Question: Photography lighting for "do it yourselfers&q

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by ksutton, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. ksutton

    ksutton TPF Noob!

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    hello! I just came across this forum and thought I would try my question here.

    I love to take pictures (mostly of my baby) and edit them in photoshop..however I can no matter what come up with good lighting in my home. there's always shadows or the lights too bright or it makes him look a funny color..ect.. I am not a professional or even an amature (sp) but I took my son to Sears to have his 3 month pictures taken and I ended up spending 140 dollars!!!!! I was so mad so i came home and took some of my own. I use bedsheets as a background and just the overhead light for light and then I edit them and they turned out 200X better than the ones at Sears that left me eating ham sandwiches for the next 2 weeks!

    My question is: Is there any type of regular lamp or bulb I can buy from just a reg. store that would give me a better picture?? I can't spend hundreds of dollars on a light but I would like to get something that's better than the overhead light.

    Here is a link to some of the before and after pictures I took myself. The last one you can see the problem I have with shadows to the left of his face. I could edit it out on photoshop but I don't have time and I can never get it right.

    http://home.insightbb.com/~ksutton/before_and_after_photos.htm

    Thank you soooooooo much!
    :)
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the Forum. Cute kid.

    First off, I think the shadow behind his face could be solved by moving him farther away from the background and/or moving the light higher/to the side.

    What camera gear are you using? If you can attach an accessory flash that will allow you to bounce the light off of the ceiling...that might help. If you can have the flash away from the camera that will help even more.

    The funny color you mentioned is probably because regular film is calibrated for sunlight and not incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. You can get a filter to put on your lens or you could buy film that is made to give natural skin tones in that kind of lighting. Or you could buy lights that are more like sunlight but that's the most expensive way to go. Most any flash unit is the same color temp as sunlight.

    Of course you can adjust the color in PS after the fact.

    As for better lighting. Softer lighting usually looks much better. You want the light to come from a bigger area. So a light bulb is bad but a light bulb behind a white bed sheet is much better. There are all sorts of accessories available to give nice soft lighting. Window light is one of the best sources.

    I'd suggest getting a book or two about lighting and/or infant photography. Check them out from a library to cut costs (we don't' want you eating just ham sandwiches)
     
  3. ksutton

    ksutton TPF Noob!

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    thanks for the info..

    i have a digital but it's not great. a kodak 3 megapixel so it doesnt have any fun features..
    as for hanging a white sheet in front of the light..i will experiment with that but what type of light? a table lamp, a flood light, a floor lamp with movable lights??

    thank you again
    kristen

    btw ive moved up up roast beef sandwiches now..
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    I don't think it matters what kind of lamp you use. Have fun and experiment with what you have around the house. You are shooting digital so you can experiment all you want and all it costs is time. Of course with a 3 month old, I'm sure you don't have much free time.

    I really don't know all that much about lighting so I'll give you a link to a forum filled with people who do know a lot about lighting.

    http://www.zuga.net/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=336e37d2f5a0ff721a64293676107fff&forumid=43
     
  5. Sharkbait

    Sharkbait TPF Noob!

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    Hey Kristen, check on your camera and see if it has a white balance adjustment. I'm betting it does, as nearly all digital cameras do. The white balance is used to compensate for different types of lighting. Without getting super technical, lighting comes in different colors--sunlight is a very white light, table lamps are very yellowish, fluorescent bars are usually slightly greenish. Most likely your camera is set to automatically adjust the white balance, but sometimes that gets thrown off, especially if you've got multiple different types of light.

    The cool thing about digital is that you can take as many shots as you want! Whenever I shoot a model (usually my wife, and in a few months my kid), I take around 50-100 shots, then pick out the half dozen or so good ones.

    As for the Sears thing, that sucks...I don't plan on trusting portraits like that to any kind of commercial place. You should take the package back and explain to them how disappointed you are in the overall quality. Maybe you can get at least a partial refund...
     
  6. LizM

    LizM TPF Noob!

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    Ok. Easy way out although its not the cheapest. There are lamps called "OTT lights" that crafters and artists use to get as close as can be done to true sunlight tones. You might spend $100 on a decent one but at least it be yours to keep from now on.

    Also, you can get the "soft White" light bulbs and place two or three of those adjustible head floor lamps that have like 3 lights to a stand at various places around the room. It'll diffuse the shadows and give you a lot of good "close to white" light.

    If you can take the photos in a room where you have good big windows that helps too. I've gotten really good results when I had to use a combination of window light and lamps.

    Good Luck!!!
     
  7. BernieSC

    BernieSC TPF Noob!

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    Go to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up one of those small quartz work lights they are not that expensive and you can play with it bounce it off the ceiling or off a white card. Thats one thing about digital you can get away with using standard lights and not have to use pro photo lighting. If you do use those lights though remember those lights are hot so be careful.
     
  8. mentos_007

    mentos_007 The Freshmaker!

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    however you can experiment a bit with huge white sheets of paper or cellophane to eliminate some not neccesary shadows and to reflect light from window. I like effect when the light reflects on the people or objects from a golden cellophane. It is cheap and you'll get it in most photo or paper shops .
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Here's a set up for simple window lighting.

    [​IMG]

    Have an assistant help you with the reflector (which can be as simple as a white towel or paper). White curtains over the window can help with diffusion. Watch out for colored curtains or reflector, they will cause a color cast, which may be desirable as in the previous post.
     
  10. freddyv

    freddyv TPF Noob!

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    You can do a lot with just a single light but the type of bulb or strobe does matter a lot. WB (white balance) can only correct for the tint of the light not the other aspects.

    If you want to make someone look bad or sick, use flourescent bulbs. An on-camera flash is also pretty bad but you can bounce it off a white wall or board to get some fill light. You can also try various colors of poster board to add a tint to the photo.

    If you're just using what you have around the house then at least buy good light bulbs. I like the full spectrum bulbs. You can find them at Wal-Mart and they don't cost too much extra. They are worth it.

    I have a 3200k, 250w bulb I bought at a photo-supply store and I use it with a simple metal reflector and it gives a very unique look when used by itself.
    Here is some samples:
    http://acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_pages/0001-0211-0300-2334.html
    http://acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_pages/0001-0403-2609-2702.html
    http://acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_pages/0001-0403-2608-2455.html

    The main thing is to know what you can expect from a light source and then choose the appropriate light source for the job. This takes experience so get shooting. :)

    Fred
    http://acclaimimages.com/search_terms/fred_voetsch.html
     
  11. wburychka

    wburychka TPF Noob!

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    Another light option you can try is this. You can buy 5500 degree, full-spectrum compact fluorescents from here:

    http://www.rewci.com/vercomfluorb.html

    There are probably other sources also, but I have bought from this one. These bulbs are the color of daylight and have a full light spectrum. Also, unlike incandescent bulbs of comparable light output, these remain cool--as does your subject. You can put one of these bulbs in a clip-on utility light fixture (around $11 at Ace Hardware). If you need to diffuse the light more, you can put a white plastic garbage bag over it, although the light from these bulbs is fairly diffused anyway.

    I've used these for portrait lighting with very good results. I use two 65w bulbs, a 55w, and a 26w in my hair light. On occasion I use another 26w or 55w as a background light. I can assure you that the light from all these match one another and also match the light coming in the window--depending upon time of day, of course.
    ---Bill
     

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