Lighting in a Studio

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by MNUser, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. MNUser

    MNUser TPF Noob!

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    I have a question for you folks who have some background in portrait photography.

    I teach middle school digital photography and I want to start doing some portrait photography with my students. The problem I'm running into is the lighting in the room needs some help. I currently have three umbrella lights that help but we need something more...we think.

    The room is about 16' x 16'. We have been looking at buying a set of these:

    2 VIPER 2000 DOUBLE 1000 WATT KIT-2000 WATTS TOTAL POWER.

    The only problem is we are not sure what would be the best route. Continuous lighting or strobe lighting. What works best? Can anybody shed some "light" on our problem?

    Thanks for the help. This a great forum. Lots of good info to be had.

    JIM
     
  2. gizmo2071

    gizmo2071 TPF Noob!

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    You say you have 3 umbrella lights... what do you mean by this?
    You have 3 strobe/continous lights with umbrella attachments?

    I can't see why you would need more than 3 lights per studio room, unless you break it up in to 2 groups, then you may need a couple more.

    I'm personally a strobe/flash guy, aslong as they have modelling bulbs to give me a sense of where the light falls, but I also see the advantages of using continuous lighting. The big problem with continuous lights is how hot they get.

    I personally feel a 3 light set-up is more than adequate for teaching students lighting techniques.
    I would start by teaching them to use natural light and reflectors and then move to 1 light scenarios and build it up.
    With 3 lights and using reflectors or book ends... you have so many options.
     
  3. MNUser

    MNUser TPF Noob!

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    The umbrella lights we currenly have a continuous. They are not all that powerful. I will have to check on the bulb power.

    Thanks for the reply. I appreicate the help.

    Anybody else???
     
  4. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi MNUser and welcome.

    2000Ws isn't much light power and will still pretty effectively bake cookies.

    If I read your post correctly you are looking into two of these. If the price I saw, using the briefest of searches, holds then you budget is just south of $1000. Do yourself and your students a Huge favor and go with strobes. Even one strobe and some reflectors.

    Your life will be misery if you have to sit through all those classes in 100 degree heat (did I mention the UV radiation?). Your students are also unlikely to use continuous lighting and are likely to use flash so why not teach them something they can use?

    As to the metering (not that you need any help but hey, it's worth a look) , here is a link to -among other things- a great resource for setting up a studio.
    http://www.msnusers.com/Asktheoleproaboutphotography/joezeltsman.msnw

    Here is a nice visual aid to studio strobes too.
    http://photocamel.com/forum/tutorials/15149-studio-portrait-lighting-how.html

    I suggest this site a lot and have yet to have anyone say it wasn't a help. ;)

    Good luck

    mike
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I too, am a 'strobe guy'...I believe that strobes are much better for portraits because the burst of flash is very fast, which means that you don't need a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement. When using continuous lighting, shutter speed will have to be a consideration...and you may need a lot of lighting power (which may mean a lot of heat) to get the speeds you need.

    That being said, I think that for teaching middle school kids, continuous lights would be best. It's a big advantage when learning about lighting...if you can actually see it. When using strobes, you would need a light meter and that's a whole new aspect to learn about.

    I don't know what would be the best kit for continuous lighting. If you have three lights already...that should be adequate for a basic set up. If you are going to add more...I'd make sure that they match the color temp of the lights you have....don't mix tungsten and fluorescent lights, for example.
     
  6. MNUser

    MNUser TPF Noob!

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    One really stupid question left.....when using strobe lights, how do you sync the flash on the strobes to the camera? They must be some sort of controller linked to the camera or does it use the internal flash off the camera to trigger?

    Thanks!
     
  7. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    What kind of camera are you using? There are a few ways to sync a flash. The cheapest (and worst) is to let the strobes trigger from the on camera flash. The standard method is to use a sync cable to 1 light. This requires either a pc port on the camera, or a hot shoe. If you have this capability, then you can try the 3rd and best option (also most expensive) which is radio triggers.
     
  8. MNUser

    MNUser TPF Noob!

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    I'm using a Rebel XT and an XTi.

    "The standard method is to use a sync cable to 1 light. This requires either a pc port on the camera, or a hot shoe."

    I think this might be the best method if I do buy a couple of strobes. The students would enjoy learning more about the lighting.

    This might help....here is where I'm heading with all these questions. I teach 7th grade multimedia. I have the students for a total of 9 weeks. Over the course of the school year I see about 550 kids in bunches of 120 or so. Four 9 week rotations. The students learn Podcasting and digital photography. I have a classroom set of Canon A710 and 5 Digital Rebels. 2 EOS Rebels, 2 XT and 1 XTi and a bunch of lenses.

    The kids learn about aperture, shutter speed, ISO and all the other variables needed to produce quality pictures. We also spend 2 weeks learning and experimenting with high speed photography. This year I want to do some portrait photography with them, hence the lighting questions. I have a bunch of staff members bringing in old time clothing so we can do the old time western photography. The kids will love the dress up part. I want to also add a couple days where than can choose to dress up and have take their pictures with a close friend or two. I hope this helps set the stage better. I want to get it figured out since I only have them for 9 weeks. They would be bummed if they missed this unit and their buddies didn't.

    You can see some examples of our work and learn more about the class by visiting our classroom website: http://www.forestviewmultimedia.com

    One last thing, if I go and purchase a couple of strobes, can you point me in the right direction? I can spend about 300-450 on the whole set up.

    Thanks a ton! I remember the days when we were all on our own trying to find answer to our questions. The internet has made that task soooooo much easier!
     
  9. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Go to strobist.com and look at what is being done there. You can get a hotshoe adapter for the PC connector. You should be able to get a pair of flashes and stands and some reflectors for that.

    You might want to get some Hong Kong special wireless triggers to save having cabling strung all over the place and 13 year olds running around. ;)

    good luck

    mike
     
  10. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I like the Idea of continuous lighting from a teaching perspective, But I am biased because my main area of interest is theatrical lighting. I think that starting with continuous lighting is a great starting point because you can see it, not just on the photo, But given the number of students, and your limited time, strobes may be your best bet, after all, you do have your current lights If you would like to teach with both, I would be nice tocompare and contrast between the two methods.
     
  11. rawatenator

    rawatenator TPF Noob!

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    Continuous lights would be the best way to go with students. Instead of going through the hassle of shot-shadow check-shot, continuous lighting would allow them to see how light angle and position affect the picture.

    Something I have been able to use in tight rooms that my be of interest is four/(5) point lighting, with two continuous lights on either side of the subject and possibly a backlight depending on the subject and backdrop.

    If purchasing strong enough lights is a problem, or if you want to give your students some quick easy ways to apply what they learn at home, you may find that using shop lights, or even really large worklights is an inexpensive, yet relatively effective way to light a studio.
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Or get the math teacher to help with the inverse square law. ;) LOLOL

    (give them a reason to pay attention to math anyway) :)
     

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