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Author Topic: isolation light requirements - lighting newbie  (Read 12092 times)

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eyeCatchLight

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
« on: October 30, 2009, 18:35 »
0
Hello,

I would like to buy myself a basic sort of equipment for making isolated shots. It should also be a little versatile for other purposes (portraits and such).

I read Zack Arias' tutorial - it is great!!!
Anyhow, as it is my first time I am dealing with studio lights, I have a lot of doubts. (If I am in the wrong forum, please just tell me).

1) I need three lights. I have one SB-900 up to now. What should I add for the other two? Are other two Nikon Speedlights enough power? (This solution seems however a bit expensive...) I read also about AlienBees... I am thinking of lighting the white background with the lights and use my flash for the foreground. What do you think?

2) What is the cheapest, and what a comfortable solution for these lights? (I'd like to save some money).

3) OK and now the most stupid question....are these units all flashes or continuous lights? When do I use what, what is better? (sorry the basic question).

4) How much will it cost me? (the lights plus their supports and the things i need for the lights; I already figured out a support for the white background roll)

Oh and I don't have so much space. I don't need a huge setup. It has to be small, thus maybe less power needed.

Thank you!
Simone


« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2009, 19:26 »
0
To get the blown-out white backgrounds that I get, I use two of these strobes and light stands like these. I used to use continuous lighting, but I find that I like strobes MUCH better.

To answer your questions:
1) I would use the strobes for the background and your SB-900 for main light.
2) See the links above
3) They are flashes
4) It looks like about $180 USD total.

Hope that helps!

« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2009, 19:37 »
0
If you are primarily shooting in a studio the Alien Bees are a great flash for your $$. I haven't heard of the ones that elvinstar linked to, they look pretty cheap, but then again, they ARE cheap so you are really not out very much money.  They don't have much power, but they could be good for getting started and trying things out.

Strobes are nice because they plug into the wall so they won't run out of batteries, and they have tons of power (especially when compared to a shoe mount flash).... although those ones that elvinstar suggested won't have that much more power than the Nikon Speelight

If you end up using strobes you probably won't need your Nikon Speedlight.  In a pinch you could use one strobe to blast the background white, and the other to light the front of the object with a reflector to remove shadows.

« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2009, 19:46 »
0
Lighting 101 and 102 at the strobist's blog will teach you a lot about lighting.

If you want to try Zack Arias's set up, you will need space and more equipment than just flashes.  

If you are only making still lfe images, you will only need a light box which you can make yourself and use cheap lights.

Regarding your questions:  

- Yes, AlienBees are flash units.  

- A cheap and good solution for your background (to use Zack Arias' set up) could be a couple of Vivitar 285HV










eyeCatchLight

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2009, 20:12 »
0
wow, thanks for your fast answers. :-) seems it's affordable!  8)

-------------------------
Strobe setup:
-------------------------
the strobes look good to me, I wouldn't lose much trying them first. so you say 150 Ws is enough for such an application? (I have absolutely no idea...) the same power with the alien bees costs almost 4x as much!

Do I need a wireless controller or something like that?

I read I need two strobes for the background, but one is also ok you say?

It would be cool to have this portable with speedlights, but that's really expensive...
I also found that support for my SB-900 that can be used to attach a softbox for example.

-------------------------
Lightbox:
-------------------------
How much do I pay for a lightbox?
Do you guys use both? Or do you also put your still life objects into the big strobe setting?


-------------------------
Thanks for your help!
« Last Edit: October 30, 2009, 20:15 by simsi »

« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2009, 22:04 »
0


Do I need a wireless controller or something like that?

I read I need two strobes for the background, but one is also ok you say?

How much do I pay for a lightbox?

Pocket wizards are the best wireless controllers, but they are expensive.  Cactus controlles are cheap and work pretty well.

You can use only one strobe for the background, but if you are shooting people... two is much better.

A small lightbox must be about $50.  But I don0t think it is worth buying one.  They can easyly be made.

« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2009, 22:31 »
0
Yes, I fire my strobes wirelessly with this trigger and those are the exact strobes that I use.

I hear people say that the cheap triggers misfire quite frequently, but mine fires at least 98% of the time.

Feel free to look at my portfolio to view results. My studio is set up in a spare bedroom, so if your space is that size or smaller, I know for a fact that you can make it work!

« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2009, 04:14 »
0
All flashes can be triggered by a sync cable as well.  This is more reliable than a radio frequency controller.  If you are looking for a cheap solution and are only working in the studio anyhow, I would just start using the sync cable.  you hook the cable up to your camera and one of the flashes, then you set the other flashes to sync via optical slave (the flash watches for a burst of light and flashes when it sees one)

Even those cheap ebay strobes that elvinstar linked to have a optical, and sync cable slave options (which they should)

« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2009, 07:46 »
0
I use 2-800w Alien Bees and 1-400w Alien Bee for blowing out the background. These work fine for studio product photography, but if I were to do a lot of studio model work, I would buy the 1600w Alien Bees. I use the sync cord. The cords come with the Alien Bees (flash lights) and are plenty long enough for most applications.

I bought inexpensive lights at my last job and I got what I paid for. I was a little sorry I went the cheap route. They just didn't position well and were very cheesy. They weren't the same brand as elvinstar posted, I don't remember the brand, sorry. Typically when I purchase items, I never buy the cheapest and I can never afford to buy the most expensive so I pretty much stay middle of the road on price and it works out well most of the time.

« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2009, 08:54 »
0
I just wish that I had the budget that some of you must have! This is a part-time (less than 6 hours/week) thing for me. I don't really want to make the move to more expensive gear/studio rent, so I go cheap and it seems to work out for me as far as cost/income ratio goes.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2009, 09:50 »
0
I'm reading this from a beginner point of view.  I would like to offer a lesson learned, however.  If you are shooting macro, or very closeup, you will need the something strong enough to blow out the background at f22. 

Being the cheapest of all of us, I gave up and went back to natural light ... for most setups.  I did learn that you can use a lightbox with long exposure and multiple flashes from one flash unit (top and both sides) to achieve decent results.  You can do it with your SB-900.

There are lots of blog articles on building a lightbox.


« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2009, 11:23 »
0
For still-life shooting you can add SB-600s to your SB-900 - not too expensive, and you'll avoid buying remote triggers
« Last Edit: October 31, 2009, 11:26 by UncleGene »

« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2009, 12:57 »
0
I purchased old white lightning 10000 strobes off of ebay. They usually sell for about 100$. They don't look like much but they work great and have plenty of power for my needs. You do need plenty of space for full length people shots. If the background is too close you will get a lot of light spill onto the model. You do need a bit of power for the background to light it evenly using light modifiers. The disadvantage with these older strobes is that I can't fit them with a beauty dish. I will build a bracket for one as soon as I get a free minute.

eyeCatchLight

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2009, 21:12 »
0
Hello,

I have made a bit more research on the lighting equipment I might need...
What do you think about this set?

http://www.ephotodiscounters.com/product_info.php?products_id=221
http://www.ephotodiscounters.com/product_info.php?products_id=5
http://www.ephotodiscounters.com/product_info.php?products_id=231

It would give me:
- 2 strobes 150Ws with sync chords
- 2 softboxes 16"
- 2 reflecting umbrellas
- 2 light stands 7"
- 5-in-1 reflector
- reflector stand
- backdrop white
- backdrop black
- backdrop support 9"

for 388 USD.

What do you think? Can I save on something, like making some backdrop or backdrop stand myself?

I would also need a stand for my SB-900 flash - what is generally used?

Do I need two strobes or is one enough?

Oh and do you know a comparably cheap store in Canada? I have the shipping and tax fear with this Californian one ;-)). Actually I go to California in 10 days, but I doubt I can bring these things home by plane ;-)))).

Thank you!
Simone



« Last Edit: November 16, 2009, 21:24 by simsi »

« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2009, 23:56 »
0
I made my own backdrop stand out of PVC pipe for about $20 USD. I've bought quite a few things from ephotodiscounters and have always been pleased. I use 2 strobes to blow out my backdrop (one on either side).

« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2009, 07:12 »
0
If you are going for isolated shots, muslin backgrounds are painful to use. Smooth cardboard or plastic is much better.

150Ws isn't very much effect, it may or may not be enough depending on how big things you are shooting and at which aperture is needed and if you can use higher than ISO 100.

Don't save on light stands. Quality lightstands (for example Manfrotto) are durable, sturdy and will last for years, they are perhaps the best investment one can do in the field of photography.

You can save on reflectors, any white styrofoams will do. Many different sizes is needed here. Some can also be painted black to darken the shadows when needed.

A Boom stand allows you to place the lights as you want. There are many light positions that cannot be made with regular stands.

« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 07:14 by Perry »

lisafx

« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2009, 13:31 »
0
That kit you linked looks okay for starters, particularly if you are shooting isolated objects or still portraits and don't mind doing some work with the dodge tool cleaning up the backgrounds.  Once you begin making money in micro you will probably want to upgrade to a better kit.

FWIW I use two 600ws strobes with barn doors on the background and two 300ws strobes with softboxes on the models, although you could easily get by with the one 300ws + softbox and a reflector.   Interfit strobes are very reasonably priced as kits.  This is the one I have: [url]http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/800664321-USE/Interfit_INT137_Stellar_300_2_Monolight_.html]http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/800664321-USE/Interfit_INT137_Stellar_300_2_Monolight_.html] [url]http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/800664321-USE/Interfit_INT137_Stellar_300_2_Monolight_.html [/url]

For background, I used a white king size sheet for a long time.  Works great and much easier to manage than a heavy muslin.

Whatever you do, do not waste your money on continuous lighting if you are doing isolations.  I did that for a couple of years and it was virtually impossible to blow out the background.  I had to spend many hours per shoot working with the dodge tool to get anything I could submit.

ETA:  Here's a good selection of the Interfit kits at a variety of prices:
http://www.owens-originals.com/interfit%20strobe/INTERFIT%20STROBE%20%20PHOTOGRAPHY%20LIGHTING%20KITS.html

« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 13:33 by lisafx »

eyeCatchLight

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2009, 18:33 »
0
Thanks for all your answers!

I am actually planning to do this in a part of a room (i only have a small apartment), so I think I don't need tons of power, am I right?
I was also thinking to discard the backdrop stand and set: I can just build it by myself made of wood, very cheap, or in the worst case stick it to the wall for the beginning. I will move in some months, I don't know where, and so maybe I can also buy that later...

I would like to use my SB-900 as the main light, and I need one or two lights to blow out the background. 1 or 2 and 150 or 300Ws for a small space?
What do you think about Alien Bees, and is it their effective or their real Ws that counts? But maybe they are too expensive for me. If I needed only one it might be fine...

The prices in ephotodiscounters look very good. Yesterday I was in our photo store, and everything costs like at least double, if not more.

Thanks!
Simone

« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2009, 19:29 »
0

« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2009, 19:55 »
0
Hello,

I have made a bit more research on the lighting equipment I might need...
What do you think about this set?

http://www.ephotodiscounters.com/product_info.php?products_id=221
http://www.ephotodiscounters.com/product_info.php?products_id=5
http://www.ephotodiscounters.com/product_info.php?products_id=231

It would give me:
- 2 strobes 150Ws with sync chords
- 2 softboxes 16"
- 2 reflecting umbrellas
- 2 light stands 7"
- 5-in-1 reflector
- reflector stand
- backdrop white
- backdrop black
- backdrop support 9"

for 388 USD.

What do you think? Can I save on something, like making some backdrop or backdrop stand myself?

I would also need a stand for my SB-900 flash - what is generally used?

Do I need two strobes or is one enough?

Oh and do you know a comparably cheap store in Canada? I have the shipping and tax fear with this Californian one ;-)). Actually I go to California in 10 days, but I doubt I can bring these things home by plane ;-)))).

Thank you!
Simone






I think you would be wasting your money, go with what Leaf suggested.

eyeCatchLight

  • Imagination is more important than knowledge.
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2009, 20:22 »
0
I think you would be wasting your money, go with what Leaf suggested.


You mean which of his suggestions? The Alien Bees?

Actually I was thinking to remove the backdrop (make it by myself), so I'd have only the following:
- 2 strobes 150Ws with sync chords
- 2 softboxes 16"
- 2 reflecting umbrellas
- 2 light stands 7"
- 5-in-1 reflector
- reflector stand

269 USD.

Alternative:
something like this plus some accessories:
http://www.alienbees.com/beginner.html

Man I am getting really confused...  ???

Thanks for all your suggestions!
Simone

alias

« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2009, 04:06 »
0
I would strongly recommend against attaching cheap strobes directly to your expensive camera using a synch cable. Even if the technical data claims safe voltages.

« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2009, 04:28 »
0
I mean his suggestion on getting the Alien Bees.  If you can't afford the Bees wait a while and save your money.  For lights and supports stands look on EBay you should be able to find something that you can afford.  The lights your looking at come with a 16" softbox, what are you doing to do with it?  16" is to small to shot anything other than very small tabletop Items, I would bet the light stands are cheap junk too.

Lights are your most important piece gear invest in something that you'll be able to work with for years. 

« Reply #23 on: November 19, 2009, 07:56 »
0
Lights are your most important piece gear invest in something that you'll be able to work with for years. 

Lights are a much better investment than the latest digital SLR. Also if you have a gut feeling you are going to shoot for years, you should think studio lights as a system. Buying gear with a well-known brand will secure that you can get more softboxes, reflectors and spare parts later on.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #24 on: November 19, 2009, 09:51 »
0
Lights are your most important piece gear invest in something that you'll be able to work with for years. 

Lights are a much better investment than the latest digital SLR. Also if you have a gut feeling you are going to shoot for years, you should think studio lights as a system. Buying gear with a well-known brand will secure that you can get more softboxes, reflectors and spare parts later on.

I also am interesting in lighting equipment.  So far, I am making do with HomeMade setups.  I am taking to heart all that is said about getting what you pay for.  I'll be saving until I can afford "The Right Stuff."   8)

Buy ONCE and save in the long run.  ;D


 

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