October 20, 2014, 05:52:06 PM

Author Topic: Studio lighting advice for a newbie  (Read 2492 times)

inky38

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Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« on: August 04, 2014, 03:02:06 PM »
I've been thinking about it for a while now, but I've decided it's time to start looking into getting some studio lighting.

The thing is, I have zero experience with any form of studio lighting, and before I get the credit card out, I want to learn as much as I can before I commit to anything.

My plan  (at this stage) is to get some basic studio lighting for portrait work.

Where's the best place to start?

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Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« on: August 04, 2014, 03:02:06 PM »

Skirball

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2014, 03:17:23 PM »
http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

Read.  Learn.  Then buy, and read some more.

Jeffrey

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2014, 03:34:32 PM »
My advice is to avoid the studio at all cost and enjoy the outdoors. I have the Paul Buff brand Einstein lights that are very good and reasonably priced. They do a superb job. Rent anything you need that is more expensive. But really, wouldn't you rather be outdoors? Good luck!

klickflip

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2014, 03:51:02 PM »
Hi, well depends on how hands on and quick you are to pick up things yourself.
Or would you rather be shown some basic set ups and techniques first?
I'd advise If you are a bit unsure about it all then why not pay for a basic lighting workshop, either portraits or still life, whatever you find more appealing. As if you've not done anything of this nature before then it would be the quickest and best learning/ exploration step without spending much money on equipment you might use once then loose interest?

Or if you are hands on and quick to pick things up and have family & friends for eager models or some still life fascination then just buy some basic cheap ones on ebay or the budget lencarta/ ellinchrom ones with soft box, umbrella etc and dig in yourself.
Manual setting strobes.. Only! As these are so much easier than dealing with speed lights confusing settings and wireless stuff, and the adapters for modifiers.
KISS .. I used to laugh at my tutor's saying Keep It Simple Sweetheart .. but is very true especially in learning studio lighting. As there are so many 'have-to-get' lighting tech these days that can put you off it all so easily!

privatebydesign

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2014, 04:05:54 PM »
You cannot go wrong with a Paul C Buff light, either Einstein or Alien Bees, and a few modifiers, they hold their value exceptionally well and if you hate it you can get  80-90% of your money back on eBay.

As for modifiers, it depends on what kind of image you like, post some links and it isn't difficult to reverse engineer the lighting of them to point you in the right direction for your needs. But be aware, the shooting environment plays as large a part in the lighting as the lighting does, anybody offering you advice without knowing what kind of images you like and what your normal "studio space" will be is disingenuous, their advice will not help you.
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mackguyver

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2014, 04:31:48 PM »
You cannot go wrong with a Paul C Buff light, either Einstein or Alien Bees, and a few modifiers, they hold their value exceptionally well and if you hate it you can get  80-90% of your money back on eBay.

As for modifiers, it depends on what kind of image you like, post some links and it isn't difficult to reverse engineer the lighting of them to point you in the right direction for your needs. But be aware, the shooting environment plays as large a part in the lighting as the lighting does, anybody offering you advice without knowing what kind of images you like and what your normal "studio space" will be is disingenuous, their advice will not help you.
+1 on private's Paul C Buff recommendation and advice.  Modifiers are often quite specialized to both the type of shooting you do and the style you shoot.  Try to find someone who shoots what you plan to shoot and in the style that you like.  A good place to find these people is a video blog called ISO 1200.  Many of the videos posted there are from photographers who have lots of videos and/or websites that show their set ups.

inky38

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2014, 05:20:51 PM »
You cannot go wrong with a Paul C Buff light, either Einstein or Alien Bees, and a few modifiers, they hold their value exceptionally well and if you hate it you can get  80-90% of your money back on eBay.

As for modifiers, it depends on what kind of image you like, post some links and it isn't difficult to reverse engineer the lighting of them to point you in the right direction for your needs. But be aware, the shooting environment plays as large a part in the lighting as the lighting does, anybody offering you advice without knowing what kind of images you like and what your normal "studio space" will be is disingenuous, their advice will not help you.

Thanks guys

So much good advice really early on.  I think I'll be starting with some off camera flash and some lightweight/travel umbrellas.

You're right about the shooting environment too.  Lots of things I've got to consider.

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2014, 05:20:51 PM »

Besisika

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2014, 05:54:39 PM »
I have zero experience with any form of studio lighting, and before I get the credit card out, I want to learn as much as I can before I commit to anything.
For me, that info is too vague. What do you mean, you don't have experience in flash photography at all, or you don't have experience in off-camera flash, or you simply have never worked within a studio?
I use the Einstein as well and it does the job.

The question is, is that the right tool for you, and if yes, is it the right time? I wouldn't spend $1000+ unless I am sure.
When is the right time? Answer: when you are sure that this is the path you want to go.
Many bought a piano but many became just a furniture.
Do you know posing, do you like it, do you require it, do you have patience for it?
Maybe you need just a photo journalistic approach? Many adores it.
Would you find models to practice, would you find customers to pay it back? Can you find a studio, or is it on location? Do you like dragging another 10-20KG of gear? and so on.
Jumping into studio strobe is like jumping into photography version 2; GAS is the key word. You won't stop with one Einstein, you will get modifiers, triggers, more modifiers, more strobes and more GAS. LOL.
My suggestion, start with something small and see if that is the right path. Something that you won't regret putting just aside.
Maybe some manual flash for $45 and simple umbrella first. Learn all different kind of lighting setup, get some "cheap" model and try it (a sister, daughter, neighbor). I had some friends who gave up due to posing and directing. Some gave up due to post processing. I use it less due to weight, and frankly I like natural light a lot more , even the hard one.
If you master and adore it though you could be the next Neil V Niekerk. I admire the guy, but I know I won't be in his league. Just not my path.

c.d.embrey

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2014, 06:30:59 PM »
First you have to answer some questions. Why do you want to try studio work? Do you have an interest in Fashion Photography? Product Photography? Food Photography? Pet Portraits?

Some of the nicest studio shots you'll ever see were made in a daylight studio. No lights, just a large north facing window.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 07:40:12 PM by c.d.embrey »

Halfrack

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2014, 09:18:21 PM »
The next step (beyond Strobist reading) is finding a local studio or retail establishment that offers classes.  Don't spend money on studio lights until you get a better feel for them, and some 1on1 time quickly speeds up your learning curve.

The difference between studio lights and speedlites is size, modifier options and cost - if you're doing portraits only, you can get away with speedlites 99% of the time.  Plus, you can mix in speedlites as you need to light different things individually, so it's not like any money spent on speedlites is wasted.

PCB's Alien Bees are ok, but their Einsteins are amazing and worth the extra once you add in the CyberSync bits.
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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2014, 12:07:03 AM »
PCB Einstiens are the best value and will be hard to out grow. They can do just about anything within reason and anything larger your getting paid enough to rent that Broncolor set.

However I highly recommend getting a light meter.

mackguyver

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2014, 09:26:42 AM »
However I highly recommend getting a light meter.
Do you really use a light meter that much these days?  It seems like several people have listed it as one of their least-used items and soon after going digital, I ended up selling mine.  If I was a location shooter with limited time, I think it would be handy, but as long as I have 5-10 minutes to play with the lighting and check my histograms, I haven't found a need for one. 

leGreve

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2014, 09:35:59 AM »
You can get pretty far with a couple of Bowens Gemini 500w remote lamps.

They take radio cards so you can trigger them with pocket wizards etc.

I think Bowens still have some accessories packages give you some different ways of putting the light out.

Also speedlites with S bayonet adapters means you could use fx. Bowens accessories like beauty dish / soft box etc.
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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2014, 09:35:59 AM »

agierke

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2014, 10:56:02 AM »
Quote
Do you really use a light meter that much these days?

if you are particular about lighting ratios then yes. a histogram doesn't tell you what your ratios are, just overall exposure. if you have a 3-5 light scenario where you really want to control values of each light then a light meter becomes tremendously helpful.

for the OPs purpose i don't think its necessary. you can learn the principles of lighting without a light meter. when one is ready to progress into more complicated scenarios requiring fine tune control then a meter becomes more essential.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 11:00:03 AM by agierke »
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LDS

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2014, 10:57:23 AM »
The thing is, I have zero experience with any form of studio lighting, and before I get the credit card out, I want to learn as much as I can before I commit to anything.
Where's the best place to start?

Start reading a good book about lighting like "Light - Science and Magic". It will teach you the basics (and more) about lighting - and then you'll understand what you really need. Basic setups may be created with simple lamps and some DIY stuff, before moving to more complex, professional (and expensive) devices. Then you will find there are more than you ever dreamed of... and your credit card could be at risk ;)

Portraits can be created from a simple one light source setup, to some very complex ones using multiple light sources and reflectors - depending on the kind of portrait you aim to create. Start by mastering the basics, and then move up the ladder, just buying stuff won't help if you can't master it.

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2014, 10:57:23 AM »