portrait lighting on the cheap

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by ellen, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. ellen

    ellen TPF Noob!

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    i have a small headshot job for friends coming up and i own no lighting equipment whatsoever. i'm wondering if i could get away with making my own softpanel and using like a 500 W worklight. i would probably be able to reflect that with white foamboard.. would that give enough contrast? any suggestions? i can't run out and buy softboxes, but i also don't want to look like a crazy homeless person setting up a shanty when i get there. i probably can afford a speedlight but would rather wait til i upgrade my camera.

    i have a nikon D40x, probably use sigma 30 lens but could use a D300/ 50 1.8.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    You have to be careful with those work lights. They get really, really hot. That can cause problems with trying to diffuse them and also make it very uncomfortable for the model.

    They can work in a pinch though...and using a reflector on the other side would certainly be a good idea.

    If you can shoot in the day time and you have a window available, that would be my first choice...either that or shoot outside. That is much more simple that trying to rig up some lighting...especially if you are not familiar with the lighting.

    You might also consider a cheap 'strobist' set up.
    See HERE
    and HERE
     
  3. Elese

    Elese TPF Noob!

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    you could get clamp lights (I think they are in the hardware department). You can get whatever watt light bulb you feel you need to go with them. I would do it like this: buy 2. put a 100w in one and maybe a 60w in the other. clamp the one on both sides of the subject (you can clamp these babies on just about anything). use the one w/ the higher watt as the main source (place it higher)and use the other for back lighting (place it lower). you can move them around to add more or less lighting. HTH!!
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    One problem with constant 'hot' lights is the lack of actual light. With 100 watts and 60 watts...you will have a hard time getting a shutter speed fast enough to get a sharp shot unless you shoot at F1.4 or ISO 3200....and you probably don't want to do either.
     
  5. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    And don't forget custom white balance
     
  6. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    i have a 500w and a 250w worklight...and they do work....they are easy to move around, not too heavy to hold and shoot, but like the others have said, they do get HOT...you HAVE to be careful with diffusion...dont drape anything over them, or even too close to them...

    my 500w light has 2 levels of light....sorta comes in handy.

    would i rather have an entry level set of strobes?...definitely, but like you, it;s just not in the cards right now.
    be creative, just be careful :D
     
  7. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    Could you elaborate on this one? Why would you have a harder time getting a sharp shot at a reasonable shutter speed if you have it well lit in there? I'm not testing you, I really just dont know why... i thought that as long as the room is bright, you can speed up your shutter speed?
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    Well if the room is well lit, why the work/clamp lights?

    I'm just saying that 60 or 100 watt bulbs will probably not be enough (on their own) to light up a person enough to give you a decent exposure at say F5.6 and 1/90.

    There is also the issue of mixing light types...which can give you a color cast.
     
  9. Derek Zoolander

    Derek Zoolander TPF Noob!

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    Ok, I misunderstood you then. sorry.
     
  10. BrandonS

    BrandonS TPF Noob!

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    I'd see about maybe renting a set from your local camera shop. They can also give you a quick run down on a preferable setup and how to use the things. I think it would be a lot easier, not too expensive, and you'd get nicer results.

    In either case I would try to do whichever lighting setup before they actually come over and play with it since it's going to be new to you. Just to play with some light angles you might want to try. If you rent you'll have to most likely do this the morning or night before to keep cost down.
     
  11. Katier

    Katier TPF Noob!

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    I'd agree on the strobist setup. My self portrait was done using a SB20 flash gun mounted off cam and triggered via PC lead. Provided plenty of light, isn't hot, can be diffused, reflected etc. and very light. I picked my two SB20's for under £60 for the pair.
     

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