Beginner setup

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Starlite, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. Starlite

    Starlite TPF Noob!

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    Hi Everyone,

    This is my first post here, and I tried to be patient and read as much as possible before creating a post, but I have some specific questions that I'd like to ask at this point.

    Ok I'm pretty much an amateur/beginner at this point, and I just want to learn, grow and improve.

    Mostly, I want to start with portrait photos.

    I bought some basic lighting equipment on Ebay, and your comments on that are welcome - http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=ADME:B:EOIBSAA:US:31&Item=120042196041


    I know that for portrait photos, I need to have a main light, and then another light for the hair and shoulders, but not sure about a 3rd or 4th light.

    Which brings me to my first question - Will I need a 3rd light to eliminate shadows, or are these two lights enough?

    Again, all feedback and suggestions regarding some beginner's equipment are welcome.

    I'm thinking of buying one or two cool lightbulbs, and was looking at these:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/30W-6400K-Fluor...39QQihZ001QQcategoryZ3860QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    http://cgi.ebay.com/30W-PHOTO-LIGHT...70QQihZ020QQcategoryZ3860QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    http://cgi.ebay.com/250-WATT-DAYLIG...80QQihZ001QQcategoryZ3860QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem



    Thanks in advance :hail:
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    There are many different ways to set up your studio lights. I suggest getting some books on the subject. There are some great web sites that deal specifically with studio lighting as well. Google is your friend.

    I'm no expert but here is my 2 cents...You will need a main (or Key) light. This will be used to light the subject and give them some modeling. You will need fill light. Fill light will determine how dark your shadows are. You may be able to use a reflector...and reflect the key light back onto the subject as fill...or you can use a separate light. On top of that, can use other lights as you see fit. A background light, a hair accent light etc.
     
  3. Starlite

    Starlite TPF Noob!

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    Hi Big Mike,

    Any suggestions on books or web sites?

    I'm not mad or anything, but I've been reading a number of posts where people ask questions, and others keep responding with "read books" and similar suggestions.

    I think that is a good suggestion, but isn't the purpose of this forum to be able to learn by asking questions and interacting with others?


    thanks for the help
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    I can't think of any books off hand...but I'd suggest going to the library. The techniques and principles of photography and portraiture have not changed for a long time...so even older 'non-digital' books should really help.

    One reason why we often give the advice "go read a book"...is because it's impossible or pointless to try to answer some questions, without creating many more questions. I don't mean to pick on you...but when you ask "will I need a third light to eliminate shadows?"...the answer is...Yes, No & Maybe.

    If you can ask a much more specific question, with examples...then we can provide a much more specific answer. However, since you are a beginner...you need to start somewhere...and reading a book or a web site should give you some background which you can use to ask more specific questions. Does that make sense?
     
  5. Starlite

    Starlite TPF Noob!

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    Hi Big Mike,

    that was a good answer... that DOES make sense, and I can see where you're coming from.

    Asking a specific question is much more answerable then something very general, so thanks for helping me to see that.


    I guess what I want to know at this point, is does that equipment look "decent", and do those bulbs look like they'd be decent, to start with?


    Other than that, I'm searching through the posts trying to find someone who recommends a good starters book.


    thank you very much!
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    Glad to help.

    As for those lights...I've never used them....so I don't really know. They are a much cheaper alternative to strobe units...and therefore there are compromises. Even at 1000 watts...they will not be as powerful as strobes...you may have to use them quite close to your subjects. That leads to another problem...they may get quite hot...which may not be comfortable for your subjects.

    The good part is that, what you see...is what you get. You won't need a flash meter to figure out your exposure.

    As for the bulbs...I haven't used them either...they key will be getting all your lights to be the same color temperature. You could use all incandescent lights and adjust your White balance accordingly...but all the lights have to be the same...otherwise you will end up with colored lights.
     
  7. Starlite

    Starlite TPF Noob!

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    Wow, someone else told me that sometimes it's good to use different color temperatures to get certain color, but I guess that's some advanced level ish..

    Not familar with what a strobe is, unless it's what I see at the disco, which doesn't seem like it'd be good for portrait lighting.

    They are arriving on Friday, so I will try them out and see how they work.


    thanks for the feedback, and others are welcome to offer their feedback as well.
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    By strobe...I mean flash...as in a quick burst of light. The lights you have here are continuous lights...like a bulb you would have in your house etc.

    Typically, studio lights are flash (strobe) units which are triggered when you fire the shutter of the camera. Because the light flashes so quickly...the light can be very powerful. Most studio lights also have a regular light bulb which is used as a modeling light...so that you can see what's going on when you are setting up. You don't need a modeling light because your lights will always be on.

    Yes, it's true that you can use different lights to get different colors...but I would think that is more advanced...and probably more annoying than anything.
     
  9. Starlite

    Starlite TPF Noob!

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    good stuff Mike, you are making me feel at home here!


    While we're on the subject, which do you like better - strobe or continuous? What are the basic pros and cons?


    and yeah, I guess that color temp deal is some advanced level stuff, that I needn't worry bout right now. hehe
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    We like to make everyone feel at home here :D

    I've never really used continuous lights for portraits...I do have one studio strobe light that I use in conjunction with typical camera flash units...on and off the camera.

    I went with a strobe because that is the standard. Strobes are powerful yet your subject doesn't have to sit under 'hot' lights. Also, I want to be able to use diffusers like umbrellas and or soft-boxes...and I'm not sure if continuous lights will be powerful enough when used with diffusers.

    I'm sure there are many other differences...I just can't think of them.

    Continuous lights are good in the sense that you can set them and see exactly what your light is doing. You don't have to worry about using a flash meter to determine your exposure.

    I'm curious to see how well those lights you ordered will work. Let us know when you get them and try them out.
     
  11. 250Gimp

    250Gimp TPF Noob!

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    Hi there Starlite

    I'm a beginner as well, and I found the following website quite helpful .

    http://super.nova.org/DPR/

    Cheers
     
  12. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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    Starlite - for good reading on lighting, I recommend "Matters of Light and Depth" by Ross Lowell. It's a little technical (ok, a lot technical) but it goes into great detail on continuous lighting vs strobes, lighting ratios, "classic" lighting schemes, which schemes are typically used for what situations, etc. $17 at Amazon, or you can probably find it at your local library.
     

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