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Author Topic: Please give your opinion on my studio equipment purchase.  (Read 4205 times)

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« on: May 15, 2008, 13:38 »
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Hey fellow stockers,

I have a similar thread up on istock I created a while back, but now I am more sure of what I want to get and just wanted to hear other stockers opinion on it. I am a beginner when it comes to studio lighting, but I have been doing research and trying to put together an affordable setup that will produce solid results. As of now im looking to purchase:

3 Alienbees B800 Flash Units
3 Alienbees 13 ft. Heavy Duty stands for each flash unit.
1 Alienbees 32x40 softbox for one of the flashes.
1 10x24 High Key white muslin backdrop, http://www.amvona.com/?page=shop/flypage&product_id=229

Basically, I want to get that stock image of a person on a nice white background with this setup. The plan is to aim two of the flashes at the backdrop and the flash with the softbox on the model. Not only do I want this setup for stock, but also to learn my way around studio photography, as I plan to make a career out of photography. Also in the future I plan to pick up a black backdrop for more possibilities.

Anyway, would just like to hear your thoughts on this setup and approach, and if you think I will be able to get the shots I want with this setup. Also if anyone is using a similar setup how is it working for you?

Many thanks for any input.


« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008, 13:58 »
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Environmental portraiture sells much better than in-studio work. It's also easier and more interesting to do. Take a cue from Yuri, who says that that finding a good location is a top priority - so much so that he even outsources the job!

You should strongly consider ditching the softbox in favour of umbrellas (they're more portable), and get only two 1600 Ws flashes (800 Ws will not be enough in bright locations) with strong battery packs. Get three Pocket Wizards (or clones to save money if synch speed isn't a factor) so that you can be completely flexible in how you shoot. Get three stands, and make two of them booms so that you can place light wherever you want/need it. Use the third non-boom/non-flash stand to hold a (gold, silver, or white) reflector. Technique-wise, learn about shutter drag and key shifting so that you can squeeze as much out of every location as possible.

... good luck!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 14:13 by sharply_done »

« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2008, 14:08 »
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Thanks for the input sharply done, I really need to research lighting more as I am lost when it comes to using reflectors, umbrellas etc. Maybe I need to drop this lighting idea and buy a D300 instead hah.

« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2008, 14:11 »
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Thanks for the input sharply done, I really need to research lighting more as I am lost when it comes to using reflectors, umbrellas etc. Maybe I need to drop this lighting idea and buy a D300 instead hah.

Need to know more about lighting? No sweat - go here.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 14:13 by sharply_done »

« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2008, 14:15 »
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I've got an amvona heavy duty background stand, a white and a black muslin sheet, two alien bees (only 400w - should have got at least the 600w) no softbox, but the bees came with a shoot through umbrella which works well. I am happy for the money.

The only thing I regret was not getting the 600 watt bees.

« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2008, 14:24 »
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Thanks for the reply penelope.

« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2008, 14:35 »
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You can learn alot about lighting from that Strobist blog, but you need to bear in mind that Speedlites don't put out a lot of power.  That necessitates using a higher ISO, which wouldn't usually be a problem, except for in the microstock industry - where pixel peeping reviewers won't approve of the higher ISO noise.

You can use a lot of the techniques, and just scale it to strobes.  Not as portable, but still very useful.

« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2008, 15:54 »
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Environmental portraiture sells much better than in-studio work. It's also easier and more interesting to do. Take a cue from Yuri, who says that that finding a good location is a top priority - so much so that he even outsources the job!

If you look closely at his business shots, most of them look like they are done at a table in a cafeteria, which shows what you can get away with, with composition.

« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2008, 19:21 »
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Have you considered a reflector of some kind?  3 Bees are great, but if you put two on your background and one on your subject, you're might have to do something about "the shadow."

Also, those 13' stands, while nice and sturdy, don't let you get the light all that low.  If you're trying to light something that's kind of low (either objects or small children), you'll have an interesting time in getting the light to the proper height.

« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2008, 02:08 »
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If you are planing on making a career in photography then you need to purchase professional lighting equipment.  Remember you get what you pay for.  Follow this link http://www.calumetphoto.com/ctlac.ui.pn=search.Search&query=%20strobe%20power%20pack&page=1 look at the lighting equipment being sold there and pay close attention to the price listed for each piece of equipment. 

Since you are "lost when it comes to using reflectors, umbrellas etc." maybe you should take a class and rent lighting equipment until you have a little more experience.  Just so you know, reflectors and umbrellas are very basic when it comes to lighting equipment.  If you don't know what they are or how to use them then I would suggest that you learn what they are and how to use them before you buy them.  (Would you enter the Indianapolis 500 and then show up at the track with a go cart?)  What you described in your posts is like trying to do algebra without knowing how to add.

Please don't take what I wrote the wrong way.  If I could learn the proper way to use lighting equipment then anyone can.  I'm just suggesting that you gain a little hands on knowledge so you can make an informed decision. 

« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2008, 06:21 »
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Yes, totally agree.

First get a reflector.  Use it outside, or in rooms with big windows.  Understand how you can manipulate light using it.  Then perhaps buy a second reflector and use them both together.  Then buy a strobe with just a 15cm reflector or something.  Get the hang of that.  Then add a white umbrella.

And so forth.

If you just buy everything all at once, you'll never get the results you want.  I spend six months apprenticing in a studio before I chose what to buy.

« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2008, 18:59 »
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thanks for all the replies everyone, the info is much appreciated.


 

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