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Lighting
Old 11-19-2008, 06:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm looking for a cost effective and efficient way to start to play with lighting skills. As I never intend on doing any kind of photography as a full time job I don't see any major benefits of expensive lighting set-ups but pretty much everywhere I read anything I hear nothing but bashing of the low-cost options on strobes. Is there a happy place for us broke people that aren't going to be making money off of this set-up but want it anyway? Hopefully something about half the cost of even the lowly alien-bees.
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-19-2008, 07:08 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't think the prices get lower than the AB's you mentioned. Personally I wouldn't wast my money on them. I'd rather save and at least consider something like Dyna-Lite, Photogenic, or something similar. Why pay twice for something in the long run?

The smart thing to do, if you're low budget, buy one light at a time, like a great mono-light. Learn to master it, then add to your set gradually. In lighting, it's not how many lights you use, but how you use them. One-light can do a ton. Remember, that light is the "life-blood" of your image. If you went in for a blood transfusion, would you want it done inexpensive?

That's my two centavos worth, wishing you the best, and thanks for being a part of the GG family and community, rg sends!

(Image done with one-monolight, Hensel Integra 500, Chimera Octa57 light modifier, studio, Michael Dean Photography at Coatesville, PA)
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Re: Lighting 


(Image done with one light, Hensel Ringflash with OctaSunHaze attachment)
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(Image done with one light, Hensel Integra 500 with Chimera Medium Softbox)
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(Image done with one-light, pure evening sunlight)
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(Image done with one-light, Dyna-Lite Uni-400 monolight pointed into a California Sunbounce Reflector)
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(Image done with one light, Hensel Integra Pro 500, Chimera Large Softbox)
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-20-2008, 09:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I completely agree with Rolando on starting with one light ... and learning how to master it before adding a second light. We disagree on using Alien Bees ... but that's for another forum.

If you want cheap ... here's cheap ...
Way back when I started playing with photography and lighting, I also didn't have a large budget so I purchased a couple optical flash slaves (about $15 from Adorama or B&H) and put them onto my old speedlights (I had three old film camera, and had bought a flash for each of them, so I had a few old flash units laying around). I mounted the flash units on cheap light stands and attached umbrellas to them. I triggered all my lights with my main flash, which I put on a light stand and connected to my camera with a cheap PC cord. Sure, I could have started out with those continuous "Home Depot Work Lights" ... but I wanted to get used to using strobes, and besides being hot, those work lights don't simulate the strobe experience. After a year of shooting, moving from my "el cheapo" flash heads to professional strobes was an easy transition ... and to this day, I still incorporate some of those old flash heads in my shoots.
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-21-2008, 04:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Marty makes some great recommendations. Only thing I would add is check out the Strobist website for lots of info on how to use cheap setups to make professional quality images. www.strobist.com

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Re: Lighting
Old 11-21-2008, 05:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I started with JTL versalight 160s. i was able to get 2 strobes 2 white shoot thru umbrellas and 2 stands for a great deal. i belive it was all under $300 USD this was about 5 years ago at a local camera store. but they are still out there, although jtls website states they are diccontinued, if you google them many vendors still have them in stock. the only problem i had was a modeling light burn out which was $15.00. i have since upgraded my strobes, but they still work and once in a while i bring them out. the only downfalls are is they are low power, 160 ws however that is still PLENTY for shooting indoors portraits and glamour. and i do not belive there is a speed-ring available for them.
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-21-2008, 05:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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One thing about work lights: they come in handy when trying to keep a nude model warm in winter time. Though I am Dyna-lite poor (8 heads, four packs and three Unis) I still use my work lights occasionally.

The Strobist site can give you great techniques as well as hook you into making your own lighting gizmos and modifiers.

There's also a good book out there: Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Location Photography by Kirk Tuck. It will set you back $23.07 from Amazon.com.

Also Joe McNally has a book coming out in January about the same thing:The Hot Shoe Diaries: Creative Applications of Small Flashes" (Voices That Matter) by Joe McNally (Paperback - Jan 10, 2009).

Personally, I think Alien Bees are a great way to start.
Have fun,
Bruce
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-21-2008, 09:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm starting to think lighting is one of those hot button topics that everyone avoids except to say you need to buy $1000 lights to do anything and then the strobist group steps in. Can't there be an in between (seriously the JTL monolights cost less than a flash unless you're not getting all the features for strobist).

Well I decided I'm going to get the Adorama Flashpoint II 150ws light (they just came back in stock finally). I figure it will get me through for the next couple years until I'm established enough to be thinking about spending the larger amounts of money any other strobe systems will cost. It happens to be in my price range and I'll at least find out why it is that people complain about such lights.
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-21-2008, 10:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeykoder View Post
I'm starting to think lighting is one of those hot button topics that everyone avoids except to say you need to buy $1000 lights to do anything and then the strobist group steps in.
Pretty much.

You'll never get a straight consensus on this subject as long as sponsored users, wallet winners, and fiddly tinkerers coexist in the same space.

What works for me might not work for you. I would simply say to find what the best value is for you. If you don't know, then it sounds like you're on your way to finding out.
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-22-2008, 09:20 AM   #9 (permalink)
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You've hit on the one topic which, if you ask 10 photographers, you'll get 14 answers, all of which will be correct. But they will be correct for the way those photographers work. We are all different and we all have different preferences and needs.

Dyna-light and other higher end lights are wonderful, but do you need a Cadillac when a Chevy will get you there just a s quickly? Many years ago, I started a full service commercial studio with a set of four used Novatrons, then added to them with White Lightning monochrome heads (Alien Bee's older brother). Had ABs been invented back then, I would have used those.

As an occasional shooter you probably will have little use for the few advantages offered by higher end lights, soch as faster recycling. With my lower end lights, I've shot glamour and artistic nude, portraits, bands, small products and magazine illustrations. Not once has a client or art director questioned my choice of lights, including a home made light box.

It's far less about the lights than how the lights and shadows are controlled. I can't tell you what to buy, but if/when the time comes to replace my mismatched hodgepodge of lights, I;ll more than likely go for the ABs. Buy one, then learn how to use it. Then get individual light control devices such as soft box, umbrella, snoot, barn doors and learn how to use those. Only then ad a second light and go through the process again. Master one step at a time before moving on to the next.
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Re: Lighting
Old 11-22-2008, 10:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well I'll try to post a review of the Flashpoint light I decided to go with at the very least so someone in my position knows what it is they're getting into if they buy them.
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