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  1. #1

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    Lighting Newb... What else is new.

    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. #2
    bobfowler's Avatar
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    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.
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  3. #3
    rbarker's Avatar
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    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.
    [COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]

    Ralph Barker
    Rio Rancho, NM

  4. #4
    Bruce Osgood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarker
    ................

    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.
    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. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobfowler
    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.
    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??

    Quote Originally Posted by rbarker
    You might also explore just using reflectors outdoors
    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. #6
    bobfowler's Avatar
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    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...
    Bob Fowler
    fowler@verizon.net
    Some people are like Slinkies. They're really good for nothing, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobfowler
    but of no help when working outdoors...
    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. #8

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    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. #9
    rbarker's Avatar
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    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. ) 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.
    [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

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    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.

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