Studio work, What do you use?

Bubbles22

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I am just starting to really want to get into the studio side of things. Now to learn the art of studio lighting. I know it seems that alien bee's are a great place to start.
I am doing a ton of children, newborn, and families. Does anyone have suggestions. I know I'll need a large softbox for at least one ab800. Especially when shooting the newborns.
I wish there was a really good workshop in my area to teach me more. Ahhhh! (Did most of you learn yourself, or take some sort of classes/workshops?)

So could one ab800 (with a huge softbox) do the job with a ab400 for lighting the background. Along with my reflector for the side shadows.
I'm so new to this side of things I get a little over whelmed and just don't want to more than I currently need.
Does anyone have any other recommendations. I'm sure I didn't give you all the information you need. Hopefully I did.
Thank you!
 

KmH

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There are other inexpensive sources of information. Visit your local library.

Photographic Lighting Equipment: A Comprehensive Guide for Digital Photographers
Minimalist Lighting: Professional Techniques for Studio Photography
Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers

Alien Bee's are kind of entry-level lighting. They have issue with color temperature drift when the power level is adjusted.
Paul C. Buff's White Lightning series have a pretty good reputation.

There are monolights, like the AB's, and there are head and power pack systems. http://www.speedotron.com/products/lighting/brown_line/brown_lighting_system_packages

http://www.profoto.com/products
http://www.elinchrom.com/
http://www.dynalite.com/?page_id=16
 
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Big Mike

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Alienbees are a polarizing topic. On one hand, they offer a decent product at a good price and they have really good customer service.
On the other hand, you can get comparable lights (quite possibly with better performance/quality) for about the same price.

I have them and I like them, but given the choice, I would probably something different, next time around.

Of course, you need to realize that ABs are 'entry level' studio strobes. That's not to say that many pros aren't using them to great effect, but if you compare them to actual high end professional gear, they do look and feel like toys. The company that makes Alien Bees, has (I think) two higher end lines. Eisenstein and White Lightning.

As many other may well recommend, I'd suggest checking out the Flash Point line of strobes that can be found at Adorama.
You might also want to check out the options from Elinchrom.

A typical portrait studio kit is 4 lights. One as your main, another for fill and two for background/hair/accent etc. You can get away with less, especially if you're using reflectors...but I find it a lot easier when I'm not fooling around with reflectors all the time. (still useful though).

I certainly prefer a softbox over an umbrella but they are a good deal more expensive.

You will need stands, and maybe even a boom system for putting a light right over top of your subject (not a necessity, but really hand for babies & kids etc.)
 

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PCB and ABs are indeed a polarizing topic.

What do you reckon your budget is for the starting kit?

Have you talked with the folks at PCB? They might suggest other options.

Don't forget the "Baby Boomer" for the infants.

While you are doing your reading and observations, you will find that many pros are using lights that cost several times what the ABs cost, and I'm sure most of them can justify the cost, but if you are just learning studio lighting, you probably are not ready to drop $10,000 or more on lighting equipment.

Call PCB and be sure to check out their sample package deals, which can be adjusted to your needs.
 
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Bubbles22

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Hey thanks guys,
I'm going to look into these options. I want to stay under $2000 as of right now. I know reflectors can be a hassle but I'd rather build up my stuff slowly so I don't over purchase. So far you guys have been awesome on this site. I just know I have a ton to learn. I have sometime to look into it. I want to have it for the fall for sure.
However, I guess I could be using it now since apparently it is going to snow in May in KC. Crazy! (That makes it extremely hard to have beautiful natural light!)
 

wes1007

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You could always be like David Hobby and use a handful of cheap speedlights ;) obviously more portable, less powerful and sometimes more expensive.

6 X these Bring you up to $460, you'll still need umbrella mounts, stands, a set of triggers (only need one) and modifiers of choice.

Dont think everyone will agree with what I'm saying but Just putting it out there...
 

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I use a Vivitar 285HV and, um, this other thing. Some strobe that plugs into the wall that has an optical slave.

All my light modifiers are improvised or handmade out of cardboard and drafting paper (softbox) or newspaper (snoots) or whatever I have lying around (reflectors).

It works out ok, but it's a bit rough.

I am a little puzzled by why people need much more power than a good side on-camera flash. Partly it dates back to the days of shooting ISO 25 slide film downrated to 12 or whatever, and partly it's because people have larger studio spaces than I do. But still, I sort of wonder where the heck all the light is going. My trouble is more likely to be too much light than too little (so I like my Vivitar's 1/16 setting, let me tell you).
 

cgipson1

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I use a Vivitar 285HV and, um, this other thing. Some strobe that plugs into the wall that has an optical slave.

All my light modifiers are improvised or handmade out of cardboard and drafting paper (softbox) or newspaper (snoots) or whatever I have lying around (reflectors).

It works out ok, but it's a bit rough.

I am a little puzzled by why people need much more power than a good side on-camera flash. Partly it dates back to the days of shooting ISO 25 slide film downrated to 12 or whatever, and partly it's because people have larger studio spaces than I do. But still, I sort of wonder where the heck all the light is going. My trouble is more likely to be too much light than too little (so I like my Vivitar's 1/16 setting, let me tell you).

Hmmm... I wasn't aware you had ever worked in a studio setting... and the highlighted text seems to make that obvious! Every tried to power a LARGE modifier with a Vivitar? lol! Not to mention the sheer ease of control that good lights give you, and the versatility of using good gear! (yes... I know you will probably report my post as being a flame or something.. but it is an honest question!)
 
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Derrel

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I don't shoot as much studio lighting stuff as I did 20 or 15 or even 10 years ago. I've worked with a few different people, and been exposed to different systems. Norman, White Lightning 1600's, Speedotron Black Line, Speedotron Brown Line, Sunpak MS 4000, JTL, Photogenic, and DynaLite. At the basic level, ALL of it works. There's a lot of ways to modify light.

Say you wanna shoot newborns and have only two lights; if you shoot in a low-ceilinged room with a cheap shoot thru umbrella and the AB800, the ambient spill light can be harnessed to create FILL light. I see this a lot in home MWAC and GWAC shots...the blast from a studio flash creates a main light AND the spill blasting all over makes fill light on the off-side! Not kidding. Done right, this actually looks pretty good!

When I had a big garage studio, I used two 2400 Watt-second black line packs and six fan-cooled 102 heads. SUPER-fast recycle times using big packs at low output and tons of 1/3 stop click-adjust. For smaller stuff, like one-person, I often used a 1600 W-s system dialed wayyyy down, to 200 W-S, and three, or four light heads, but also often five heads: two background lights, hair light, main, fill. I used to use 36x48 Photoflex MultiDOme softbox a lot, but now prefer the Lastolite Umbrella Box units.

My current fave is the Speedo Black Line 405B pack; small,light, and two 103 heads with matching small 28x28 softboxes with fabric grids if needed, and a third light with an 11.5 inch reflector, diffuser, grid and barndoors. THis is a very light, small setup that fits into a milk crate, or a small ballistic "cube" case. I love the P22-size reflector panel.
 

tirediron

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...Every tried to power a LARGE modifier with a Vivitar?
Actually Charlie, it works better than some would think. This is a single SB800 on 1/2 power (IIRC) powering a 50" Wescott SB...

Eva%20(6).jpg
 

wes1007

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I use a Vivitar 285HV and, um, this other thing. Some strobe that plugs into the wall that has an optical slave.

All my light modifiers are improvised or handmade out of cardboard and drafting paper (softbox) or newspaper (snoots) or whatever I have lying around (reflectors).

It works out ok, but it's a bit rough.

I am a little puzzled by why people need much more power than a good side on-camera flash. Partly it dates back to the days of shooting ISO 25 slide film downrated to 12 or whatever, and partly it's because people have larger studio spaces than I do. But still, I sort of wonder where the heck all the light is going. My trouble is more likely to be too much light than too little (so I like my Vivitar's 1/16 setting, let me tell you).

Hmmm... I wasn't aware you had ever worked in a studio setting... and the highlighted text seems to make that obvious! Every tried to power a LARGE modifier with a Vivitar? lol! Not to mention the sheer ease of control that good lights give you, and the versatility of using good gear! (yes... I know you will probably report my post as being a flame or something.. but it is an honest question!)

Studio strobes will definitely be easier to work with for those bigger modifiers! They will also make it easier to get much more even lighting (if you have the space that is) but you have to admit those little speedlights do pack a bit of a punch!

I have never really played in a proper studio before or with bigger lights... but I know the theory behind them.

In the end the OP will probably go with studio strobes because it sounds like he wont be moving them around to different locations
 

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Speeodtrons are good lights, but if you're going to end up with a multiple head setup, you'll probably want more than one pack eventually so that you're not limited by the head cable length.

I shoot with Dynalites and I'm pretty estatic about their new head that lets you use up to a 650 watt modeling lamp for video. I've been using the 200 watt modeling lamp on more and more of the recent video projects I've been working on and sometimes that's not even enough to get it done.
 

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