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Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 08:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey everyone,

I have spent a lot of time reading on this site but I am still rather confused and need some guidance please.

I am wanting to eventually get into glamour photography, but I am confused with the lighting/flashes needed. For example, I see that many use lights to light up the model, background etc, but do these lights also act as a flash? In other words, when you are shooting the model, do you still use a flash or are you using the lights as the main light source without using the flash.

Second, how are people getting such numerically high aperture values (f11 for example) with a decent shutter speed and a low ISO? When I shoot, I find that I have to crank up the ISO way up and even then, I am usually down around f4 and 1/60 if I am lucky for a 50 mm f1.8 lens.

Finally, how are you obtaining the tremendous blacked-out backgrounds?

I am sorry if these are really stupid questions, but I am obviously missing something in the understanding of how these things are being done...

I appreciate any help you can offer!

Tim
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 08:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2hotford View Post
For example, I see that many use lights to light up the model, background etc, but do these lights also act as a flash? In other words, when you are shooting the model, do you still use a flash or are you using the lights as the main light source without using the flash.
Usually, the heads are all flash heads. It's rare to mix a flash head with a continuous bulb lamp -- but some special circumstances call for it. If you wanted to show a romantic room setting for example, you may slow the shutter to show candles and mix in flash to brighten your subject.

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Originally Posted by 2hotford View Post
Second, how are people getting such numerically high aperture values (f11 for example) with a decent shutter speed and a low ISO? When I shoot, I find that I have to crank up the ISO way up and even then, I am usually down around f4 and 1/60 if I am lucky for a 50 mm f1.8 lens.
I assume you're asking indoors -- if you want a low ISO, high aperture and a fast shutter...you need lots of light! Flash heads (or using strong available light) give you that ability.

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Finally, how are you obtaining the tremendous blacked-out backgrounds?
Use a background that has low reflective surface (velvet is probably lowest, but not necessary) and make sure the light falling on it is more than 2 stops lower than your subject -- the more the darker!

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I am sorry if these are really stupid questions, but I am obviously missing something in the understanding of how these things are being done...
No such thing -- and if there was, I've already asked it!
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 08:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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One thing I forgot to add about darkening your background is to move the light closer to the subject. The greater this ratio:

D1 / D2

where:

D1 = Distance between light and background
D2 = Distance between light and subject

the darker the background since the relative brightness of the subject to the background is increased. This is at first perhaps counter-intuitive since by moving the light closer to the subject, you're also moving it closer to the background -- but consider the other extreme: If you move the light way back, the background and subject are almost evenly lit -- but if you move the light closer to the subject, the subject will be much brighter than the background.

What's important here is the ratio above. You can get this same effect by moving the light and the subject away from the background (maintaining the same distance to subject, but increasing the distance to the background).
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 08:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you very much for the reply!!!

So am I correct in that there are both dedicated lights and also flash units? Here is my where my confusion comes in. In most lighting schematics I have found in books or online, they show mono lights (?) set up at ~45* angles to the models. Where are the flash units? Do these lights light up the model and then act as a flash? Ie. Do they remain lit, until the picture is taken and then they flash or is there separate lights and flash units?

I hope I am making sense. LOL!

Tim
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 10:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ah, I see the confusion. A monolight is a self-contained flash unit. It doesn't require anything more than a power cord. It's not uncommon to mix a monolight with lights that are plugged into a power pack. I do that a lot myself. All of them have flash tubes and modeling lamps:

The modeling lamp is a light that is relatively low power but stays on all the time to give you an idea of what the photo will look like. On most brands, the model light turns off when the head fires the flash and turns back on when the head (or pack) is ready to fire the flash again.

The flash tube is (you probably guessed) what fires the high-powered burst of light.

I don't own Hensel lights, but they sponsor RG -- so here are a couple of links to help you see what I mean:

Monolights: http://www.henselusa.com/selfcontained.html
Flash heads: http://www.henselusa.com/flashheads.html which require a power pack: http://www.henselusa.com/power_packs.html
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 10:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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One more point to make...if you see a schematic that calls for a flash, it doesn't matter if you use a monolight or a flash head on a power pack. Monolights are individually adjusted and flash heads are also adjustable, but it's done on the pack. Use what you have --just be sure to set your ratios to match the diagram.
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 10:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This might help too. in days past, like the 60's and 70's, most studios had "HOT" lights, which were on all during the photo shoot. These were tungstun light bulbs screwed into light sockets with reflectors and plugged into the wall. It would be a kin to using 300 watt and 500 watt flood lights that you find at Home Depot. They get Hot, and melt models.

Flash or strobe lights became available to the masses in the 70's. Basically, there are three types of flash/stobe lights, monolight, head and pack, and your on-camera flash. Monolight, as stated already, is a head (the bulb) and powerpack (high voltage power supply) built together. The monolight has a cord the plugs into the wall. Heads and packs are flash units where the bulbhead is connected to the power supply via a cord. The power supply is in most cases a battery. Then you have your on-camera flash, which is a fully self contained flash/strobe. Since the flash only "pops" and isn't on all the time, they became known as "cool" lights. Most monolights now have a flash bulb and another bulb called a modelling light, which can stay on all the time and is about 100watts. This modeling light can be adjusted or dimmed. it isn't to be used has full brightness light, or to do the job of the flash bulb. it just gives you enough light to see where the light is going to go, to see where shadows are, to see where the light is falling.

Hope this helps some.
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-14-2008, 10:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks guys! That is the help I needed!

Tim
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-15-2008, 03:36 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm sure you got the help you needed but I have a diagram & examples here http://sfjphoto.blogspot.com/ that may help. The portraits were shot at F11, 1/200, @ iso 100. The main was approx 4 ft from the model and slightly high on her right. The reflector was positioned about 2 or 3 ft to her left.
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Re: Newbie needs help...
Old 01-15-2008, 10:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by SFJ Photography View Post
I'm sure you got the help you needed but I have a diagram & examples here http://sfjphoto.blogspot.com/ that may help. The portraits were shot at F11, 1/200, @ iso 100. The main was approx 4 ft from the model and slightly high on her right. The reflector was positioned about 2 or 3 ft to her left.
Great! Thanks!

One last question if I may....

Again, I have noticed that many of the photos in Garage Glamour etc say that they were shot with 1-2 lights, and yet have f11 etc at 100 ISO and 1/160 etc. Based on the relative few lights, I always seem to be unable to get my numbers to match the above unless I use a LOT of light. How are you guys getting these numbers from 1-2 lights?

Should I just use the numbers, ignoring the camera's warning, and use a tripod?

Finally, what you would guys consider to be a good and decent set up for lighting? Soft boxes etc...

Thanks,
Tim
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