Can you please answer my questions? Light meters and studio lighting

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by texassand, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. texassand

    texassand TPF Noob!

    Nov 10, 2006
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    1. How large a room would I need for a studio that would be used for portraits (individual or small groups/family)? Is an 8' ceiling OK?

    2. How would I use my Canon flash with alienbees lights? From the AlienBees site, it looked like their flash units could be set to fire when another flash fires? Is this recommended?

    3. What do I need to look for in a light meter? Could someone explain how a light meter is used to balance multiple lights? Without a wireless setup, do all lights have to be connected with a sync cord? Would I need a light meter with spot metering capability?

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Sep 30, 2006
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    1. large enough to fit the subject and the equipment and to allow you to fit however much of the subject you want into the frame with a short telephoto lens.

    2. Studio strobes all have slave triggers built in. The instructions will show you how to set them up. Don't use a flash at the camera. I assume you already know that. It would be better to synch one of the strobes with a cord and then set the others up as slaves. Turn the flash unit in your camera off.

    3. We use flash meters for that purpose. A meter built into a camera won't work, nor will an ambient light meter. Most flash meters are incident, however, my old Minolta spot meter works as a reflected flash meter in addition to being an ambient light meter so there are exceptions. If you don't have a flash meter, then use the LCD screen on your camera to judge exposures for various apertures on a trial and error basis.
  3. Big Mike

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

    Dec 16, 2003
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    One of the main benefit of studio that they are away from the camera. On camera flash could be used for fill, but if you can use one of your studio lights or a reflector for fill, that would probably be better.

    Alien Bee lights (and a lot of others) can be fired as a master or slave. If you plug in the PC cord to a will fire when it gets the signal from the camera (directly wired or wireless)...if there is no plug in the PC socket...then the flash becomes an optical slave...and will fire when it detects another flash. Here is where you have to be careful if you are using a Canon flash on your camera. Canon flash units use E-TTL technology for metering...which means that they fire a preflash just before the actual flash...this preflash will trigger the studio lights that are not connected to a PC cord...and then they will not fire for the actual exposure. So basically you can't use a Canon flash with studio strobes...that being said...I think that if you put the Canon flash into manual will not fire the preflash...which would then be OK to trigger the studio lights.

    You will need a 'flash meter'...not just a light meter. Most flash meters will also act a regular light meter as well. With digital, you could get away without using one...but it will be a lot of guess and test.
    There are plenty of good places on the Internet that can give you great tips on how to use a flash meter to meter your lights. Portrait photography involves setting up a lighting would use the meter to check each light determine your ratio...then use the meter with all the determine your shooting aperture.
  4. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

    May 4, 2006
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    For room size an 8' ceiling can work. If its painted white like most you will get reflection off of it. Deppending on the shots you are taking you may or may not want that. Also deppends on if you have any light modifiers on your lights as well (snoots, umbrellas, etc..).

    If you find that you are getting too strong of reflection off of it. Instead of standing your subject. Pose them sitting. A couple feet can make a difference as you will also be lowering the light height. Also you may find that you can't raise your lights high enough. Again sitting the subject down will help.

    I have a Sekonic L-508 meter that does spot, incident and flash metering. I chose it as I also have cameras that have no meter. So for me the cost was worth it as it has multiple uses.

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