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Old Apr 11, 2004, 7:51 PM   #1
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Default Need opinions on pic and help with studio flash (long)...

I got my alien bees equipment and set everything up. I am more confused now than ever. Below is one pic that I took (looking for critiques on exposure, not posing, etc.). Took a flash meter reading and it was at 8.0. So this was taken in manual mode at 1/125 & f8.0. I just picked the shutter speed myself...I guess I thought that the meter would pick this for me, too. ISO is at 100. Both my lights are 320ws, the main light at full power & the fill light at 1/2 power. I didn't have a lot of time to experiment b/c my husband and son were both tired. This pic taken is directly from the camera, no ps work whatsoever. How far back are the lights supposed to be from the subject? I have a million books checked out and not a one mentions this. I forget which lighting setup this is called, but one light is on one side at 45 degree angle and the other light is on the other side slightly farther back. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to give you enough info so you could maybe help. Thanks and here's the pic:

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Old Apr 11, 2004, 8:26 PM   #2
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I am certainly no expert with portrate work, but here are my thoughts.

I think you did a great job getting rid of almost all the shadows. And what little there is (our left side of the adults neck) is just visible.

His forehead might be a little bit bright in the center... but I wouldn't have noticed except that I was really looked for such things.

I have no problems with the exposure here.

It looks to me like you got the white balance right on too.

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Old Apr 11, 2004, 8:29 PM   #3
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Default Change the F-stop

With F8 your getting a lot of depth of field. Shut it down so that the background blurs out and the subject is in focus.

I am clueless on lighting since I generally use a on camera flash.
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 10:04 PM   #4
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With strobes shutter speed is not very important so long as your chosen shutter speed is equal to or less than your cameras max sync speed. Using higher shutter speeds cuts out the chance of external lights getting recorded. If there was no external light it would produce a very similar image if you used 1second at f8. Your effective "shutter" speed is the flash duration of your strobes. (maybe 1/10000 sec)

If there is external lights you would have a slight issue of mixing different lighting color temperatures if you used a slow enough shutter speed.

About your image, the subjects were a bit too close to the backdrop, a few feet or more seperation probably would work better. F8-F11 is fine for a 80-105mm lense if you want to get the whole subject in focus. Would need to be adjusted to match the lense you are using.

Depending on how many strobes you have:
A strobe can be hidden behind the subjects fireing at the background to produce several deifferent effects.
Another snooted strobe above the subjects shooting down can provide hair or rim light depending on the direction.

Very effective work can be done with only 1 strobe and some reflectors, or you can go hog-wild and have a ton of lights and the ratios balancing act to get them to all work together.
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 10:29 PM   #5
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I don't know if you can get any of these books still, they all date back to the early 1990's . Maybe a library might still have them.

The Photographer's Studio Manual by Michael Freeman ISBN 0-8174-5463-2(hc) - ISBN 0-8174-5464-0(pbk)
How to Control and Use Photographic Lighting by Dave Brooks ISBN 0-89586-824-5
Studio and Lighting, Controling and using light, by Cassell Camera Wise Guides ISBN 0-304-34401-x
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Old Apr 11, 2004, 11:15 PM   #6
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Good tips from PeterP...

here is some basic info...

This article is for multi light setups but has some great links at the bottom.

Note the site does feature some glamour (artistic nudity) in some of it's articles.
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 1:37 AM   #7
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I have been and going to the same experience at the moment, I got my flashes in about 2 weeks ago.

What I have learned so far which is really important for me.

Alway's use the modellights to check for shadows, what you see with the modellights is what you will get on the picture.

Use something like umbrella's or softboxes, moving them closer to your subject will give you a more soft look, moving it farther away will give some harser shadows.

When lighting a subject alway's try to get SOME shadows, I tried not to do that leaving me with very unintresting pictures, now they are a bit more pleasing with some tension.

Try a few pictures with your subject 1-2 mtrs before the backdrop lighted by ONE flash, and aim one flash only at the background, what you will notice is that the subject will really come loose of the background, experiment with settings.

Get the following accessories.
A snout and grid (a must to play with light).
Softbox or Umbrealla (A MUST)
Umbrella's will give a more round catchlight, softboxes will give more rectangles, I love the softboxes a bit more, especially the larger ones.

Loose your flashmeter (no flames please), although in 80% they are very accurate, our 100ISO is not the same as the flashmeters 100ISO, I found out that on most shots a very expensive meter was spot on with the the camera but alway's really to the edge with exposure so I alway's corrected it a bit, but when experimenting with more extreme setups (playing with light) the flashmeter was very very inaccurate.

At the moment I just make a shot check my histogram and correct what I need, this is MUCH faster that making the measurements, the only problem is you cannot check how many stops there are between lighting area's, but use your eye's.

You can use longer or shorter shutterspeeds when using modellights, sometimes that is the best way to squeeze a little bit more out of the picture exposure wise that the flashes will not do.

Get a remote for your camera for the flashes, I used the cable method for one week and got really frustrating, I move arround a lot and most of the time I would love a flash because my cable came loose, now I use a remote which will go into my flashshoe and I can move what I want it allway's works.

Hope you have fun.

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Old Apr 12, 2004, 4:27 PM   #8
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Default Lots of good tips (Semi-Nude photo here)

Shadows are your friends. Don't be afraid to play around with different setups & ideas. My favorite purchase this year has been a 60" white umbrella...put it real close & it "wraps" the light around your subject.

I also use a similar lighting setup that you described but I place my main light directly in front & above the subject (providing catchlights in the eyes), with the fill about 30-45 degrees to one side.

Shot below was done using a Vivitar 285HV with a Lumiquest pocket bouncer...held by an assistant about 3 feet to my right, standing on a 3ft rock wall.
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Old Apr 12, 2004, 5:10 PM   #9
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Wow, thanks everyone with the tips!
1) Never thought about moving my subject away from background. Yeah!
2) I have umbrellas on both strobes, I think they are both 48" one has a silver lining and the other has a white lining.
3) Using the modeling lights BEFORE I put on umbrellas--great!
4) I already have an infrared transmitter, I KNEW I didn't want those wires. Thanks, Frank!
5) Using my 28-135 IS lens

Kalypso--when you say "real close", how close is that? Like inches away? Also, when trying to photograph my boys, they don't want to stand still (pretty common), so I'm trying to light the area. Does this make sense? Is there a better way to do this? I really do appreciate all this help. Unfortunately, I cannot practice as often as I'd like. I'm going to recruit a friend's 9 yr. old daughter for some testing. This should be much easier than my 21 mos. old boy. Thanks!

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Old Apr 12, 2004, 5:19 PM   #10
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Grab some big stuffed animals and use them to practice on. Easier and less messy than the kids.
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