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Author Topic: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box  (Read 2918 times)

revup67

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Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« on: September 12, 2012, 02:02:59 PM »
Here's a photo I shot with two Elinchrom soft boxes and no external / remote flash in cold or hot shoe. 

Note the strange phenomenon at the lower part of the photo where you can see a slight gradient from dark to normal as you look upward in the portrait .  It took me a bit to figure out why this was happening but ultimately found the answer.  I put my Sekonic L-358 meter in "cordless flash" mode (meaning it captured the proper lighting of the  two soft boxes when they fired) suggested 1/200 at F 6.3 so there was plenty of light with the recommended settings for manual and I was below the hi-speed sync setting of 1/250.  The soft boxes were at 45 degree angles and about 18 inches away from the subject and upward angled position of above 6.5 feet high and 30 degree angled downward.  The subject was seated in an armless chair that swiveled left to right.  I had a 42" reflector on a swivel arm in front of the subject at waist height for any facial shadow fill ins. I used a Canon 5D Mark III and a 100mm USM L IS Macro lens for this portrait in ISO 50. So what could it be?
« Last Edit: September 12, 2012, 02:05:57 PM by revup67 »
Thanks
Rev
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Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« on: September 12, 2012, 02:02:59 PM »

Studio1930

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2012, 02:48:45 PM »
Not sure I fully understood how you were triggering the lights, but if you were using a wireless sync then some will not work near the max sync shutter speed.  Some need to be slowed down a bit (like 160/s) to keep from showing the shutter.  Low batteries in triggers can also cause this.  Looks like simple shutter/sync issue to me.
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revup67

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2012, 04:35:42 PM »
Hey Darrin - you are right..it was the 1/200 that caused this - thanks for the tips as well - good call..I'm fairly new to studio lighting and strobes and the elinchroms couldn't keep up with 1/200.  even 1/160th is marginal.  I was trying to obtain a wider aperture so ultimately pushed the shutter to the max.  Now I'll have to find an alternate way to cut down on light too maintain a wide aperture.  An ND filter is one option or diffusing the soft boxes further perhaps or pulling them further back.  I do have the camera set on ISO 50.
Thanks
Rev
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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2012, 09:15:30 PM »
This can happen on cameras with 1/200 xsync sometimes it lags slightly causing the band just change your shutter was common on 5d2 but i have seen it happen on my mk3 at 1/200 yet a quick fix is set the speed to 1/160
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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2012, 09:48:48 PM »
Most shots like that are not done at wide aperture.  That is the purpose of the neutral, flatly detailed backgrounds.  It allows you to get nice even lighting and a sharp picture at say F8 by using your flashes, and still have the effect of a blurred or flat background.    What a lot of folks do here is set their ISO as low as necessary, shutter to max sync speed that actually works (In your case 1/160), and then close the aperture down until a photo taken with no flash is just a black frame.  Then turn up your flash power setting until you get the exposure you want.

One thing to remember, the flash is only really affected by your camera's aperture setting.  The flash burst only lasts for a few thousands or ten-thousands of a second.  If the light from the flash is the only light in the picture, you won't see a single difference in exposure at any shutter speed setting below your sync speed.  So to get a wider aperture, you need less light from the flash.  Set them to their lowest power, and if that doesn't work move them farther away. 

As you said you can use ND filters on your camera, or ND gels on your flashes. 


revup67

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2012, 10:01:40 PM »
Wicki..indeed having this issue with the MK III so yes 1/60 just clears it.

Quote
Most shots like that are not done at wide aperture.  That is the purpose of the neutral, flatly detailed backgrounds.  It allows you to get nice even lighting and a sharp picture at say F8 by using your flashes, and still have the effect of a blurred or flat background.    What a lot of folks do here is set their ISO as low as necessary, shutter to max sync speed that actually works (In your case 1/160), and then close the aperture down until a photo taken with no flash is just a black frame.  Then turn up your flash power setting until you get the exposure you want.

Used a Light Meter here for (what I thought was ) dead on accuracy but of course once the reading is taken I could rotate the wheel to say 1/125 the watch the aperture get smaller.  In watching the Joe McNally course, he shot his subjects at F2 with the 200mm for a narrow DOF on the subjects eye with a nice smooth hair flow and also 5.6 with 70-200.

Quote
One thing to remember, the flash is only really affected by your camera's aperture setting.  The flash burst only lasts for a few thousands or ten-thousands of a second.  If the light from the flash is the only light in the picture, you won't see a single difference in exposure at any shutter speed setting below your sync speed.  So to get a wider aperture, you need less light from the flash.  Set them to their lowest power, and if that doesn't work move them farther away.   As you said you can use ND filters on your camera, or ND gels on your flashes. 

Correct.  The Elinchroms go down to 2.0 then increase to 6.0 with 1/10 stops in between (whole numbers are full stops) I had these at 2.2 - thanks for the insight
Thanks
Rev
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gmrza

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 11:52:18 PM »
This can happen on cameras with 1/200 xsync sometimes it lags slightly causing the band just change your shutter was common on 5d2 but i have seen it happen on my mk3 at 1/200 yet a quick fix is set the speed to 1/160

In addition to this, a lot of Elinchrom strobes treat anything faster than 1/160s as requiring their high speed sync setting being enabled. - For standard sync with a lot of Elinchrom strobes, you need to stick at 1/160s or below.

It's a while since I last looked at the D-Lite 4IT's manual - on those I know you need to change a setting to use a sync speed faster than 1/160s.

I have never bothered looking into what the Elinchrom "high speed sync" feature actually does, or whether it is a real HSS feature, because for most studio use 1/160s is fine.

As has been mentioned, I suspect that there is sufficient lag in the firing of the strobes that the illumination is incomplete.

EDIT:
I haven't checked this for all Elinchrom strobes:
NORMAL sync mode is up to 1/160s
SPEED sync mode is up to 1/250s
« Last Edit: September 13, 2012, 12:02:51 AM by gmrza »
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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2012, 11:52:18 PM »

revup67

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2012, 01:48:57 AM »
gmrza - thanks for taking the time to look into that.  I went through the tutorial when I first set this up about a month ago and thought I recall seeing HSS and that it was supported.  Interesting how Canon states 1/250 yet the D 400's are 1/200 as well.

Excellent info . I may revert to the 1/200 or 1/250 if a wider aperture is chosen.  That just another option to obtain a narrow DOF is needed. thanks again.
Thanks
Rev
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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2012, 02:25:35 AM »
Since you're only using strobes (no ambient light special effect), then you don't have to worry about your shutter speed.  You can set it to 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/160 and your exposure will remain the same.  The problem with shooting wide open with strobes is usually too much light even at the lowest setting, which would require ND filters, or moving the lights farther out.
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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2012, 11:22:32 AM »
Here's a photo I shot with two Elinchrom soft boxes and no external / remote flash in cold or hot shoe. 

Note the strange phenomenon at the lower part of the photo where you can see a slight gradient from dark to normal as you look upward in the portrait .  It took me a bit to figure out why this was happening but ultimately found the answer.  I put my Sekonic L-358 meter in "cordless flash" mode (meaning it captured the proper lighting of the  two soft boxes when they fired) suggested 1/200 at F 6.3 so there was plenty of light with the recommended settings for manual and I was below the hi-speed sync setting of 1/250.  The soft boxes were at 45 degree angles and about 18 inches away from the subject and upward angled position of above 6.5 feet high and 30 degree angled downward.  The subject was seated in an armless chair that swiveled left to right.  I had a 42" reflector on a swivel arm in front of the subject at waist height for any facial shadow fill ins. I used a Canon 5D Mark III and a 100mm USM L IS Macro lens for this portrait in ISO 50. So what could it be?

Shoot @ 1/160th.

bbasiaga

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2012, 12:27:25 PM »
Wicki..indeed having this issue with the MK III so yes 1/60 just clears it.

Quote
Most shots like that are not done at wide aperture.  That is the purpose of the neutral, flatly detailed backgrounds.  It allows you to get nice even lighting and a sharp picture at say F8 by using your flashes, and still have the effect of a blurred or flat background.    What a lot of folks do here is set their ISO as low as necessary, shutter to max sync speed that actually works (In your case 1/160), and then close the aperture down until a photo taken with no flash is just a black frame.  Then turn up your flash power setting until you get the exposure you want.

Used a Light Meter here for (what I thought was ) dead on accuracy but of course once the reading is taken I could rotate the wheel to say 1/125 the watch the aperture get smaller.  In watching the Joe McNally course, he shot his subjects at F2 with the 200mm for a narrow DOF on the subjects eye with a nice smooth hair flow and also 5.6 with 70-200.

Quote
One thing to remember, the flash is only really affected by your camera's aperture setting.  The flash burst only lasts for a few thousands or ten-thousands of a second.  If the light from the flash is the only light in the picture, you won't see a single difference in exposure at any shutter speed setting below your sync speed.  So to get a wider aperture, you need less light from the flash.  Set them to their lowest power, and if that doesn't work move them farther away.   As you said you can use ND filters on your camera, or ND gels on your flashes. 

Correct.  The Elinchroms go down to 2.0 then increase to 6.0 with 1/10 stops in between (whole numbers are full stops) I had these at 2.2 - thanks for the insight

I dont have my own light meter, so I could be off here. But a fwe of them I've seen had different settings for flash and non-flash metering.  Did yours make the flash flash to take its readings?  Usually you have to hold a remote or something to fire them with the meter in place, then get the reading for aperture. 


-Brian

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2012, 01:16:23 PM »
Rev,
In an earlier thread you mentioned windows in your garage as a factor you worried about. Did you get the shooting area free of ambient? I am guessing you did but just mention it to get a confirmation. You seem to understand that ambient light is unwanted, except for modeling lights.

I agree with others. Except in some editorial shoots, portrait success is helped by smaller apertures than the settings you seek. In the portrait you shared earlier a couple stood or sat facing you with shoulders overlapping. Even if you pose with shallow depth of field in mind you cannot keep both pairs of eyes in exactly (f2.8-level-exactly) the same distance to camera. Further, subjects move after your finger starts pushing the shutter release. It adds a risk factor that most portrait sessions and fee structures cannot support.

In your studio, you may have tough limits on how far behind and how wide your background can be, but I urge you to see how great a distance you can squeeze out of your floor plan. Find wide enough material for the tones you seek. This also offers the chance to incorporate lighting control over background through the use of another head. Fun and cool. Then the smaller apertures are not bringing background materials into sharp enough focus to cause issues.

A third note: ISO 50 isn't a good idea if the dPreview review of the 5Dmk3 is correct. They showed a truncated tone curve for that speed that was weird. Check it out and see what you think.

If you stuff more diffusion material into the softboxes watch out for color shifts.

The softboxes seem a bit low, although you described them as above the face level. I usually like more shadow. Not sharp, really but more tone range, so your goal may be different. Is the inside of your shooting space dark enough to insure that light bouncing around will not influence the image in either color, amount, or direction? I used to have to keep my walls dark grey or drape black cloth around the set in my studio space. I had more room, though, and higher ceilings (here I am guessing) than your space.

Keep up the experimentation. Vary the lights, move one back to make it a fill rather than shared key. Go with one light and a 4x8 white card right outside the frame as a reflector. When I started all this experimentation cost lots of cash (film and processing!) and was not rewarded with instant feedback except for Polaroids from the 2 1/4 and 4x5 (I did have a Pola back rig for the Canon F bodies that made a soft 1x1.5-inch image on pack film. Hard to see details!  Anyone here remember that crazy thing? Hand made by a small Boston firm.) I betray my age.

Have you considered hanging them from rafters? Fun and keeps the floor clearer, but you have to work out a way to move them. Do-able if you are a Mcgyver type.

Go for it!

jonathan7007

revup67

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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 10:07:51 PM »
Quote
In an earlier thread you mentioned windows in your garage as a factor you worried about. Did you get the shooting area free of ambient? I am guessing you did but just mention it to get a confirmation. You seem to understand that ambient light is unwanted, except for modeling lights.

I agree with others. Except in some editorial shoots, portrait success is helped by smaller apertures than the settings you seek. In the portrait you shared earlier a couple stood or sat facing you with shoulders overlapping. Even if you pose with shallow depth of field in mind you cannot keep both pairs of eyes in exactly (f2.8-level-exactly) the same distance to camera. Further, subjects move after your finger starts pushing the shutter release. It adds a risk factor that most portrait sessions and fee structures cannot support.

In your studio, you may have tough limits on how far behind and how wide your background can be, but I urge you to see how great a distance you can squeeze out of your floor plan. Find wide enough material for the tones you seek. This also offers the chance to incorporate lighting control over background through the use of another head. Fun and cool. Then the smaller apertures are not bringing background materials into sharp enough focus to cause issues.

A third note: ISO 50 isn't a good idea if the dPreview review of the 5Dmk3 is correct. They showed a truncated tone curve for that speed that was weird. Check it out and see what you think.

If you stuff more diffusion material into the softboxes watch out for color shifts.

The softboxes seem a bit low, although you described them as above the face level. I usually like more shadow. Not sharp, really but more tone range, so your goal may be different. Is the inside of your shooting space dark enough to insure that light bouncing around will not influence the image in either color, amount, or direction? I used to have to keep my walls dark grey or drape black cloth around the set in my studio space. I had more room, though, and higher ceilings (here I am guessing) than your space.

Keep up the experimentation. Vary the lights, move one back to make it a fill rather than shared key. Go with one light and a 4x8 white card right outside the frame as a reflector. When I started all this experimentation cost lots of cash (film and processing!) and was not rewarded with instant feedback except for Polaroids from the 2 1/4 and 4x5 (I did have a Pola back rig for the Canon F bodies that made a soft 1x1.5-inch image on pack film. Hard to see details!  Anyone here remember that crazy thing? Hand made by a small Boston firm.) I betray my age.

Jonathan - sorry for the delay here.  You speak with sound experience where I am just getting started and learning daily.  I have not blocked out all the ambient light. Which I am aware will effect the overall light.  I am using a light meter to properly gauge each shoot (about 15 minutes each).  And you are right, the shallow DOF would be for 1 subject only.  I try not to shoot wider than 5.0 or 5.6 with 2 or more subjects as I know one is asking for trouble with OOF shots.  Not familiar with the truncated curve you speak of but overall I'll bump it back to ISO 100 then and use a smaller Av. or toss on an ND.  I am shooting for sharp so with this tutorial I can sharpen and soften as needed http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-editing/smooth-skin/ this offers the full control one would need in both smooth and sharp worlds.  Good points about varying the lights.  I guess I am sticking with a formula that works but perhaps can get better results by not keeping the lights evenly paired.  I do have two reflectors with booms/arms that I used to fill in shadows so those do help (32" and 42").   Ahh..no worries on the age thing we may be about the same or close.  I got my first Canon (an AE-1) in 1983.  Many thanks for the wonderful response and insightful response.
Thanks
Rev
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Re: Test Your Knowledge with Strobes/Thinking outside the Soft Box
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2012, 10:07:51 PM »