Softboxes (lighting set up question)

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by Alison, Dec 7, 2005.

  1. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    Just wondering for those who are using softboxes...in an earlier thread it was noted to have them very close to the subject, something I would like to try. If you're shooting a portrait, where do you place the other light (assuming you're using two). Right now I have just the one softbox and I'm wondering if using a reflector on the other side would be enough and if not where I should be the second strobe.
     
  2. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    i havent done much lighting work (experienced members like tally ho will be able to help more with terms, etc.)

    I'm looking to purchase a strobe that will hold a large octodome (octagonal softbox). With larger softboxes you get a more 'wraparound' light the closer you put the light to the subject, like you said. For that soft light look, you'll probably want the soft box to be the key light, with a lesser fill light on the other side (and a little below, aiming up). A reflector :should: work great for this. A hair light is fairly important too, as is a background light (not sure if that is the right terminology). Again, i dont know much, that's just what i've come to realize.

    It's kinda funny, a softbox and a reflector is what I was planning on using mostly. Let me know how it works out! :)
     
  3. northman

    northman TPF Noob!

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    I usually set it up just to the right of the camera. You could also use a reflector on the right side. I would rather use a light becaue I can be sure of what the exposure is by using the light meter. But, you can still get great shots experimenting with the reflecotr. Also, I wouldn't put it lower than the subject
     
  4. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    good point. i keep thinking in terms of hot lights :confused:
     
  5. JodieO

    JodieO TPF Noob!

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    Two examples...

    First: Softbox to the left, single light at a 45 degree angle to her face, and white board used as a reflector to the right. She could reach out and touch the softbox. This kept consistent flatter lighting across her face.... I did this because of her odd shaped eyes and the fact that it is hard to get light into them.

    [​IMG]

    Second: Softbox to the left at a 90-degree angle to his face, he could reach out and touch it - again, just one light. No reflector. I was looking for a more dramatic, more masculine shadowing across his face.

    [​IMG]

    I seldom use two lights... honestly, I just don't like blasting too much light - I prefer shadows. However, if I was going to use another light, I would probably just skim the hair in the back to add a touch of hairlight...
     
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  6. thebeginning

    thebeginning TPF Noob!

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    good examples jodie, i really love that first one! out of curiosity, how large was the softbox you used?
     
  7. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I subscribe to the old rule that it's best to create lighting that appears to come from a single source. Now, remember... photography is essentially recording reflected light. So if there is no light on the shadow areas of the portait (or on the background), there will be no record. With this in mind, a second light should be positioned so that it is not evident, creating light that is as shadowless (flat) as possible.

    It's at the makers discretion just how much detail to record in the shadow areas. This is reffered to as lighting ratio, since it speaks of how the MAIN light (also called the KEY light or MODELING light) relates to the FILL light.

    Since I always use a lens with a focal legnth that is about "twice normal" for portraits, I can get the MAIN light (sofbox) in pretty close, preserving the quality of light and creating large catch lights in the eyes. Two things happen when you move the light farther from the subject; The catch lights will be smaller, but perhaps more important, the light becomes more "directional", increasing the need for a second light to preserve detail in the shadows.

    So when making portraits of individuals or couples, using a longer lens, it's possible to keep the sofbox and reflector in close without coming into view. When photographing groups, it becomes necessary to pull back the camera and lighting. So in this case, I use a larger sofbox and a fill light with umbrella.

    This is a basic description of portrait lighting. There are other subtleties that one must address, like detail in the hair and separation from the background... all like adding spice to soup. If one choses to use additional lights to address these issues, they (generally speaking) should merely add to the "flavor" of the portrait and not dominate on thier own.

    Or course, some folks don't like garlic. What I mean is the photographer's use lighting defines his or her style of work.

    I hope this is helpful. It's difficult for me to relate this in writing. I wish I could just show you.

    -Pete
     
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  8. JodieO

    JodieO TPF Noob!

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    Pete... I used the 50 mm/1.4 above... I pretty much use it for all my portrait work. What length of lens do you generally use...just out of curiosity. I've had such great success with the 50 mm and the softbox close, I'm probably not going to change it, but I'm curious! ;)
     
  9. Alison

    Alison Swiss Army Friend Supporting Member

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    Thank you for the helpful replies! Jodie, it was great to see what you mean, and Pete I know just what you meant! I think I've been setting the lights too far back, and while evenly lit with main and fill, the pictures have been lacking something in my eyes. Since I'll be on maternity leave shortly with a newborn who can't go anywhere I'll be getting in a lot of practice! Thanks again!
     
  10. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I always go for a "twice normal" lens to begin. So... with my RB, it a 180mm. It's somewhere around 80mm (using a zoom) for my digital. I like the "flattenting" quailty of the longer lens.

    I'm a fan of your work. You have a great style doin just what you do! Like I say... these things are not "more correct or less correct," just personal choice, defining a photographers style. And, again, you have a great style!

    Pete
     
  11. JodieO

    JodieO TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, Pete... I'm considering getting an 85 mm, but haven't been able to justify it yet... so I'm definitely asking questions for that reason! ;)
     
  12. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    So, if one were to buy a softbox, what are the makes/models that one should look in to?
     

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