Portrait Lighting Set

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by mangorockfish, Apr 20, 2018.

  1. texxter

    texxter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I assume you have to work with a limited budget and want to get good value for little money. If you do have a larger budget, then it makes sense to spend more. And I agree with the recommendation of going with electronic flash instead of continuous light because flash gives you more lumens per dollar, and they can be really small. LED lights are coming as an alternative to traditional continuous lighting, but they are still expensive. So flash is the way to go.

    With a small amount of money it would be best to buy just ONE light with one modifier and one light stand. It may seem limiting, but it really isn't if you're just starting out. Instead of a strobe that requires AC or a big battery pack go with a portable off-camera flash. Smaller flashes can be had for little money and they work really well. You can buy one used for under $50, get an inexpensive stand and umbrella, together with a remote trigger, and you'll be in business. The Strobist website is a good resource, and you can find a gear guide there as well. One huge advantage of flashes that fit in your pocket is portability and the ability to travel light while still having access to manufactured light.


     
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  2. fotodoug

    fotodoug TPF Noob!

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    I've been a commercial photographer for roughly 45 years now...I'm retired, but still love to take photos. I've owned hundreds of thousands of $ in equipment, but I still subscribe to the old cliche..."It's not the arrow, it's the Indian". This portrait of an old friend was taken with less than $30 worth of Ikea lights...
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    ...with a camera that cost less than $300.00. Experiment, make your own soft boxes...if you have a decent camera, you don't need flash. Avedon didn't start out with anything but imagination, and talent. You can't buy a good game...it's the Indian!
     
  3. mrca

    mrca No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Fotodoug, I agree you can make great photos with just a camera. If a photographer takes to time to learn to find good light. However, first, that is limiting to places and situations where there is good light. But I believe that is where a novice should start, first recognizing good or nearly good light. Then learn to modify the nearly good light using things like inexpensive reflectors and scrims in conjunction with thing like window, doorway or under overhang light that starts with soft directional light. This requires little if any investiment, some white cardboard or foam core, a $ 10 white bed sheet from walmart, a roll of gaffer tape or a clamps. Then when the photographer sees the background that can't be used because there is no good or nearly good light to modify, get one light and learn how to use it in conjunction with the already owned modifiers. You are right, you can't buy a good game, but without lights and modifiers, you will be limited . I can place my subject in the middle of a foot ball field at high noon and produce a studio quality image. Not so much with a camera alone. I can knock down the over head light with a scrim or translucent umbrella, adjust shutter speed/ neutral density filter to set background density relative to my ultimate subject exposure, apply soft directional light with a battery powered strobe mounted to a moderate low wind ok octa and fill with a second stobe. Can pick up a free kicker/ hair light moving the subject to the back of the overhead diffuser or a third light. Or could build a black subtractive side, a translucent side and top and if needed, add a reflector front. Either will look nothing what is available from a camera or a AC light from home depot that can't be used without an outlet. For soft light, don't need to build a soft box. Hang any diffusion material, a sheet, translucent shower curtain in front of your light. It has the added benefit you can vary the distance between the diffusion material and light that can't be changed with a soft box. I do that the rare times I want soft light out of a fresnel. (skittish animals, some babies for no popping light or to change up the look without setting up strobes for a couple of shots). You are absolutely right you can make wonderful photos with only a camera, and I believe that is a place to start, then add gear as the need arises.
     
  4. fotodoug

    fotodoug TPF Noob!

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    Yes, you can do all that...but if you want to be a lumberjack, you don't first buy a saw mill. If you first learn how to see light, how to interpret what you see, and how to look for the places that kind of light exists, you learn what light is and why it is the only thing important in photography. If you can make wonderful photos with existing light, it becomes easy to do it with anything else. I don't think I am disagreeing with you...I just think that people get caught up in equipment and miss what photography is all about....................LIGHT!
     
  5. mrca

    mrca No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think we agree completely. That C word, camera, is nothing but a recorder, a LIGHT recorder. When painters apprenticed with a master, they didn't start painting masterpieces, they started making paint, the medium they worked in, Photographers need to do the same. And as your wonderful photo shows, you don't need expensive gear to make great images. As a matter of fact, none at all. I think what misleads beginners is they hear all the manufacturers ads for the latest greatest one trick pony gimmick. Also, they see folks like us using some specialized gear, sometimes in some unconventional ways and believe it is the gear that makes the photo. The gear makes the photo no more than the saw makes the furniture or the house. Had a mentor that when I got a few new lights hung them all for a shot out doors. It was a good shot and expected kudos on a job well done. Instead, he asked why I used lights. Just because I had them? Then sent me down another path when he said, you had a rare overcast day in your area, soft light. Why didn't you subtract light on the shadow side to get the desired contrast ratio, no lights need be hung or torn down, no battery packs. Just a piece of black fabric or a tree trunk or dark wall. With your experience, you can reach into a bag of tricks and have 3 or 4 ways to accomplish your vision, and if there with minimal or no gear, will usually get the shot. It's not the gear, it's the person "making" the shot. And for me, sometimes having to "adapt, improvise, over come" per Clint in Heart Break Ridge, is not only the challenge of location work but is really fun.
     

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