BAckdrops and light kits

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by RumDaddy, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. RumDaddy

    RumDaddy TPF Noob!

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    Heres what I think I want... Two softbox slave lights with a modeling light. And possibly a hair light.

    #1. Which one should I get?

    Steve Kaeser Backgrounds & Accessories

    #2. On a 1 -10 scale how important is a boom light/hair light?

    #3. What are the pros and cons of continuous light compared to a strobe.

    If ya dont have time to answer all 3 just help out with what ya can. I appreciate it.

    PS! Im starting off with shooting senoirs and babys. Just learning or experimenting on friends and family.
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    It depends. When shooting against a dark background with a dark haired model, it's much more important than when shooting a light haired model. This is because you usually want to create some separation rather than having it look like your model is blending into the background. You don't need a boom stand for this, it can usually be done with a light on a high light stand placed behind the model. A boom can be handy for when you want a light right above you model, which might be to accent the hair or when it's impractical to hit all the people in a group with a hair light from behind.

    This is, by far, the most important questions you have asked in this thread. There can be a huge difference between continuous lighting and strobes when shooting people. In a nutshell; shooting with continuous lighting is just like shooting outdoors....you need to be concerned with your aperture and shutter speed....and when light levels get low, shutter speed can really start to be an issue. If it's too slow, you can get blur from camera and/or subject movement...and people always move, kids especially. Sure, you can turn up the ISO to get faster shutter speeds, but that can mean more noise and that's probably not what you want from 'studio' photography.
    When shooting with strobes, on the other hand, you don't really have to be concerned with the shutter speed besides making sure it syncs with the flash burst. The flash will freeze the movement, giving you nice sharp images. Also, with enough flash power, you can use smaller apertures if required, thus giving you control of your DOF.

    On the flip side, metering and visualizing your shot with strobes is a little harder than with continuous lighting.
     
  3. RumDaddy

    RumDaddy TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Mike, I was warned that with continuous light your concern is blurry images, especially when shooting kids cuz they tend not listen to the "STAND STILL" instructions.

    Ive also read that using a different color back drop can help with the seperation between hair and the backdrop. Its simple, make sure your subjects hair and the backdrop dont match. Well, Im sure theres alot more to it, but thats a good way to start.
     
  4. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    #3:

    I don't know if they make continuous lights today that don't get as hot but it was my main problem when I started. I just didn't like the heat. I imagine you also use a lot more electricity. But the cost is nothing compared to that of decent strobe lights so it is
    an affordable way to learn how to use lights.


    Plus, you get what you see. Also, no need for a flashmeter which is another expensive piece of equipment.

    I personally did not find metering and visualizing with strobes that hard. Again, flashmeter and, strobes have modeling lights which give you a very good idea of what you're doing. Of course, I used quality equipment (Broncolor monolights) and that also helped. Even if not my bank account at first. I also shot polaroids to set up the lights. Today, you can do the same by just putting your memory card in your computer and checking what you have before you proceed with the shoot.

    I've been looking into strobes recently because I'm thinking of setting up a studio again but since it would be mostly for fun, Broncolor is a bit expensive. I've been reading some decent things about Alienbees considering their price but I'm not finished with my research so, don't take this as an endorsment of the brand.


    The big question to ask yourself is what you want to do with lights... If you're going to use them once every few months, I don't think the investment in strobes is worth it. Don't forget that the light itself (strobe or continuous) is only the start. You'll also need stands, lightboxes, umbrellas, etc.

    If you just want to play around once in a while, you could rent equipment. If you're in a big enough city, that is.

    But if you're setting up a studio to do regular paid work, strobes is the way to go.

    Hope that helps.
     
  5. Don Kondra

    Don Kondra Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I used continuous lights for over a year and got acceptable results, these were the Continuous Fluorescents, twisty style @ 5500k available from Alzo Digital, they do Not get hot. After a half hour you can almost keep your hand on the bulb...

    In tungsten equivalent, I ended up with two - four bulb heads @ 900w each and a 150 w top/hair/background light. Still, speeds were in the 1/60ish range @ f8.

    In terms of cost, the whole set up was equal to one quality strobe minus any accessories.

    Then I tried the off shore strobes. A two strobe kit with two - 2' x 3' softboxes and stands for ~$320. A bit limiting with power of 200 w/s per head but fine for general work and a good bang for your buck.

    Having said that, if you do plan on using them regularly I would recommend you move on to a name brand strobe. They will likely also have a wider range of diffusers, etc.

    Some differences are the inclusion of a fan, bulb life in the 100,000 shots compared to 10,000, the ability to change bulbs, a wider range of power settings, sturdier construction, etc.

    The heads you linked to are 300 w/s and would be fine for occassional use, a hair light would be nice but you could get by with a reflector.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is you need to decide how much you will be using the lights and how much you want to spend.

    I have since moved on to Alien Bees and am pleased with their performance.

    Cheers, Don
     

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