Quick & Dirty lighting setup?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by mikec, Sep 7, 2007.

  1. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    I need to shoot some pictures of a person holding a guitar for the cover of some DVDs. I'm in a 11x11 room, with a blue screen (I normally shoot video in this room) I have these two halogen shoplights that I aim directly up at the white ceiling and this is fine for my video shoots since the room is small. However, I've discovered that simply aiming the two lights up at the ceiling doesn't work for photography. I'm just using a regular Canon Powershot to take the pictures. I know it's not the best camera for the job but it will do the job and I think if I get really good lighting, the picture should come out fine.

    Can someone here tell me 1) Can I utilize these halogen clip on shop lights? 2) What additional lights I need to buy (not expensive photography lighting though) 3) Where to position the lights, etc..
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, you can use those lights, but they are not ideal. First, they are hot, and nobody will want to be in front of them for an extended period of time. Also, try to keep all your lights consistent...don't mix light types (color temperature)...otherwise you will get color shifts.

    Those lights are usually quite intense...the light is harsh rather than soft...which means hard shadows and bright spots. If that is what you are going for, then that's OK...but soft light usually makes for good portraits.

    To soften the light, you need to diffuse it and enlarge the light source...this is where bouncing it off of the wall or ceiling is good. Because then, wall or ceiling becomes the light source.

    As for what lights you need and where to place them...that's easy. Buy what you need and place them where they will give the results that you want. ;) OK, so that's not so easy. But we can't give you advice without knowing what you want your results to look like.
     
  3. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    I'm not going for any kind of dramatic look or anything special. Just a clear picture of someone posing with a guitar. I'm not really sure how to answer what I want the results to look like. Just a normal photo with even lighting on the person, colors should look as close to what we see with our eyes. What you said about the halogen lights making hard shadows is absolutely true. But when the lights were aimed at the ceiling, it didn't seem like there was enough light, the pics were so dull and boring and lifeless looking. do I just need more light reflecting off the ceiling that the two that I have?
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    Can you show us an example of what you have done, and tell what you don't like about it? Can you show us an example of what you would like.

    If you are just going for an evenly lit, plain shot...you could use the flash on your camera rather than halogen lights.
     
  5. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    what kind of light should be in the room if I use the flash? I read some place that it's bad to use the flash. I just want a simple picture like you would see in any magazine, no shadows, evenly lit, everything visible.. I don't know, I don't feel like what I want is anything special, just a clear picture of a person, holding a guitar... Decided not to use the powershot and we're going to buy a film SLR instead.. You guys are definitely pros, this stuff isn't nearly as easy as video..
     
  6. Big Mike

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

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    I wouldn't suggest mixing flash and halogen...the color temps aren't the same.

    A typical shot in a magazine isn't usually going to be evenly lit...it probably has a ratio between the key and the fill light. If you don't know much about lighting...you may not notice...but once you start to think about lighting...you tend to look at photos and try to figure out the lighting scheme that was used. It may look like a simple shot but the lighting may not have been simple.

    Find an example on the net and post a link. It's much easier when we have a common frame of reference when talking about stuff like this.
     
  7. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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  8. Big Mike

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

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    OK...now we are getting somewhere. :D

    In the first one, at least three lights. The main light is to camera left (bright side of his face). The other side of his face (camera right) is darker, but not in complete shadow...so that has fill light. Then there is most likely a separate light on the background. This is a typical three light set up.

    Second one...same thing, one side is bright from the main (key) light and the other side is darker but not completely dark. You might notice that the shadows are darker on this one...which means the key to fill ratio is greater. It looks like this one was extracted from a different background.

    The third one is a bit more even, a close ratio. There are at least two lights (look at the catch lights in her eyes). It looks like the main light is to camera right...but there is also a highlight on her left cheek...which might mean that there was another light on that side. Then there would probably have been at least one light put onto the background to make it white. Looks simple but it might not be.

    4th one looks similar to the first one. The difference I see is that in the first one, the top of his head/hair is dark. But in the 4th one, the hair is nicely lit. This might mean that the main light is fairly high (look at the shadow under the nose). It might also mean that there is a separate light on just the hair. There would have been a background light...and this one also has a kicker...which is a light behind the subject that gives them separation from the background (notice the bright edge to his jacket collar).

    That's my quick interpretation...I'm no expert at reverse engineering lighting...but my point is that there are a lot of things to think about for what looks like a simple evenly lit portrait.

    Practice will help...and digital photos are free to take. Start off with the ideas of key and fill light. Play with that and see where it takes you.

    It might not hurt to pick up a book about portrait or studio lighting...which might be an easier way of learning the basics.
     
  9. mikec

    mikec TPF Noob!

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    But like you said, I can't point these halogen lights directly at the person, they're too bright and intense, correct? (I can't point them at the person for video either, the picture gets way washed out) How do I use the things I have in order to achieve a somewhat similar look?
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    Well, you can set your camera so that even the very bright light doesn't wash it out...but the problem is that it's very intense in the center and gets dimmer...in other words, it's not very even. This is why photographers use umbrellas and soft boxes etc. Of course, many photographers use lights that can be adjusted...so it's easy to turn one of them down.

    Another option would be to use one light as the key...and then just use something to reflect some light back as fill.

    I still think that bouncing the light is your best bet with those halogens...but you need to find a way to position them and your subject to get what you want. Practice, practice, practice.
     
  11. rawatenator

    rawatenator TPF Noob!

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    the suggestions above will probably help you a great deal. If you find you need to purchase some cheap continuous lights because your flash isn't giving the best results, consider purchasing a clip light from any home improvement store and shine it through a white umbrella.

    If you are trying to do key/fill lights for something like 3 point lighting, also remember to keep your subject away from the blue screen. Additional lights from the side will cast shadows if your subject is close to the wall making bluescreen work much harder.

    If you really want to save your money, shoot outside. It'll probably be more comfortable for the musician and the lighting will definitely be natural
     

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