Hot lights as a portrait set up
I am looking at investing in some good lights for portrait work. I currently use some interfit/photax 3200k lights 'liberated' from a skip and I enjoy using them for still life etc. I use Elinchrom flash or Arri Hotlights at college but still find myself enjoying the hotlights more. I don't know why- maybe it's the effects given by the low DOF or the 'What you see is what you get' feeling of hotlights. However I know how uncomfortable it can be for the model in prolonged shoots (we tend to a lot of modelling for each other)but for a 10 min shoot they seem fine.
I have been looking at hotlights from Elinchrom and Hedler, they look very adaptable but the price for a kit can be more than a flash/strobe set.
Any views on this or am I just plain crackers to consider it ? Cheers : Chris
Hmm- Wonder if she'd notice if I bought that :)
Personally, I would prefer hot models to hot lights.
Or, Hot Models/Hot Lights/Heated Divorce
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]The Center for Desease Control just called. I have pegged the needle on their machines with this photography bug I have.[/FONT]
Michael J. Taylor
Hi Chris (excuse me for editing your above post).
Originally Posted by digiconvert
No, you're not crackers! (I mean, I don't think so... but, then, we've never met ) Hot lights have lots of advantages, a few of which you've mentioned. I don't blame you for loving the 'look' you can get. When you light a subject correctly with hot lights, you can almost see the finished image floating before you eyes! I adore that phenomenon.
To reduce the effect of uncomfortably bright lights upon a live subject, here are a few simple solutions:
- Ask your subject to close their eyes while you focus and adjust the lights (watch that their head position doesn't change while they dose!)
- Have an electrician splice a dimmer into the power cords (or if you're competent, do it yourself). This will allow you to position your lights on "low, then, for metering purposes and final adjustments, turn them up to full power
- If you know the face-type of your subject in advance, perhaps you can position some of the lights before the subject arrives (certainly, this is at least true for the background light, if you use one)
Lastly, about affordability; hey, there are several threads already archived on this forum on that topic. Suffice it to say that you can even use desk-lamps or clamp-sockets gripped on chair-backs for hotlight photography (I've done it). One constraint: light height. For example, if your desk-lamp stays on a desk and don't you want side-lighting, your subject would have to sit on the floor, perhaps with their back to a wall... (but afterall, that's not such a dumb place to pose someone for holding still during a long shutter speed!)
Other simple solutions:
... and, when you can afford it, here's a best-bet: Dedolight. The only company smart enough to design a "zoom lens" into a tiny spotlight. Result?
Incredible light quality and output:
There... hope you help kick-start your efforts. Have great fun! Please post some results.
Important PS - Using barndoors (and, if possible, flags) in creating portraits make a big difference, especially with hotlights. All of the solutions I suggested above offer barndoors as optional accessories.
Last edited by Christopher Nisperos; 01-30-2007 at 06:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I use nothing but hotlights for my portraits.
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An easy way to work with hot lights w/o blinding or overheating your model is to make an extension cord witgh a dimmer in it.
Go toyour local home supply store and buy a grounded male plug, a junction box for 2 receptacles, a dual receptacle, a dimmer meant for wall mountung such as in the dining room and sufficient 14 or 16 gauge wire.
These are easy to wire, your store should be able to help if yo don't know how. Put the dual receptacle in the box, run the wire out the back and put on the plug.
I use these often. I pose the model and set my lights with them dimmed so there is just enough light to focus. Then when ready to expose, i turn them up, meter and expose. you can also make a couple of these and use them to adjust the amount of light from each of your lights.
Hope this helps.
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Originally Posted by Sanders McNew
What kind of hot light set up did you use with your 5x7 shooting?
This Fall, I took a course with a very experienced portrait photographer who used a 1000 watt hot main light, a fairly small surface light box. Since the students, including my ugly self, often had to double as sitters for the demonstrations, I can say from experience that hot lights, properly used, can be used completely without discomfort or squinting from the subject with the great 'What you see is what you get' benefit.
Personally, I have a Lowell Softlight for a main and a couple of Totalites and some Smith Victors, but I shoot mostly still life.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
Alan, I use a big homemade softbox. I bought the biggest plastic underbed bin (for storing sweaters and blankets) I could find; lined it with aluminum foil; put 12 screw-in light sockets inside; filled them with 26w compact fluorescent bulbs from the hardware store; and covered with white cloth. It puts out very little heat, yet throws enough light to let me expose TX400 at EI 200, at 1/30th second at f/8 -- I think it is the incandescent equivalent of maybe 1200-1500 watts.
I bounce fill with a big sheet of white foam core. I blow out the background with a couple of Lowel Tota Lights. They do get hot, but not unmanageably so.
That's my recipe for all my portraits, MF and LF.
If one always uses an even number of equal wattage hot lights, a switch box can be built to switch pairs of lights from a series circuit configuration for composing and focusing to a parallel configuration for shooting. This also greatly extends the life of Photoflood lamps.