I guess we can agree to disagree. However I didn't say you could learn without modeling lights????????. I said I wouldn't recomment it.
I learned portraiture on some crap lights that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. I have used most light that are on the market (including Dynalites which I also love) but I wouldn't necessarily recommend them to someone who asked the question about a basic in home studio setup.
A competent photographer could take a portrait with his cars headlights but that is hardly good advice to someone who need help starting out.
The original question was a basic lighting setup, not how cheaply can I scab something together.
I believe that one monolight, one fomecore reflector and a few hours spend study lighting and practicing with the modeling light is a better way to go that burning up polaroid film or shooting and printing some jerry rigged junk lighting setup.
I also believe that the positive results that are achieved by spending a little money and doing it right will in the long run will save money.
So please feel free to give your advice and I will give mine. The person posing the question can feel free to do what he pleases. I have no vested interested in what kinds of lites that he buys. I am merely giving him advice based on 27 years experience as a portrait photographer, and don't wish him to have to relive the mistakes I made when I started out.
I agree and disagree with both of you as I learned with a combination of 283, Metz 45, photo floods and even construction lamps from time to time. I got by and did some good portraits. I now have pack and monolights with modeling lamps and really wish I had had them in the early years. The modeling lights make it so much easier and eliminate a lot of guessing or wasted film.
But......If you need to go cheap with a a couple of taped up 283s (gives a lot of light!) you can also set up a flood lamp right beside the flash to act as a modeling lamp. Leaves a lot to be desired but can be workable and better than nothing for the financially challenged.
Even my modeling lamps don't do a real good job of imitating the flash output so everything is a compromise.
True - you weren't quite that intense in "advising against". I mis-interpreted the "absoluteness" in your reply. I've *gotta* quit trying to write when I'm tired and under stress. My apologies.
Originally Posted by blansky
I go back to the days when #5 flashbulbs were in use, and capacitor discharge flash units were the cuttting edge of lighting. It was a wonderfullly sophisticated trick to "bounce" to soften the light. All studio work - well most - other than those who had direct access to Croesus and could afford "electronic flash units" - was done with #2 floodlamps ... aptly named "Hot Lights" when used in an attic loft in August.
My first efforts with "mutiple flash" units were magnificent improvements over the single flash, bounced, reflected and whatever ... nothing like "discouraging results" that would drive me from photography. I am confident that the neophyte who "Cheaply scabs something together" or tries a "jerry rigged junk lighting set up" (rather sharp characterizations ... I'd prefer "innovative"), would still be immediately impressed by that improvement. "Save money in the long run" - well, OK, but I think a spare flash unit is a good thng to have anyway.
While I wouldn't WANT others to relive the mistakes I've made over the years either - I wouldn't want them to miss the myriad bright 'discoveries" that accompanied them.
I did not mean to give the impression that I wade through many, many polaroids - I don't. I think I have a few more or less "standard" setups I use as the occasion requires - and check camera-synch operation, exposure, lighting ratios (more or less), stray reflections ... I don't know what all ... with the Polaroid back.
One more useful tool - without question in my mind - is a good "flash meter".
One other useful instruction tool - and I do this where I get my hair cut - at the same hairdressers my wife visits... loyalty to a girl who started on her own by visiting our house, some 40 years ago... Is to study the photography in the "hairdressing publications" and the Fashion magazines. The eye has some of the same reflective properties as a spherical Christmas tree ornament... and a through a study of the patterns reflected there, can reveal a great deal of information about the lighting setup ... one can see umbrellas, soft boxes ... occasionally the reflection of the photographer in front of a very large softbox..
Most of the photographers in these publications have *one* particular set-up that they use a LOT ... and they can often be identified by the unique eye reflections.
Ed Sukach, FFP.
I've noticed that I use the modeling lamps less and less. I think their effectiveness is liminted by the different response of the human eye to light levels, contrasts, and color balance - and the "automatic correction" of human perception.
Originally Posted by BobF
We have wonderful built-in correction systems - for example, under *low* temperature lighting - as from a candle or fireplace - colors still appear to be "right". While we can determine something about the shadow patterns, and densities from "eyeballing" under the modeling lamps - a Polaroid will be far more accurate ... although FAR from perfect. The final "test" is in the finished print/ transparency. From there we should, can, and WILL "process" the information internally and learn. Eventually, everyone will more efficiently "calibrate her/his perceptual process and establish links btween the modeling lamp images, the Polariods", the finished works, and the way it looks to the eye.
Stillman Clarke was right - "To improve in photography, shoot and shoot, and shoot some more. It *will* come. It will."
Ed Sukach, FFP.