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  1. #1
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Boosting room light with bare bulb studio flash?

    Even with a room lights on in my living room I can't get decent exposure in my living room, and the color balance of tungsten light is another issue on top of that. So I thought about getting a 400 Ws studio strobe and using it bare bulb against some corner of the room to produce uniform light for candid shots of wife and kids. In the past I have tried this with compact flashes but their power was clearly insufficient. I realize that 400 Ws is still not all that much, but thanks to Portra 400, Provia 400X and Tri-X I have some hope that I can get at least F/8 if not F/11.

    So here are my questions to the forum:

    * Will 400 Ws be sufficient for this, assuming ISO400 film?
    * Will bare bulb flash create light that looks like normal room light, or am I chasing a myth here?
    * Is a corner of the room the right position or are there better locations for the flash?
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  2. #2
    vpwphoto's Avatar
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    --- Light quality... you are better off with strobe and reflector bounced off ceiling or wall/corner for a "natural" or even look.

  3. #3
    brucemuir's Avatar
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    I get f/5.6-8 with Vivitar 283 iso 400 no problem with 8 ft ceilings if the distance to actual subject isn't too far.
    There is some falloff if you go into a corner.
    I usually go straight up where the lightstand is out of the shot and that gets you plenty of even light even with the one vivi 283.

    The problem I came across is it looks great at first compared to direct flash but after awhile the look gets boring.
    It just is too even for any good light modeling on faces but works for everyday non portrait type shots.

    When I go directly up I use a small card on the flash to throw a bit of light into eye sockets and for fill.

    400w/s should be fine for even medium format if you don't have cathedral ceilings to deal with.

  4. #4
    polyglot's Avatar
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    I tend to do this; I put a reflector on the strobe (just to prevent direct lighting) and bounce the light off a nearby wall/ceiling intersection to give a ~3m diameter diffuse light source. I have a 1kJ flash, but often run it at about 350J (-1.5 stops) to get about f/8 in my pale-yellow living room. With a 400speed film, you will get f/16 no problem and the light looks very natural. If you don't have enough light, move a bit closer: the inverse-square law is powerful!

    As a stopgap measure, I sometimes use a small (60cm) softbox with a battery powered flash (Minolta 5600 is unusually grunty; expect maybe 1 stop less from a Vivitar or whatever 50m-GN flash you have). That gets me f/16 at 1m, which means you should get f/16 at 2m with ISO400. A silvered umbrella should be even more efficient, especially one of the high-efficiency collimated/parabolic ones.
    Last edited by polyglot; 12-10-2012 at 05:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    jp498's Avatar
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    I use a white lightning 5000 which is probably less power than the OP specifies. It's on it's stand and aimed at the ceiling (which is white). A well lit ceiling lights the whole room sort of like having a light fixture on the ceiling. No umbrellas; just out of the scene and lighting the ceiling. A second flash lights the subject, and the white lighting has a built in optical slave so they work together.

  6. #6

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    A trick mentioned in an old Kodak book was to replace the normal wattage bulbs in lamps and fixtures with higher watt ones. Be careful not to leave these on too long so as not to damage anything. The effect is quite natural,
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  7. #7
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    I've used Metz AF-1 48, which are comparable in power to the Vivitar 283, but for some reason these were never powerful enough for candid shots. The good thing about radio controlled off camera flash is that my camera rig (EOS 3, RZ67) grabs a lot less attention than one with flash or even with a large diffuser.

    One big concern I still have is the discrepancy between what looks normal to the eye vs. what looks normal in a photo (think mid day sun). Since the walls are substantially brighter than the floor, the light could be quite directional from above. I guess it's time to simply try it and if the issue pops up, put a bright blanket on the floor.

    The light bulbs are 240W (6 x 40W) halogen lights, yet I only get 1/80s at F/1.2 and ISO400 before color temperature correction (which would cost an extra 2 stops). Doubling their power somehow would likely destroy the room light within minutes and still require too large apertures for group shots. If they were regular light bulbs, I could replace them with these funky 50 Ws strobes that have the same screw thread as a regular light bulb.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  8. #8
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Consider bouncing a Halide shop light off of walls or ceiling. The color balance won't perfectly match ordinary incandescent lamps, but might be close enough. Be careful not to get the shop lights too close to flammable material -- they are hot!

  9. #9
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Jones View Post
    Consider bouncing a Halide shop light off of walls or ceiling. The color balance won't perfectly match ordinary incandescent lamps, but might be close enough. Be careful not to get the shop lights too close to flammable material -- they are hot!
    Like many aspiring photographers I had to buy hot lights at some point in my venture into home studio photography and like many before me, I had to find out why they aren't universally used:
    1. They are bright and nobody will want to look into them, not even if they are softened with an umbrella. Convincing babies/kids between 0 and 8 years of age to look into them anyway "for the perfect pic" is an exercise in futility. BTDT.
    2. They are not nearly as bright to ISO 400 film as they are to human eyes. What seems way too bright for us, brings F/4 and 1/15s, if that. Bounced against a wall means even less brightness in the target area. Also note that their color is not daylight but close to tungsten, which means I either have to use 64T film (sloooooow) or a KB12 filter which eats two stops.
    3. They do draw a lot of attention, which means even if I can convince my off spring not to touch them or otherwise tilt them over and smash them, they will be enough of a distraction to completely destroy any candid atmosphere. According to my little angels even a flash is a never ending source of excitement which its lit "test" button that makes "pop" and a flash.


    My experience is based on two 500W halogen lights. I could have gotten two more before my circuit breakers say no, but the two I have already convinced me that this is a dead end for me. My current avatar photo was shot with Fuji 64T and these hotlights, and you don't want to see enlargements or projections of this slide
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.



 

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