Preferred Aperture For Studio

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by smoke665, Aug 4, 2020.

  1. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    I've seen different opinions on this, I'm curious as to what others do. Read something recently about photographers in medium format using f/13 and above in studio. I realize this has a lot to do with the equivalent DOF of a larger format, and also with the intended use of the image. An image destined for 16x20 obviously requires more retained details then one printed at 8x10 to maintain the same level of sharpness.

    In studio my general go to is f/5.6 on the crop sensor and f/8 on the full frame. That seems to give me a good balance between DOF, light power, and details in the image. Recently I've been experimenting with raising the power (and aperture), with the result that the skin on the face appears brighter, more translucent. Surprisingly I didn't notice significant increases in skin retouching as the shadows filled more decreasing how noticeable the blemish was.

    Any thoughts on this by other????


     
  2. JBPhotog

    JBPhotog No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For me it depends on what I need to have in focus beyond the eyes and if it is a head shot vs 3/4 or full length. All of those will predict what f-stop I need. I have lots of flash power so that isn’t a limiting aspect in determining f-stop. Once I know the distance and FL, I check my DoF to ensure the critical bits are sharp. Additionally, if the subject is moving I tend to stop down a bit more for better capture rate.

    I haven’t seen your results though by stopping down. I would expect that only DoF changes rather than exposure on the skin, are you certain your flash output is consistent? Shooting a wider aperture can reduce skin texture and soften shadow detail since it gets blurred a tad.
     
  3. zombiesniper

    zombiesniper Furtographer Extraordinaire! Supporting Member

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    I usually start at f8 for most but it all depends on what I'm shooting and the distance of camera to subject and subject to background. Also if I want a clear or OOF background.
     
  4. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One chooses an aperture for one photographic reason or another. Choosing one in a studio is no different than choosing one anywhere else. The photographic reasons determine this.
     
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  5. Cody'sCaptures

    Cody'sCaptures No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ~f8 if I want everything in frame
    2.8 if I don't
    I make a note of strobe & camera values for both when setting a scene to reference during the shoot
     
  6. twocolor

    twocolor No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Completely agree. Why is shooting in a studio and choosing an aperture any different than shooting outside an analyzing what you want out of your images. Newborns I shoot f2.8, food photography f8-f22, headshots f4-f5.6. There just isn't a blanket answer unless your shooting the same thing over and over in studio.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Typically for me it starts at f/7.1 and goes to f:8, then smaller apertures like f9,10,11,13. Very rarely f16 unless I need a lot of depth of field.
    Back in the 4x5 sheet film days smaller apertures like f/32 or f/45 were fairly common when using a 1600 Watt-second power pack.

    These days I often shoot with only a 400 W-second setup, and I find that f/7.1 or f/8 gives me fast recycle time.

    If if NEED deep DOF, I have a lot of flash power, but these days I can jack ISO level up if needed.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I can see medium-format shooters starting at f/13 and using smaller lens Openings as needed.
     
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  9. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    @JBPhotog My question was limited to studio and studio lights, where backgrounds, movements, etc. aren't so much of an issue, and lighting is controlled.

    This started as an idea more then anything, that may or may not pan out. It still needs a lot more exploration to satisfy my curiosity. The human skin covering the face is a complex surface, from what I've read in various articles on the subject only 5% of the incident light hitting it is reflected (unless oil or other substance on the surface change it) with the balance penetrating the underlying epidermal layers which diffuse and reflect in varying degrees, depending on thickness. Once it hits underlying tissue it's mostly absorbed unless it's thin enough that the bone underneath reflects. This is somewhat borne out by the need to adjust for differing skin tones of anywhere from up to +/- 1 1/3 stops EV.

    As @Derrel mentioned above in days past we weren't so stingy with our lights, but today there's a trend to cut back the power, raise the ISO, open up the aperture. By doing that you can get a good exposure on the surface, but what of the underlying epidermal layers and the effect they have on the image? Pigmentation doesn't lie on the surface, so by decreasing the amount of light you're throwing on the skin, are you not also limiting the potential for reflection from those underlying areas and the effect they have on the image? I find this more noticeable in dark skin, and extremely frustrating, as I can see those rich hues of honey, bronze, gold, lying under the surface, but can't seem to capture them fully.

    As I said I've only done some very limited tests, and plan on more, but when I raised the power of the light (raising the aperture to compensate) it seemed as if the skin at f/11 had a slightly more pearlescent finish, then did my previous shots at f/5.6 or f/8. Disregarding DOF considerations, am I imagining it or do I need new glasses? LOL
     
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  10. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Interesting. I now shoot so little of people in-studio, But the next time I do I will experiment with using a high Watt-second power pack and also my normal 400.
     
  11. JBPhotog

    JBPhotog No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Interesting thought process but I am not sure I have witnessed this phenomenon. I would ask why do you not see this at wider apertures since the reflected 'penetrated' light would be just as likely to return to the sensor and pass through a wider aperture? Unless of course we are talking about X-Ray versions of flash illumination, then possibly a shadow outline would be burned into the background too? LOL

    If it were me, I would place a known grey target next to the subject and shoot at various flash outputs so one can sample the grey card for RGB values to ensure they are identical. If they are then a proper analysis of skin illumination can be evaluated. Keeping in mind that all reflected sources in the studio may be influencing the subject as well, control is required for conclusions to be drawn.
     
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  12. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Again just a thought and no experimental data to confirm, but assuming the more powerful the light the deeper it would penetrate and be reflected back.

    That's a good suggestion on the gray card.
     

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