Hi leGreve, many thanks for replying!
The lamps we use are ancient Bron genny lamps. The generators vary from 1600-3200 watts. These can be had on the grey market for a bargain since every once in a while some old timer either quits or crashes. These old Brons are going steady after more than 20 years. Does help that our studio manager used to sell them though
Using 1 or two for white outs is a matter of taste. You probably get the feeling that I like to play by lights rules, that's why I use 1 lamp most of the time. My colleagues how ever use two... one main light off right and from behind and then a soft light from the front to soften.
I don't like this as it is not natural. I use one of the large styro boards to bounce the main light and pick up the rest in photoshop (or even better in the raw file in Capture One).
I almost always put a second lamp on when doing shots like that yarn. This has the grid... I think the proper word is not grid but something else. Maybe "honeycomb" or something like that, it goes inside the reflector anyways. I use either the tight one or the very open one.
You could use a soft box... it's pretty much the same thing. I think the reason we have those large screens is because our boss is a bit on the "let's save money" side. It's ok since they work fine. The frost filter works pretty much as the soft box does, so yes, I myself would probably buy a soft box as well.
If you're doing pure studio shots, it gets a bit tricky. When I was an apprentice, I worked in a large daylight studio with all white walls and ceilings. I think the only reason this studio could still work during winter (winter is similar to no windows
), was because we could step some meters away from the walls and build the "room" there. Then we would bounce 1 or two lamps off the wall to act as a broad light source like the sun. The thing is, if you do it with 1 lamp you need it a bit further away from the wall than with two lamps and it also has to be a bit more powerful... again depending on aperture. In this case I'm thinking F11/16.
This might do the trick of bringing out texture in the subject as well, but if it doesn't we would need a 3rd lamp to skim across the subject with a honeycomb in camera height (from the same side as the bounced light... see file below.
As often as possible I would try to get at least light from the side. The only time when I would light from the same direction as I shooting is when I try to light up the front of the subject and even then I would try to make it come from the side and try to hit the subject evenly.
Imagine you point that 3rd lamp more or less directly on the sofa. You'd get one side light than the other. To avoid this you turn the lamp off to the side as if you were lighting just past the sofa. Instead you're actually hitting the sofa with edge light on the side closest to the lamp and direct light on the side furthest away. That would balance things out a bit.
Or in other words... try to center the lamp just off the corner furthest away from the lamp.
This is of course by no means a set of rules but a guideline that can be altered and changed according to taste and needs