Studio lighting

jlocoronado

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Hi everone! My name is Jessica, I am an amateur photographer, and I am new to this site :) I am currently trying to figure out this whole studio lighting thing. For example, I am using a black muslin background, and 2 umbrella lights. How do I properly expose the picture so that the background is solid black and flaws cannot be seen? Any ideas where to go for studio lighting tutorials? Thanks in advance to anyone who might have some suggestions :sexywink:

Jess
 

JerryPH

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Your studio lighting issues are not the problem... it is understanding a few of the basics. One great place to read, study and learn is the Strobist website.

The basics of what you are trying to do is VERY simple:
- get the lights CLOSE and strong on your subject
- increase the distance between your subject and the background
- use the fastest shutter speed possible... your camera's maximum sync speed

That will black out the background.

As for how to properly set the exposure... easy... set the camera to full manual and adjust settings (ISO, shutter speed and aperture) to taste. Using a histogram or a light meter, these are the proper tools to use to tell you if you are properly exposed or not... not the LCD on the back of the camera.

Edit: Have you tried doing a search on this site, google or Youtube? There is a TREMENDOUS amount of info in all 3 areas. ;)
 
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jlocoronado

jlocoronado

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Thanks so much for the quick response. I actually have googled a lot on this subject and have found a few things that I have tried to apply when shooting, but I still didn't feel like I was getting the look I was going for. I will try your suggestions and appreciate your help!!!

Jess
 

Katier

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Basically your trying NOT to light the background and also under exposing the background. This would be tricky with umbrellas as they send out quite a spread of light.

3215637716_4666fa0b6a.jpg


This image I used a heavily snooted flash, I could have then fired it through an umbrella to soften the light, or used a softbox with a barn door etc.

But what I was trying to do was stop the light spreading into the background of the picture. In my case the background is just the bedroom but could have been anything.
 

Tinstafl

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I do not know what system you are shooting but Nikon School has a great DVD on using their lighting system. It is done with speed lights for portable use. It does spend a bit of time showing how to control the various banks of lights but it does show how lights and lighting works.
 

tsaraleksi

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Wouldn't you have longer light fall off with the light closer to the subject due to the inverse square law? And a shorter fall off is desirable in these comditions.

As long as the lights are not pointed at the background, having a brighter light on the subject will give you greater contrast between the background and the foreground.
 

tsaraleksi

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I mean, you'd still properly expose the subject, but if the light was farther away, you'd have more fall off behind the subject and that's less light getting towards the background.

That's true assuming the lights are pointed straight at the background. However, getting the light closer to the subject and to the sides (so you can shoot down the middle!) lets you use less light for the same exposure and sends the light away from the background.
 

JerryPH

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This would be tricky with umbrellas as they send out quite a spread of light.

Not really all that tricky once you know how. ;)

3304480324_1291297345.jpg



This shot was taken with a 5-foot bounced umbrella on a 600W/s Profoto head on camera left with a hairlight on camera right behind the subject using another Profoto 600W/s with a 45 inch shoot-through umbrella. The backdrop is medium grey and subject is 6 feet away from it, yet appears pitch black.

High shutter speeds and larger apertures are what helped the most for me in this case, but I did play with contrast a little to make the black background more even all around . I was at 1/200th and F/8 in this picture.
 

JerryPH

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Wouldn't you have longer light fall off with the light closer to the subject due to the inverse square law? And a shorter fall off is desirable in these comditions.

Depends on conditions. Using a weaker speedlight you go close and hot, for fast light fall off. If using something stronger and further away, up the shutter speeds and increase distance from subject to background.

The 5-foot umbrella I used in the post above this one was a good 6-8 feet away from subject, and becuase of it's angle a little more than double that to the grey backdrop behind.
 

JerryPH

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That's true assuming the lights are pointed straight at the background. However, getting the light closer to the subject and to the sides (so you can shoot down the middle!) lets you use less light for the same exposure and sends the light away from the background.

Exactly! It's all about placement and ratio. Darkened backgrounds require the light close becuase speedlights are weak, but when placed close and pumped up a little are going to give you a higher aperture to use, and a fast fall-off of light. Using monolights you angle more, fill from the other side and keep the lights off the background and using a higher shutter speed, the ambient (which is most of what will be in back) drops off fast, leaving you with dark or pure black backgrounds.
 

Prophotoworkshop

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I would definitely listen to JerryPh he knows what he's talking about.
But Jerry Where's the Full Body shot on black with no detail on the black.
hahahaha.......just having fun.
I would add that even if you take Jerry's advice which is good advice.
You might want to retouch out any detail that you don't want.
Sometimes the angle of the light in relation to lens can create a reflection ,
also you might not be working with the the most light absorbent material.
Even if you do everything that Jerry suggests you might decide at some point during the shoot to free form a little bit which could throw your lighting scenario out the window.
in that case get the shot you want and worry about the deep blacks later (post)
I know that's not the old school approach But with Photoshop it makes cleaning up back rounds a bit easier.
I used to sculpt out my lighting so much that my subject couldn't move a hair
or they be out of the light. I take a broader approach now and work more on movement
and the moment.
Photoworkshop
 

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