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Author Topic: Portrait Lighting - Newbie  (Read 5520 times)

revup67

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Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« on: July 27, 2012, 12:53:30 AM »
I'm finally getting some interest in portrait photos and will need a mobile lighting set up.  I've got the right camera gear 5D MKII and 580EXII and plenty of lenses (L) but know this is certainly not enough.

I found a new kit on craigs list.  woman says she's a reseller and the kit includes everything in this link and is sufficient for up to 4 people / person portraits.

Price is $389 and made by QY160. http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/pho/3165542726.html

Any comments from anyone would be appreciated or a redirect to alternatives is fine as well.

Thanks for the help.
Thanks
Rev
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Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« on: July 27, 2012, 12:53:30 AM »

wickidwombat

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 01:04:08 AM »
those look like cheap crappy ebay ones to me, not enough power either

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/674263-REG/Elinchrom_EL_20815KIT_D_Lite_IT_400Ws_2_Light.html

this is the best value for money studio light kit you can get
elinchrom are an industry standard brand

also when it comes to buying other different light modifiers get a elinchrom bowens adapter from ebay then just buy bowens light modifiers much cheaper than the genuine elinchrom stuff
but to get you started this kit is awesome then all you need is a background

I made a portable power supply out of golf buggy batteries so i can use outdoors away from power too
which cost about $400 i can email you the parts list, pretty easy to do yourself
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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 09:15:52 AM »
First expansion could be a lot worse than an ST-E2 or some Hahnel radio triggers for single off-camera flash.
Maybe a used 550 or 420 for a cheap slavable 2nd off camera gun?

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 10:26:40 AM »
Can't go worng with AlienBees. High quality, low cost, superlative customer service. The only real danger to your pocketbook is that you'll have an irresistible urge to keep going back for more as your imagination starts to take off....

Cheers,

b&

awinphoto

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 10:46:29 AM »
Can't go worng with AlienBees. High quality, low cost, superlative customer service. The only real danger to your pocketbook is that you'll have an irresistible urge to keep going back for more as your imagination starts to take off....

Cheers,

b&

Alienbee's are quite nice or you can upgrade to the white lightnings, my strobe of choice...  The nice part of the craigslist kit is it comes with all the goodies like softboxes, stands, backdrops, barn doors, etc... all the additional goodies you need for a functional studio that puts a dent in your wallet, but 365 watt combined?  That's pretty bad for 3 lights... you might as well get a cheapie fluorescent light kit and get similar output of light.  I would look at 800 w/s to be the base mark of where to start from and get beefier lights as and if your shooting and style requires of it.  Also remember softboxes/umbrellas/diffusers/light modifiers, for the most part, are only going to decrease the max light output of the strobes, so It's good to have power and not need it than need it and not have it. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

wtlloyd

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 10:54:19 AM »
Well, you asked for mobile lighting kit recommendations, not studio strobes - granted, they can be used with power packs, but that won't be a light and quick setup.

Check out this site http://strobist.blogspot.com/
and read this http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
and look here for configured kits http://mpex.com/strobist.html
and consider reading this site http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/
and in particular, you might be interested in this book for cutting edge portable gear http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/p/all-about-book-number-five-leds.html

and all that ought to get you through a bowl of whatever you're having for breakfast today  :)

awinphoto

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 12:09:31 PM »
If mobile is the key word and he wont have access to power outlets and or generators... then really, travel packs really are limited in power, and really inefficient, especially if you are trying to overpower the sun and may be used best for fill flash... some travel packs only punch 250 w/s or can go as low as 100 w/s if you attach several heads as the power has to be distributed between the heads... Some are symmetrical in power distribution, some are asymmetrical... but still to put in perspective, a 580ex may offer more punch than many of these travel power packs...  If you want my professional opinion on mobile lighting...  get a Q-flash or a metz 76mz flash... closest you are going to get to the raw power of studio strobes, portable, and you can get softboxes and such to accommodate... and both support ettl i believe...  The q flash is spendy but very nice, and the metz handle-mounts are built like tanks, battery are rechargeable, and according to http://olegkikin.com/guidenumber/, the metz has more power than alien bees and white lightnings 1600 wattseconds flashes...  just some suggestions.. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 12:09:31 PM »

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 12:28:16 PM »
If mobile is the key word and he wont have access to power outlets and or generators... then really, travel packs really are limited in power, and really inefficient, especially if you are trying to overpower the sun and may be used best for fill flash

The Paul C. Buff Vagabond mini lithium packs are rated for hundreds of 640 Ws pops with about a three-second recharge per such pop (so, about six seconds for a pair of full-power 640 Ws flashes and a couple-few hundred flashes for the both). A single such unit will support up to four flash heads -- though, of course, you get better recycle times and more flashes if you increase the flash / pack ratio.

So, worst-case scenario, with four 640 Ws units going at full power with a single Vagabond, you'll get about a hundred pops (and, granted, a recycle time of probably about ten seconds). I'd hardly call that either limited in power or inefficient.

Cheers,

b&

unfocused

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 12:31:57 PM »
Lessons I've learned playing with lighting setups (and still trying to learn):

You can do a lot worse than beginning with a single umbrella and stand. Soft, pleasing light.

You will need some way to fire your 580EXII off-camera. You can go with a full-fledged radio control system, an ST-E2 or a Chinese knock-off of the ST-E2 from eBay for about half the cost. I went for the knock-off, but I have a 7D so I can use it's on-camera infrared controller as a back-up. (Why did I buy the knock-off, when the 7D has a built-in controller?  Because the 7D relies on the on-camera flash which overheats after a 10 shots and then you are screwed until it cools off.) Since I don't do this for a living and don't have anything but personal pride at risk if there are problems, I haven't had the need to invest in a radio-controlled system. I've never had a problem with the infrared working, even in bright daylight.

Buy the Manfrotto/Bogen swivel umbrella adaptors. They cost twice as much as the $15-$17 plastic ones, but they are all metal and will actually hold your umbrella or softbox in place. http://www.adorama.com/BG2905.html Read the Strobist column on how to use these, so you don't put them on upside down (easier than you think).

Buy some of these http://www.adorama.com/BG2932.html They are plastic. Maybe I am paranoid but I don't like to put my strobes on metal shoes. Afraid of a short.

Shop eBay for additional lighting goodies like softboxes. Many people buy these for a specific project and then don't need them anymore and sell them. I got a couple of very nice Photoflex softboxes that way.

Read the Strobist columns and also sign up for the Photoflex enewsletter, which is actually a monthly lesson in lighting.

The choice between added 580EXIIs and 430 EXIIs comes down to whether or not you need the extra boost of the battery packs (which are only available for the 580EXIIs). I ended up buying battery packs because they speed up the recycle time and reduce the need to switch out batteries in the middle of shooting.

Don't bother trying to buy strobes off eBay, people pay ridiculous prices for used strobes, often more than what a refurbished model will go for. I don't get it. Better to buy refurbished either directly from Canon or watch for refurbs from B&H or Adorama.

The "Strobies" kits are kind of fun and when you have some extra cash, they are worth buying to got a bunch of stuff to experiment with.

I like plain backgrounds so I eventually bought one of these: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/303035-REG/Botero_C03757_037_Collapsible_Reversible_Background.html If you get one, practice folding it up at home, so you don't look like an idiot out in public. (Well, okay, I still look like an idiot, but it's really embarrassing when you can't get your backdrop folded back up and have to drag it back to your car and stuff the whole thing in your backseat)

Order a roll of gaffer's tape from Adorama or B&H when you are ordering something else. You will need it.

Consider getting one of these. http://www.adorama.com/BG175F.html They are way cool and can be a lifesaver.

Go to Lowes or Home Depot and pick up a bag of plastic clamps or you can get the same thing from B&H or Adorama for about three times the price.

I don't have any experience with the lighting equipment others have mentioned. Frankly, by the time you invest in some 580s and battery packs, you've spent as much as you would on some of these other options. But, most of the items I've mentioned here are things you will want or need regardless of your lighting setup.

As with most things photographic, you can drop hundreds or even thousands of dollars very easily. Or you can go the quick route, which is just to buy yourself a knife and open up a vein.
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awinphoto

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 12:49:43 PM »
If mobile is the key word and he wont have access to power outlets and or generators... then really, travel packs really are limited in power, and really inefficient, especially if you are trying to overpower the sun and may be used best for fill flash

The Paul C. Buff Vagabond mini lithium packs are rated for hundreds of 640 Ws pops with about a three-second recharge per such pop (so, about six seconds for a pair of full-power 640 Ws flashes and a couple-few hundred flashes for the both). A single such unit will support up to four flash heads -- though, of course, you get better recycle times and more flashes if you increase the flash / pack ratio.

So, worst-case scenario, with four 640 Ws units going at full power with a single Vagabond, you'll get about a hundred pops (and, granted, a recycle time of probably about ten seconds). I'd hardly call that either limited in power or inefficient.

Cheers,

b&

Good catch...  forgot all about this power source to plug in the studio strobes...  In terms of inefficient, i'm referring to the travel power pack sets where you charge the power pack up (google travel power packs) and connect heads like you would any power pack kit, but the battery, like what this is could support up to like 600 w/s on the expensive high end, but once you add 2-3 heads, your power gets divided between the heads and w/s effective per each head drops to 100-200 if your lucky...  and as I said before, the metz flash has more power than the highest alien bee flash...  so it is what it is...  The vagabond is cool where you can take your exsisting strobes on location, and for some applications, can be a lifesaver, but even for a full wedding, may not be up to the task... 

Lastly dont forget the vagabond may or may not be able to handle the modeling lights as it will draw more power, but that's to be expected...  Using portable lighting always has it's compromises... such as power capacity and slow recharge of this, or the lackluster power of the travel packs and so on and so forth... It can be done but in the end, the top pro's generally do not use travel flashes... They typically use reflectors and such to modify the lights and save the strobes for controlled environments...  take it for what it's worth. 
« Last Edit: July 27, 2012, 01:00:50 PM by awinphoto »
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

revup67

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 01:01:36 PM »
The wealth of information that can be gathered from here is wonderful.  All of you had excellent tips, links and ideas  -thank you for this.  I've begun looking into some of this already however no conclusions.  Another pro Miss America photographer online recommended a Novotron V400D 3.   I didn't realize initially that mobile could indicate out doors without electricity.  As of the moment(but may in the future) I may have this need to shoot outdoors and did some reading about the key light and and fill lights. The mobile portrait studio (for now) will be for indoor use where electricity would be available and was planning on driving to the client's homes, doing a setup with a backdrop, etc.  Granted, it is possible, they may want shots in their backyard or at a park but I have the option of calling the shots here and client will follow.  So, to redefine for the moment, an indoor set up which would be expandable for outdoor would be a better description (my apologies for not being as descript as I should have been).  I would think backdrops (black,white,green), Key and fill light, all white umbrellas or black/silver and 1 white, light stands and anything else to be added here would be helpful.  Not sure of lighting wattage (?) needed for indoor (400 or 800 ?), I would presume 10x10 backdrops (?).  Good ideas on the clamps and tape..setup is useless without those I would gather

I believe since the 5D doesn't offer a trigger, some type of triggering system is needed ? I did see the note on the Canon vs. the Knockoff.   I do have access to a second 580 EX (not EX II).  I saw a fellow photographer put both his 580 EX's on stands and bounce them off soft white umbrellas - that's all he had (2 umbrellas, stands and 2 x 580 EX's).   Is this a good route for indoors to start (of course a backdrop is needed).  lastly, I have a 7D that has wireless trigger built in - is there a way to sync this with the 5D MKIII or is this only wishful thinking on my part?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 03:00:12 AM by revup67 »
Thanks
Rev
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SandyP

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2012, 01:16:20 PM »
Start with learning 1 flash off camera well. Balancing with ambient light, being the "only" light. Learn it, and learn it again. And again. Then start adding in a 2nd flash. And so on.

There's really a million suggestions, hints, tips and tricks you can learn, even with 1 flash off the camera. It's best to start there, for your own sake.

awinphoto

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2012, 01:27:28 PM »
The wealth of information that can be gathered from here is wonderful.  All of you had excellent tips, links and ideas  -thank you for this.  I've begun looking into some of this already however no conclusions.  Another pr Miss America photographer online recommended a Novotron V400D 3.   I didn't realize initially that mobile could indicate out doors without electricity.  As of the moment(but may in the future) I may have this need to shoot outdoors and did some reading about the key light and and fill lights. The mobile portrait studio (for now) will be for indoor use where electricity would be available and was planning on driving to the client's homes, doing a setup with a backdrop, etc.  Granted, it is possible, they may want shots in their backyard or at a park but I have the option of calling the shots here and client will follow.  So, to redefine for the moment, an indoor set up which would be expandable for outdoor would be a better description (my apologies for not being as descript as I should have been).  I would think backdrops (black,white,green), Key and fill light, all white umbrellas or black/silver and 1 white, light stands and anything else to be added here would be helpful.  Not sure of lighting wattage (?) needed for indoor (400 or 800 ?), I would presume 10x10 backdrops (?).  Good ideas on the clamps and tape..setup is useless without those I would gather

I believe since the 5D doesn't offer a trigger, some type of triggering system is needed ? I did see the note on the Canon vs. the Knockoff.   I do have access to a second 580 EX (not EX II).  I saw a fellow photographer put both his 580 EX's on stands and bounce them off soft white umbrellas - that's all he had (2 umbrellas, stands and 2 x 580 EX's).   Is this a good route for indoors to start (of course a backdrop is needed).  lastly, I have a 7D that has wireless trigger built in - is there a way to sync this with the 5D MKIII or is this only wishful thinking on my part?

if you're using the 5d3, as in your signature, it does NOT work with the knock off triggering at this moment with Canon's flashes... beware...  Personally you probably would be better off getting 1-2 alien bee's and if and when the time you need to shoot outdoors, get that vagabond... Even in the backyard, they make these beautiful things called extension cords.  =)  Anyways, the novatron, as you mentioned, has a max output of 400 w/s... so if you attach 2 heads and they are symmetrical... each head gets 200 w/s.  Using modeling lights could reduce the effective w/s... at that point a 580ex provides better light, especially if bounced or using an umbrella...  It's a nice pack, but functionality, it's just not there...  Also these packs and alien bees and white lightnings and such provide the corded sync, but if you want wireless, get a pocket wizard or something of the like. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2012, 01:27:28 PM »

Drizzt321

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2012, 01:48:23 PM »
I've been starting to work with remote speedlites via Oden Phottix II (works great), with a 580 EX II I got a while ago, and a Yongnuo YN-560 which is manual only, but pretty good for non-TTL work. 2 light stands, 2 umbrellas, 2 hotshoe to lightstand mounts which include an umbrella holder. I just got my Eneloops in so haven't had a chance to use it with them, but at least on the YN-560 the refresh time is supposed to be much faster than with Alkaline.
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awinphoto

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2012, 01:56:08 PM »
I've been starting to work with remote speedlites via Oden Phottix II (works great), with a 580 EX II I got a while ago, and a Yongnuo YN-560 which is manual only, but pretty good for non-TTL work. 2 light stands, 2 umbrellas, 2 hotshoe to lightstand mounts which include an umbrella holder. I just got my Eneloops in so haven't had a chance to use it with them, but at least on the YN-560 the refresh time is supposed to be much faster than with Alkaline.

How are they with the 5d3?  Heard the yongnuo wont work with the 5d3 but will work with the 5d2? 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

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Re: Portrait Lighting - Newbie
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2012, 01:56:08 PM »