beginner help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by nursecarla, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. nursecarla

    nursecarla TPF Noob!

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    I am a beginner photographer, and I want to purchase some alien bees, to set up a small home studio. I will be mostly taking pictures of my daughter, family etc.. to improve my skills.
    I am doing this as a hobby right now.
    Any advice?
    Thanks
    Carla
     
  2. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Start with one light and a reflector to begin with. Learn to use it effectively then add more lights as needed. I would suggest the AB-800 to start with. Maybe more power than you need, but you can turn the power down and this will provide a bit of room to grow in the future.

    There is also the Strobist route before buying mono heads.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I've seen many beginning photographers try and take to big a bite initially and wind up discouraged to the point of abandoning photography.

    Using strobed light is much more complex than not using strobed light and without a fairly good understanding of how the 3 elements of exposure work, (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) you'll likely be very disappointed with your results.

    You need more than just light(s). You also need light modifiers. Most studio portrait photographers use softboxes. The people at Paul C. Bluff (Alien Bee's) are very helpful.

    I agree you'll actually learn quicker starting with just 1 light and a reflector and then adding as you gain knowledge and your skills improve.
     
  4. nursecarla

    nursecarla TPF Noob!

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    And this is not what I want to do. I do want to start small and take slow it and like you said add more as I gain knowledge. Other than one light and a reflector is there anything else I should get? Is the beginner bee package a good start? I already own a reflector.
     
  5. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    A flash meter. Chimpin is a P.I.T.A. Sekonic makes some nice ones at a decent price. The L-308s would do the job. Some kind of wireless trigger system unless you want to mess with cords. Paul Bluffs gets good reviews. Also a good book on studio lighting.

    Background(s), back ground stand, as mentioned some light modifiers. I prefer softboxes over umbrellas, but it is a personal choice. I have both but use the softboxes most of the time.

    Background light, hair light, additional main/fill lights, snoot at some point, barn doors, more reflectors and stands, boom arm, props, etc can be added as you need them. There is more.... There is always more.

    Understand that this can get expensive and addictive. Studios are the crack cocaine of photography.:D Well them and L Glass.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  6. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    I have the Sekonic L-308s. Nice little meter, but you need a way to remotely trigger your light to measure lighting ratios with it.

    "Light: Science & Magic. An Introduction to Photographic Lighting" Fil Hunter. The 2nd half of the book deals with lighting portraiture. Don't skip the first half.

    Here's a link to an image I posted the other day that I used flash to make.
     
  7. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You should be able to plug in the transmitter from most systems and trigger the lights with it. I use the L358 and PW's and have the module for mine, but it does have a PC socket on the side to plug in a wireless transmitter. I believe the L-308 does as well.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I think one of the best items to get is a pair of quality enclosed umbrellas like the Lastolite Umbrella Box. These keep spill light to a minimum,since they are enclosed and the backs are totally opaque black fabric. Lighting is 'similar' to a softbox, but easier and faster for a beginner to set up,and very easy to transport/store. This is a reflecting umbrella design, with a white, zippered cover that closes tightly around the flash head,and offers very nice light quality. A similar umbrella design is that of the Photek Softlighter that Annie Liebovitz has been using the last few years.
    Lastolite Limited, Manufacturer of Umbrella Boxes and Studio Equipment.
    SOFTLIGHTER II

    A second item that I think is very,very handy is a 7 to 11.5 inch reflector that has the ability to accept a 20 to 35 degree honeycomb grid AND a set of 2- or 4-way barn doors. Another honeycomb grid that is exceptionally useful is a 10 degree grid; I think a honeycomb grid set is vastly more useful than a snoot. Snoots are not nearly as useful as grids, in my experience.

    If you buy a softbox, try and get one that has both a recessed face AND a set of louvres or "egg crates" that fit on the front,and which help control the direction and spill of the light emanating from a softbox.

    Cheap, white $15-$25 "shoot-through" umbrellas cause a LOT of spill light to bounce all around your shooting area,and make it much harder to understand the effects of positioning lights. I learned with shoot-through ubrellas,and found that with ample watt-seconds sent through one, it would not only provide main light, but also a fill light effect due to all the light that bounced off the back side and as blasted all around the shooting area. If you have to shoot in a low-ceilinged room (basement,apartment,small office) the cheap shoot-through umbellas often produce very ugly,dull, vague lighting effects,and that is why I am specifying two *quality* enclosed umbrellas, the Lastolite Umbrella Box,and the Photek Softlighter. There are cheaper knock-offs,and also another type that does not reflect and then diffuse the light, but which is just a shoot-through umbrella with a back cover on it....not quite the same thing as the two genuine unbrella boxes I am suggesting.

    I do not use Alien Bee studio flash, but another brand; if I were just beginning and wanted to use just umbrellas, I would look a the Adorama photo store's Flashpoint II monolights as a lower-cost option,and would buy three or four of their 320 models. See this URL Monolight Outfits

    I would also look at the Flashpoint's 16-inch "beauty dish" parabolic reflector as a very useful type of light modifier to buy.

    Keep in mind that the Alien Bee "400" is a 160 watt-second model and the Flashpoint 320 is a 150-watt-second model. Both are amply powerful.

    I've watched the Alien Bee crowd grow in strength over the years,and almost to a person they will discount any other brand of lighting. I do not own either AB or Flashpoints,and have no dog in the fight--but I would rather own two lights of about equal power for the price of one light,and would really much rather have four lights than two lights. As a user of another,entirely different studio flash system,to me the Flashpoint monolights appear to be more what I would suggest to somebody who wants to get into studio lighting on a small scale without paying too much money for lights that so many users seem to have to send back for warranty repairs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2009
  9. nursecarla

    nursecarla TPF Noob!

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    Would you suggest a brolly box over a shoot through umbrella?
     
  10. inTempus

    inTempus TPF Noob!

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    I would highly recommend the Alien Bee's. The B800 is perfect for just about all applications.

    I don't care for the light cast by umbrellas, but you can use them to start out as they are cheap and offer good lighting. I would invest in a softbox as you grow with your light(s). There are lots of other light modifiers you can play with as time goes on. They all have their uses and as you learn more about your lights you'll want to explore the different modifiers.

    But start off with a Bee and an umbrella and see how it goes. If you take to it like I'm sure you will, grow from there.
     
  11. nursecarla

    nursecarla TPF Noob!

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    Do you think a softbox would be too much of a learning curve vs. a umbrella? Sorry for all the questions just want to make sure I research everything before I buy. ;)
     
  12. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Personally I don't think so. The softbox is going to direct the light more since the light diffusion is at the end of the box instead of across the curve of an umbrella. Mine have additional inserts. A secondary diffusion panel if I need it, a honey comb insert, as well as slat/grid inserts. They are just additional modifiers you can use for different looks and situations. You can start simple and then add them to experiment with the effects.

    Best thing to do, go to the library or the book store and find a good beginners book on studio lighting and get it. They usually aren't that big. It will give you the basics for each of the different types of modifiers, their strong points and weak points. It will also give you an idea of what modifiers to start with. A medium to large size soft box sounds about right for what you have explained, but you will know that better after you understand what it can do and choose the size or type of modifier you want.
     

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