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  1. #11
    36cm2's Avatar
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    Strobe lights flash incredibly quickly, so you measure the lighting off of the subject with a flash meter (which measures the peak lighting it is subjected to during the strobe flash). Continuous lights are always on, so you are correct you can use your in-camera meter with that. Search APUG for posts on continuous lighting vs strobe lighting and you will discover an entire world of arguments on the benefits of one vs the other.
    "There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri

  2. #12
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    An off camera flash could work too, as long as you use an umbrella or softbox with it and don't mind waiting for it to recharge and don't need a modeling light. The smith-victor hot-lights are fine, but not action stopping, and you have to let them cool afterwards, watch out for fire hazards, etc... The appeal is that the wysiwyg factor and low cost.

    I bought a pair of used white lightning strobe monolights. The old can ones model 10000 and 5000. The newer ones tend to be a little more $, but can get you more steps of power variability and can put out a little more light, which isn't necessary unless you are doing big group photos or for some reason need to be at f32. I mostly use them for home use. I have used them for group photos for weddings and such, but mostly use them for home use. One has a good sized umbrella which provides the main light. I like to keep this close to the subject. A white transparent umbrella is softer than a a reflector umbrella. I can shoot through the umbrella too (softbox style) instead of only use it as a reflector if I want. The second flash I setup bare aimed up about 10' away to light up the room and lighten up the shadows a little. For a head and shoulders portrait I would call it optional.

    You see the main flash in the background here; the other flash provides tames the shadows by being set for a lower power and not as close to the subject. This first shot is shown not as a portrait, but to document the scene.



    This is the lighting I was going for:



    If you use one flash/umbrella, and not another to light up the room, you get something like this. All the thoughtfulness in regular photography (and shooting sports) of understanding behind what you're shooting fully applies, especially so with artificial lighting. Here I wanted to separate the child from the background more with the light and dark.

    Last edited by jp498; 01-06-2011 at 02:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #13

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    Is this correct logic? With impatient kids who think they're doing me a favor by posing, I don't think flash metering (set up, metering) will work very precisely and quickly enough. With continuous lighting, once I get the lighting set up, I just meter via the in camera meter and shoot (I've set up my Hasselblad with a winder F so I can bracket 3-5 shots very quickly).

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ymc226 View Post
    One question: if the studio lights are on the subject, why can't you no longer use camera's metering to set the exposure? Isn't the in camera meter measuring light reflected off the subject still?
    You CAN. I'm sorry - when I said that, I was thinking of STROBE/FLASH type studio lights, which are most common. If you are talking about HOT LIGHTS - which are the type that is continuous, yes, you can use your in camera metering.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  5. #15
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Well, I got interrupted three times in composing an answer so some of this will be redundant with the intervening 6 posts or so. I used to work freelancing in a dozen or so studios doing product and model photography in studio and on location.

    Hot lights (continuous tungsten sources) are great for seeing exactly how your lighting is working, but they are often underpowered for use with slower portrait films, and if you get hot lights that are bright enough to stop motion and use middle apertures, it often becomes painfully hot and bright for the subject. You can give models a 'sunburn' pretty easily with a quartz light and no scrim or diffusion. You might find that you quickly outgrow a beginner's SV three light starter kit unless you keep your project small and only shoot one person with lights pretty close in to the subject.

    Studio flash and hot shoe flash often don't give a very good sense of the lighting balance with multiple heads in use, and their modeling lights sometimes don't track with your adjustments to the flash intensity. Hot shoe units give you no modeling lights at all. Studios that used flash with film went through polaroid materials by the case to check lighting.

    Starting out with three light kits can become confusing and complex for someone new to lighting. Search the web for 'one light portraits' for a lot of ideas. Learning to use one light and fill with reflectors is both a great way to learn, and a good way to guard against unnatural looking 'overlighting'. Home made scrims (rip-stop white nylon), diffusers, foam core, aluminum foil, silvered car windshield reflectors, and many other methods are documented online. Reflectors can often substitute for a second, third, or multiple light sources if you use them properly. The Strobist blog and DIYphotography websites (and others) are good for ideas, and the hardware, fabric store, and craft store are good sources of materials. If you start with just one light, you can afford a more powerful unit on the same budget and fill with inexpensive reflectors.

    As with cameras, lighting hardware is not a substitute for understanding and ingenuity.

    I'd also very highly recommend any edition of the book Light, Science, and Magic by Hunter and Fuqua (and Biver in later editions). If you read it, you'll be well on your way to understanding working with light, and know more about what you'll need for your purposes. A used one from Amazon for about $18 would do perfectly well. The behavior and physics of light hasn't changed much in the last couple of years.

    I wouldn't make any specific recommendations though, unless I could sit down and ask you a lot of questions. There are just too many variables involved to answer such a generic question. How old are your kids? Will they sit still to pose? Do you want to spend a good deal of money on multiple lights up front, or are you willing to get one good brighter light source and build a larger kit as you need it?

    ... and many more

    Lee
    Last edited by Lee L; 01-06-2011 at 02:33 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #16
    36cm2's Avatar
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    Forget everything I wrote and listen to Lee. That's good advice.
    "There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee L View Post
    I'd also very highly recommend any edition of the book Light, Science, and Magic by Hunter and Fuqua (and Biver in later editions). If you read it, you'll be well on your way to understanding working with light, and know more about what you'll need for your purposes. A used one from Amazon for about $18 would do perfectly well. The behavior and physics of light hasn't changed much in the last couple of years.

    I wouldn't make any specific recommendations though, unless I could sit down and ask you a lot of questions. There are just too many variables involved to answer such a generic question. How old are your kids? Will they sit still to pose? Do you want to spend a good deal of money on multiple lights up front, or are you willing to get one good brighter light source and build a larger kit as you need it?

    ... and many more

    Lee
    Thanks Lee, I just ordered that book and also Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers by Chris Grey from Amazon.

    Currently, my children are 17, 13 and 7. The 7 year old, if you can believe it, is the most amenable to posing but I can also bribe her with candy. They will sit grudgingly for portraits but I don't think they would tolerate flashes.

    My "studio" is my library where I have a white couch that is just under a set of downward pointing spotlights.

    I would prefer to get several lights initially as a kit and learn to work with them slowly, initially one light and then adding another as I learn more.

  8. #18
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ymc226 View Post
    Thanks Lee, I just ordered that book and also Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers by Chris Grey from Amazon.

    Currently, my children are 17, 13 and 7. The 7 year old, if you can believe it, is the most amenable to posing but I can also bribe her with candy. They will sit grudgingly for portraits but I don't think they would tolerate flashes.

    My "studio" is my library where I have a white couch that is just under a set of downward pointing spotlights.

    I would prefer to get several lights initially as a kit and learn to work with them slowly, initially one light and then adding another as I learn more.
    Chris Grey's book is good too. Lots of comparison shots of light sources and placement, and it's good on building off the key light without overdoing it.

    I have 19 and 16 year olds, so I know about getting older kids to pose. You may find that hot lights are less well tolerated than strobes, especially if the strobe light is modified with a reflector or softbox, which it often is for portraits, or if the hot light is bare. Toning down hot lights with a softbox, scrim, or reflector might get you to borderline shutter speeds. That depends on distance and specific output. I haven't used the SV multiple light kits, only quartz studio hot lights in 650W or more, and they can sometimes be a bit underpowered when diffused or reflected for portraits, especially with slower films and apertures smaller than f:4 or so.

    Lee

  9. #19
    hpulley's Avatar
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    I must say I often work with two cameras with my kids, one with flash to use until they're sick of flash and then another one loaded with Delta 3200 so I can capture more candid moments and just work with available light. The flashes get to them though bounced off the ceiling I find they don't mind it as much while even through an umbrella or softbox it bothers them after a while.

    Good luck and have fun, that is the main thing. Hopefully you get a few keepers along the way which will improve with time and experience.
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

    Happiness is...

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee L View Post
    Hot lights (continuous tungsten sources) are great for seeing exactly how your lighting is working, but they are often underpowered for use with slower portrait films, and if you get hot lights that are bright enough to stop motion and use middle apertures, it often becomes painfully hot and bright for the subject. You can give models a 'sunburn' pretty easily with a quartz light and no scrim or diffusion. You might find that you quickly outgrow a beginner's SV three light starter kit unless you keep your project small and only shoot one person with lights pretty close in to the subject.
    With tungsten film in short supply these days, does this sort of kit even apply to film anymore? With digital you can just dial the white balance to tungsten but I can't find any 160T portrait film these days. Using a blue filter to try and correct it makes the lights seem even dimmer.
    Harry Pulley - Visit the BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE FORUM

    Happiness is...

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