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Thread: Portrait Set Up

  1. #1

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    Portrait Set Up

    I'm only 16, and just getting started in the "making money" aspect of photography, but I'm thinking of trying to set up a little portraiture studio in my house, and something that would be portable too. A lot of my parents' friends are starting to ask me if they can have me take a family or single portrait of them for some reason or another.

    What do you guys think is some of the stuff i should make sure i look for in lights and such? I'm thinking about a kit perhaps? I'm looking to spend under 150 dollars, because i'm on kind of a tight budget as a teenager.
    -tyler moore-

  2. #2
    rbarker's Avatar
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    My suggestion would be to look for used WhiteLightning strobes. They are quite durable, and have decent output for the expense. Even the older "coffee can" units would be suitable in your situation. A softbox is nice, but you can achieve similar effects with shoot-through light panels that you can make yourself. A two light kit will get you started, but 3 or 4 will provide much more flexibility.

    The key issue, IMHO, is to find a brand that suits your needs, and then build on that system over time - rather than having a mish-mash of brands. That way, all the accessories will fit. At least with WhiteLightning they will.

    And, good luck with your endeavors.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

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    What do you think of this 2 light set?

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...864181702&rd=1

    I'm looking more for constant flood lights then for flashes, because its just what i perferre from past experience.

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    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    That $150 limit is going to be tough. I think I'd try for something like a couple of used Vivitar 283 Flash units, and Wein "Peanut" Slaves. The 283's are Thyristor controlled, and would provide a fair amount of flexibility and automatic exposure.

    Light stands - to put them in the right place would be another problem. To stay within budget, you might need a lot of Gaffer's Tape - DON'T use duct tape, unless you enjoy one hell of a messy collection of residue.

    The LEAST expensive light modifiers are ordinary handkerchiefs draped over the flash tubes - avoiding the thyristor sensors. They 'soften" well. The next step up would be umbrellas ... but they'll cost $30 or so each.

    I might also suggest white foamcore mat boards - from your local Art Supply store for use as reflectors.... for "fill-in".

    Good luck!!
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

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    Those look like hot lights in the link. You might want to do a google search on hot lights to decide if they fit what you want. But 250 watts might not be much light.

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    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhotoTyler
    What do you think of this 2 light set?
    I'm looking more for constant flood lights then for flashes, because its just what i perferre from past experience.
    Seems OK, if you limit yourself to Black and White. Color would pretty much require "Tungsten" balanced film .. or the proper color correction filters. Otherwise ... you might investigate your local Home Depot and see what you could do there.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  7. #7
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    tyler

    that set up looks good, simple lighting is all you need, as you start experimenting you will get the hang of what you need and purchase wisely for your specific setups.
    Good luck and start making some money.

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    Many folks have started with sets like this & grown from there.
    You could also start with clamp on reflectors or work lights from the local home depot/big box store The 500 or 1000 watt lamps with stands would probably cost around the same $$$, may give a little added height & you have the advantage of finding replacement lamps locally.
    The lamps that come with the kit are 3200 K, so if you intend to do color neg you'll also need an 80A filter to correct color.(same for the worklight).
    Also the work lights themselves are going to be physically smaller.

  9. #9
    rbarker's Avatar
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    Hot lights vs. strobes is really a matter of personal taste, but I'd point out a couple of things:

    1. 250 watt bulbs don't put out a lot of light, exposure-wise, plus you'll need filtration to balance for daylight color films, making exposures even slower,

    2. they are hot, and potentially dangerous when working with kids,

    3. although the output isn't much for photographic purposes, they are still very bright to the subjects, and often "uncomfortable" - thus, potentially affecting expressions and how long people are willing to pose,

    4. photoflood lamps don't last very long, are somewhat fragile when transported, and are fairly expensive to replace (compared to household bulbs).

    But, if you decide to go that way, be aware that similar inexpensive reflector fixtures can be found at your local hardware store, often as clip-on lights. I'd suggest checking those prices first. The little stand adapters (ball head with 1/4" socket) are commonly available. Also, be aware that these are about the only types of lights that use 1/4" stands - almost everything else that you might eventually get uses 5/8" sockets.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  10. #10
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    To Ralphs point , you will indeed find the hot lights slower, but

    Hot lights impart a sheen to skin due to the heat that is sometimes desirable with some applications for portraits.
    As well , with hot lights you are actually seeing the lights and their effect on your subject. I think this is a very valuable learning tool as it allows you to see.
    Modeling lights on strobes , unless you spend big bucks will not allow you to have this learning curve.
    My lights for still life , are much like the ones tyler has shown. I paid 39 dollars for three lights, I use 250 watt enlarger bulbs with them and this set up works. Is my work for commercial purposes acceptable > No < but for what I do it is totally ok.

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