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Old Nov 25, 2006, 10:14 PM   #1
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First let me start by saying that I am very new & havinga lot of trouble with lighting set up as well as raw to jpeg conversion.

I have set up a cream colored holiday backdrop (muslin) with snow, props etc. and cannot get my lighting right.

If I shoot it in jpeg it comes out terrible. If I shoot in Raw it looks awesome but when converted looks terrible again.

I am sure my lighting set up is wrong. I recently purchased a kit with 2 strobes and an umbrella light. The umbrella light doesn't work and the wireless trigger that was sent is wrong. It only connects to one strobe.

I can't seem to find photos of where to place these lights correctly. The only type of photos I can find are the pics of the shots taken, but not the lighting set up.

Is there an easier to use program that properly converts raw to jpeg so I can print at retail? I am currently using the one that came with my Canon Digital XT (Digital photo professional). Photo shop scares me & looks very complicated.

Based on what I have described, any and all help/advise is MUCH appreciated.
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Old Nov 26, 2006, 12:27 AM   #2
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DPP usually does a pretty good job of conversion.
Other non Photoshop programs you could try are bibble or "raw shooter esentials".

A radio trigger only connecting to one light is not unusual, the other lights then use optical triggers that set them off when the radio triggered one goes off.

Every monolight I have, had a oltical trigger built in to it.

Sounds like you bought a three light setup, is the umbrella light not also a strobe?
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Old Nov 26, 2006, 10:30 AM   #3
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Forgive me for my lack of knowledge in some of the terminology. Again, I am VERY new to this.

What is DPP?

The two softbox lights were supposed to come with a set up that fires both of them but the connections sent were wrong. I just received an email from the company letting me know that it's no problem to return the kit. The kit also did not come with a single set of instructions so I honestly don't know if the other light has an optical trigger. I don't think so. I have tried every setting that it has and it doesn't fire.

And again, I don't know if the umbrella light is a strobe. It says slave on it and has no adaptor holes, etc. It has one on switch that turns a small green indicator light on but that's all it does.

Thanks for the info on the other programs. I am not totally anti photoshop, but it seems as if I'd have to take a class to figure it out. Honestly, what would you recommend first?

Do you happen to have any photos of the basic ligting set up?

Also, can you recommend an affordable lighting kit? I'd also like to get a wireless shutter system.

Thanks so much!!!!

Christie
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Old Nov 26, 2006, 11:48 AM   #4
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Ccapriati wrote:
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Forgive me for my lack of knowledge in some of the terminology. Again, I am VERY new to this.

What is DPP?

The two softbox lights were supposed to come with a set up that fires both of them but the connections sent were wrong. I just received an email from the company letting me know that it's no problem to return the kit. The kit also did not come with a single set of instructions so I honestly don't know if the other light has an optical trigger. I don't think so. I have tried every setting that it has and it doesn't fire.

And again, I don't know if the umbrella light is a strobe. It says slave on it and has no adaptor holes, etc. It has one on switch that turns a small green indicator light on but that's all it does.

Thanks for the info on the other programs. I am not totally anti photoshop, but it seems as if I'd have to take a class to figure it out. Honestly, what would you recommend first?

Do you happen to have any photos of the basic ligting set up?

Also, can you recommend an affordable lighting kit? I'd also like to get a wireless shutter system.

Thanks so much!!!!

Christie
DPP = Digital Photo Profesional

The slave with the green on-light should fire when any other flash triggers it.

The top thread in the Sudio Lighting, Flash & Other Forum is full of usefull links to info on lighting uses & setups.

How much is "affordable" to you....going cheap up front will just cause you to buy better lights down the road (why spend the money twice)?

I use an infrared trigger for firing my strobes...you can get one here:
http://www.adorama.com/PAIIRT.html


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Old Nov 26, 2006, 4:41 PM   #5
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Hi Christie,

It sounds as though you are trying to use TTL with the studio lighting. It won't work. You need to get a "Flash" meter to set your lights. The camera has to be in Manual mode and you need to set the shutter speed and aperture your self. I try to use a shutter speed of 1/60th, & an F-stop of F-8 for my portraits. It isa good starting point.

Go to the very top of this forum to "studio lighting links" get very good tips on how to use your lights. There is enough information there to get you going.

Ronnie,
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Old Nov 26, 2006, 6:44 PM   #6
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Thanks Ronnie,

On my camera the TTL setting is either evaluative or average. Which should it be set on?

It's pretty obvious that a lot of my problem is the general knowledge of my camera. I am pretty lacking in the area of aperture and shutter and how to change those settings. Time to bust out my manual.

I recently purchased two new lenses: A 70-300 w/ IS and a 17-85 w/ IS.

I will check out the link you provided and as always any other tips are appreciated.

Be nice if someone had a service that came to your house and physically showed you all this stuff. LOL.
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Old Nov 26, 2006, 9:34 PM   #7
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Hi Christie,

What camera do you have? I'm sure it will have a way to use it in manual mode. To use any TTL feature you must use a dedicated flash matched to your camera. To use studio strobe lights you can not use TTL at all. It should tell you everything in your cameras manual on how to go into manual mode. You will still need a flash meter to adjust your light falling on the subject you are photographing. Once you see how things are done you will find it easy to learn more. It would probably do you good to to read up on everything in your cameras manual.

How far are you from Daytona Beach Florida?

Ronnie.

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Old Nov 27, 2006, 3:05 PM   #8
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Hi Christie,

I was sort of in your situation not long ago.

I don't know if you are the type that can read for long stretches at the computer or not, but if you don't mind spending a little money on a book, Wiley puts out a book called "Canon EOS Digital Rebel" that also covers the XT by Charlotte K. Lowrie. I read that book through with my camera by my side and when she would talk about certain features, I would access them right then and there.
Also, the manual that came with your camera is good, but the book is a little more personal. I felt it helped me.

As far as the strobes go, you'll need to learn how your camera works first. So read your manual and/or that book. And Ronnie's advice helped me not too long ago. I just got a flash meter today, and I think it will be handy, but since you are shooting digital, it is not totally necessary. You can watch the histogram and look at the images you capture to get an idea of where you are. You'll just have to spend more time trying different things and playing around.

I was really new too and had to ask very basic questions about the strobes. But here is what made sense to me. You set your camera to a specific aperature to get the depth of field you are looking for, then you adjust the power on your strobes to get the exposure right. You can use a flash meter to tell you that, or, you can just take some shots and adjust. The shutter speed is sort of irrelavent because the flash of the strobes is what captures your picture. There are exceptions to that, of course, but I think that is more advanced photography.

When you take a shot with the digital rebel and then look at the picture on the screen, if there are white areas that sort of blink at you, that means those areas are blown highlights, meaning you had too much light. Sometimes you want that (like if you are doing product shots on a white background), but usually you don't want any blinking areas on the picture. Either increase the aperature number setting on the camera, or reduce the power of your strobes.

But first, read your manual and/or a book about your camera. Do it with your camera in front of you and actually go through the motions that the manual/book describes. It really helped me.

Good luck!

Curtis

P.S. I bought two Alien Bees strobe lights (www.alienbees.com) they were highly recommended on this forum and since I've been using them the past couple of weeks, I have to agree, they are really helping my studio photography to look more towards professional quality.
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Old Nov 27, 2006, 3:40 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info Curtis. I actually am sending the kit back that I bought. It is junk and doesn't work properly anyway which may be some of my problem.

Honestly, with regard to reading, if they had it on DVD then it would be much easier for me. I am kinda ADD when it comes to really understanding what I read unless it's really laid out in the simplest of terms.

I did purchase a book which I think is fantastic called The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. It's super funny so it keeps your attention. It covers all of the necessary topics but is not specific to my camera which is, your right, what I need since it's the aperture that is the most confusing to me. That and raw to jpeg conversion.

I am currently set up in my garage. I took some shots in natural light w/ the garage door open and they were great in jpeg.

Do you think it would help if I changed out my standard flouresant bulbsto 5,000K bulbs?

Thanks again!!!!
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Old Nov 28, 2006, 12:21 AM   #10
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Hi Christie,

If you can stand reading stuff on the computer, then you certainly don't need to buy a book. There is a lot of stuff on these forums and others that will help you learn about your camera specifically and about how the settings affect how the pictures are taken.

The aperature has to do with the lens. Lenses have these little peephole things. Basically the peephole in the lens can be made to be small or large.

The aperature is the size of the peephole and by adjusting the setting, you make it so the peephole is small or big. The aperature size affects mainly two things. 1. how much light is let in and 2. whether or not things in the foreground/background are fuzzy and to what extent they are fuzzy.

The more the aperature opens, the more light comes in. The only confusing thing is that the smaller the number of the aperature setting, the larger the peephole is. f5.6 is a big peephole and f22 is a very small one. If you focus on someones face and take their picture at f5.6 with some trees in the background, the trees will appear fuzzy. If you take the same picture at f22, the person and the trees might all be in pretty sharp focus.

To keep the photo properly exposed, the shutter speed will vary between fast and slow. Usually if you have a small peephole, say f22, then the shutter will stay open longer to collect enough light on the sensor to properly expose the picture. And it works the other way around too. Use f5.6 and your shutter speed might be pretty quick depending on how much light there is available.

I've been using Adobe Lightroom to convert my RAW files. Just do a google search for Adobe Lightroom. It is free until February since it is in beta testing. You can really do a lot of tweaking in it. I hope it isn't too expensive when I finally have to buy it because I really like using it.


I used to use that set up with flourescents that were daylight balanced and this thing called a easycube which was a cube made of translucent white material. You put things in it, then put the flourescents on either side of the box and took relatively nice pics. The attached photo of the jar with the blue label is one I took with this method. The bad thing is that I had to do so much tweaking and cleaning up in Photoshop. And the end result, as you can see, is clearly not professional-grade stuff.

The other photo in the post below this one is actually two separate photos placed side by side. The one of the left is a photo from a photoshoot taken by a professional photographer. The one on the right is one that I took with my new strobes and carefully studying the other photographers set up in the reflection of the bottle. You can see my reflection in my bottle too! I think some black curtains are needed.

Anyway, I still have a little bit of work to do with getting my shot where I want it (the shadow isn't that great. I think it was because the paper was glossy), but it is pretty obvious to me that it blows away my earlier photo with the light cube thingy and the flourescent lights.

Sorry, I wrote a novella, but this is a new hobby for me and I'm pretty excited about it.

Oh, and the equipment for the strobes with a giant softbox, umbrellas, stands, etc probably set me back about $1000. Learn how to do family portraits (for your own family) and it will pay for itself in just a couple of years! Do it for others and it will pay for itself in two or three session, I guess.

Curtis
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