Looking for recommendations on a lighting setup


TPF Noob!
Jun 8, 2006
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Hi all,

This is my first post, and I'm hoping to find some guidance in buying a new set of lights.

Most of what I've done has been outdoor photography -- landscape, casual portraiture and model work. I want to start shooting inside, though, and would like to put together a proper lighting set up that I can use for portrait/figure/fashion photography. I'd like to be able to have the flexibility to use the lights in a studio space as well as remotely, at someone's home, for instance, if the shoot calls for it.

I have a couple of shoplights now, with tungsten bulbs, but I obviously want a combination that will give a softer effect. From what I've read, in addition to what I already have, I'll need a couple of umbrellas attached to the lights as reflectors, as well as a background light. Does this sound like enough?

Other questions: I'll be shooting 35mm film (Minolta XD11) and probably eventually MF (saving for a Hasselblad), as well as digital (Olympus 5050, which I'll be upgrading soon for a 10mpx). Given those formats, should I stick with hot lights, or are so called "cool lights" an option? (I really don't want to have to deal with hooking up a strobe flash.)

Regarding umbrellas, do I need to get a pair to use as reflectors (light between subject and umbrella) and a pair to use as diffusers (umbrella between subject and light), or can I get umbrellas that do both?

Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

Are you upgrading to a DSLR or are you going to get a 10mp point and shoot? You will find with a 6-8mp DSLR you will get superior quality photos compared to those from a 10mp point and shoot. Megapixels are not the determining factor in image clarity.
From what I've heard, "hot" lights are not recommended for shooting models...especially indoors where it might get really hot in front of those lights. Strobes with modeling lights is usually the way to go.

I see a lot of recommendations for Alien Bee lights, mostly because of their inexpensive price. http://www.alienbees.com/

The same company makes a more professional line of lighting equipment http://www.white-lightning.com/
I was planning on going with a DSLR. The Olympus 5050 is, if I understand correctly, a DSLR. I can set everything manually and it's got a hot shoe mount.

Thanks Big Mike, the alienbee link has some good articles too.

Anyone else have recommendations based on what they use?


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