Lighting Newb... What else is new.

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Bighead, Mar 8, 2005.

  1. Bighead

    Bighead Member

    Messages:
    471
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Okay, other than my trusty Vivitar 285, a round reflector and some hologen shop lights clamped to my basement ceiling, I have no lighting....

    Now, as it seems, I will probably be doing mostly outside, relaxed, situational portraits. I want to shoot with my AE1's, Nikon N80 and my Mamiya TLR (MF). I will be doing all kinds of other things too, as I am a newb with lighting.

    Of course, I'm broke but I don't agree with buying junk.. So???

    Whats a good strobe? New or used... Dependable, reliable. I may be using this for a paying customer. Something good to learn with.

    I'm guessing I will be wanting to use this strobe and soft box as my main light. Maybe my vivitar, next to the camera for fill.... I have a new Minolta light meter..

    I don't know... Please help.
     
  2. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,439
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Alien Bees would be a good choice. The B800 has enough oomph to use in a softbox at moderate distances. I don't really recommend using the Vivitar with other strobes. You'll soon find that the lack of a modeling light will be a royal pain in the posterior.
     
  3. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've also heard good comments about the Alien Bees - made by Paul C. Buff Co, the White Lighting folks. (I've used White Lightnings for years.) They also make a battery pack that you can take into the field.

    You might also explore just using reflectors outdoors - white foam core, white foam core with crinkled aluminum foil glued to one side, etc. Flexible polyethelene mirror stock is also available at TAP Plastics. A 2' x 3' section can be used to focus a beam of (free) sunlight into a reflector, while the subject remains in the shade.
     
  4. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    2,613
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, N.Y.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I read somewhere, perhaps here on APUG, that someone is using a sun reflector intended for automobile windshields. They come in crinkled aluminum foil and weigh next to nothing and can fold rather conveniently.
     
  5. Bighead

    Bighead Member

    Messages:
    471
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm sorry, can someone elaborate on this?? Does this mean that a flash, off camera, would not be able to fill for a strobe??

    I've had some good luck with my reflector. I think I need to get a stand for it though. My 4ft 6, 7 year old just can't raise it high enough sometimes. Also, in low light and high winds, this thing is almost useless...

    Anyone else?? Is there a good unit to look for used?? Any other brands?
     
  6. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,439
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2003
    Location:
    New Jersey,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In addition to the flash tube, studio lights have a light bulb that allows you to preview the effect of the flash unit. They are a great help when working in a darkened studio, but of no help when working outdoors...
     
  7. Bighead

    Bighead Member

    Messages:
    471
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Crap... Another question. Why are these no good outdoors?

    I noticed that in the ABees website that they had that modeling light.. Thats awesome.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,470
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hey Big,
    I think Bob is refering to the intensity of the modeling light. In a darkened studio a 100W lamp allows you to see the effect of the light.(shadows/direction.) Out doors the ambient light simply overpowers the modeling light.
    Re:the viv 285 you should be able to use it for fill since the output is variable but it may need some testing with your equipment to figure the proper exposure.
     
  9. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Big, the basic issue with using electronic flash outdoors is the power - both in terms of the amount of light the unit puts out, and the input voltage required. On-camera flash units, even if taken out of the camera hot shoe and put on a bracket, are relatively low-output and take less kindly to light modifiers like softboxes than high-output studio-style units. A softbox will eat two or three stops of the light from the flash, so small, battery-operated units like the Vivitar are often not practical. Studio-style units use AC power because they put out a lot of light.

    Outdoor lighting is really a matter of balancing between the daylight and the output of the electronic flash in such a way that it looks natural, and doesn't shout "Flash!". (Unless that's the style for which one is looking. :wink: ) Control and metering become more of an issue with small, battery-operated flash units, as well. It might be helpful for you to do some outdoor test shoots to determine what your requirements are, and then explore equipment options based on that experience.

    For example, outdoor fashion shoots often use studio-style strobes, but do so with either battery packs (recently introduced) or with generators to power them. That usually entails having a crew on hand to deal with all of the logistical complexities, and substantial investments in equipment. On the other hand, you might take a page from the wedding shooter's book, and use battery-operated flash as fill. It all depends on what you want to accomplish.
     
  10. Bighead

    Bighead Member

    Messages:
    471
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Well, one thing I failed to discuss, I do want this for some indoor applications. I like the low key look of one main light source and nothing else. And yes, sometimes I do want to say "flash" but spread over more area than my Vivitar can do. I also would like to do some edgy fashion style night time shots. I have a Mamiya TLR that I can use a longer exposure to pull in the background.

    In well lit daytime shots, I think I do need to do some more shooting and become more efficient with the off camera flash fill as well as using the reflector when applicable... Sometimes I do want to get away from a "natural" look as well though..

    So, I think I have concluded that I want a decently powered strobe. Just one for now. Something with lots of possible accessories.. So... Portability is key... AlienBees? White lightning? Any other good used or new names to look for?? Brands and types are where my real ignorance shines..

    Thanks for your help guys.
     
  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For size (portability), Alien Bees are honeys, I hear. :wink: They are considerably smaller than comparable White Lightnings, but intended for lighter duty than the comparable White Lightning models. I believe the Alien Bee reflectors are the same size as the WLs, though, so you can mix-n-match accessories.
     
  12. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

    Messages:
    1,430
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Location:
    Riverside, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I bought the Alien Bees "Busy Bee" package last year ($1675) but upgraded the B800's to the 1600's for (apply Tim Allen Inflection here) "More Power".

    I would eliminate the wired remote thing ($100.00) and add some barndoors. I also bought the portable battery ("Vagabond") and the additional power pack. I used it for a field shoot at dusk with 6 subjects and it worked excellent. I found out at the Zion workshop that it does not power a percolator though...:smile:

    Five year warranty on all their lights. I think it's hard to beat the bang for buck with White Lightning/alien Bees.
     
  13. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,974
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Firstly, I would learn to take portraits outdoors without strobes at all.
    Secondly, the strobes I've used for many years in studio, and portable are Photogenic Powerlites, 600ws minimum.

    Michael
     
  14. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

    Messages:
    688
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2005
    Location:
    Los Altos, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with Blansky, plus, I'd recommend a trivial investment in a book on lighting. I'd hate to see you invest in equipment before you understand basic features like modeling lights. Study, arm yourself with knowledge, then spend the big bucks.

    Try going to amazon.com, type "photo studio lighting" in the search box, or try your hand at different keywords. Lots of books available. I bet some APUGers have favorites to recommend. (Don't look at me, I have basic Novatrons that I pull out once a year for Christmas portraits...)

    -chuck