DIY Studio lighting?
Has anyone made or seen the wisdom in making a florescent lighting box for studio portraiture? If so, any plans and /or suggestion. I'm thinking as a primary, relatively soft light source. Bill Barber
Too dim, or you need to use a lot of tubes. Less work to make the 4x4 box out of white foamcore and a piece of ripstop nylon, add a Vivitar 285 to it for much more light.
I would check KEH.com and buy older White Lightning monolights. I've been wearing out my five WL heads for six years of daily use and have never had a single problem with them, not even a bad tube, except for the one I smashed. Worth every penny, especially when you need to shave off a quarter stop; you don't have to move the light, you just dial it down. The thought of working with a Vivitar 285 makes my skin crawl. I love to save a buck, but you don't want to save too many. White Lighting is great quality at a great price, especially used.
kinoflos are used widely in the film industry, because the do not flicker like regular fluorescent tubes. fluorescent tubes produce a beautiful light for b&w, its one of my favorites, and the green tone of many flos dampens the reds and magentas in the skin of african-americans and is particularly nice. if you can manage the exposures definitely give them a shot, they are beautiful.
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I thought about lights too but couldn't do it because of the nasty color coming out of those little tubes. Then went the big handle mount flash route (the big Canon ones) and fun with umbrellas and cheap light stands and now I am where Parker has suggested.....studio flash. It has taken me close to two months to get together 2 White Lightning x1600s and 2 Alien Bee B800s. Just keep looking, you WILL find the deals on them, it will take some time though. Honestly, and I hate to say this, but the guys at Fred Miranda always have someone dumping Bees or Lightnings. Look here and there.....something will pop up.
I will never, ever use another camera mounted speed lite for any planned photo event at the house again. It is to easy to pull out one studio flash and a reflector, 10 minutes or less I am ready for an exceptional photo, not half assed like the used to be. You haven't said what or why you wanted better portrait shots, I am assuming you are doing them around the house.....don't cheap this one out, the results are exponentially better. Buy the time you screw around building and buying crap, you will be within range of a studio strobe. I would suggest a Alien Bee 800, but if you are strapped. Start with a B400 and a reflector and you will be set for most indoor stuff for now.....but get the 800 if you can swing it....or more.
Don't do like I have done and waste alot of money chasing around different flashes for nothing when all you need to do is get a good studio flash.......why I didn't do it before leaves me wondering what the heck I was thinking. However, the big handle mount flashes do look cool when arriving at an event.....not many people are crazy enough to still use them and those darn new cameras with crazy ISO spoil all the fun.
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Guess it would have been helpful to say that I would be using them for B&W and perhaps wet plate. Bill Barber
Sanders McNew uses something like this--a big board, maybe 3x6' or 4x8' with an array of CF bulbs. Works for him. Shoots 6x6cm and 5x7" b&w.
You'll need UV bulbs for wetplate, no? Or some combination of white and UV so you can focus, but not so much UV that it could be harmful to the subject.
years ago i met up with a product photographer ( 1988? )
whose primary light source was a large 6x6' case filled
with fluro - lights. he shot chrome film ( sheets ) and his work was sought after ...
he didn't have ultra long exposures at all, and had deep DOF ...
i don't think it would be hard, especially today, to create an array like david mentions sanders uses.
and cf bulbs don't run as hot as others, so you can create some sort of diffusion to soften the light even more.
for a while i was doing a lot of paper negative portraits ( probably will start again soon ? ) and i used
modeling lights off of my monolights through soff boxes, long exposures, especially with graded paper, but
worked great ( 2 lights ).
good luck !
ps. lowel "L" light kits come up on ebay all the time
they are the original lowel lights, they also work GREAT
and the price is usually less than 40$ for 10-12 lights in a case.
( lowel still sells replacement parts too )
I use a double quartz work light on a stand with a soft box cover mounted on a pvc pipe frame in front of it. Paid $30 for the work light on a tall stand from builders supply, got the cover for cheap on-line. I have about $50 tied up in the whole set-up.