you move the light, adjust the power so that it continues to require the same aperture setting. So, you'd shoot images with the light at 20', 18', 16', etc. all the way down to 2' from the model and all at f8 (if that's what you started with). Take notes about each shot so that you can compare them with the images later.

What you will get out of this exercise is a set of images that go from hard and edgy (higher image contrast) to soft and smooth (lower image contrast). You may decide you like the look that a 6' working distance gives you, or you may like the look that 2' gives you.

Hope this is of use to you. Have fun.

-Chip
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Re: Studio Lighting Setup
Old 08-19-2005, 11:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The picture with the set-up provides endless information. I wish I had seen more of these when I was first starting, to get an inkling of what/where to place lights and such.

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Re: Studio Lighting Setup
Old 08-20-2005, 02:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanx Guys. This will give me a good place to start.
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