DIY Studio lighting?

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by nsurit, Oct 21, 2011.

  1. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Has anyone made or seen the wisdom in making a florescent lighting box for studio portraiture? If so, any plans and /or suggestion. I'm thinking as a primary, relatively soft light source. Bill Barber
     
  2. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Too dim, or you need to use a lot of tubes. Less work to make the 4x4 box out of white foamcore and a piece of ripstop nylon, add a Vivitar 285 to it for much more light.
     
  3. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    I would check KEH.com and buy older White Lightning monolights. I've been wearing out my five WL heads for six years of daily use and have never had a single problem with them, not even a bad tube, except for the one I smashed. Worth every penny, especially when you need to shave off a quarter stop; you don't have to move the light, you just dial it down. The thought of working with a Vivitar 285 makes my skin crawl. I love to save a buck, but you don't want to save too many. White Lighting is great quality at a great price, especially used.
     
  4. Dan Quan

    Dan Quan Subscriber

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    kinoflos are used widely in the film industry, because the do not flicker like regular fluorescent tubes. fluorescent tubes produce a beautiful light for b&w, its one of my favorites, and the green tone of many flos dampens the reds and magentas in the skin of african-americans and is particularly nice. if you can manage the exposures definitely give them a shot, they are beautiful.
     
  5. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    I thought about lights too but couldn't do it because of the nasty color coming out of those little tubes. Then went the big handle mount flash route (the big Canon ones) and fun with umbrellas and cheap light stands and now I am where Parker has suggested.....studio flash. It has taken me close to two months to get together 2 White Lightning x1600s and 2 Alien Bee B800s. Just keep looking, you WILL find the deals on them, it will take some time though. Honestly, and I hate to say this, but the guys at Fred Miranda always have someone dumping Bees or Lightnings. Look here and there.....something will pop up.

    I will never, ever use another camera mounted speed lite for any planned photo event at the house again. It is to easy to pull out one studio flash and a reflector, 10 minutes or less I am ready for an exceptional photo, not half assed like the used to be. You haven't said what or why you wanted better portrait shots, I am assuming you are doing them around the house.....don't cheap this one out, the results are exponentially better. Buy the time you screw around building and buying crap, you will be within range of a studio strobe. I would suggest a Alien Bee 800, but if you are strapped. Start with a B400 and a reflector and you will be set for most indoor stuff for now.....but get the 800 if you can swing it....or more.

    Don't do like I have done and waste alot of money chasing around different flashes for nothing when all you need to do is get a good studio flash.......why I didn't do it before leaves me wondering what the heck I was thinking. However, the big handle mount flashes do look cool when arriving at an event.....not many people are crazy enough to still use them and those darn new cameras with crazy ISO spoil all the fun.

    Bob E.
     
  6. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Potato mashers like my Sunpak 622 aren't that big, when bolted onto a baby Linhof. :smile:

    Now the same Sunpak 622 on an F3 with a TTL adapter and a ringflash head on the front of a Micro Nikkor 200, yea it does look a little weird, sure works well. :smile: :smile:
     
  7. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Guess it would have been helpful to say that I would be using them for B&W and perhaps wet plate. Bill Barber
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sanders McNew uses something like this--a big board, maybe 3x6' or 4x8' with an array of CF bulbs. Works for him. Shoots 6x6cm and 5x7" b&w.

    You'll need UV bulbs for wetplate, no? Or some combination of white and UV so you can focus, but not so much UV that it could be harmful to the subject.
     
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi bill

    years ago i met up with a product photographer ( 1988? )
    whose primary light source was a large 6x6' case filled
    with fluro - lights. he shot chrome film ( sheets ) and his work was sought after ...
    he didn't have ultra long exposures at all, and had deep DOF ...

    i don't think it would be hard, especially today, to create an array like david mentions sanders uses.
    and cf bulbs don't run as hot as others, so you can create some sort of diffusion to soften the light even more.

    for a while i was doing a lot of paper negative portraits ( probably will start again soon ? ) and i used
    modeling lights off of my monolights through soff boxes, long exposures, especially with graded paper, but
    worked great ( 2 lights ).

    good luck !
    john

    ps. lowel "L" light kits come up on ebay all the time
    they are the original lowel lights, they also work GREAT
    and the price is usually less than 40$ for 10-12 lights in a case.
    ( lowel still sells replacement parts too )
     
  10. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I use a double quartz work light on a stand with a soft box cover mounted on a pvc pipe frame in front of it. Paid $30 for the work light on a tall stand from builders supply, got the cover for cheap on-line. I have about $50 tied up in the whole set-up.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    rick

    do you have to worry about your quartz lights overheating and burning up your soft box cover ?
    i know some are rated for heat, and some aren't ...
    i've got some quartz lights ( lowel totas + omnis ) and have always been leery about anything too close to them
    seeing they are "hot" lights ...

    i'd love to get rid of all my lights &c and just get a handful of smith victor hot lights barn doors and scrims ...
    but, unfortunately im old light rich and money poor ...
     
  12. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I keep the cover about 12" in front of the lamps and check it often. If it starts to feel too hot I shut down foor a bit, plus I don't run them for a very long time to begin with, the room gets hot as hell if I do.
     
  13. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    Bill, for your application, the florescents would be just fine. You will need 8 four footers in each fixture, though. Have separate switches so you have two banks of four tubes so you can control the brightness some.

    Also, if you use a florescent grid screen on the front you can create a directional light that controls the spillage.

    Do be aware that they do produce heat, so your fixture will need some form of venting.

    I have worked with these new high power CF bulbs with umbrellas. Not too shabby.
     
  14. AlbertZeroK

    AlbertZeroK Member

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    I'm a fan of constant lighting, it's Tota and Omni Lights for me. Tota lights are also the same as halogen flood work lights, which I also have as backup lighting for larger events, use to use them all the time for lighting stages at beauty pageants (now I use Tota Lights).

    PVC frames work great too! Had to buy some PVC just the other week to make a huge scrim to cover a huge window on a shoot (I always carry some painter's canvas with me to stretch over it.)
     
  15. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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  16. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    I have a pair of Mole-Richardson BIAX's and they are amazing. 4 tubes in each (in two banks that are switchable), they don't flicker, they don't put out much heat and they're dimmable too. Barndoors, eggcrates and filter scrims are easily installed or removed and I can use either daylight or tungsten balanced tubes. They consume 250 watts apiece at max output so there's plenty of light without much strain on the house's electrical system (or the power bill).

    I have used KinoFlos as well but I'm not a fan. They have a separate ballast (makes for a system that requires proprietary power cabling) and are nearly 100% coroplast construction, very light, but very delicate.

    I suppose one could construct a DIY rig, but I doubt they'd be as flexible or durable in the long run.
     
  17. CollinB

    CollinB Subscriber

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    Rick,
    I've been giving that approach a thought. Do you use it for color or b&w?
    What sort of output are you getting -- what exposures are you able to obtain?
     
  18. CollinB

    CollinB Subscriber

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    My low-end lighting solution is 2 Sunpak 611 flashes (GN 160 @ ISO100) coupled with a Larson outfit for mounting them into reflectors. At times, when I don't want that much light softness (ie, more contrast), I just tape some lens cleaning tissue over the front of the flash.
     
  19. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    So far I've been using it only for B&W with my 4x5. My exposure times are all over the place depending on subject and set-up. Mostly on portrait work my exposures are in the 1/15-1/30 sec. and f-11 on iso 100 film. I need to get to those times on iso 25 film though, so I'll be adding light when I can afford it.
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The OP mentioned he wanted this for doing wet plate. That rules out virtually all the strobe recommendations made to date, because most strobes have uv-blocking coatings on the flash tubes. If you have cash to burn, I know Bowens and Hensel both have uncoated flash tubes available for their high-power pack-and-head kits. I have one myself for my Calumet Elite setup when I was thinking I would do wet plate more, but never got around to trying it out. The Kino-Flo lights previously mentioned are awesome, but they'll also set you back some serious cash (something to the tune of $800-$1K per 4 bulb fixture with bulbs). I know several wet plate shooters who use them in their studios. If you are looking to get this done on a budget, Fotodiox sells fixtures for around $200 each that have sixteen sockets arranged in multiple circuits so you can do full, half and quarter power with CF bulbs. One of those rigs will get you in the neighborhood of 8 seconds at f8 for wet plate exposures. You can buy the bulbs in bulk at 1000bulbs.com to get ones that are daylight balanced and therefore richer in UV. The downside of the Fotodiox units is that compared to the Kino-Flos they're more of a point light source (16" square vs 4' x 18"), and they don't take any other real accessories aside from a small-ish (24" square or so) softbox. But, as they say, you get what you pay for. The Fotodiox heads are probably the best bang for the buck until you exhaust their capabilities and decide you need something more.