Frustrated with lighting

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by motherlee, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. motherlee

    motherlee TPF Noob!

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    I'm wondering if anyone has advice they can share with me. I'm currently using to stobes with umbrellas as my main and hair lights. I have my SB600 set up with a reflector for fill.

    I can't seem to get a nice even light. I mostly work with children and they don't pose in one spot, which we all know! How do I get a nice even light that won't matter if they move?

    does it make a difference if the hair light is on the same side as the main or fill light? Right now I have it on the side on the fill light.

    Here are two shots. The one of the girl alone shows what I mean the most.

    1.

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    2.

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    Another question is how to avoid the glare on the guys head when the girls need the hair light?

    Any comments about the lighting in generally would also be appreciated as I'm getting frustrated with the experimenting.

    Thanks,

    Leanne
     
  2. henryp

    henryp TPF Noob!

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    You mentioned main & hair. Are you using a fill light and if so what's the difference in quantity between main and fill and where are they positioned relative to your subjects? Using a reflector fill can be a great help, but you could also try main & fill lights, no hair light and a lighter background.

    Regarding glare on his head and your hair light -- are you using any type of diffuser on the hair light? If not, a small soft box would help. Aiming the hair light further to the back of the head so none hits ghe forehead would help too.
     
  3. motherlee

    motherlee TPF Noob!

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    I am using my sb600 into a reflector for the fill. My fill and hair lights are about 1 stop less than the main. Could it be that the reflector isn't angled well enough?

    The hair light is with an umbrella.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    The hair light is in an umbrella? How odd--because in the family group shot, the hair light looks almost like a bare flash on the man's temple. One oddity of hair lighting is when you move it around and nearly parallel to the camera-to-subject axis, hair lighting becomes very strong--almost like an aberration in physics. I first read about that from a master lighting technician, Ellis Vener. I didn't believe it myself, but it is true; if you position a hair light behind a subject and aim it toward the camera at a steep angle, like 10 to 25 degrees, even a small amount of hair light will appear very,very bright--like 50 watt seconds hairlight and an 800 watt-second mainlight can produce the type of bright, specular, blown-out highlight like the father has on his temple in the family shot.

    Bottom line--in the lighting setup shown, the hair light is far too hot,and as Henry stated, aiming it differently would be a good idea; he thought the hair light needed a small soft box; I looked at it and thought it needed to be shot through at least two layers of mylar diffusing material. IOW, your hairlight in the bottom scenario is far,far too hot,and looks so bright we both (I think) thought it was undiffused, bare flash--or at least in need of diffusion. Contrast that with the little girl in the top shot--that has soft, very subtle hair lighting--very subtle, but still a wee bit too strong. Again, perhaps you moved the hair light too far "around the back" in the family group, and that is causing the excessively hot, specularity on the man's head, and since you told us you used an umbrella for the hair light, the flash output is simply too high in relation to the main/fill ratio and the camera exposure; look at how the hairlight delineates the man's cheekbone. Too strong.

    The hair light on the little girl I said was a bit too strong--I can see the shadow the hair light is causing on her curly hair,and it is illuminating a bit of her cheekline as well.

    These results are reasonably good, but this is an example of why I personally suggest to beginners that actual studio lights, with modeling lights, will really,really help them position their lights so they have a WYSIWYG aid; speedlight lighting is all done by experience and is all done "blind". Even slight movements of the subject can change the lighting setup's results, which is one reason studio lights have modeling lamps--the photographer can literally "see" a problem before committing to the shutter.

    If you want a nice,soft,even light that allows a lot of subject movement, you need to have a VERY large light source, like two 42x72 panels or two very large umbrellas positioned "not too close", to keep falloff fairly even over the shooting area. Using one main light of 40-60 inches will have a fairly notable amount of fall-off as the subject moves across the set or background; the closer the light to the subject, the MORE-pronounced the fall-off is.

    I would be greatly tempted to add a 3rd flash on the black backdrop,and fire a little pop of flash thru a colored gel filter to juice up the background a bit, or just to provide a gradient fill type effect on the black backdrop, which will allow you to get a separation of dark-haired figures from the black backdrop, without the need to use too much hair light. Still, overall, you're doing okay,and your attitude about a potential reflector mis-alignment shows how open you are to suggestions AND clues me in that you're actually working hard and are analyzing things on your own. All great signs. And just coincidentally, reflector mis-alignment vis a vis the main light and reflector position is a really,really common mistake many people make.
     
  5. motherlee

    motherlee TPF Noob!

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    That is very helpful. Thank you.

    I actually had moved the hair light closer to subject, which is exactly what you are saying not to do. So I will fix that. And keep fiddling with the reflector.

    Thank you.
     
  6. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For kids and I'd only advice that for kids b/c as you said
    FLAT LIGHTING - Two umbrellas (10-15feet from subject, lets say), no ratio, forget hair light. (If my tired would be as flat as the lighting, my car wouldn't drive). However, for little kiddies, it does the job. I'd never recommend it for anyone you can pose - THEN you can use your light to creates a portrait-story.
    but for Kiddies - flat is safe.
     
  7. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    I think you want your hair light on the side opposite the main, since that is the side most likely to get lost in the background with dark haired subjects. Your fill doesn't seem 1 stop under it looks darker. make sure u block the main light when metering. Like derrel said, the farther away you can get your main light the less effect there will be if your subject moves around a little bit. but know the farther u move a light away the harder the beam becomes. I don't think you should light the kids flat but maybe simplify the lighting so their placement isn't as critical. Good luck. : )
     
  8. bhphotography

    bhphotography TPF Noob!

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    IMHO, if you only have two lights, ditch the hair light and go with a main / fill light. Have your fill 1/2 the power of the main and on the opposite side. If you have a 3rd light, go for the hair light, but I find a hair light is a little dated at times and very hard to use with children.
     

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