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View Full Version : what would you suggest as a good 1st lighting set up...........



Striderxl
07-11-2006, 05:55 PM
for a beginner,I have 2 500watt hot lights.Are there any good inexpensive setups I could get for pics of people.I have enough room in my basement to set up something but after taking my 7 month old son to sears(actually his grandmother did) and seeing the strobes in action I know I want something to try and use at home.Any help would be appreciated as there seems to be hundreds of different setups out there to confuse me.LOL

Orgnoi1
07-11-2006, 05:58 PM
I know there is a set for sale in our classifieds that looks to be a real nice set up... the person selling lives up in Ticonderoga...just north of Lake George...

convergent
07-11-2006, 06:30 PM
How much do you have to spend... that would be a good starting point.

If you are on a budget, its not a bad idea to start with a single light/strobe and reflectors.

Striderxl
07-12-2006, 06:02 PM
not sure what I have right now as I have spent like $2k this year already,so it isnt that much.I think I ,ight just start with some umbrellas to soften the hot lights.Would you use translucent ones for hot lights and reflective ones for strobes?

convergent
07-12-2006, 06:49 PM
Most of the umbrellas I've seen, and all that I have, are translucent and have a black overlay that you put on them. If you are shooting through them, you take the overlay off. If you are bouncing them, then you put it on. The difference in effect is quite subtle.

zacker
07-12-2006, 07:17 PM
lights are so confusing to me.. its like going to the store and your wife/GF asks you to "Pick me up some... ( insert and Fem Hygene product here) while your there"

it sends chills up my spine!
-zacker-

Striderxl
07-12-2006, 09:43 PM
lights are so confusing to me.. its like going to the store and your wife/GF asks you to "Pick me up some... ( insert and Fem Hygene product here) while your there"

it sends chills up my spine!
-zacker-


LOL wait until you have to do it for the mother in law when they move in.LOL :Hammer

zacker
07-12-2006, 10:06 PM
Ahhhhh!

scarey thought!
-zacker-

convergent
07-12-2006, 11:48 PM
This is a good starter kit for $599 from Alien Bees. It comes with two strobes, umbrellas, and stands. http://alienbees.com/digi.html

If that is out of your budget, they also have a single strobe kit for $360. If you get that one, I'd get a reflector pack and small stand. In either case, I'd recommend a light meter and a good book on lighting.

ProPhotoImages
07-13-2006, 08:40 AM
A 2 lite setup is good to start with. Use one lite for main and one for fill. I would probally replace one of the 500's with a 250. you can use white umbrellas to difuse the lites and shoot through. have a good lite meter for measurement. Later you add another lite for a three lite setup. But you can do great with a two lite setup. You can also add barn doors to the main and fill lites. A good book on lighting that has placements will aid you and how to adjust the main lite for say f 8.0 or f 11 and the fill for say 1 stop less. You can move the main lite backward or forward to get the right intensity. Depending on the Color Temp of the lites, if using a film body, you can match the film . digital, you can shoot at ISO 100 or even 50.

convergent
07-13-2006, 08:43 AM
Ted, I've never used barn doors... how and when do use them over an umbrella or honeycomb grid?

ProPhotoImages
07-13-2006, 09:43 AM
Barn doors are made with butterfly clamps that fit on the edge of the rim of your lites to direct or redirect the lite. You can put on the doors, attach umbrellas then still snap on gel holders and gels for color or a honeycomb grid or use all 3 together. They are made in various sizes 5",7", 8", 12" depending on your lite manufacturer (Smith-Victor's usually use 12" Alien Bees usually 8", Novatron & others) If you need to narrow the lite direction in the studio at a setup on say a lite table with a small set up, use your barndoors for that.
Works beautifully. Of course this adds an extra expense to your lighting set up. Also for portraits to highlite the back of heads,to add a third lite with barndoors inward and a grid for a halo effect down low aimed upward.

zacker
07-13-2006, 12:11 PM
I would like to try studio shots.. no kids maybe animals and adults.. i dont know. It sounds like fun.
-zacker-

convergent
07-13-2006, 12:52 PM
Well if you are going to do people or animals, then definitely look towards strobes, rather than hot/cold lights. Even if the hot lights aren't hot, they will still be brightly shining in the eyes of your subjects. One other thing to think about, that I just remembered with that point... often studios are dimly lit... so remember to shine some light towards the subjects eyes prior to taking pictures in order to close their iris a bit.

Striderxl
07-13-2006, 03:58 PM
Wow thanks for all the advice guys,I really appreciate it.I will go and look for a good lighting book after my campout.

Thanks again for the good suggestions.

convergent
07-13-2006, 04:51 PM
The best beginning lighting book you will find, in my opinion, is The Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers, by Christopher Grey, published by Amherst Media. It describes the equipment, teaches you lighting ratios, and takes you through many styles of studio lighting for portaits. In all cases, you are given many different pictures of what they are doing to explain. For ratios, they give you a page of pictures of the same subject, with different ratios, so you can really see how it changes. The same is done to explain modifiers, and nearly everything else. For the styles, they show you the setup of the lighting, and construct the style by building it up, with pictures along the way. It is a great teaching book, and a great reference that will always be on my shelf.

http://www.amherstmedia.com/miva/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=1778&Category_Code=

You will also find one of the largest collections of "how to" books on photography from Amherst Media. The only thing you need to watch out for is some of them are old and some of them are new. While the photography elements haven't really changed a great deal, I just prefer the newer texts. The one I recommended was published in 2004.

JustinL
07-13-2006, 05:36 PM
This is a good starter kit for $599 from Alien Bees. It comes with two strobes, umbrellas, and stands. http://alienbees.com/digi.html

If that is out of your budget, they also have a single strobe kit for $360. If you get that one, I'd get a reflector pack and small stand. In either case, I'd recommend a light meter and a good book on lighting.

and what's it take to make these things portable? Something from this page? http://alienbees.com/battery.html

So that's almost $1000 for 2 lights and portability. Why not some 550EXs?

convergent
07-13-2006, 05:55 PM
I don't remember anyone saying they needed to be portable.... if so, then that's a whole different ballgame. Actually, the Bees are one of the most cost effective portable solutions as well. If you can get enough light for what you want to do with 550EXs, then that may be a solution for portable use. However, there are some issues....

How are you going to mount them, and how are you going to attach modifiers (umbrellas, softboxes, etc.)? You would need to buy a mounting adapter and light stand to do that.

How are you going to trigger them. You will need to either get the Canon IR wireless command module, which is shoe mounted, and requires pretty direct line of site to the IR mechanism on the 580EX, OR, you will have to get some other slave. There are "peanut" optical slaves that you can get, but they are a little flakey in my opinion. You also then run the risk of the strobes being triggered by some other light source. I'm not sure what you need to hook a sync cable to a 580EX, as I usually use Pocket Wizards for portable use. You can get some pretty sophisticated wireless slaves for the Bees that do more than just trigger.

How are you going to power them. If you use the AA batteries, they have a fairly limited life. If you are only taking a few pictures, great... but if you are doing more you'll need external battery packs. External battery packs for a 580EX are not a lot different in price than for the Bees. I use Quantum Turbo Compact batteries to power my 580EXs in the field.

Bottom line is I think I came up with a cost of $1000 per strobe for a 580EX/PocketWizard/TurboCompact/Clamp setup. And, at that price, it is now where near as powerful as an Alien Bee, but much smaller and lighter.

If you look in this thread... http://www.northeastfoto.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2698&highlight=quantum

... you will see on the far right of the first picture a setup with a 580EX, Quantum Pack, and a mount. Even with this, there is no way to attach modifiers, as these are configured to hang from the ceiling in a gym.

convergent
07-13-2006, 05:56 PM
Coincidentally, the Nikon SB-800s are much better suited for this type of use, as a) they have the 5th battery adapter, and b) they have a built-in optical slave trigger. There are still issues with this, but it gives you more options. I think they may also have a sync cable jack, but I don't recall... don't hold me on that.

zacker
08-18-2006, 11:28 AM
so where are we with this? the bees are nice but waaay more $$$ than Id care to spend on something im not to sure on... the 580EX's are going to end up costing close to it.. what about a cheap-o set of ebay.. $200.00 and under.. will they work? are they not worth it?

Sid_Ceaser
08-18-2006, 06:32 PM
While two lights would be a good start, you can do fantastic stuff with one light if you're on a really tight budget.

I'm a big fan of Alien Bee's. I've owned two for the last two years, and I've yet to have any problems with them. Most of the time I only use one and a bounce/foam board on the other side for fill. You can create some really nice portraiture with one light. Don't fall into the "You need more, more, more trap".

I've never took my Bee's outside for outdoor shooting, so I can't comment on that particular thing. (actually, no, not true - I had them outside once. I ran a power convertor from my car, plugged an extension cord into it, the ran the light out a few hundred feet. Worked fine.)

Since i do alot of studio shooting, thats what these bee's are - dedicated studio lights. They are small, portable, very lightweight, and are perfect for a smaller studio (or large studio too).

and dealing with Alien Bee's the company (Paul Buff) was fantastic. Plus, they give you upgrade options if you plan to upgrade within a year.

If you really are considering portraiture, and really are tight on a budget, pick up one Alien Bee, an extra stand and pick up some large foam core sheets from someplace like Dick Blick that you can cut down to use as bounces.

Keep hotlights away from people - they get too warm and make your models sweaty and grumpy. Can't have grumpy models. No fun.

zacker
08-18-2006, 08:16 PM
cool thanks Sid.. I was hoping someone like you would respond. although, alien bees are a bit out of my reach right now and i dont even know if this is what i want. I found a site called STROBIST and he showes what his lighting set up is, its two Nikon nB-28 (?) flash guns mounted to stands with umbrellas and he uses a sinc chord to fire them. some times he'll use a third if he needs it but his set up for going on location is two bodies with a wide zoom on one and a tele zoom on the other and a small bag with a 50mm and another lens (which i forget) and his two flash set up.. it seems to work fine for him.. Maybe i can pick up one flash and stand and umbrella... and see how it does...???

Sid_Ceaser
08-18-2006, 08:44 PM
You could do that. Would be portable, thats for sure.

Do you forsee yourself doing portrait work at all in the future? If you do, I'd say get a Bee. I like people, and I like photographing people, and having a nice dependable strobe can do wonders. Even if its just one light. You'd be amazed what you can do with one light:

http://www.sidceaserfineart.com/images/TRAVISHeadshot.jpg

zacker
08-18-2006, 10:15 PM
yeah, if i was sure...id like to try though..thats mostly why im looking for cheap for now. But one light is something to think about.
Thanks for all the info though.. was he lit from the right with the white board on his left?

ProPhotoImages
08-18-2006, 11:24 PM
Zacker.

Save you "ducats" up a Bee or two. You can start with one with a sturdy stand and an umbrella and as "Sid" says some foamcore sheets for bounce.

ProPhotoImages
08-18-2006, 11:29 PM
Sid Ceaser,

Great portrait. Especially the left side in shadow. also the way the shoulders fade in the background. How about that one button to break up the black. And in b/w I love .

Sid_Ceaser
08-19-2006, 12:52 AM
yeah, if i was sure...id like to try though..thats mostly why im looking for cheap for now. But one light is something to think about.
Thanks for all the info though.. was he lit from the right with the white board on his left?

yup yup, one light with a softbox to the right (looking at it from our perspective) and I had a white foamcore board on the other side to give it a little bounce/fill.

Sid_Ceaser
08-19-2006, 12:54 AM
Sid Ceaser,

Great portrait. Especially the left side in shadow. also the way the shoulders fade in the background. How about that one button to break up the black. And in b/w I love .



Merci.

That one button divides people right down the middle. half the people that see it get annoyed to the point that they can't see anything else but that single button, and others think it divides the black like a single night star.

I love little things like that.
ha ha.

zacker
08-19-2006, 09:05 AM
id love to get a Bee... I really would, Its just too much for me right now.. Im thinking of trying the flash/stand/umbrella or a cheap thing of ebay for now. hell, i dont even kno how to use em yet... and knowing me, if my second or third shot isnt at least ok, it wont get used again.. ( iget bored quick..i know, very bad) but I feel i gotta keep going and if it gives me troubles, i leave it in the dust...lol (sometimes Im like a two year old!) That is mainly why I wanna try it first... then ill get some good, real lighting... hell, the other side of "the curse" is, if the first few shots come out ok, ill have a whole freaking studio in a monht...lol better get out my divorce papers signing pen....lol Chris is gonna kill me!