Lighting for dummies(thats me)

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by joemoree, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. I have a question for you all who are more experienced with lighting
    and more imporantly flash,strobes.I have been somewhat happy with my
    portraits with a dark background but I tried a highkey shot and it
    seems the background and light from the background over powers my
    main subject.Ill post photos for reference.I use a Nikon N90s with a
    SB28 on a Sc27 cord to get it off camrea.I had the flash at about 30
    degrees in some shots others it ranged from where I had the model
    posing.The highest I had it was a sidelight.The flash was on a
    tripod and higher then the models head by about 2 feet aimed down at
    her.I use a lumiquest big bounce diffuser to soften the flash.I
    meter off her face or stomach or any visible flesh that is seen in
    the photographs.I shot at between f2.8 and f16 all with same
    results.I use a SB 50DX to light the back ground set on manual so it
    is full power.I placed the 50dx behind thge white backdrop set
    straigh up and the diffuser lens placed on it.With that said I hope
    I covered all the tech aspects you might need to know to answer my
    question I know I need a reflector on one side (in
    place of a nother light) but my main question is why the subject is
    so under lit while the background is?
  2. Hers some better shots
  3. and one more
  4. You need to open up a couple stops, add a reflector (or be sneaky and try a full length mirror) and the one with the dark background, the light isn't flattering to begin with. <BR>and it needs to be filled a bit.
  5. Joe,

    You say that you metered of the subject's did you take that meter reading? With a hand-held incident flash meter or do you mean that you used your camera and flash in TTL mode? Try using both flashes on manual instead of just the background flash. Adjust the power settings so that the background flash is one stop brighter than the subject flash and use an incident flash meter to determine those settings and the exposure.

    Your subject is underlit because the TTL in your camera flash is seeing the heavy flash from the background full-powered flash and shutting down early. So the subject is under-exposed and the background isn't. Of course the background actually is under-exposed since it should be white rather than grey.

    Alternately you could get some studio flashes and have the benefit of model lights to see what you are doing and adjustable flash power settings. Some softboxes or umbrellas would help immensely also.
  6. Your camera/flashes are probably on auto or TTL... set everything on manual! 1/60th or 1/125th for your camera and meter the lights properly and individually. Your background should be no more than 1.5 stops brighter than your main light (to render your background white)... i.e. take a meter reading of your main light. Let's say that gives you f8, with your background light facing the background, take a meter reading of your light from the background and adjust it accordingly. Get your subjects about 5' from the background so that you won't get any flaring from the background. If you want more detail in the background, either lower the power of your background light, move it further from the background or move your main light closer (every foot is about a stop) and adjust accordingly. Your subject isn't being lit because the camera is saying that there is enough light... In these situations, you have to go manual and make the camera/flash do what YOU tell it to do and not the other way around. A reflector is useful but only to kick some more light into the shadow side and lower the contrast ratios. Even using a dark background I can make it a high key by boosting the amount of light to the background. Just remember, the meter is telling you that it is making something neutral grey... what you do with this info makes or breaks the feeling your after. In the enclose image, my ratios are 1 stop giving nice shadow detail, hair light and background and works for a corporate portrait (for reproduction purposes).
  7. I used my camera built in spot meter,I have not purchused a hand held meter as of yet but will within the next month along with a monolight.So until then Should I use my Sb28 on manual and just set it by distance?Thanks again
  8. All of the posters have given you good advice. Keep it up and you will get the hang of it. Also it is nice to know that there are people like you who are leaning the basics of studio photography before buying a ton of expensive pro gear with the expectation of getting professional results right away.
  9. I know you want to do your best in Photography, which is why I always, don't walk down to your nearest public library (main branch) and dive into the dozens of books on lighting, photography in general, lighting (the KODAK books), architecture, studio, portrait, outdoor, fill flash (manual), production values, modeling, product lighting-etc.
    I guarantee if you take a large 3-ring notebook with you, you'll fill 50 pages in a week or two.
    Critically, those who inhabit forums are very much like you in the sense of not having formal schooling/training in photography (you would not have asked your question otherwise).
    Reading the answers to your sincere question also told me you're wasting your time trying what is (or was for them at the time) experiments that worked (for them that time.) but not for you in that whatever they tell you would not be repeatable in your circumstances.
    Repeatability is the Hallmark of a good photographer.
    That is, if I gave you two of any kinds of heads, a light meter and a tape measure and told you to go forth and produce me still life shots of two Basketballs, you should be able to produce the images you were required to make EVERYTIME, venue after venue.
    Lacking formal training, or at least never having given yourself the chance to visit the library, you'll continue to try this and that until utter frustration sets in.
    Off you go to the library; and yes, I could have written the answer to your (rather simple) lighting question(s), but it would be very lengthy and boring (especially if you don't have training in lighting) and besides, others would say I was an old (school) curmudgeon showing off.
  10. Unfortunatly my library has litle to no info on photography.I rented out a Ansel Adams book once and there was not much else to choose from.I can not rent equipment here either so I come to the net to find knowledge.Thanks for the advice but in place of books if you dont want to tell me could you supply some websites? Thanks again
  11. A simple tecnique is to use a window light for lighting the models and usung your flash behind the models pointing at the background, place your camera to one side of the window (covered in diffuse netting or similar) meter using incident setting with the dome pointing towards your camera, switch the camera to manual and put these settings in. Put your flash behind the model on full power manual with your diffuser on it. (depending on flash to background distance)

    IF shooting at night, use the second flash in front of the models on manual 1/4 or 1/8 power and still use your camera in manual.

    Tony L

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