Cold/Hot lights are great for seeing what your going to get on film right off. I tho started out originally with strobes and made alot of mistakes and it took me a bit of time and multiple pops to setup each light at a ratio with a hand held meter. Thankfully I was shooting a friend and not a paying customer. Overall, I found that classic strobes (mine were 800ws White Lightning's) were overkill. I always had to scale back the settings almost as low as they could go since I was going for softer enveloping light with the strobes closer to the sitter and thru softboxes. I also didn't want to blow out my sitter's retinas. In the end I turned to using multiple camera strobes such as the Nikon SB series and others. Smaller, powerful enough, scalable settings and angle of flash, I can point them into an umbrella with a light stand adapter. It makes for a small carry bag and for used prices on camera strobes you can put together a pretty cheap kit. Best way to set them off is with an on camera flash and slaves for each light. There are hot shoe slaves so you can screw them onto a light stand adapter which takes an umbrella. To start off practicing a digital camera is great, but the RB is a great portrait camera.
Actually I think the easiest way is using a flash meter and drawing a map of the studio set.
Originally Posted by hoffy
Subject x centered on the paper and a camera position x at the margin. Draw a line through both clear across the paper to the background.
At the subject's position note the camera setting you are going to use. This reading, IMO, is best taken with the back of the meter touching the subjects nose, the dome extended, and pointed directly at the camera. This reading should always match the planned setting. (Studio lighting is adjusted to the camera's need.)
Now for the back ground do you want it darker or lighter and by how much. So write on the map + or - 1, 2, ... Or whatever. Adjust the lighting there.
For right to left differences, measure with dome retracted, meter pointed at each light source.
The ratios, right to left, that you want are purely subjective. If you keep good notes the need for digital is minimal. The only thing digital is, is faster.
I find mapping is the best way for me to understand what's happening, analog or digital.
With a Polaroid (by whatever means) I am looking for things I've missed; like trash in the scene.
Last edited by markbarendt; 12-20-2011 at 09:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
No, I'm not talking about rating HP5+ at 320 instead of 400. That's consistent. You do one set of tests, and then you establish a personal film speed rating for your way of shooting, and then when you set your meter at 320, and take a reading, you know it will in fact record correctly on your film. Digital doesn't work the same way - most if not all digital cameras can't be set slower than ISO 100. Period. And again, if you're aiming for a specific f-stop to control depth-of-field, if your sensor is off, you end up with having to adjust the aperture up or down to compensate, or you spend all day screwing around with your lighting set-up to get the exposure right. If you're constantly moving your lights to adjust the exposure at the subject, what you see on the digital camera LCD will not be what you record on film. Changing the distance from source to subject is always changing the quality of the light as well as the quantity.
Originally Posted by hoffy
I'm NOT bashing digital as a tool - digital cameras can do wonderful things in the studio. I'm just saying don't mistake them as an analog (pun intended) for a film camera. You CAN use a hammer as a screwdriver, but why? You'll still have to get the screwdriver out to finish the job. What digitals do is provide instant feedback. This is their blessing and curse - you can see right away if what you shot is giving the right look to the lighting set-up, to a point. The little LCD on the back of your camera does NOT have the same contrast range as your computer monitor, or your inkjet printer, so what might look like an ok highlight may be blown-out when you view it full-size. I've also seen and heard way too many people say that "I don't need a meter - I can just test it with my digital until I get it where I want it". The speed of feedback gives the false impression of control, and leads to sloppiness.
Wow, lots of info! I've bookmarked the Paul C. Buff website for their tips and products, I also really like the idea of using a 645 back to minimize costs while learning. After doing more reading it seems like strobes will be best suited to my goals and I'll be picking up a flash meter. The only digicam I have right now is my iphone so I'll have to go the instant route for test shots and take lots of notes while using roll film. I do have a few questions about the RB regarding polaroids/fujiroids and other stuff but I'll save those for the equipment forum. Thanks for the help everyone!
The "natural speed" of most digitals is 200 ISO and there is no gain in image quality at 100 as opposed to 200 as there is with film - the opposite, if anything, is true. Granted there are times when it is necessary to drop below 200 for exposure reasons and the situation being debated here is one of them. My point is that there is no good reason to operate any digital below 200 ISO as a matter of course, particularly with modern studio stobes that can mostly be throttled back to at least 1/32nd power.
Digital doesn't work the same way - most if not all digital cameras can't be set slower than ISO 100. Period.
I agree with others who maintain that the image on the back of a digi is more useful, much cheaper and certainly quicker than Polaroids when setting up a shot for a film camera.
Having said that, it might be a good idea to start a thread on DPUG if anyone wants to continue the discussion about the exposure nuances of digital cameras lest we all get kicked off here before Christmas! OzJohn
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Originally Posted by OzJohn
I might suggest using polaroids. You'll have a record of the exposure, plus you can draw a map or write some details on the back of the print and store it away for another time as a reference.
Little late to this discussion, but I just spent a couple of hours "playing" around with my used White Lightenings infront of the Christmas tree a few days ago. My X1600s were about 5 to 6 feet away (with PLMs) from my victims and I had them dialed way down for f8. My sekonic L-358 (used too) was right on everytime. I used digital to start, everything on manual, and fired one stobe with a Catus V4 transmitter to one strobe that fired the other optically. Waiting on the film to come back to see how the film camera did.
Pictures on digital came out well and were very good practice before the film camera came out. I know you have said you were going for stobes. I highly recommend something from Buff new or used. Also, some sort of radio trigger will make your life that much more enjoyable using them...and you can find those used too. I am not a pro, and don't leave the house (yet), so cheap Cactus and used Buff equipment has transformed my "Christmas pictures in front of the tree experience".
Both here and at Buff's site there is some really good reading, research, and website leads for increasing your knowledge and confidence in using your stobes. Now I don't look at a still photo the same......I analyize the lightening before even hardly looking at the subject of the photo......
Nikon F5, Nikon F4S, Nikon FA, Nikon FE, Nikon N90, Nikon N80, Nikon N75, Mamiya 645 Pro, Mamiya Press Super 23, Yashica Lynx 14e, Yashica Electro GSN, Yashica 124G, Yashica D
With regard to HP5,
It's ISO is 400 and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
Through testing you may find that it's EI is 320 for you but it's ISO is always 400.
picky, picky picky!