Best hair light?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kkamin, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    What do you think the best hair light is for these situations? A hair light that is soft and subtle, just allowing the subject to separate nicely from part of the background.

    1. One person

    2. A small group (4-5 people)

    3. A large group (12-20 people) (say you had a black background and many subjects with dark hair.)

    3. With group shots, on bigger, commercial shoots, do they tend to use a different light for each person with a snoot?

    Thanks!

    Kkamin
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The "best" depends on what the main light setup is. The relationship between hair light and main lights is a joint relationship; if you're using hard, directional lighting, like parabolic reflectors or beauty dishes, you can use a different type of hairlight than if the main light is a softbox. Harsh, direct, unfiltered flash as hairlight isn't a good mix with soft umbrella, softbox, or scrim mainlight sources. The following are for setups shot with soft-ish,diffused main and fill lighting,and are my own observations and opinions. I have used complete Photogenic and Speedotron lighting systems,and the following are my own experiences,and I have shot quite a few groups of 12 to 20, as well as thousands of one- to six-person groups.

    1-One person. Speedotron 11.5 inch 50 degree reflector fitted with a 20 degree honeycomb grid, a snap-on mylar diffuser, and 2-way barn doors.

    2-Group of 3 to 6. Speedotron 11.5 inch 50 degree reflector fitted with a 35 degree honeycomb grid, snap-on mylar diffuser, and 2 way barn doors.

    3-Group of 12-20. Overhead 42x72 inch panel,white translucent fabric, two flash heads fired through panel suspended overhead. Or, alternately a bare flash head fitted with a Speedotron or Photogenic brand half open/half shrouded tube cover. One of the things about Photogenic and Speedotron higher-end strobe heads is that they have a BIG flashtube, unlike cheaper monolights that have a dinky, small,circular flashtube. With Photogenic or Speedotron pro-level flash heads, bare-tube flash is quite good as hairlight, and distributes quite well,and Speedotron and Photogenic both make special background/hairlight reflectors that shield 50 percent of the bulb, specifically for this type of use.

    4-Snoots are a love/hate tool. They look good in catalogs, but I think most people actually prefer honeycomb grids, which are easier to control. I prefer a 7 or 11 inch reflector with barn doors and grids + diffuser material, or no diffuser, over snoots. I really don't think highly of snoots.
     
  3. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    Derrel, do you think using a small soft box works as well as a honeycomb grid?

    If I'm in a situation where all my light modifiers are used up and I end up crafting a snoot from black foil, so you think fixing a piece of diffusion over the end would work on removing the hot spot?

    Thanks for you advice on not liking snoots. I ordered some honeycomb grids instead. : )

    -Kkamin
     
  4. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    For my small froups I use a 24" Octabox, and for a bit more control I will put a 30 Deg Egg Crate Grid on it.
    I like the set up because I can go from hard light (No baffle and no difusion pannel) or soft light and still get good directional control. I usually have this on a boom overhead.
     
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Well, I see a lot of people now using small softboxes or strip boxes as hairlights, like SpeedTrap refers to above. He's got an Octabox box that has a removeable front diffusion panel, a removable baffle, and which he has an eggcrate grid attachment...so he could have the hairlight be hard,less hard,or totally diffused (with the baffle and the diffusion panel installed), and which can also be fitted with a grid. So, that's a great, versatile softbox design. If you have a "vanilla" softbox that has a sewn-on front panel, all you could do was pop an eggcrate set on it, unless you unmounted the box,reached inside,and removed the baffle. So, yeah, the right type of softbox has tremendous potential as a hair light, and MANY people are using them now for that.

    If your lighting brand does not have grids and diffusers and multiple sizes of grid reflectors (like 7,11.5,16,20 inch), you would probably find a softbox like SpeedTrap is using would be a better option,and a lot less costly too.

    Snoot with diffusion material at the end...yeah, it'll diffuse it. I just don't use snoots much. I have acquired a few of them, but really, I find them of limited use.
     
  6. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    Good idea. I'll do some tests with it. With the octabox do you position it directly overhead and to the back on the boom? What types of lighting ratios do you use in general for types of hair?

    Like I mentioned, I've just been having a hard time having it look right.

    Thanks for your response.
     
  7. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    It depends on the hair, I have a bit of a niche for shooting hair and it can change from in front to overhead to beind depending on the hair style and hair colour. Darker hair needs a bit more light and stronger texture requite stronger angles. if you can post an example of one of your shots I may be able to help you.
     
  8. kiesyci

    kiesyci TPF Noob!

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    congratulations guys, awesome work.
    I look forward to seeing what you do in the next challenge.
     

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