Interesting Low Budget Studio Light Setup...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by PowrSlave, May 4, 2010.

  1. PowrSlave

    PowrSlave TPF Noob!

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    I have come across some photos from Angel Alfaro, porfolio located here: http://www.deltaelement.com and I find his equipment setup to be quite minimal, yet the quality of his results are fantastic. In the first image below, you can see that he is using a hot light setup with a cheap tripod stand. Does anyone have any experience using cheap hot light setups like this? I am assuming that, based on the variety of lighting colours he uses, that he just changes out bulbs depending on what he is going for. I am interested in experimenting with a similar setup, but I only have knowledge of studio strobes. I have also linked a few other examples of his work, but I suggest viewing his porfolio link to see a wider breadth of his results:

    [​IMG]

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  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    It shows that how you use light is as, if not more, important than what light you use.

    There are some distinct advantages strobed light has over continuous light as far as exposure control goes.
     
  3. PowrSlave

    PowrSlave TPF Noob!

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    Very true. But there are also some very distinct disadvantages to using portable speedlight type strobes that I no longer want to deal with.

    1.) low light focus problems. (not a problem if using alien bees)
    2.) wireless ETTL consistency. (again not a problem if using alien bees)
    3.) pocket wizards wireless ETTL system has too many problems to be viable.
    3.) pocket wizard dummy triggers are too archiac and require manual metering (this is 2010 afterall).
    4.) Radio Poppers have given me mixed results. Sometimes they cause a wierd pulse firing issue which drains battery power immediately if you don't notice it.
    5.) Canon IR ETTL system is not very capable either indoors or outdoors.

    I am fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of hot lights vs. portable strobes, however, I am not familiar with gear tricks/techniques with hot lights and want to start experimenting with them.

    Another thing drawing me away from strobes is that more often than not, photos taken with strobes have a very strobe lit look to them, whereas hot light setups have a much more organic, connected, almost vintage feel to them (though a lot of this can involve processing). The photos and portfolio I linked to, for instance, have a less sterile editorial look and feel to them and they come off as more "real" photographically; at least to me.
     
  4. shmne

    shmne No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Just throwing this out there but, why are you using automatic metering on flashes if what you want is what this person has? What I mean is, this person is hand crafting their light, making sure every little photon of light is doing what they want.

    When you use the automatic features of either on camera flashes or larger studio quality strobes you tell the lights "Hey, go ahead, I'm too busy to set you so do it for me." Granted studio strobes can't do this (not that I'm aware of anyway).

    Also that organic or "vintage" feel you're talking about is again up to how you use your light, as well as how good you are at post processing your images.

    Actually strobes are significantly better than hot lamps in several ways, here is a link with a quick outline as to why.

    Photography Hot Lamp Vs. Electronic Strobe Lighting | eHow.com

    The major benefit of continuous lighting is that it can be very cheap.
     
  5. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    I think the biggest problem with using dedicated flashes, or strobist techniques, is that you can't really previsualize a la modeling light, what result you are going to get. It is incredibly instructive to watch how light changes as it is modified in various ways and this is wholly lost on the strobist (I know they can take test shots and chimp, but it is very different than using a hot light as a guide and watching as you move it or modify it). This could be the issue you are having with using flashes and what appeals to you about using Home Depot clamp lights.

    Light is light. It doesn't matter if it comes from the sun, a shop light or a strobe. How you harness it and shape it and control its relative intensity from the subject is what creates a photograph. Low-tech lighting is fine but it seems like it ironically is suited more for the developed photographer trying to make a point. They would have an easier time overcoming the obstacles of using low-tech gear.
     
  6. RONDAL

    RONDAL TPF Noob!

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    i dont know why you cant pre-visualize a flash. its the same light every time. and if you're shooting in full manual you can control every aspect of that light.

    its the beauty of studio shooting, its the one place you can control every single variable.
     
  7. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    You don't know why it is easier to work with a modeling light or a continuous light? I work with compact flashes, strobes, and hot lights. I can work the fastest and most accurately with modeling lights or hot lights and an incident meter.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I found kkamin's post and agreed with it strongly enough to thank him for it. I've written a blog post or two on the "strobist versus big lights" dilemma. As for being able to visualize lighting effects, I think the biggest difference between the "strobist" type of lighting is that when you set the main light, you can visualize the lighting as coming from say high and to the right of the camera, creating a shadow pattern that will create an under-nose shadow that fals at let's call it "between point A and point B". But when aiming let's say a studio flash in a 20 inch parabolic reflector that gives a very similar lighting quality as an umodified speedlight flash, you can actually, literally "SEE" the shadow placement with every single move of the light.

    Also, when photographing, with modeling lights, you can actually "SEE" what the light is doing as the subject moves, before the photo is made. With the strobist type of lighting setups, you have to pre-visualize and imagine what the lighting effect is like, and when a subject moves or changes pose significantly, you're back to estimating and previsualizing, whereas with a modeling light fitted studio flash, you can see how the light is falling in relation to the subject all the time.

    I liken the strobist process to shoot, chimp, re-adjust light,shoot,chimp, re-adjust light, shoot,chimp, make final adjustment to main light. It's a process that relies on a lot of experience and multiple test shots to get a light placement that could be done in 10 seconds with a modeling light as a real-time, constant guide. Modeling lights will also add up to 250 watts of lighting for each head you bring in, aiding focusing quite a bit by boosting light levels, and also getting peoples' pupils down to normal size.
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Very nice recap of the problem. The cost of electricity is something I stopped mentioning a long time ago because people just didn't get it. You should see the looks I get when I explain why every piece of electronic equipment in my house is hooked up to a power strip with an on/off switch... :er:

    I also agree with the rest of your post as well as Derrel's.

    The strobist thing is a nice, cheap way to get started in the world of lighting but I personally don't want a bag full of flashes. One per body is all I will ever have :D And the problem of not having modeling lights is quite a big one imho.
     
  10. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    I wanted to add 2 opinions:

    1. I checked out the photographer's site, and I agree that most of his lighting looks very stark and minimal. A lot of lighting is rather unattractive and unflattering imo, he is almost mimicking a mounted camera flash in terms of its hardness and directionality--BUT it does work because he is using world class models and it creates a certain trendy, lo-fi aesthetic. The models attractiveness is what leverages the image. You can shoot an ungodly super hot model with any light and your picture will look good. Imagine putting an average person in those set-ups and the picture would look terrible, there would be nothing going for it: unengaging model, unflattering light. What I am trying to say is that I think you are responding to is the quality of the models and not the quality of the light.

    I also doubt that he uses clamp lights for more than that first image. The clamp lights are part of that image and contribute to the aesthetic. He probably uses lights like everyone else. Especially since he is working with agents, top models, art directors, stylists, etc. You typically don't want to be the head of a $10,000 photo shoot and have clamp lights with foam core modifiers held together with duct tape laying around.

    2. This is more of a rant than anything useful, but I like everything about the Strobist movement, except the 'too cool for school' attitude that I feel some of its participants project. I think using dedicated flashes can be a great way to work, especially when you are in the field and are supplementing natural or practical light, and are looking for portability or concealability and wouldn't benefit from a modeling light. I think it is great that the sites mission is to teach people to learn how to use their gear rather than just polish it, and learn about every technical angle, but never get dirty and use it (analysis paralysis). But Strobists are limited, and dedicated flashes are not a one size fits all solution to lighting. I think many "Strobists" realize that dedicated flashes can be a starting point for learning artificial lighting, but it isn't an end point. There isn't anything inherently cool to using flashes, verses using battery power packs with strobe heads or Kinoflo film lights.
     

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