I think I need some major lighting help.

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by lilysmom, May 7, 2008.

  1. lilysmom

    lilysmom TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I'm not even sure where I should begin!

    I'm still pretty much a novice when it comes to photography. In fact, before this past week, I never even shot in manual mode. I always stuck to aperture or shutter priority modes. Once I figured out how to use my camera's meter and shoot an manual, I absolutely loved my results.

    So, about a month ago, I got the brilliant idea that I'd like to set up a basic home studio to take pictures of my daughter. I ended up buying this on ebay (bad girl, I know) thinking it would be a good start. Well, it came and I realized I couldn't plug the PC cord into my camera. Ok, so then I ordered myself a hot shoe adapter that I could also plug the PC cord into. That came today, and I was soooo excited to be able to use my lighting.

    First of all, my camera's meter must not recognize the fact that it's hooked up to these other lights because if I would take a photo with what my camera tells me is the correct exposure, it's waaaay overexposed.

    Second of all, after I was ignoring my camera's meter and playing with the shutter speed, I thought I broke my camera. I had 2 pictures in a row that were totally dark with a little bit of light at the top. I immediately unhooked all the crap hooked up to my camera and tested my camera and thankfully it was ok.

    So, what on earth do I need to do? I obviously didn't spend a lot on the lighting, but is what I bought good for anything? Is there something I need to do to my camera so that the meter works while using external lights? Or do I need to buy an separate light meter? If that's the case, how do they work? Do you attach them to the camera or what?

    Oh, PS- I have a Sony A100.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I prolly sound like a nitwit, so please be nice. :wink:
     
  2. asfixiate

    asfixiate TPF Noob!

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    When you flash your lights in manual mode does your meter jump around at all?
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    I'd suggest finding a book on basic studio photography.

    Firstly, you have to be in manual mode when using studio strobes. The camera can't meter for the flash at the same time that it's taking the photo...so you have to set the exposure yourself. This is where a flash meter will really come in handy. Since you probably don't have a flash meter yet...you can start with guess and test until you get it right.

    Secondly, when it comes to flash...the shutter speed doesn't have anything to do with the exposure from the flash because the burst of light is faster than the shutter. You only have to be sure that the shutter speed is at or slower than your camera's max sync speed (probably something like 1/200). So that means that you use the aperture (and ISO) to control the flash exposure. You can also use the power of the flash and the positioning of the flash to control exposure.

    Start with something like 1/200, F16 & ISO 100. Try a test shot. If it's too bright, then stop down the aperture (higher number). If it's too dark, then open the aperture.
     
  4. asfixiate

    asfixiate TPF Noob!

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    What is happening...I keep posting and its not keeping my post.
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Don't take it personally, happens t me sometimes too. Usually in the mornings when wherever this server is hosted, is making backups or something.

    To the OP, you do not use the camera's meter to setup your lighting in a studio setup, it is totally manual. As Mike said, you can use an external meter, or just take a picture and look at the histograms if your camera supports it, or the LCD screen on the camera to approximate more.

    One hint that I suggest that you do is to learn to take notes about different setups that you develop and like.

    One setup example may be something like:
    Today I used 2 lights (Key light left, fill light on right), both were 3.5 feet from the subject at about 30 degree angles to camera left and right. Both flashes were at full strength, camera was set to the following:
    - shutter speed was 1/250th
    - ISO was 100
    - Aperture was F/8 on the 50mm F/1.8 lens
    - I stood back exactly 6 feet from the subject and was 2 feet to the left of center of the subject and kneeling down as they sat on the 2-foot high stool
    - You may even want to incude a picture so that you can see the effect you are trying for.

    Then when you get 5-6 or 250 of these setups, it makes it a snap to go back to a previously tested and known good configuration in a couple of minutes without needing to experiment.

    As for books I highly recommend THIS BOOK for learning about portraiture. It is simple, but very helpful.

    You also may want to spend a lot of time over at www.strobist.com for some great info. Specifically read Lighting 101 and 102.

    There are several nice tutorials on YOUTUBE on how to use a light meter HERE.
     
  6. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  7. lilysmom

    lilysmom TPF Noob!

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    Thanks so much guys. I'm going to play around more this weekend and take all your advice into consideration. You're all a huge help!

    Oh, and thanks Jerry for the book recommendation. I'm glad you recommended that book because I just so happened to have been looking on Amazon last night at that same book and I bookmarked the page. Now I'll definitely order it.
     
  8. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Ok, this is what it sounds like to me, and I could be wrong.
    It sounds like your meter is set faster than the lighting system, thus the black lines, or not fast enough, thus the overblown stuff. Maybe you should buy a meter. It will tell you exactly where you should go, camera wise.
    Many Hugs, and great luck!
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    The black lines (or mostly black with a bar of photo) are from the shutter speed being too fast and above the max sync speed. The black is where the shutter curtain wasn't fully open when the flash fired.

    The overexposed or blown out images are from too large of an aperture...probably from using an auto mode (which reads the ambient light, and not the flash).
     

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