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Lighting advice questions
Old 02-20-2007, 01:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi, my name is James.

I am new to the site, and increasing my photography hobby. I have had my DSLR for over a year. Some friends that are models have been asking me to do headshots and stuff for them. I did one this weekend (see avatar) and converted to infrared look. But I have another friend coming over this weekend. While I would rather shoot inside the cool weather dictates indoors.

I have a 10x10 room I can shoot in, which I know is small for "studio" type shots. The room has good daylight for most of the day, especially afternoon. I took some bad advice and went and bought some Home Depot work lights. A 500W and a 250W. After shooting a portrait for a friend, and the model this weekend I noticed a couple of things. One the color is off, the pictures are too soft, and it gets extremely hot. The room is currently a study with computer, TV, and book shelves mostly.

Would I be better off using natural daylight through the window than the HD lights? Or if I could get one light on a budget what would you recommend? A reflector, andything? I used a plain natural fabric for backdrop also.

And the study has sloped ceilings on the ends due to being over the garage. I also have a 5ft tall floor lamp that has moveable heads that combine for 300W of light. My camera is a Nikon D50, I am using a Nikon 18-55mm, and I also have a Nikon SB400 flash with my homemade bouncecard.

Any advice is appreciated.
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Re: Lighting advice questions
Old 02-20-2007, 03:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpelham View Post
Hi, my name is James.

I am new to the site, and increasing my photography hobby. I have had my DSLR for over a year. Some friends that are models have been asking me to do headshots and stuff for them. I did one this weekend (see avatar) and converted to infrared look. But I have another friend coming over this weekend. While I would rather shoot inside the cool weather dictates indoors.

I have a 10x10 room I can shoot in, which I know is small for "studio" type shots. The room has good daylight for most of the day, especially afternoon. I took some bad advice and went and bought some Home Depot work lights. A 500W and a 250W. After shooting a portrait for a friend, and the model this weekend I noticed a couple of things. One the color is off, the pictures are too soft, and it gets extremely hot. The room is currently a study with computer, TV, and book shelves mostly.

Would I be better off using natural daylight through the window than the HD lights? Or if I could get one light on a budget what would you recommend? A reflector, andything? I used a plain natural fabric for backdrop also.

And the study has sloped ceilings on the ends due to being over the garage. I also have a 5ft tall floor lamp that has moveable heads that combine for 300W of light. My camera is a Nikon D50, I am using a Nikon 18-55mm, and I also have a Nikon SB400 flash with my homemade bouncecard.

Any advice is appreciated.
First of all, the shop lights didn't really have anything to do with the images being soft, or the color being off. With a digital camera, you have to set the proper white balance and/or shoot in RAW and get the desired color later. As for soft photos, that again has nothing to do with the lights, but how they were being used. If the images are soft, then you must have been bouncing the lights off the wall (or perhaps a umbrella, etc) which would give you a large light source relative to the model, and thus soft diffuse shadows. If you point the unmodified shop lights right at the subject, then you'll get hard lighting (smaller light source). Now the heat issue is the only thing that really is a problem here and little can be done about that as shop lights are hot. I often use fluorescent lights and that gets rid of the heat problem. If you have daylight balanced fluorescent bulbs then that also simplifies the white balance. You could also use a strobe in a small soft box. Keep in mind that in a small light colored room, you have to control the bounce from everything.

If there is good window light, then you should be able to use that and a reflector and gets some great images. Keep in mind, that in a 10x10 room you'll probably be limited to shots from the waist up, but you ought to be able to get some great portraits. Just remember that the larger the light source relative to the model, the softer the image. Be sure to use Custom White Balance to avoid color surprises. I usually use a tripod when shooting shots using window light, but I do that so that I get the extra sharpness. If you hand hold, be sure to follow the rule of thumb. That means with digital and a 1.5x crop factor that at 100mm you'd want to handhold at about 1/150th.

Here are a couple examples of shots in a small space. The first is with shop lights and is four images from a small 10x12 room with one shop light in use, direct on the model. The model is Liz and my goal was to emphasize brown tones.

Click for larger version
Re: Lighting advice questions 


The next image of Renee is just straight window light and one reflector and the goal was to get a light and airy look of a girl waiting for someone with anticipation:



And one more of Renee with the same exact light, but just using it differently.



cheers,
rfs
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