low budget studio lighting

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Lunatick, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. Lunatick

    Lunatick TPF Noob!

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    I have a small make shift studio set up in my dining room. Currently all I have for lighting is a work lamp with twin 500w bulbs, yes it gets hot, and yes its bright! Heres an example, self portrait I took using this light as the only light source (no reflectors (except the white wall behind me), diffusers, nothing) this photo also has no post production work done.

    [​IMG]

    It turned out to be expected, some highlights on the skin, some shadows, light a bit harsh, but for this photo I wasn't going for a soft look, so I was pleased. BUT I have someone comming over for my first indoor shoot in a few days and I am going to want softer lighting in most of the pictures (blonde, light complextion). I don't want to spend much more money, what kind of cheap diffuser can I use for my light that wont catch on fire? Should I purchase a small floor light to try to clear out the shadows? If so how can I turn it into a softbox fairly cheaply? What about reflectors? I will be using a white sheeted background so I don't really know if I'll even need any. Also what about my built in flash? Should I use it? If I remember correctly that should help with the skin highlights correct?

    Thank you!
    Andrew
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    There are plenty of things you can do...you just have to get creative.

    You could try hanging a thin white sheet or an opaque shower curtain in front of your lights...but be careful, as you know, they get hot. I wouldn't recommend trying to put those work lights into some sort of home made soft box.

    The built in flash may help with shadow on the faces, if you light is very directional like in your example. Be aware of different light temperatures (colors). Your flash is the same as daylight but incandescent or halogen lights are different. If your White Balance is set for one, the other light will give you a color cast.

    You can make a reflector out of just about anything. White will probably be best. A white background won't really reflect any light onto the front or side of your subject. If you want even light, you will need to figure something out. Another light or a reflector or something.
     
  3. Lunatick

    Lunatick TPF Noob!

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    about how close can i get with a sheet before i have to worry about a fire hazard? am i safe with a few inches seperating it?
     
  4. DepthAfield

    DepthAfield TPF Noob!

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    When you start smelling smoke, the sheet is too close! :wink:

    Those 500-watt halogen work lamps generate gobs of heat that is not only uncomfortable for the subject, but the light they produce is difficult to diffuse safely unless you have a very generous distance between light source and method of diffusion.

    Please be careful!
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    If you put your hand a few inches from those work lights...you will feel the heat...and lots of it. I wouldn't want to leave anything, flammable or not, close to the light.
     
  6. Lunatick

    Lunatick TPF Noob!

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    i was thinking of maybe rigging up a seperate upright structure that i could run a white sheet through so i could sit it a foot or so infront of the lights, would that work correctly or is that too much distance?
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    It's your call...but even at one foot, those lights put out a lot of heat. Personally I would make it at least a couple feet.

    I think you are on the right track with setting up something separate though. All you need to do, is to hang something and put the light somewhere behind it.
     
  8. kugy5

    kugy5 TPF Noob!

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    back in the days I used hot lights, I stapled on a white sheet onto a large empty picture frame, esentially a home made difuser, I would clamp it on a lightstand 1 foot away, never caught on fire, the sheet gets dicolored from the heat.
     
  9. anthrax16

    anthrax16 TPF Noob!

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    sometimes we use white bond paper and mask it with tape... :)
     
  10. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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    I am almost finished with some home made "studio" lights... I used work lights that except regular lightbulbs (they cost under $6 each) then painted the inside of the round reflector white (with paint rated for heat) then build soft boxes out of foam core that costs about $2-3 each for a large sheet. then a sheet of sheer white fabric for the front of the box which is probably 1.5-2 foot away from the light.
    I also added dimmer switches to acoupl extention cords so I can better control the lights.
    Once I test them, I will post with better discriptions... but for one light box without the extention chord it probably cost around $10 or so... the chord probably cost about the same maybe a tad more to make.
     
  11. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    The closer and the larger the light source, the more diffuse the light. Echoing others, a sheet of foam core on the one side as a reflector and a white sheet or translucent white shower curtain hung on the other, both very close but out of camera view, will give you very soft light. Set you lights a few feet away from the sheet.


    df3photo, I'd leave the top of the box open, and probably the bottom, so that the heat can vent.
     
  12. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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