November 22, 2014, 09:30:46 AM

Author Topic: Studio lighting advice for a newbie  (Read 2703 times)

mackguyver

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2014, 11:04:33 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.
I could certainly see that being useful if you're going to for exact ratios.  I guess I'm just a little looser with my lighting :)

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.
Great recommendation on that book - it's a nice overview of lighting in general and an especially useful guide for product lighting.  It's not quite as helpful for portraits, but the concepts in the book are a huge help for photography in general and have even helped me when shooting with natural light.

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2014, 11:04:33 AM »

RLPhoto

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2014, 11:07:36 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.
After forcing myself to get into using one again, Its much faster and easier than the shoot/chimp/histo check. It also helps that its built into the Cybercommander but I use my L-508 if i'm throwing speedlites into the mix.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 11:10:09 AM by RLPhoto »

mackguyver

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2014, 11:12:21 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.
After forcing myself to get into using one again, Its much faster and easier than the shoot/chimp/histo check. It also helps that its built into the Cybercommander but I use my L-508 if i'm throwing speedlites into the mix.
Thanks for the answer and I've been getting back into more studio shooting and have considered a meter, but hadn't thought about the Cybercommander.  It looks so bulky on the website - how is it in actual use?

LDS

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2014, 11:14:25 AM »
My advice is to avoid the studio at all cost and enjoy the outdoors.
Controlled studio lighting is a different way of photographing. It lets you create images from scratch - with almost total control. It's also a technique that requires a lot of learning, to be mastered fully. May require a lot of time from inception to setup to create the final image - and can be expensive.
Some find it very appealing because of the creativity and control, others don't, and may feel it more "artificial". Depends on what kind of photographer you aim to be, and what kind of images you want to create.

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2014, 11:18:48 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.
After forcing myself to get into using one again, Its much faster and easier than the shoot/chimp/histo check. It also helps that its built into the Cybercommander but I use my L-508 if i'm throwing speedlites into the mix.
Thanks for the answer and I've been getting back into more studio shooting and have considered a meter, but hadn't thought about the Cybercommander.  It looks so bulky on the website - how is it in actual use?

Its fantastic as when you fire for the meter reading, it automatically inputs that data into your einstein and will tell you what F-stop its at and will update the f-stop info as you power up and down. Genius really as it makes metering that much easier.

Besisika

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2014, 11:24:28 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.
Me neither, I don't bring my light meeter on my usual days. I like retouching so I do it in post - just my style.
I don't even need 5-10 min. I just take 3 shoots and I know what to do. 2/3rd over or under expose doesn't bother me.

However, when you need to do a favor to a friend (being sick for instance) and shoot a complicated lighting for a product, you cannot do without a light meter, especially if he (or his customer) dictates the ratio.
Besides, even for a portrait shoot, in front of the customer, tethered, you would want each of your shots to be very close. 


LDS

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2014, 11:32:02 AM »
Great recommendation on that book - it's a nice overview of lighting in general and an especially useful guide for product lighting.  It's not quite as helpful for portraits, but the concepts in the book are a huge help for photography in general and have even helped me when shooting with natural light.
IMHO before attempting portrait it is advisable to start mastering lighting (and equipment) using inanimate subjects, which are usually much more patient and don't complain much about the results :) This also allows to understand how light "works" and how different surfaces and shapes "react" to it - even in portraits people may wear spectacles, jewels, clothes or other accessories that need to be lighted properly. Environmental portraits more so.
"Light - Science and Magic" has only one chapter that covers portrait (head and shoulder portrait mostly), but covers the basics - than there are specific books to choose among.

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2014, 11:32:02 AM »

mackguyver

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2014, 11:34:17 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.
After forcing myself to get into using one again, Its much faster and easier than the shoot/chimp/histo check. It also helps that its built into the Cybercommander but I use my L-508 if i'm throwing speedlites into the mix.
Thanks for the answer and I've been getting back into more studio shooting and have considered a meter, but hadn't thought about the Cybercommander.  It looks so bulky on the website - how is it in actual use?

Its fantastic as when you fire for the meter reading, it automatically inputs that data into your einstein and will tell you what F-stop its at and will update the f-stop info as you power up and down. Genius really as it makes metering that much easier.
Thanks, I think I'll give it a try, especially given the reasonable price.

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2014, 02:43:08 AM »
Speaking of mastering, when you've got the hang of reverse engineering a light set up go look at works of the classical masters, i.e. paintings. You can learn a lot from the light in a Rembrandt painting for example

MonkeyB

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2014, 12:39:34 PM »
will toss in my 2c -

went through an exhaustive study of which gear to acquire for hobbyist lighting for the last month or so, and ended up with 4 options:
1. follow strobist guide with a pair of lp180's + PW's and various shoe-mount speed rings, etc.
2. get a pair of 600-ex-rt's with trigger and various shoe-mount speed-rings (i.e. chimera ob2 kit or profoto 3' octa)
3. go straight to big lights with paul buff einsteins and that accessory system (including battery option)
4. go with bowens gemini 500's and their mod system (including battery option)

i threw out most of the flash havoc chinese stuff i.e. godox to avoid reliability issues and accelerated product release schedules (e.g. each spiral adds more features and refines the previous iteration making me always want to upgrade - bleh).

most of the compact portable good stuff is out of my price range. speaking of which, the 600-ex's cost too much for my intended use cases, so they got dropped from the list. i then realized that speed lights were not what i was looking for, in general.

even though i really liked the bowens gear with the pulsar card and trigger, they cost more than the buff stuff and offered less features. i get the feeling the bowens is more reliable though after doing some research.

i ended up with 1 einstein e640, 1 matthews medium maxi steel kit stand, 1 matthews 10lb. boa bag, 1 buff omni reflector, 1 51" PLM soft silver & diffusion fabric, and the cyber commander with the newer receiver for the e640 chassis. total was around $1050 inclusive. i feel this is a solid kit to grow with and build upon. i'll most likely get the vagabond mini soon so i can start using the omni outdoors.

in my situation, i'll mostly be balancing adequate ambient light. if i wanted to do studio-type portrait stuff maybe i'd have gone a different direction.
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privatebydesign

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2014, 12:54:18 PM »
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.
After forcing myself to get into using one again, Its much faster and easier than the shoot/chimp/histo check. It also helps that its built into the Cybercommander but I use my L-508 if i'm throwing speedlites into the mix.
Thanks for the answer and I've been getting back into more studio shooting and have considered a meter, but hadn't thought about the Cybercommander.  It looks so bulky on the website - how is it in actual use?

Its fantastic as when you fire for the meter reading, it automatically inputs that data into your einstein and will tell you what F-stop its at and will update the f-stop info as you power up and down. Genius really as it makes metering that much easier.
Thanks, I think I'll give it a try, especially given the reasonable price.

I'm using the Cyber Commander now too. I actually don't camera mount it, I keep it off camera and do the adjusting with it and keep a CyberSync Transmitter on camera for the actual camera triggering, works really well and is a great piece of kit. I seriously wish the AB integration was as good the Einstein integration though.
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Skirball

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2014, 01:14:10 PM »
will toss in my 2c -

went through an exhaustive study of which gear to acquire for hobbyist lighting for the last month or so, and ended up with 4 options:
1. follow strobist guide with a pair of lp180's + PW's and various shoe-mount speed rings, etc.
2. get a pair of 600-ex-rt's with trigger and various shoe-mount speed-rings (i.e. chimera ob2 kit or profoto 3' octa)
3. go straight to big lights with paul buff einsteins and that accessory system (including battery option)
4. go with bowens gemini 500's and their mod system (including battery option)

Sounds like you already made your decision, but just in-case others stumble upon this while doing their research:  The Strobist guide is outdated and a bit biased, as far as the Lumopro flashes.  If you're going for a manual only, third party flash it's a hard argument against the Yonguo 560 III.  Now with the 560-TX you can control power and zoom from your flash, all for $50 plus $70 per flash.  There's little point in getting PW is you're using manual only, other than wanting to stay away from third party venders.  You can get a basic 2 light light setup with built in RF receivers, and a trigger that can control power and zoom, for $200.

AcutancePhotography

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2014, 01:14:26 PM »
Another handy book is The Speedliter’s Handbook by Syl Arena.

Despite being about speedlights, he covers the basics of lighting theory.  And it does it in an easy to read and understand format. 
I shoot with a Camera Obscura with an optical device attached that refracts and transmits light

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2014, 01:14:26 PM »

mackguyver

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2014, 01:18:39 PM »
I'm using the Cyber Commander now too. I actually don't camera mount it, I keep it off camera and do the adjusting with it and keep a CyberSync Transmitter on camera for the actual camera triggering, works really well and is a great piece of kit. I seriously wish the AB integration was as good the Einstein integration though.
I haven't bought one yet, but it's definitely near the top of my shopping list.  I'm happy to hear that you really like it as well and having two positive votes from CR members means a lot to me.

MonkeyB

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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2014, 04:49:52 PM »
check out the cyber commander manual PDF from the buff website. lots of nice features. the metering was one of the benefits i really liked - single lights or groups, ambient, etc.

will be taking the commander off camera to do the metering and adjustments, then putting it back on hot shoe for shooting.
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Re: Studio lighting advice for a newbie
« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2014, 04:49:52 PM »