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What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 10:45 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I know this could be one of those "well, it all depends" type of questions, but here goes. What is the most effective way to setup the camera for a studio shot. Do I set the camera for the fill light and then set the main light within the one or two stops, depending on the lighting ratio I want, or do I set the main, adjust the camera stop, then set the fill? Is this a six of one, half dozen of the other kind of thing?
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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 11:17 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't know if it's the best way so I'm interested in hearing other opinions.

I determine the area that I want the camera to be, let's say f/8. I set the main to f/8. The set fill for 1 to 2 stops under main depending on what floats my boat at the time. Then take a reading with both on (it should be slightly over f/8. You can set the camera then to what you meter reads OR use that number and offset for desired effect, i.e. over exposing by 1/2 stop so set the camera down 1/2 stop from what meter reads.

David
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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 11:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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You always calculate your exposure for your main light. PERIOD!
Now your main light could be set-up a million and a half different ways and that's what makes shooting in the studio fun and challenging
j.urdaneta
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If by the best way you mean. . .
Old 09-21-2005, 01:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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the most efficient then you have to take out as many variables as possible. Way, way, way back in the days of film there was a move on for the studios to make the fill the constant. I wish I could remember what the formula was but the idea was a joint effort by the studio and the processor to get the fill to create a specific film density. Once you know the specific f-stop that would create that density then you could work your main light(s) to create what ever effect you desired. It also aided the processor since they now knew that your fill was a specific density and they didn't have to guess. At that time the method of choice to arrive at a fixed fill light was to shoot some hefty strobes into a white ceiling and flood the entire room with an even light. This took lots of watt-seconds but at least you didn't have to be fiddling with the fill lights.
You asked what it the best way so I'm not sure what is the best way. You need to decide what your equipment allows and which do you want to be the variable. Generally I feel the main is the variable and but if you don't have a fixed studio with fixed lighting then they both are variables and must be treated as such.



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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 01:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm not a pro, and I don't post much, but I agree with primejive, you should expose for you main light, now you can get creative and aim your meter in between or off center etc..., that is why it is called the main light.

Fill lights can be higher or lower depending on what you want. It's best to start with one light and learn how to use it, use bounce and reflectors, and then move on to two and more lights.

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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 01:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
I don't know if it's the best way so I'm interested in hearing other opinions.

I determine the area that I want the camera to be, let's say f/8. I set the main to f/8. The set fill for 1 to 2 stops under main depending on what floats my boat at the time. Then take a reading with both on (it should be slightly over f/8.
David

[/ QUOTE ]

If you meter with both main and fill lights on and your meter reads higher than it did when you had just your main lights on, your fills are set higher than your main.
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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 03:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
If you meter with both main and fill lights on and your meter reads higher than it did when you had just your main lights on, your fills are set higher than your main.

[/ QUOTE ]

Not so. Here's a simple example to illustrate. Let's say your main is on camera left and your fill is on camera right. Same power lights. Same distance from the subject. Same umbrella, etc. With just the main light on you register f/8. If you turn the other light on at the same power, you'll read f/11. Twice the light.

Even if your fill light is less intense than your main, the subject will be illuminated with more light than just the main light...thus requiring a smaller aperture.

You have to meter (with a white diffuser pointed at the camera) after all your lights are set, then re-set your aperture to match. That is, unless you're intentionally over/under exposing.
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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 03:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a question that dovetails into this, maybe someone can render an opinion.

Lets say I set up a big softbox as my sole main light.

Lets say I want no other light as I am working on the way the light wraps around the model.

At some point my "shadow" side is going to register RGB000.

Obviously, at the point I go to pitch black, no shadow detail will be rendered at all.

Say my lattitude (for the sake of argument) the bottom end, is F4.

Since I can always pull the shadows down a bit in Photoshop later, wouldn't it benefit me to add a fill to the dark side at just above F4 as it would provide me a bit of play in post production?

Isn't that the same idea of some studios firing a bunch of fill strobes at a constant fill for all shots?

Mark
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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 06:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
Since I can always pull the shadows down a bit in Photoshop later...Isn't that the same idea of some studios firing a bunch of fill strobes at a constant fill for all shots?

[/ QUOTE ]

To your first question, not really. For two reasons. The first is that I try do everything in-camera. Post-processing takes a lot of time, and if you have to apply the same technique to multiple images it gets very long/tiring/boring/frustrating. The second reason is that in the "properly exposed" region of your photo, there will likely be some areas that fade to black. If you pull down all the content that's nearly black then you'll mess with the "good" part of the photo, too. Unless you mask it, but then we're back to #1.

As to your second question, maybe so, but it seems like a silly thing to do if that's the reason. See above.
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Re: What is the right and/or best way
Old 09-21-2005, 06:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
If you meter with both main and fill lights on and your meter reads higher than it did when you had just your main lights on, your fills are set higher than your main.

[/ QUOTE ]

Not so. Here's a simple example to illustrate. Let's say your main is on camera left and your fill is on camera right. Same power lights. Same distance from the subject. Same umbrella, etc. With just the main light on you register f/8. If you turn the other light on at the same power, you'll read f/11. Twice the light.

Even if your fill light is less intense than your main, the subject will be illuminated with more light than just the main light...thus requiring a smaller aperture.

You have to meter (with a white diffuser pointed at the camera) after all your lights are set, then re-set your aperture to match. That is, unless you're intentionally over/under exposing.

[/ QUOTE ]

Brian,
You are right, and I maybe. It all depends on your tools and the way you use them. I have a Novatron set, and if I put two heads in one power pack one light camera right one camera left it does not make a difference, if I run each light to a seperate pack then yes it is double.

In the quote in my post he or she said they would put their light 1 or 2 stops lower than the main. I've seen people measure lights several different ways, he could just be moving a slider on some monolights a calling it stops. If I set my lights by pointing my meter at camera, then set get my fill 2 stops less metering by pointing at the light source, when I do the final meter reading it doesn't change, if I got my fill 1 stop less it may give me 3 tenths more at the most. Now if I metered this fill light with the meter pointing towards camera then it would be 3 stops, 2 stops, (red stop blue stop) I don't know which way is right or if one is wrong, as long as the photographer is happy with the results. This is all just general crap say main light camera left fill approx 30 to 45 degree from subject area.

All that said I still have lots to learn and forget.
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