Studio lighting


I Burn Easily :(
Feb 4, 2004
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Queensland, Australia
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Hi guys...

can someone help me with this studio lighting dilemma... I am a bit confused on the whole ratio thing...

I set up two studio lights (500 watt with soft box, 250 watt with umbrella)...

I set the 500 watt so I got a reading of 5.6 - and then turned the 250 watt on and set it to slave so they both went off and my reading was 11 (well, I kept moving it until I got 11)...

This is for my assignment and I think I may have done it wrong (after watching someone else in my class)...

I have just gone to write my assignment up, and am kinda stuck...

I think if my main light (500 watt) was 5.6 - and I got an overall 11 - does that mean that my fill light was 8?

and would that make it a 1:1 ratio or a 1:2 ratio?

hopefully someone can help me - I have no more classes between now and when it is due....
For lighting ratios, I always meter my lights seperatly. For a 1:1 ratio, each light would be giving you a reading of f/11. For a 1:2, your key light would be f/11, and your kicker would be f/8. Metering once for both lights is not always going to be accurate, because it depends on how your lights are setup. If you stick the meter in front of your subjects nose, your key light may be pointed right there, but your kicker might not. It might be more to the side, which throws off the angle of incidence. I always cup the meter to block the light from one light, and meter one light at a time, being careful to note the angle of incidence (have the meter pointed up to the light at the same angle the light is coming down).

Wattage of the lights doesn't mean anything. They are adjustable. That's what your meter is for.
ok thanks....

unfortunately I can't change what I have done, so from what you are saying, my lighting ratio would be 1:2 - is that right?

(the teachers don't really explain any of this to us very well - we had a briefing on it about 5 weeks ago - and on the day I was doing it she was grumpy and unhelpful)
If your key light was at 5.6, and you wanted a 1:2 ratio, your fill light would have to be f/4. I don't know what it was, because you didn't meter it, and I don't know how you had your lights setup, or where you were metering to get f/11.
I agree with Matt regarding metering separately. Hwoever, If I understand correctly your master (500W) was reading f/5.6 and both your master and slave where reading f/11. That means that your slave was brighter than your master. Abput 1.5 stops brighter because if you where to measure the slave (250W) by itself it would measure ~f/9.5. Hence your ratio is 1:1.5. I hope that you intended your slave to be your key (or main) light since it is brighter. Hope this helps...

hi paulkline...

I didn't actually intend anything. I couldn't get any help from the teachers....

I just remember them saying that if you set one to 5.6 and you want the overall to be f/11 then the other would be f/8....

I am confused...

it would be nice if the teachers weren't so rude when you tried to get help. grrrr
Hi "Fading Away" I don't want to start giving you more advice as "Digital Matt" and "Paulkline" have given you valuable advice. I would just like to stress you will learn more from forums like this than you will from your teachers. If what you say in you last message is correct, the teachers advice is up the spout. Exposure should be taken of your main light, the rest of the lighting is for fill or effect. Teachers are "rude" They get paid on Fridays and what goes prior to that makes no difference to their pay packet....sadly.. Philip
ok. so let me get this straight....

if my "key light" was f/8 and my "fill light" was f/5.6 - the ratio is 1:2?

Philip... Sadly that is how we are finding it...

We have complained about the way we are spoken to (the other day I was refused assistance because she "couldn't leave the other students to help me"... (I waited until my turn for help - but nope - no help)

on the day I was doing this shoot - I asked for help with a backdrop and was told "there's nothing I can do about it" (the backdrop was TRASHED)...

This is one of the photos I will be using. I think the final image looks good...

ok. one last thing - we have to write out the procedure... does this sound about right, am I missing anything, or misunderstanding something?

1. Set up the 500watt light with the soft box attached. Point the light towards the area the model will be standing.
2. Set up the 250watt light with the umbrella attached. Point the light towards the area the model will be standing.
3. With the main light turned on, take a meter reading from where the subject will be. Adjust until the desired intensity of light is achieved.
4. Do the same with the slave light.
5. Switch both lights on and take an overall reading.
6. Set the camera to the aperture the light meter provides and the shutter to the camera’s sync speed.
7. Take the photo, bracketing.
8. Develop the film and print desired prints.
I don't see a need to take an overall reading. I base my camera settings off of the key light's reading, as it is the strongest. I know I will fill the shadows appropriately, because I metered them.
Hi again "Fadingaway1986" don't fadaway, photography can be so exciting.
Digital Matt is correct, you only need to meter your main light, and the fill light can be then adjusted to the desired light level. Otherwise your last post [1-8] is correct. I assume you're doing an incident light reading, not reflective. Your image above looks good. We can always be constructively critical, but at this stage, let's just work on your lighting. One thing I don't understand is why you are bracketing. In a studio situation with controlled lighting and a flash meter, there is no need whatsoever. The only time I ever bracket is when shooting large format [5x4 or larger] and only when shooting transparency. Sorry you're having problems with the teacher, I have found over many years that generally teachers of photography are teachers because they can't make it in the real world [just a thought] stick at it. Philip.

Thanks guys...

The reason why I add that in there is I am CERTAIN the teacher told us to do an overall reading to get what the aperture to set the camera on...

I think we were basically told - f/8 plus f/5.6 = set the camera on f/11... Maybe they are teaching us wrong or not telling us properly... Who knows

Also - the teacher told us to bracket so we won't have to go back and reshoot. (I didn't bracket though - this kid wouldn't sit still for long enough)

We are shooting 120 film - I THINK the camera is 6x4. But I am not certain - they haven't taught us much about the camera - we have just been told to use them... and get snapped at if we ask how.

By the way - I am open to constructive critisicm. I don't mind. I have never EVER worked with studio lights before I did this & the teacher snaps when you ask for help to get it set up - so I just did it on my own and *hoped* I was doing it right. (Which obviously, I haven't - but I am still happy with the end product)

But all the same - I am not learning from the teachers - so feel free to tell me anything wrong with the picture.

Thanks again for your help...
Hi again "Almost fading away" I am a little confused as you apparently are as to how to calculate your exposure. Basically you should be exposing for your main light, as the fill light is just that, a fill light. Most times I use a reflector for filling the shadows, as it serves the same purpose. As the fill light is just filling in the shadows, it has minimal effect on the exposure. Why bracket ? I previously explained this, and if you bracket and your best shot is the one that is 1/2 a stop or whatever under or over, you miss out on having a correctly exposed negative. If you were shooting transparency, you would be "up the creek without a paddle" [trust you understand] If you are using 120 film, the camera is either 6x6, 6x4.5 or 6x7. Tell me what camera you are using, and I'll tell you what size it is. I am happy to help you as you go along if you wish, just post your results or email me direct on [email protected] [I trust contacting me direct does not contravene "Photoforums" rules.] Philip Weir
I just wanted to say that I agree with Philip about bracketing. As long as you have metered your main light correctly, bracketing will only waste your film.

ps. Philip, don't worry about direct email contact with anyone on the forum. It's not discouraged in any way.

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