Basic Newbie Studio Lighting Questions

kat.hayes

EOS T7i
Nov 25, 2014
76
0
I am very new to photography/lighting and want to use a room to setup some lights to take portraits of a toddler and baby. I have about 14ft from one wall to the other. My plan is to place a white/black backdrop on the wall and have my subjects stand/lie a few feet from the backdrop. I have one strobe on a C-Stand with a softbox that will be used as the key, another strobe on a c-stand that will be placed in the back as a hair/rim light, and a third c-stand with a piece of foam core that I plan to use as the fill. I do not need full body shots, my thought is to just setup a chair that the toddler can sit in and perhaps hold the baby, or the baby can be placed on the chair separately (a small soft toddler chair a foot or so off the ground).

1. Does this space seem like it can work for what I am trying to accomplish?
2. How much space should I plan on having my subjects away from the backdrop to not cast shadows, etc.?
3. Should I even bother with the hair/rim light in the back based on my needs, and the space I have available?
4. How far should I plan on having my key/fill from the background?

Thanks for any info!!
 

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,355
377
Southeastern USA
kat.hayes said:
I am very new to photography/lighting and want to use a room to setup some lights to take portraits of a toddler and baby. I have about 14ft from one wall to the other. My plan is to place a white/black backdrop on the wall and have my subjects stand/lie a few feet from the backdrop. I have one strobe on a C-Stand with a softbox that will be used as the key, another strobe on a c-stand that will be placed in the back as a hair/rim light, and a third c-stand with a piece of foam core that I plan to use as the fill. I do not need full body shots, my thought is to just setup a chair that the toddler can sit in and perhaps hold the baby, or the baby can be placed on the chair separately (a small soft toddler chair a foot or so off the ground).

1. Does this space seem like it can work for what I am trying to accomplish?
2. How much space should I plan on having my subjects away from the backdrop to not cast shadows, etc.?
3. Should I even bother with the hair/rim light in the back based on my needs, and the space I have available?
4. How far should I plan on having my key/fill from the background?

Thanks for any info!!
If your room is 14 x 14, easily enough for toddlers--and even adults if your ceilings are high enough...Wow, wish we had that much room in our home for photos! I do headshots in a garage with only about 10 14 feet from camera to backdrop (generally a roll of white or faintly patterned Savage paper). Only about 10 feet from side to side too. Tight! And the ceilings are too low, around 8 feet, but I can have taller people sit on a lower stool!

As for the distance from key to background, that sort of depends on what you are trying to do with your backdrop--and how big your mods are. Can you use a doll or mannequin head as a rough stand-in to get the lighting right before bringing out the babies? If so, you have time to get things just right before taxing their very limited patience.

If these lights you are using are your own, the more you play with them in all kinds of spaces, the happier you will be when it's time to go.
 

kat.hayes

EOS T7i
Nov 25, 2014
76
0
The lights are unfortunately, not mine, so I'm trying to do as much planning before I borrow them as possible. I will be able to borrow them frequently for a day here and there. My ceiling is actually 7.5ft above the ground.

Thanks for the reply.
 

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,355
377
Southeastern USA
kat.hayes said:
The lights are unfortunately, not mine, so I'm trying to do as much planning before I borrow them as possible. I will be able to borrow them frequently for a day here and there. My ceiling is actually 7.5ft above the ground.

Thanks for the reply.
Correction, sorry. I just went out and measured, the space, believe it or not, in my garage is...14 feet! Feels tight, but does work. The space from side to side is what's really tight, it's about 12 feet. I use two 48" Octaboxes on lightstands, and a C stand with boom for a hair light that is just a strobe with a 30 deg grid. Wish I had more room in there!
 
It is impossible to tell you whether your space is sufficient, because of the nearly endless possibilities of the other parameters that could affect your scenario. For example, a very high-mounted key light placed closer to the side than typical would cast its shadows much closer your subjects and further from the background than a lower-mounted one, thereby lessening the need for space behind the subject. Obviously though, the height of the key is usually governed by other considerations such as the aesthetics of how the light models your subjects' faces. You don't need your barrowed strobes to check this out. Just set up your background, place a willing stand-in at the point where your subject will later be, turn off or down the room lights and aim a higher powered flashlight from your future strobes likely position towards your stand-in subject and observe where the shadows will fall. One thing to keep in mind, however, is background texture: you don't want to see any, and if you are too close to the background and shooting with too small an aperture, you might. This is unlikely, but it's something to keep in mind. as to the need for a back/side light for popping your subjects out of the background: be subtle and don't overdue it. Otherwise you may "burn" some area of their faces with highlights that are too hot and troublesome. Good luck to you. This stuff is actually quite a lot of fun without the pressure of having high-dollar clients depending on a perfect outcome.
Regards,
David
 

geekpower

EOS 80D
Feb 22, 2015
187
0
i'm an admitted noob at flash, but my immediate concern here is that with 3 flashes in a confined space you risk washing out all definition by the lighting being too even. that can be a good thing if it's what you are going for, but babies have such smooth skin it doesn't take much.
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,161
142
52
Isle of Wight
Hi Kat.
Have you read Strobist 101, you can download it FREE to read at your leisure as a PDF document http://strobist.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/lighting-101-to-go.html towards the bottom of the page is a link for the PDF.
There is also Strobist 102 and coming soon 103, the author is keeping those as part of his blog to increase his page hits and has previously requested for people not to make PDFs to share, so unfortunately for us no easy to read PDF.
I found 101 very informative and have been trying to work through some of the examples. I have yet to read 102, I should probably make the effort if it is as good as 101.

Cheers, Graham.

geekpower said:
i'm an admitted noob at flash, but my immediate concern here is that with 3 flashes in a confined space you risk washing out all definition by the lighting being too even. that can be a good thing if it's what you are going for, but babies have such smooth skin it doesn't take much.
 

Jopa

EOS 6D MK II
Dec 11, 2015
1,056
0
Based on personal experience, the biggest problem photographing a baby is time (lack of it). You can't tell a baby to do anything, and if they don't want you to take their picture for some reason - it's not going to happen :) For me it's all about quickly getting a shot while the baby is willing to co-operate. With my baby it's usually 30 seconds or less. I usually prepare and measure everything before the photo shoot. You can use a doll and check the histogram, or simply use a light meter.

Your space seems a little tight, but should be sufficient. I usually make things simple - 2 strobes at the front, different intensity (let's say 40ws and 80ws), and 2 strobes at the back (20ws each). The front strobes with large parabolic umbrellas and diffusers, and the back strobes with reflectors and barn doors. The umbrellas are large enough and close enough to cast minimum amount of shadows in case if there is more than one child. If I'm using a white background - the back strobes are pointed to the background, and if the background is black - the back strobes are aimed to the subject(s) head(s) - rim/hair light. The barn doors are helpful to avoid unnecessary light spill.

Good luck and don't forget to post your pics here.
 

Attachments

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,355
377
Southeastern USA
dafrank said:
It is impossible to tell you whether your space is sufficient, because of the nearly endless possibilities of the other parameters that could affect your scenario. For example, a very high-mounted key light placed closer to the side than typical would cast its shadows much closer your subjects and further from the background than a lower-mounted one, thereby lessening the need for space behind the subject. Obviously though, the height of the key is usually governed by other considerations such as the aesthetics of how the light models your subjects' faces. You don't need your barrowed strobes to check this out. Just set up your background, place a willing stand-in at the point where your subject will later be, turn off or down the room lights and aim a higher powered flashlight from your future strobes likely position towards your stand-in subject and observe where the shadows will fall. One thing to keep in mind, however, is background texture: you don't want to see any, and if you are too close to the background and shooting with too small an aperture, you might. This is unlikely, but it's something to keep in mind. as to the need for a back/side light for popping your subjects out of the background: be subtle and don't overdue it. Otherwise you may "burn" some area of their faces with highlights that are too hot and troublesome. Good luck to you. This stuff is actually quite a lot of fun without the pressure of having high-dollar clients depending on a perfect outcome.
Regards,
David
While the background detail might be an issue (such as wrinkles or fabric texture), simply stopping down the aperture will sufficiently control exposure to avoid burning down the house. :D
 

Jopa

EOS 6D MK II
Dec 11, 2015
1,056
0
YuengLinger said:
While the background detail might be an issue (such as wrinkles or fabric texture), simply stopping down the aperture will sufficiently control exposure to avoid burning down the house. :D
Westcott makes nice wrinkle-free backdrops, like this one https://www.amazon.com/Westcott-133-9x10-Feet-Black-Background/dp/B004TS0FKE. It has a little bit of texture, but putting a subject about a feet or two away from it helps.
 

Mt Spokane Photography

I post too Much on Here!!
Mar 25, 2011
15,340
599
Continuous lighting makes it easier to get the right lighting placement to avoid shadows or other unexpected complications, you might not want to spend time experimenting with strobes while your child is getting tired. I find continuous lighting much easier. I am really cramped, 14 feet wide sounds wonderful, I have maybe 8 ft or less width and about 16 feet deep (A trailer). I have two 16 ft ceiling mounted flexible tracks with 4 backdrops mounted to tracks, so I can slide the one I want into position with the unwanted ones around to the side. Since I do product photography, I get by with the narrow space. I do have a full size Mannequin on a wheeled base that I can roll into place for use by my wife, who takes snapshots of her sewing, and knitting creations.

I have strobes, but purchased two low cost 27 inch softboxes from Amazon. Each has two 85 watt CFL's and two 65 Watt CFL's. I mount them to the walls with angle brackets to save space. I can swivel them and angle them, one is higher than the other. I also have a ceiling mounted light which lights the backdrop, but is not totally satisfactory. Its amazing that just a tiny tweak can affect shadows, I'd never get things totally right experimenting with my strobes. The lights are fixed, so I move the subject closer or further away, while trying to keep as much distance to the backdrop as possible.
 

kat.hayes

EOS T7i
Nov 25, 2014
76
0
Thanks for all of the helpful info!

I actually have access to both strobes and continuous lighting. Hensel strobes and KNO FLO continuous lights.

1. What is the downside of using the continuous lighting? Just that it will not be able to freeze motion? It seems like it would be a lot cooler for working with babies and toddlers?
2. If I go with continuous lighting, should I use Tungsten or Daylight balanced lights?

Thanks!
 
Aug 23, 2013
2,307
27
Bahia Brazil
kat.hayes said:
Thanks for all of the helpful info!

I actually have access to both strobes and continuous lighting. Hensel strobes and KNO FLO continuous lights.

1. What is the downside of using the continuous lighting? Just that it will not be able to freeze motion? It seems like it would be a lot cooler for working with babies and toddlers?
2. If I go with continuous lighting, should I use Tungsten or Daylight balanced lights?

Thanks!
Continuous light will facilitate learning how to lighten the subject in the best way, although it has limited options for power adjustment in each individual light.

One drawback is that you need about 1/250 speed to freeze the movement of children.

Kino Flo has a well balanced color as well as high quality LED illuminators.

Halogen bulbs produce a lot of heat, making the child uncomfortable in a few minutes.

Natural light on a balcony, or in a very large window produces pleasant illumination. This can be made even better by adding continuous light with blue plastic to make the same color as natural light.
 

kat.hayes

EOS T7i
Nov 25, 2014
76
0
Are you saying that if I use continuous lighting I will need to shoot at around 1/250 shutter speed or faster to freeze motion? I'm still pretty new to all this, so at that speed, where should I plan on having my ISO with the continuous lighting? I'd like to blur the background, and will be using a 24-70mm f2.8 with a 5DM3 so I'm guessing I would be shooting somewhere between f2.8 - f4

Thanks!!!
 
Aug 23, 2013
2,307
27
Bahia Brazil
kat.hayes said:
Are you saying that if I use continuous lighting I will need to shoot at around 1/250 shutter speed or faster to freeze motion? I'm still pretty new to all this, so at that speed, where should I plan on having my ISO with the continuous lighting? I'd like to blur the background, and will be using a 24-70mm f2.8 with a 5DM3 so I'm guessing I would be shooting somewhere between f2.8 - f4

Thanks!!!
Yes, you need to shutter around 1/250 to prevent motion blur with children. Thus, an F2.8 aperture should allow an ISO not too high.
 

Besisika

How can you stand out, if you do like evrybdy else
Mar 25, 2014
637
25
Montreal
Do you have modeling light on your strobe? If yes, I would use the strobe instead.
If yes, your are good to go. Take two strobes, add grids if you own, then feather the lights.
Put them approximately a foot before the kids, facing each other, faces almost parallel to one another, one half power of the other (and adjust to test - just watch the shadows casted by one kids to the other).
You will have an impression like you are lighting something else (empty venue before the kids) but that how feathering works. That will eliminate spills on background. 14feet is enough.
With modelling light, aim the edge of the light to the furthest kid, so that the closer to that light you are the darker you become due to the edge of the softbox. To guide the position of the edge, turn the face of the softboxes slightly away from one another.
My opinion, your biggest challenge is that you have two subjects instead of 1 and that makes putting the light close to subject difficult due to light fall off.
I admit, I have never shot kids so I don't know how long you can keep them at the right spot.
If not, then just use two softboxes at 45 deg as someone described it earlier and use white background to get white or grey. Black will be more difficult.
As for hair light, use snoot. Me, I prefer rim light (softbox with grid).
Feathering the light can be used with continuous light as well but you will loose a lot of power. Shutter speed needs to be at least 1/400th sec, so increase ISO if not enough power.

Below is a link from youtube on how to use it (roughly)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bIlGc7pZwNE
 

Jopa

EOS 6D MK II
Dec 11, 2015
1,056
0
Bright continuous light forces the pupil to shrink, so you'll get more iris, if the eyes are important to you :) In dim (normal indoors) light the pupil is expanded and it takes lots of space from the iris. When you fire a strobe it won't have much time to shrink.
You can mix both lights probably, but I think it's harder because you'll have to keep some balance, similar to what you do shooting with strobes outdoors. I would still go with strobes, I think it needs to be very bright if you want to shoot let's say at f/8 1/250s.
 

Bennymiata

EOS 6D MK II
Personally, I don't like using flashes with babies.
Babies don't like flashes and it's bad for their young eyes too.

Try using natural light or continuous lighting.

One or 2 flashes and most babies will get upset, and unless you are looking for photos of crying and cranky babies, don't use flash.
 

Besisika

How can you stand out, if you do like evrybdy else
Mar 25, 2014
637
25
Montreal
Bennymiata said:
Personally, I don't like using flashes with babies.
Babies don't like flashes and it's bad for their young eyes too.

Try using natural light or continuous lighting.

One or 2 flashes and most babies will get upset, and unless you are looking for photos of crying and cranky babies, don't use flash.
Good to know, obviously I am not a baby photographer. Ignore what I suggested then.
 

geekpower

EOS 80D
Feb 22, 2015
187
0
one other tidbit:

some babies can blink fast enough to make ETTL a problem, as the pre-flash makes them blink before the actual shot. in that case you have to use manual, though if you are using strobes you are probably forced to use manual anyway.