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Old Sep 9, 2007, 9:55 AM   #1
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Based on some helpful comments from colleagues, here I will be receiving on 11th of September An Alien Bees AB800, A 60 Inch Shoot through umbrella, and a stand etc. for use in taking family portraits of my family.

I have been reading up. I know a flash meter would help. I am going to try to get by without. I am shooting with Rebel XT and Tamron 17-50.

I would welcome any ball park suggestions for settings to get me close for all the manual settings (below is what I have gleaned so far): And also whether I should bother with the modeling lights or just take sample shots for confirming settings.

1) So far having the Strobe/ab800 about 3 to 6 feet away (usually about 4)

2) Some seem to prefer light slightly off axis relative to the camera, others almost perpendicular so the light strikes the subjects almost completely from one side

3) ASA 100-200

4) Shutter speed somewhere around 1/160

4) F4 to F5.6

5) Flash Power about 1/3 of 320 Watt Seconds the AB800 is capable of

6) camera about 6 Feet from Subjets

7) Background around 1 to 3 feet from Subjects
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Old Sep 9, 2007, 6:51 PM   #2
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Not owning an XT, I've never shot with one.

Your light placement sounds good, but I would add a silver or white reflector (most insulated drop-ceiling panels are white on one side & silver on the other...not to hard to trim either) close to camera left (if the strobe is on the right...also have the strobe 35-45% above the subject). The reflector should catch the stobe spillover & give you some nice catchlights in the eyes. Experimenting helps, but should end up with something similar to this:
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Old Sep 9, 2007, 8:09 PM   #3
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Thank you for the tips. Are the settings aproximtely correct? I will have three to four subjets (4 if I sneak into the photo). Probably mostly from the waist up.
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Old Sep 9, 2007, 9:02 PM   #4
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More subjects = more light for the total group (a bigger light source is best-60" beats 45" anytime). I would also place the strobe closer to the front than 45 degrees...group the folks in close. Don't worry about how close the light sources are to the subject. In most studio situations the lights are just out of frame.......

This was shot with single light. An ABR800 ringlight & the 56" Moon Unit with the silver inner & round outer white shoot-thru sleeve .
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Old Sep 10, 2007, 5:26 AM   #5
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Thank you and nice photos.
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Old Sep 10, 2007, 10:53 AM   #6
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The current issue of Rangefinder Magazine is all about lighting. There is an interesting article on shooting with one light, although the examples given are for a single subject, not a group of 4 or 5. See it at: http://www.rangefindermag.com/magazine/Sep07/108.pdf
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Old Sep 10, 2007, 7:22 PM   #7
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Nice article.
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 6:29 PM   #8
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Just a follow up my Daughter had her 1 year old party today so I brought the AB lights to the venue. I also took some test shots at home.

The AB800 and shoot through 60 worked great. I was surprised but depending on the environment my home (light walls) required only about 1/12th power and Birthday venue about 1/8th. I was expecting about 1/3 power. I ended up sticking with F5.6 and 1/200. I played earlier with out changing the other settings on the camera to see how far I could push the shutter speed, it seemed like 1/320 of second before the shutter was visible.

It seems I could have easily gone with an AB400. Not sure when I will ever need even 1/2 power, but its nice to know its there.

I of course can see where it would have been nice to have a sigma 500 or Canon 580ex for when subjects were not in the room I had the lights in. For those I made the best of the on board flash... So hard to go back to that.

Its funny many of you use to say you need lights and I was like Nah. Silly me.
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Old Oct 8, 2007, 10:33 AM   #9
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anthlover wrote:
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4) Shutter speed somewhere around 1/160
Not sure the sync speed of your XT but that should help determine the shutter speed when using strobes.


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Old Oct 18, 2007, 6:06 AM   #10
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Antlover, may I suggest you take a look at this thread:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/424115/0

It's full of pictures an descriptions of One Light Setups.



Regards JLund
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