fluorescent lighting soft box
I am looking for continuous soft box lighting. I will be using it predominantly with collodion/wet plate, hence the need for Florescent (UV/UVB) spectrum. There are a bunch of inexpensive kits on fleabay (suspect chinese) with 2-3 softboxes, either rectangle or octagon shaped. I am looking at 2000 to 5000 output wattage. There are a series of kits available from any of the major vendors but an huge increase in cost.
1) Is there a quality difference between e**y items and what is found in major vendors?
2) Has anyone used Linco, Inc gear? I am stationed overseaas w/ the US military and I noticed that their heads are both 120v and 220v, this means it would be easier to run and only have to worry about sourcing 220v lights.
3) is there a difference btwn rectangle and octagon shapes for lighting? I think rectangle are for full body portraits and octagon are for facial portraits...correct or just a bad guess?
Thanks for the help
Regarding Question #3: the shape of the box influences the wrapping of the light around your subject. A large octagonal can and is used often for full length portraits, just as a small rectangular is great for facial portraits. The other aspect is the shape of the catch light in the eye.
Questions #1 & #2: sorry can't help here, but having the ability to switch from 110v to 220v is a great feature.
Ahh cool, didnt think about the image in the eye. The octagon would be better to capture in the eye over a rectangle, ok cool on that aspect!
Now just have to wait and see if anyone knows about the other questions.
I've been thinking about this lately and have decided to go with 4' tubes rather than the softbox kits. You don't say whether you want to do portraits or still-life with the setup and the type of subject may dictate the type of light source you'd ultimately want. Additionally, I wonder about these aspects:
1) spiral compact fluorescents would seem very inefficient to me for photography because most of the light is directed radially. With tubes and internal reflectors, I think more of the illumination would be directed towards the front, softbox or no softbox. However, I have seen some excellent results with these spiral tube and softbox setups (e.g., the work of Alexey on Quinn's wetplate forum).
2) Aquarium bulbs such as the Voltarc AQ-M would seem to have the best visible spectrum for wetplate. I'm not totally convinced that UV/Blacklight tubes are safe for portraiture given the high intensity, short distances, and extended exposure times needed.
3) It doesn't make much sense to use full-spectrum fluorescents since a lot of the output won't be seen by the plate. The extra illumination would however add to general discomfort of a sitter. Think about sitting a few feet away from 2000-5000 watt output. Whew! I'd use some sort of blue gel to cut off the longer wavelengths while keeping those that affect the plate.
I'm not sure of your reference to UV/UVB lamps above (do you mean BL vs BLB UV blacklights?) but if you believe blacklight to be safe, you'd want something generating UV-A and not UV-B (or UV-C). UV-B causes retinal damage and skin cancer.
On this one I was thinking BL vs BLB blacklights not UVB as I wrote. For usage I was going to use for all purposes, both still life and portrait, film and collodion.
Originally Posted by smieglitz
I live in Germany and as I sit here today it is sunny and almost 1100, the sun will start setting in another 40 minutes. At a max crest of 35ish degress above the horizon, not very bright.
One of the things about these kits is I can use them for traditional film as well. That is one of the reasons for looking at the 110-220v version. Also, if buying the kit version, see if I can get them w/o bulbs and source bulbs locally, that way I can get a mix of blacklight and florescent bulbs at 220v.
I saw the setup on Quinn's site and at roughly 240 euros @ $350 USD to build 2 boxes here in Germany, could be cheaper for me to source from US and ship via US mail to my address. Working with the US gov has a few bennies and the US Mail option being one of the biggest.
Still havent decided to buy&build or just buy and I can get most supplies at a local builder, I will have to see exact costs. Are you using the plans from Quinn's site or have you come up w/ a better version?
BTW on the spiral vs tube, the shots I have up on Quinn's site are done using his studio setup that has spiral bulbs and roughly 2k watt output, could be lower though wattage wise. I've not shot w/ tubes and to really see a difference would have to shoot both tubes and spirals on the same day for the same shot to see what can be seen.
Last edited by 77seriesiii; 12-27-2009 at 05:04 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Now what would be ingenious, is a double usage light source. Build one system that can be used as studio portrait and then flipped over a contact print frame to expose albumen, vandyke, lodima type prints, etc...I have to find that setup, somewhere btwn here, LF and Quinn's site for the florescent contact print exposure, think it was here. In essence the exposure light source should be 6" bigger all around than the contact print frame being exposed and lights, centerline, no more than 2" apart. In other words, an exposure box for 11x14 would be 17x20 with, fast math, eight bulbs going end to end on the 20" edge. I think it would work, but how to hold it upright for a studio shot?
what do you think?
I have a homemade UV exposure source that I built about 15 years ago for about $500. IIRC, it holds 12, 24" BLB tubes. The lamps are attached to a plywood top panel that is hinged to the rest of the box. I can load the box by either lifting the panel or opening a front door. The ballasts are wired in a separate compartment which has an exhaust fan for cooling. The air is drawn from the front of the unit through louvres towards the rear corner where it enters the ballast chamber to finally exit at the right front of the box. As soon as the unit is turned on, the fan operates. I've often thought I could use this UV box as an exposure source for wetplate and get double-duty from it, at least for still life. I'd keep it on a rolling table and just open it up via the hinged panel for shooting.
Someone on Quinn's forum has a rig where they have built some crossbeams to hold several standard fluorescent fixtures. (I believe this was displayed in a forum thread about someone's graduation exhibit - a search might turn it up quickly.) IIRC, the crossbeams are welded to a U-shaped frame that attaches to a light stand and thus is able to vary in height and tilt. The person used a couple circuits so the regular or UV lamps in the mix could be operated separately. I think that unit used T5 lamps so the overall weight would be less in regard to the fixtures. I've also seen a much larger wooden-framed unit somewhere on the web that holds the 48" bulbs.
I'd suggest using 36" or 48" tubes since the major weight difference wouldn't be in the lamps or ballasts, but only the supporting panel/frame. That way you would have a better exposure source for shooting plates and could also do 11x14 prints with it. I have a mercury UV exposure unit at work that I've hung a vinyl welder's curtain around to prevent the UV from spilling into the adjacent area. With such a curtain you might be able to get around building a box for the lamps when printing. That would certainly cut down on weight and add to some portability.
I'm thinking about building a 4' X 8' panel that would hold numerous 4' aquarium tubes. I would suspend this panel at angle from the ceiling to simulate a skylight. It wouldn't be very portable or adjustable but then, neither is an actual skylight. I suppose the lamps and ballasts could be held on separate sliding panels in a (garage door?) track on one of the ceiling beams in my studio. That way directionality could be varied.
Just thinking out load...
Good Lord and I thought I was being ambitious!!
Man made skylight sounds really cool, I do have a ceiling it would work on...wife would kill me.
Gonna do some thinking and searching over on Quinn's
The long tube florescent bulbs with conventional ballasts do flicker at the frequency of the line current. In the USA, that is 60 times a second. In Germany, It is 50 Hz. I think the curly florescent bulbs may operate at higher frequencies. The flicker is one reason that the color balance of digital cameras is so unpredictable with florescent lighting.
If you take a photo with a 1/125 second shutter speed, you could get the bright phase or the dark phase. For long exposures, this would not matter very much.
Dave, that is something to think about when I set the wife loose with the conventional camera. For me and the collodion and film I use...2 to 18 second exposures are the norm.