Lighting question - where do YOU start?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Captain Ahab, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Captain Ahab

    Captain Ahab TPF Noob!

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    Here is what I do- right or wrong-need tips and advice.
    My portrait style is pretty low key in my makeshift studio. I am using VU-Pro 1000 watt constant lights with softboxes and Rebel xti with kit lens 18-55 3.5 - 5.6

    I turn on the lights and light the model for what looks good to me with the naked eye. Then I try to get the camera to "see" what I see. The problem with low key lighting that I am having is shutter speed. If I want to hand hold, I get blur, because I have to slow down the shutter speed to let the light in. If I set aperture way wide, I can set the shutter speed up some and lose the blur.

    Okay how do YOU start? Do you turn the lights on at a certain level and thats where they stay. Do you crank 'em up high and then use the shutter speed and aperture to tone it down? Maybe I am missing something? Or, as I know, I need a faster lens to help with my problem with low light.
    As of now, I just set the lights very arbitrarily. There is no ryme or reason other than it looks good as I see it. I am studying with NYPI but haven't gotten that far yet in the lessons, but could use some tips now. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Correct me if I am wrong but low-key images imply dark photos and thus fast shutter speeds and tighter apertures. Did you mean high-key images?

    This is a problem with constant lighting. If you can get your subject to sit still enough then I suggest you use a tripod or monopod for support. With a faster lens you also lose the ability to get large depth of field.

    Ideally you want strobe lights but I can understand that this is often not financially possible.
     
  3. Captain Ahab

    Captain Ahab TPF Noob!

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    Thats just the thing. The lighting is low and to get the image I must go wide open to get a decent shot. If I go with a higher aperture I am sure the image would not come out at all. I do use a tripod when I can, but sometimes you just want to handhold to get the shot. Then comes the blur.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Try this.

    Put the camera into manual mode. Set an aperture that will give you the DOF that you want (although, you will probably need to go as wide as possible). Then set a shutter speed that is fast enough to avoid blur (try 1/60 or 1/90).
    Now set your lights to give you what you want. Remember that light falls off over distance, so you can move them closer to make the subject brighter.
    If you can't get a bright enough exposure, try turning up the ISO (or slowing the shutter speed, but beware of blur).
     
  5. Captain Ahab

    Captain Ahab TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies! Okay-the question is now why would you say ideally I should use strobes. What is the difference-are they that much brighter? I really don't want more light I don't think, I just want to be able to capture what I have (light). So spend money on new glass or new lights? Can't do both at the moment.
     
  6. frXnz kafka

    frXnz kafka TPF Noob!

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    I bet those 1000 watt halogens get pretty hot, right? Strobes don't get hot. They're also much brighter, so you won't have to worry so much about shutter speed.
     
  7. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    Why are you using continuous light? That's your problem, sell it off and get some sort of strobe set up. The strobes freeze action and you can shoot at your max sync speed.
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    For shooting people, strobes are much better. The burst of flash is very short, so you don't really have to worry about blurry photos and long shutter speeds. As mentioned, they don't shoot out heat like 'hot' lights.
     
  9. bango707

    bango707 TPF Noob!

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    the kit lens is doing nothing for you. It is too slow and probably not long enough for the majority of portrait photography. I would buy a new lens and worry about the lighting when you get more money! A faster lens will help quite a bit.
     
  10. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    All this pails in comparison to the thinking errors here.

    When you're making a low-key portrait the goal is to make the image dark (i assume). You have 2 means of controlling this. The first you one tried. By making the lights dark you will very quickly run into problems with shutter speeds and shooting wide open.

    Why not crank the lights up and make it appear bright, then shoot stopped down at a higher shutter speed. The actual light and exposure changes but the image should be exactly the same in the end as it maintains a relationship between light brightness and exposure.
     
  11. Sun Devil Rob

    Sun Devil Rob TPF Noob!

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    You might want to try and experiment a little bit. Rent a strobe set up for a weekend and play around with it. Rent a fast lens another weekend. Find what works for you to acheive the look you want.
     
  12. Happy Hour

    Happy Hour TPF Noob!

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    I had this exact same problem while using my sisters XTI ! I have to tell you your going to have problems without a tripod. I shot with her Xti next to both of my Sony's and I could not get one picture on the xti (with her kit lens) To not have image blur. If you really don't want a tripod you need great light with that camera and lens. I used 2 lights with (5500k light bulbs) The new florescent ones.I think there100w equivalent. I noticed that if I kept the shutter speed at 1/80 the pics came out more low key. I would try that to start and then work from there. It's a good starting point for that camera with the kit lens. I'm no Xti pro, so take my advice with a grain of salt. But the few times I've used it, the only way I got pictures half way decent was starting out @1/80 and working around from there. Otherwise the majority of pictures I take with it are blurry.
     

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