Help with my lighting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by UncleRico, Dec 14, 2008.

  1. UncleRico

    UncleRico TPF Noob!

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    Hello Friends,

    I joined the forum a couple of days ago and have spent a lot of time scouring this site (and numerous others) on a variety of photography topics. This is my first question to the group, so be gentle J

    I bought a Nikon D80 and the Beginner Bee(w/b800) kit from Alien Bees, and I am curious how I can improve my portraits.

    I started snapping shots as soon as I got the kit and the results were mediocre. Most images looked like my daughter was sitting next to the sun. Through some trial and error, I started adjusting my shutter speed to reduce the exposure time. I found that shooting in Shutter Priority mode between 1/80 and 1/250 of a second improved my results. I also dropped my light power to ½. I wonder, is this the best approach? It doesn’t seem very elegant, and I’m sure a professional would do it differently.

    Here is a sample photo.


    [​IMG]

    It was taken at 110mm in S priority at 1/80 sec. I knew I wanted to blur the tree in the background, and as a result I would want a wider aperture. But when in A priority mode, my pictures were off, that’s when I switched to S priority. Is this where a light meter comes in?

    Would someone please explain how s/he approaches shooting portraits? Specifically, which camera mode do you use? Do you mainly use A or S priority? If you want more creative control of exposure, do you then switch to manual?

    Sorry for the long post, and thank you in advance for your input.

    Ryan
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2008
  2. ccssk8ter11

    ccssk8ter11 TPF Noob!

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    i cant see your picture ha.
     
  3. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    First, before I answer, how did you come up with the settings you are using? I am guessing it was trial and error.

    This is exactly where a flash meter is very useful. I always shoot in manual mode and let the meter tell me exactly what settings I need based on the look I want to achieve.

    You might want to invest in a good book about basic studio strobes and then look into a good meter. It is much quicker and simpler then trial and error. Good luck.
     
  4. UncleRico

    UncleRico TPF Noob!

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    If I call it an "educated guess," does that make it sound better :)

    I'll have to look for a book first. Any suggestions from the group?

    Thanks,

    Ryan
     
  5. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    When you are shooting with artificial light, the shutter speed is merely a way to control the amount of natural light in the image, it does not affect the flash exposure in any way. Therefore, the ideal mode to be using for strobes is manual mode, so you can lock in an exposure that gives you the balance you are looking for. Your aperture is what controls how much flash exposure you will get, so the goal is to balance your aperture with the flash's power to give you an ideal exposure.
     
  6. UncleRico

    UncleRico TPF Noob!

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    Thanks tsaraleski. That is exactly the guidance I was hoping for. This makes sense. I see you're near Indy--me too.

    Thanks,

    Ryan
     
  7. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Good online source to start:
    http://www.studiolighting.net/

    Books

    Good starter book.
    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Basic-Studio-Lighting/Tony-L-Corbell/e/9780817435509

    Expensive but outstanding.
    http://www.vistek.ca/store/Books/21...ighting-guide-for-portrait-photographers.aspx

    Don't forget the public library as well. All for the cost of a library card. Good luck.

    P.S. I like "educated guess" better than S.W.A.G. :D
     
  8. zeroskillz

    zeroskillz TPF Noob!

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    Until you get the meter, here's a good starting point:
    With the B800 on half power, go manual, set the ISO as low as it will go (200 I think on a D80?), 1/125, around f5.6 and adjust from there.

    The flash duration isn't long enough to make a difference between 1/80 and 1/250 sec shutter speed.

    JMO,
    Hope it helps.
    -Ted
     
  9. UncleRico

    UncleRico TPF Noob!

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    Thanks to everyone who took the time to help.

    I think I'll be investing in a light meter soon. I'll also be sure to check out those books. My local library didn't have much in the way of lighting, so I'll have to explore some other options.

    Thanks for the guide numbers, Ted.

    Off to research light meters for beginners . .

    Ryan
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Here are a couple of good meters to look at. Sekonic is well thought of in the meter world these days. These are not too badly priced and are multi use meters, not just for flash.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/368226-REG/Sekonic_401_309_L_308S_Flashmate_Light_Meter.html

    My meter.
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/221078-REG/Sekonic_401_358_L_358_Flash_Master_Meter.html
     
  11. UncleRico

    UncleRico TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, gryphonslair, you've been a big help. I did some searching and found that the Sekonic L358 is recommended quite often. I'll save for a bit and see if I can find a bargain.

    Ryan
     

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