Help with lighting using softbox

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by jessjelli, May 10, 2010.

  1. jessjelli

    jessjelli TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I have a nikon d90, and I love to shoot indoor with natural light with my 50 mm 1.4.

    I am doing some preschool pictures so I want to use my flash (sb600). I also have a softbox, and an umbrella. However, I did not get the instructional DVD with this used purchase.

    I am so frustrated trying to use these lights. My pics are either too dark, or the light is harsh, and the child has a terrible shadow!

    I have tried googling, you-tubing, reading everything possible online. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to use a soft-box (for dummies). Should I use just the soft box? or both that and the umbrella? What should I have the setting on my camera be? Should I use the sb600 to trigger flash? I just want a soft, professional looking image!

    Thanks,
    Jess

    inbleu.blogspot.com
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Softboxes & umbrellas are only light modifiers...but what type of lights do you have in them? Are they flash/strobe or are they continuous (lamp) style lights?
     
  3. jessjelli

    jessjelli TPF Noob!

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    They have strobes in them. They have a button that says model (I thought maybe that was to use as a continuous light), but when I push it, it does nothing! Thanks for your speedy reply!
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    OK, now we are getting somewhere.

    Firstly, studio lights usually have a 'modeling light'. This is a continuous light source (bulb) that is used to see the direction & quality of the light, but it's not what is used for the exposure. The flash 'pop' is the light that is used for the exposure.
    Your modeling lights should work when you turn them on, maybe the bulb is burned out, or maybe you have it set to 'track' the power setting of the flash and it's just turned down too low.
    Don't worry too much about the modeling light though.

    So how are you triggering the strobes? If you are using your built-in flash, or your SB-600, then it's likely that a pre-flash i triggering your lights too early. The Nikon flashes use a pre-flash for metering, but that doesn't jive with studio strobes. So if that's what you are doing, stop it and find a better way to trigger the strobe (cable or radio triggers). You could put your flash into manual mode, which doesn't use a pre-flash, but this isn't the best option.

    What mode are you shooting in? When using studio strobes, you pretty much have to have the camera in manual mode. All other modes use the camera's meter to set the exposure...but since the strobes only fire when the shutter is already open, the camera can't pre-meter for them.
    The issue then is that you have to meter the strobes somehow. The best option is a flash meter, although you can 'guess & test', but that's not very professional when someone is waiting for you to take their portrait.

    If you are doing those things already, then post up an example of your problem shots so that we can have a better look at the issue.
     
  5. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  6. jessjelli

    jessjelli TPF Noob!

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    thank you. I am using my sb600 to trigger the flash. I don't have a cable, or trigger but I will hopefully purchase one. That would make sense that they are triggering it too early, bc it appears that the softbox strobe is doing nothing that I can tell.

    I also do need a light meter. That makes sense. I hate testing over and over.

    The last problem I am facing is that I have to take these pictures tomorrow. So should I scratch the softbox? And just use my SB600?, I also tried using my 50 mm at 2.8, with my sb600, and they looked okay. Definitely didn't have the harsh shadows. I just struggle getting everything in focus with that lens. Thanks for all your help.
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    Unless you know what you're doing with the strobes, it might be better to leave them out. Use your SB-600 on-camera but bounce it off a wall/ceiling if you can.
     
  8. jessjelli

    jessjelli TPF Noob!

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    ok, i set my flash to manual and played around with my umbrella light. It worked much much better! I think it was triggering early. If I could figure out how to upload a pic here, I would so you could give me some feedback. The wall was a cream color, and it looks pink in the pic. I used one umbrella and a silver reflector. Did the pink come from her outfit?
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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  10. jessjelli

    jessjelli TPF Noob!

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    I shot with my sb600 in manual, and the strobes worked great! I used both the softbox, and the umbrella. Thanks, you seriously saved me! I will do all the things you suggested. Manual mode was just to get by for this shoot. They turned out great. Thanks again. i would have never known that they were firing early!
     

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