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Lighting Questions
Old 02-21-2004, 09:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I am purchasing all new strobes for my studio, and as my background is in available light, I'm interested in some recommendations from the "seasoned" pros out there.

First, I am getting conflicting power stories from the various people I talk to. Some say for a 15x15' studio room 120WS is fine (4 light setup), and others say that 600WS minimum is what I want.

The main recommendation was a large softbox on the front, 2 fill lights (reflected umbrellas) and a hair highlight (overhead).. I have all the other hardware I need, but lights are a bit confusing.. Help if you can.. Thanks in advance.
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Re: Lighting Questions
Old 02-21-2004, 10:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm not clear on what you are asking. Are you meaning to say that the 4 lights will total 120 WS (or each will be 120 WS). 120 WS for all 4 combined would be totally unacceptable. I have a 15 by 15 studio (more or less) and use 440 WS in 4 heads and that is enought to shoot at f8 with ASA 100 most of the time. So that is about the minumum power that one would need.
You mention the background will be lit by available light. Is that what you mean? Are you saying that you have a light source in the room that will always provide the light for the background. If so, then you'll have to use low shutter speeds if you want to have the background play an important part relative to its lighting.
As to lighting arangement that depends on what you are shooting. I normally only use one main and one fill and then use one or more of the strobes to light the background. A hair light is also useful.

Here is an example shot from my small studio:



This shot was lit with a large softbox to the left (about 45% left front). A fill light in umbrella was on the right about 45% left front. Then I had the other two strobes lighting the background and slanted so none of their light fell on the model. (440 WS distributed amoung the 4 heads with the main light set to be twice the level of the others - Novatron power pack).

Cheers,
Roger
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Re: Lighting Questions
Old 02-21-2004, 10:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I come from the "Tim Allen" school of strobes, meaning the more power the better. But more important than raw power, is flexibility of distribution of that power. I have to admit I am out of the loop on current strobe systems, still using my big heavy Normans. My Norman's have 4000ws of power each, but the switching system and varible power control gives me enough flexibility to put 2000ws out of one head and 200ws out of another, using the same pack. Adding a "dump" head (a head that you point out the door, not onto the set) will split that 200ws and make the working head 100ws, and the varible power control will get it down to almost nothing.

Sometimes you need a lot of power, for example if you're using a softbox outside to light a group, or if you're inside and putting heavy gels over the lampheads, or if you need a lot of depth of field for a group shot. Even though you currently have a 15x15 space, you might rent something larger for a shoot, or go on location, or have and outdoor shoot. You should buy a system that will let you grow, and perhaps rent additional parts as you need them. In any case, I would opt for something with at least 400ws per head if you can.

Dynalite is a very popular system, (Playboy uses them) and one school of thought says that you should have several smaller powered packs for maximum control, which is what Playboy does. Also, the smaller packs are lighter and easier to travel with, and really adequate for most purposes.

I rememeber back in my portrait studio days (lasted about 8 months) that 400ws seemed like a lot of power. In a commercial studio, that's a hair light with gels. I did a shoot last year where I was able to put all 4000ws from one pack through a single head in a softbox for a shot on a roof, where the light was about 20' from the the models. We were lucky to get 5.6 out it on 100asa film.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Re: Lighting Questions
Old 02-22-2004, 08:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I have 3 mono flash heads and they are 3oows each. I know they are all the power I would need in a small room like your shooting in. You might know this already but if you buy just flash heads you share the power between all the heads. If you buy mono lights each has it's own power supply. I use JTL mono heads..

Mike

That Look Photo
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Re:Power is Good
Old 02-22-2004, 09:00 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Especialy if you can control it as described by Andy. My nightmare has always been not having enough. As long as you can turn it down more than enough won't hurt you, but not enough is always going to give you fits. My favorite rig is the Profoto Acute 2r with a 2400ws pack. I supplement this 640ws monos, 320ws monos 160ws monos and an array of norman packs and heads, including the Norman Alure heads which can be used with the TurboZ batteries. I still want more!

My criteria has always been enough power to shoot at the aperture I want to use and not the one I have to use.

Here is a recent shot with the Acute 2r 2400ws one head was in a strip box, and the other was a ring light. They were set at half power, 1200ws, which gave me 600ws in each head. 2 320ws monolights took care of the background. I used a Kodak 14n with a 28-70 2.8 Nikon. I shot at F8 hand held at 1/125



Good luck. Don't short change yourself, you never know when your going to need the big guns. Later, Hugh
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I\'m concerned
Old 02-22-2004, 08:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You state that your background is shooting natural light. I love natural light myself and it's about half of my work actually. What concerns me is your going from a natural light environment to a 4 head environment. Four heads is inherently unnatural, and your working method is VERY different. It's not impossible to make 4 heads look good, but it's a totally, totally different way of seeing (I can't stress this enough). The reasoning is very simple. Four sources means 4 shadows. Eliminating these shadows and not being able to move or else your shadows and highlights will have moved (or allowing the model to move much either) is generally stifling to a natural light shooter.

While I have in the past worked with as many as 6 different sources I am all for keeping things simple. One source means one shadow. If you need fill, bounce board can open a shadow and doesn't cause a shadow of it's own. If it's really necessary, then you add another source, and another, and another and so on. But I think you'll find that the times when you need to are rare-to-nonexistant.

Also, the type, quality, distance etc that you place your first source (and if necessary additonal sources) will have an awful lot to do with the look of your image. Softboxed (small/large/octagon/silver/white), umbrella'd (same), bounced, gobo'ed, grided, beauty dished, bare-bubled, rinflashed, any of these in any combination with diffusion or a change of distance and you can see how many variables are there for your control. Skipping ahead to that many sources will probably rob you of the ability to get precisely what you want quality-wise out of your shots and make you reliant on somebody else's pre-packaged (to you anyway) "lighting recipe." Not a good thing.

Best of luck.

Marko
 
 
Metric Police
Old 02-22-2004, 11:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey Andy... better not call film speed ASA or else the metric police will get after you! I didn't know you were olde enough to be brough up on ASA... glad to know I'm not the only one here.
 
 
Re: Metric Police
Old 02-23-2004, 02:34 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm also old enough to remember processing Ektachrome in E-4 chemistry in my bathroom. Time marches on, I'm going to stay here.

Regards,
Andy Pearlman
Andy Pearlman Studio
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Re: Metric Police
Old 02-23-2004, 02:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey i am 31 and use ASA, ISO, and EI hey its not perfect..but its an image
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My approach as well.
Old 02-24-2004, 12:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I agree with what Andy says. Not only is more better, but more control is more better.

I would not attempt to buy lighting for even a small studio, of less than 300ws per light. Better is 500 ws per light, and very nice is 1200 ws per light, for a small space.

Trouble is, you see, first thing you will want to do, is to go on location, with the lighting. Then you will want 2400ws or more per light, because you will find that is needed in many location environments.

Get as much power as you can afford, with equipment that is very controllable. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]
 
 
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