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Old Aug 5, 2008, 5:54 AM   #1
TigerLord's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 31

I've spent enough on rentals and to know I love doing that kind of work to know I should get my own little setup. I've repaid my camera body and my most two expansive lenses already through contracts, as well as most accessories, so I can invest some more

From AlienBee:
2xB800 Black Studio Flash
2xSet of 6 Color Gels
1xFoldable Large Softbox (32in. x 40in.)
1x10º Honeycomb Grid
2x13-foot Heavy Duty Stand
2x48-inch Shoot-Thru Umbrella

From B&H:
2x PW
1x Sekonic Digital Radio Transmitter Module
1x Sekonic L-358 Flash Master

This was my starter's kit and something I was gonna pull the trigger on it this week... 1 large softbox for inside work as main, umbrella if I go outside (plus I can use them with both my AF540). I got the 10º grid for eye highlights or hair... I was wondering if you would change anything? I could save a lot getting Cybersync rather than PW... but I don't feel like having a wire run from the meter to my camera whenever I need it, I'd find it very clumsy. I like the fact the Sekonic will work wirelessly with the PW...

Obviously 2x AB800 will suffice for main + 2nd light, but I was wondering if I could use my AF540 for the backdrop? I was thinking an AF540 set at 24mm or near on manual,say at 1/4 power, would be sufficient to light it gently (and even gel it to get some cool colors out the backdrop). I could get an AB400 but since I already have the AF540 (and is more expansive than the AB800 even!) will it work, or will I have to gel it?

Reason why I'm getting AB800 over extra AF540s like a real strobist would do is A) power B) ease of use... AB800 are fully operational already for modifiers with a hole for umbrellas, and the AB softboxes attach to it easily C) If I get AF540s I'll need stands + bogen clamps, etc. D) plus no modeling lights on them... E) finally, AB800s are cheaper!

The main attraction will be portraiture, candids, couples, nudes. I've been browsing many galleries lately (here are a few inspirational pics I was looking at from a gallery I was just looking at):

1- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7197891-md.jpg
2- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7039858-md.jpg
3- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7104967-md.jpg
4- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7385080-md.jpg
5- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/6507890-md.jpg
6- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/6565854-md.jpg
7- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/6559096-md.jpg
8- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/6669069-lg.jpg
9- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7039754-md.jpg
10- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7039751-md.jpg
11- http://gallery.photo.net/photo/7039756-md.jpg

I think you see the style I'm aiming for. I've looked at many lighting books (like Grecco's Celeb Lighting) to start working on light setups I drafted and what I want to try.

I've had lights at my disposal once with the entire PW and meter shabang once. For an entire week-end, I was shooting friends, or friends of friends. I had little room for experiment so I used known and easy setups I knew would work (like Butterfly lighting) but when I get my own I'll be able to experiment a lot.

Living in QC gives me the honor of having many close hot looking friends who happen to love photography and love to get their photo taken. Many have already agreed to come at home for an entire afternoon of indoor and outdoor shooting so I can learn and experiment.

I don't expect to be as good as the above photographer but with a few months of serious practice (I took a year off medschool to rest so have a lot of time) it's not impossible!

Eventually a Ringflash to get that awesome catchlight is something I'd like to get, but not a priority. Reading strobist and after some self experimentation, I found that shoot-thru umbrellas work best and is why I chose them over reflective ones.

I'll mostly be shooting with my beloved 77mm FA Limited lens, which is simply gorgeous, and possibly the 50-135mm if my father finds it sub-800$ in Tokyo when he gets there next week!

Finally, I am frustrated since I could not find anywhere where they sell human size GOBO or panel reflectors. I LOVE B&W (especially for baby shots) as well as high key shots, and 2 black reflector panels to block spill coming in the lens from lighting the backdrop is essential...

I saw some at B&H for 179,00 for frame alone but I thought it was ridiculous to pay such a high price for a frame and a piece of black fabric. surely there is a DIY method out there ?

What do you guys think? Is this a good starter's kit for a small home studio, am I missing vital or important modifiers? I'll use DIY Gobos btw...I was considering getting the stands at Calumet , as well as two frames to use as big GOBOs or reflectors... I really love high key shot on a white background and really want to work on it more, but last time I tried the spill in the lens was too important not to notice as I didnt have GOBOs to use then.

Thanks for the helps!
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Old Aug 5, 2008, 8:08 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 183

You can't go wrong with Alien Bees. And, for a small studio, the 800's should be plenty powerful. The one change I would make is to get 2 softboxes instead of 1 softbox and a shoot through umbrella. The shoot throuth umbrellas are not as versatile as softboxes; especially after seeing the type of imagery you're looking to capture.
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Old Aug 5, 2008, 10:21 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 31

Thanks for the tip, its much appreciated!

For some reason my call for help has been ignored on other photog sites
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