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Old Oct 25, 2004, 2:56 PM   #1
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I have been using this forum for quite a while now and this is what the final outcome of all of my work and the uses of this site looks like.

I decided to not use on camera flashes and spent my money on Alien Bee Studio Strobes that I use on-location.

What do you guys think, any suggestions?

Equipment list

Canon Digital Rebel with 18-55 lens

2 - Alien Bee 800's with umbrella's

Sekonik L358 light meter

Wireless triggers from Joesauction


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Old Oct 25, 2004, 2:58 PM   #2
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Here is a second photo from a different day using the same setup. When I tried this before with Canon 420EX I got harsh shadows everywhere.


I realized on this shot I still got shadows, I think the strobes should have been set at a taller height, to getshadows down below the models instead of up on the ceiling.

Icould have even set one high and one low...

What do you guys think? Any advice...



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Old Oct 26, 2004, 11:33 PM   #3
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minutephotos.com wrote:
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Here is a second photo from a different day using the same setup. When I tried this before with Canon 420EX I got harsh shadows everywhere.

I realized on this shot I still got shadows, I think the strobes should have been set at a taller height, to get shadows down below the models instead of up on the ceiling.

I could have even set one high and one low...What do you guys think? Any advice...
I like the second one better than the first because the first has fairly harsh light reflecting off of their faces. The second is better & if you had made your main light the higher/brighter one, the fill light could have been placed lower to provide catchlights in the eyes without causing back-shadows.
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 2:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
provide catchlights in the eyes without causing back-shadows.
What exactly is catclight? What are you trying to accomplish with this? I preferonly seeing one light in the eyes and nottwo andI especially don't like the long rectangle shape softboxes reflect in eyes. Are all of these examples of catch light?

With main light high and fill low which one will show in eyes more?

Also, how do you deal with side to side issue. I used both lights at equal hieghts and one at each end.

If I used a high low combination would the lights stay at the ends or move towards the center (Camera Location)?


PS - What do you think about the photogenic umbrella and which size would you recommend?
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 11:24 AM   #5
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What exactly is catclight? What are you trying to accomplish with this?...I especially don't like the long rectangle shape softboxes reflect in eyes. Are all of these examples of catch light?
Yes, those would be catchlights, whose purpose is to give the eyes definition, sparkle and make them standout (eyes are usually the central focal point in a portrait and should command attention). If you or the subjects don't want or like them, that's a personal decision, but they are generally considered to add life to the image.

Quote:
With main light high and fill low which one will show in eyes more?
Depends on the exact setup and where the eyes are facing.

Quote:
Also, how do you deal with side to side issue. I used both lights at equal hieghts and one at each end.
If I used a high low combination would the lights stay at the ends or move towards the center Camera location?
Using 'end to end' usually causes cross shadow problems, which is why a fill light at or near camera axis is generally preferred. You have some shadow issues in these, especially the first, where the light is just too harsh, casuing too many hotspots, as Kalypso points out.

Quote:
PS - What do you think about the photogenic umbrella and which size would you recommend?
A decent umbrella (size depends on area to cover, but I'd suggest a minimum 48" or 60" for a group like this) would greatly improve on the harsh effect here. It would serve to soften the highlights and help eliminate unwanted shadows.
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 1:39 PM   #6
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Even when I think I have a great shot I find there is still more to learn. Now that you have pointed out these details I believe I will improve even more.

One more lighting question, I guess it is obvious I have never used studio lights before... How should you use the tracking feature on studio strobes?

I don't set my lights to track, I set the modeling lights to on (full brightness). When I took my 420EX flash off my camera and replaced it with the wireless trigger, my camera did not focus as well in low light. The autofocus IR assist beam on the external flash seems to work much better than the internal.

What this means is my camera focuses better when I have the modeling lights brighter. But, does this defeat the purpose of the light tracking feature? I have the standard bulbs that came with strobes which are not very bright.

Any suggestions welcome....
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 2:25 PM   #7
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The modeling lights are designed in theory to mimic the shadows as they will appear in the photo. So, if your main is 2 stops brighter than your fill, with tracking 'on', the modeling lamps will give an approximation of how the shadows will fall on the face. This assumes a lot though: 1. The lights should be identical power (2 AB400's or 2 800's, though you can get around this). 2. Tracking is on and reasonably accurate 3. The modeling lamps are the same wattage (this is one way to get around prob. #1, by puposefully changing wattages to mimic each diff. light, but that's another story). 4. The modeling lamps are proper type as per manufacturer so they don't introduce color variance, etc. AB's modeling lamps turn off during shooting, so that's not as important.

Some people like the modeling effect and find it useful for seeing the shadows before shooting. Others don't. Personal preference I guess. Some use the lamps as you do, with tracking off for better focus and even to create a different pupil size in close-up shots. They are there to help in whichever way you best want to use them. I would try both methods and see what was best for me. Also, remember that the with Bees you can use a higher watt modeling lamp than the original - up to 150 in normal use and up to 250 under careful use (meaning infrequent firing to allow cooling - see the AB site for more on that).

As for 'always something to learn' - that never stops.
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 3:35 PM   #8
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As far as umbrella types & sizes go, I have a few silver 42" reflecting & one 42" white translucent that will reflect (or you can shoot the light through it...nice round subdued light). I have some 12" gold discs that I can slip under the umbrella ribs to provide nice hair highlights (esp. blondes & redheads).

For the main light(s), I normally use 1 or 2 silver (depending on the # of people) umbrellas set up about 45 degrees to my right or left (never on opposite sides...makes the light look "flat"), aimed down at a 45 degree angle to the subject. The main light is ususally 2-3 stops brighter than my fill light. My fill light is placed slightly above eye level, directly in front of the model. I position my camera either beside or under the fill light.

I also have a white convertable 60" Photogenic Eclipse umbrella that I love! It has covered ribs (so it shows up as a solid in the catchlights) & it's great for shooting full body images & groups (it throws a much larger light source).
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 9:03 PM   #9
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Whow! Thanks. That was a good piece of team work. I wish my college professors could have been as accurate and direct to the point as you guys. I am very happy withthe answers you gave.

Business is increasing so time is valuable, but I want to continue to develope as a photographer.

I only tried the silver side of my umbrellas once. I prefer the white side and plan to purchase a 60" Photogenic Umbrella. I will probably get the other in a 45" or smaller. I was sold when I saw the ads in Shutter Bug :-).

I plan to upgrade my modeling lights to a higher wattage 150 watt and switch my lights to track. (which type bulb do you recommend?) I am still working out figuring out the light placement. I have been somewhat forced to arrange my lights based on availalble space. I am renting some studio time this weekend and will have more room to try out new lightpossitions. I will test out main light high 45 degrees left or right of me slightly in front facing 45 degrees down. Fill Light center above eye level and at camera possition - 2-3 stops. When I look at this business in terms of photography training it makes the small returns on investment more bearable.

Thanks
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Old Oct 27, 2004, 10:24 PM   #10
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Most of the folks using AB's that I know about have switched to the Phillips Halogen 150W that you can find at Home Depot for about $4. It is not round at the top like a normal bulb, but has a beveled top and is narrower. Works great.

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