New Studio Room Giving Major Problems...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by daneNcrystal, Oct 9, 2007.

  1. daneNcrystal

    daneNcrystal TPF Noob!

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    My husband finally let me have a room dedicated to my photography. I am not that familiar with the terms but I just love to take pictures of my 1 year old and a few family members. I have a problem though. When I was shooting in my living room my pictures were great - they looked clear and precise. Now that I've moved into my "studio" my pictures are grainy and sometimes almost hazy. I haven't changed anything I am doing so I know it has to be the room I am in.
    This is how my room is set up:
    16x15
    Flourescent Lighting (3 sets of lights with 2 tubes each - I turn these off tho for pictures)
    The walls are painted flat white and the ceiling is made of white metal
    I have two umbrella stands with 85 Watt coiled like lights in them lighting my backdrop.
    I have one 600 watt softbox light on a boom that I use to light up my little girl.
    I take my pictures on a chromakey green screen
    When I zoon in close the pictures look so much better than when I am trying to get all of her in the picture.
    I am pulling my hair out here - I am about to go back to my living room :(
    Can anyone offer up suggestions on what might be causing this? I have even turned off the overhead florescent lights and just used my stands but it doesn't make much of a difference.

    I posted this on another forum but haven't seen any suggestions that have worked.

    I was told my ISO needed fixed to be 400 or less - all of the pictures were taken with 400. Also I was told with the florescent lights it was messing up my white balance but I turn those off and just use my studio type lights and I still have the same problem.

    Thanks for any help at all...
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I think your problem may be metering...which would lead to poorly exposed photos, which tend to be grainy.

    To really diagnose the problem, it would help if you could post some examples, along with all of the shooting information (which should be attached to the file in some way).
     
  3. daneNcrystal

    daneNcrystal TPF Noob!

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  4. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    The shadow right on his side does not suggest the use of TWO lights to me... though upon closer inspection there is a mild shadow in the other direction off his nose ... so yes, I now see the use of another light source from the other side, and I can see a second catchlight in his one eye, too. But a third light PLUS flash? Why don't I see them?

    Anyhow, I a) feel that your camera position is too low. You kind of photograph up his nose, and in his attempts to look at you, you make him droop his eye-lids. He does not look alert at all like this (though he might only have been your "guinea-pig", anyway, for this particular photo). So his overall demeanour, expression and all does not help make this a good portrait, I think.

    Then this is the first time I ever see such a green backdrop.
    And while I do love the colour green (as it shows in nature), and everyone here on the forum knows just HOW MUCH I love that colour, I am not sure it was the right choice of background for portrait photography? I feel the colour is a bit much.

    And - now this is a genuine question of mine to all those who know something about studio photography, which I DON'T, by the way (!) - doesn't this colour make the skin appear very pale ... more so since our eyes soon produce the complementary purple that washes over the skin tones we see? I feel this is happening to me, anyway ... just a personal observation here.

    Another thing is that I feel your subject is too close to the background, which enhances that line of a shadow to his left (our right) ... which looks like this were taken with an on-camera flash, really, something that - to my mind - is one of the biggest no-no's in portrait photography.

    So as far as tips and hints by someone who is all unfamiliar with studio lighting might go, I feel you need to reposition your lights, reposition your camera on the tripod (higher!) and reposition your subject (further away from the background).

    And think again about the colour of said background, maybe??? :scratch:
     
  5. Chris of Arabia

    Chris of Arabia Herding cats since 1988... Supporting Member

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    It might be just me, but I don't get any sense that a soft box has been fired on this shot. It might not be built in flash, perhaps something mounted on the hot shoe, but the shadows just don't look like studio lighting on stands somewhere.

    If studio lighting is involved, how is it being triggered?
     
  6. daneNcrystal

    daneNcrystal TPF Noob!

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    The back drop is a chomakey green - i remove all of that and add the back drop I want later. I just ran my hhusband into the room and took a few quick test shots so I could post a picture I am having trouble with being grainy. He is a foot taller than me so that is why all of the stuff about shooting up - I wasn't trying to make a good portrait here - I was simply trying to show someone the graininess in my picture that I was talking about which is what I am needing help with.

    My lighting isn't strobe lighting - I can't afford all the fancy stuff. I have two umbrella stands that I use to light the backdrop and one overhead 600w softbox that I use for the person.
     
  7. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Your saying "with flash" I think your on camera flash/hotshoe flash is overpowering your other lights, hence the harsh shadow, but, the overall brightness of the scene is causing your flash to underexpose anyhow which is possibly causing the graininess. I would also suggest you dont mix lighting types and take your camera out of "P" mode and shoot aperture priority. H
     
  8. daneNcrystal

    daneNcrystal TPF Noob!

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    Thanks - I will try that. Should I keep my ISO on auto or set it to something?
     
  9. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I would suggest doing everything in manual - custom white balance (I think that Olympus call it 'One-Touch'?), ISO 200 (ISO 100 would be better, but I think that you may not have enough light for that), full manual exposure (control of aperture and shutter speed), and flash off. The EXIF data show auto exposure, auto white balance, flash fired.

    As this was shot at 1/40 and f/4.1 (near to the widest aperture for your f/3.5 lens) you may be struggling to get a decent grainless exposure with the camera flash off. Did you have the lights closer to the subject in the living room? That could be the problem.

    I think that you need more light on the subject. Can you get the lights closer? Even a little closer? What sort of light is in the 600 W softbox?

    Best,
    Helen
     
  10. daneNcrystal

    daneNcrystal TPF Noob!

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    My lights may have been closer - it was a smaller room. I can try that. The 600W bulb is a halogen (I think). I can dig up the information on it.

    I didn't use the overhead 600 light in the front room - that is new. I just used the two umbrella lights and whatever lights were on overhead. I never had this kind of trouble. I'm going to be taking some classes soon but until then I just want to be able to take pictures that look decent.

    I know I have the one touch WB - I think I just fill the frame with a peice of white cardstock to get it to work. I don't have the gray cards that I've been reading about - I may pick one up if I go to Columbus. I don't know which would be better.

    Maybe I can bring the umbrellas back up front and use the overhead light to light the background - I am going to be in there messing around in a few hours so I will try everything.

    Thanks :)
     
  11. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Both of those - closer lights and smaller room - will affect the amount of light you need.

    Mixing halogen and compact fluorescents may lead to mixed colour temperature (mixed white balance) issues, particularly with colour portraiture. No problem in B&W. Try setting your custom white balance with the softbox, then take a picture of white card or paper using the CFs only, without changing the white balance. Tell us what happens, and if there could be a problem we can suggest remedies. Better still, post the picture of the white card taken under the CFs with the softbox white balance.

    For the comparison I suggested above, take a picture of the same piece of white card or paper you used for the One-Touch white balance. That is a comparative test, so it doesn't matter if the card is truly white or not - all that matters is that you take a picture of whatever you did the white balance with.

    Personally, for this situation, I would not bother with spending money on a so-called neutral grey card. Put a plain white styrofoam cup over the lens instead. Or use very pale blue paper or card. Or stick with the white card you have, if the colour balance looks good to you. Some bright white papers contain a lot of optical brighteners that can cause problems when white balancing.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  12. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree with Helen about going strictly manual. It's the only way you can nail down a problem- if the camera keeps changing things then you'll never know for sure what you've done to correct it.

    As to the focus issue, it appears to me that you are shooting at too wide an aperture. Some lenses get soft at or near their max aperture- I don't know this to be the case with your lens but it is a possibility. Also the depth of field is shallower with a wider aperture so that if you are focussed on his shirt (near his arm for instance) his face would not be in sharp focus.

    More light would allow you to go to a smaller aperture and is something you should consider. (closer or bigger-your choice) Or, be very sure to nail the focus on the eyes.

    hth

    mike
     

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