Senior Ball Lighting

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by chelsie_lyman, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. I have been asked to do a senior ball for a smaller school. I have NEVER use studio lighting, except for the use of a canon 580 EX II.
    I have told to use a large alien bee with softbox and a reflector.
    I was thinking about renting these items below. Please let me know if this will work.
    AlienBees Foldable 32x40" Softbox with Adapter Ring

    AlienBees 48" Silver White Reversible Umbrella

    AlienBees ABR800 Ringflash or this

    White Lightning X-Series X1600 Flash Unit

    White Lightning X-Series X800 Flash Unit
    I was thinking about putting the large soft box about 45 degrees .. 3 ft away from the subject, and placing the umbrella on the other side as a fill?? -- now with groups, do I have to adjust the lights?
    Can anyone help me on this? Or am I way in over my head, and cancel?
    thank you!
  2. Or what about one of these kits?
  3. For the hardware, the Elinchrom BX-Ri 2 - 500Ws Monolight Kit would be my suggestion, since it seems to have everything including wireless triggering.
    For 1 -4 people you only need a single light. The farther you place the light off to the side, the more you have to be careful about the shadows. For large groups I would just set the lights to give broad, even coverage. If you do a three day rental, plan on spending a full day experimenting. With digital it's easier to get the hang of lighting, since you can shoot and chimp to see how it works.
  4. Thank you so much! I appreciate it!
    Do you really think I will be able to handle this? Are the lights horribly difficult to figure out.. and yes, I would spend a day practicing with them. How do I meter the light.. can I do that from my camera, or should I get a specific light meter?
    Would I still angle the lights at 45 degrees and 3 ft and one on my other side, or is it different?
  5. I dun get it. Are you shooting solos? groups? How big is the group? Number of subjects determines framing and placement of light source....45 degrees is an approximate number, look up LOOP LIGHTING and SHORT LIGHTING 100000% important. I shot seniors a very long time ago by bouncing light off a grey wall with an alienbees b1600 as my main and a few others for key light, edge, etc...
    Lots of "professionals" use simple 2-light setups with main and fill on either side of the subject's face and usually giving a variation of loop lighting. I greatly prefer adding a backlight for hair/rim, plus maybe a kicker from the side...but that requires more planning and you must always keep the hair light (and any other accent lights) at low power to avoid severely overexposing the target area.
    I don't think a high powered strobe is necessary at all for doing senior portraits, but whatever you want to blow money on...
  6. They will be one person portraits, two person portraits (couple), and any group who may want a picture.
    What do you suggest I rent?
    I have a month to figure this out.. and Ya! I need help!
    I will not have walls to bounce light off. (I will be in a gym). -- and the wall is brown brick anyway.
    I own a reflector.. so that's the only equipment I have of my own! (for lighting!).. Yes! I do have the camera and lenses!! haha!
  7. Shrug...basic 43-50+" umbrellas on light stands sturdy enough to handle them, two flashes with off-camera trigger systems (I like the Phottix Strato II design for non-TTL off-camera flash - cords SUCK), basic loop lighting with fill...could use manual cheapo flashes or more expensive name-brand ones. I have 3 sunpak 383s I use for off-camera lighting for weddings. If you want to use your eTTL system by using multiple 580EX-model flashes, that's up to you but IMO less reliable.
    But then, I wouldn't "rent" anything...I don't like renting because it means I don't own it when I'm done, which translates to lost money. - Great basic product, bulky but very, very wide footprint and stable as a result of the wide feet. And CHEAP. - Any umbrella brackets, doesn't really matter...some have plastic handles prone to breaking, some do not. Ones with a cold shoe mount instead of a screw sometimes need to be filed to comfortably mount adapters for remote triggering flashes. You might find comparable products on ebay for much less, I'm not sure. - Umbrellas of any type, I tend to prefer the overall output of bouncing with white umbrellas with removable black backs. I also like 45-60" best. Impact is cheap, basic. If you want to buy softboxes, you will spend lots more and it will take longer to set up. Photogenic Eclipse model hides the spines so they don't show as much in eye highlights, but the top piece is prone to breaking/falling off (doesn't affect function). The bigger the light source and/or the closer the light source to the subject, the softer the light. Ebay umbrellas/softboxes are inconsistent, some are good and others are junk.
    Whatever flashes you want to use, however you want to trigger them. If you want plain and simple lighting, two lights is enough. If you want more refined and professional, consider 1-2 additional flashes for hair or edge lights and expect to adjust them between photos because of subject height.
  8. Phottix triggers also are less expensive than alienbees cybersyncs and they do not require adapters for hot shoe flashes - they just mount directly to the hot shoe.
  9. My recommendation would be the Bowens kit with a Vagabond Mini. Plus bring extension cords. It would be good to scope out the location beforehand so you know where the power outlet is, and how a long an extension cord you need. The reason for both the cord and the Vagabond Mini Lithium is for back up. Any situation in which you would be up a creek without a paddle due to gear failure is not a good thing. So one backs up the other.
    I would also go with the long sync cord instead of trying to use wireless triggers if you aren't used to them. Nothing like trying to figure out why the darn things aren't firing with triggers when there are a zillion teenagers waiting for you to get snapping. In fact, buy or rent another long sync cord as back up. It should be maybe 10 or 15 feet, with the appropriate tip for the monolights and end in a PC tip to go into the camera's PC port. Tape the PC tip to the camera.
    As Bruce said, you cannot offset the key lights too far off due to shadows, particularly with groups. Teenagers love to take group photos, so you will have up to 8-10 bodies descend on you at once to have a group shot taken. Lights that are offset 45 degrees will create shadows. You also do not want to have teenagers falling over lights, etc., or be moving lights for different group sizes. This is also why hair lights or complicated ratios are just too fussy and not fast enough. You will be run ragged.
    It is best to have one light (with umbrella), of equal intensity on each side of the camera or two just to one side or the other of your camera position. It creates fairly boring frontal light but you will not have to worry about shadows. Believe me--teeanagers come up with their own poses, and don't listen much, so you cannot have situations where you must direct individuals to turn this way and that.
    You should tape the cords down if you go with AC power, and create paths so things don't get knocked over. I wouldn't think a flash meter is a necessity. You should even be able to figure out power settings and camera settings just from the guide number, and then zero in in testing on the spot.
    Remember that big white umbrellas give big white reflections in glasses, so place the lights and umbrellas fairly high and try to remember to either have the kids take off glasses or tell them to tuck their faces down a bit.
    What are you doing for a background? These days, kids take their own pictures with their cell phones on your backgrounds, so be prepared to guard them.
  10. Great point Nadine makes about reflections in glasses. One advantage of strobes over speedlights, is that you'll likely have a modeling light that will allow you to see the reflections before the shot and you can give the "chin down a bit" direction to cure the glare.
    We shoot a lot of groups -- kids and adults -- and the advice about not angling the lights is solid. You can get some modeling by dropping the output of one light slightly, but test and adult to get the best results.
    If you've got a blah background, you might consider renting a backdrop to cover the wall and make it look a little more special and festive. It doesn't have to be fancy, but I'd stay on the lighter rather than darker side so you don't lose hairlines against a dark background. Believe it or not, we've actually had some good results using shower curtains -- not the shiny plastic ones. They come in all colors and designs and are not too expensive. Might be too small for larger groups, but for couples you could make something like that work.
    Good luck.
  11. Several years ago I shot HS reunions. The picture below was done with a single 42" umbrella and a Quantum light.
    I still recommend radio triggers and having a sync cord for back up. One wrong move while tethered to the light and it can be a very long night.
  12. The 10-15 foot long pc cords are horrendously unreliable, which is why I could not stand using them after the first few times. Remote triggers are extremely simple and easy to use and much more reliable.
  13. WOW!!!
    I am almost in tears at the help I have received.. Thank you ALL so much! Now, I am thinking I will be able to at least try and do this!
    I think I will go with the bowen's kit, but do I have to buy a wireless remote for it, if I want to use it? -- do they have to have specific remotes to make them fire, or how does that work?
    Or maybe I should just use the Elinchrom BX-Ri 2 - 500Ws Monolight Kit because it already has wireless triggering. But do I understand it right that it also comes with a cord? - or no?
    Also, the backdrop, the school said the art department was actually going to make one.. (I'm kinda scared!) - I think I will make a call and see what they have in mind for coloring/size.
    Do you suggest about 7' tall and 6' wide?? Or do I need something bigger for the group shots? (I don't want to make the groups too widespread that the lights don't work, or have to have them so separated they don't look good on my portraits (now the portraits will be a full body length shot. -- does this change anything at all?)
    Now, I own a Canon 7D, a 50 1.8, and a 28-135 IS. Do you suggest one of these lenses over the other? I take it I won't necessarily need the options of the 1.8 because I should be shooting somewhere near an f/8?
    Okay... and I'm sure I can figure this out when I get them, but when I fire the lights, do I have to press my shutter on my camera and the button for the lights at the same time? Or how does that work? - Or does it fire my camera too with just the one button? - I take it I should be using my tripod? - and do I need to cover the eye finder when firing?
    Sorry for the 100 ???'s. I just want to make a good impression and do a very good job!
    but I can't thank you enough for all the help I have received so far! :)
  14. This is why I suggested the sync cord rather than triggers, since if you place the lights close to the camera, you won't actually need a 15 foot cord. For someone who hasn't used triggers before, they are not simple and easy to use. If you get the Bowens kit, you will have to rent a set of triggers. The Elinchrom kit comes with triggers but doesn't have a battery option (see note about it not working with the Mini Lithium). Perhaps if you absolutely verify you have working, reachable outlets at the gym. I also think umbrellas are faster to set up and totally adequate, rather than softboxes.
    They can cost a lot so buying is probably not an option if you decide to use triggers. How triggers work is they fire your lights in 'sync' with the shutter opening and closing. You need one on your camera (transmitter) and one on each light (receiver). The sync cord does the same thing, but of course, you have a cord coming out of your camera to the flash, so as Bruce says, you can't forget and walk off with the camera or you'll knock your lights over. If you go with the sync cord, get two. If you go with triggers, have a sync cord as back up.
    You might put the camera on a tripod and the lights right next to the tripod/camera so you aren't tempted to walk off with the camera in hand. However, your zoom is not particularly wide for the group shots you will probably be asked to do. You might consider renting a 17-50mm (Canon 17-55mm or Tamron 17-50mm) for the job. The idea is to set up your camera on the tripod (about 8-10' from your subjects) and use the zoom to get framing, rather than walking back and forth. You might want to mark where your subjects should stand with some tape.
    This is essentially assembly line shooting and things will happen 'fast and furious'. You don't have time to change lighting or even camera set up once the kids start coming for their shots. You will have to have everything ready to go (exposures, framing figured out) by the appointed time, and then shoot like crazy. In fact, you should have helpers. I can't imagine doing this kind of shooting alone. I don't know if the school is going to have someone there taking money or writing down who is being photographed. All I know is--you (the photographer) can't be doing all of this as well as shooting. Someone lining up the kids and getting them ready is also helpful.
    I've worked with 'art department' backdrops before. I'd recommend at least a 10' x 10' backdrop. With 8-10 bodies, you will be hardpressed to fit them all on a 10' width anyway. However, kids are good at scrunching together, but I'd have a couple of stools or benches or something so you can create rows. A 10'x10' should be fine for the full length, couples shots. And yes, you want some DOF and margin of focus error, so f8 is fine.
    When you fire the lights, as said above, when you press the shutter, the lights will fire in sync with the shutter, with either wireless triggers or a sync cord. You do not need to cover the viewfinder of the camera, since you should be in manual camera mode anyway. I gather you do not have an external flash? You may have problems autofocusing in dim light, and be sure you are using One Shot autofocusing.
  15. Thanks Nadine,
    Yes, I did notice that the Elinchrom wasn't compatible with the mini lithium. -- I hesitated on that. Because, even though I have been to this gym a million times, I have no idea where the outlets are and what ones will be open anyway from the dance's own lights needing outlets.
    I 'll think I'll go with you on this one and get the bowen's. The less hassle in setting something up, the better! And yes, I will have a helper. I couldn't imagine doing all of this by myself either! (i just remember when I was in high school, and how the photographer ran it-- he had a helper!)
    No, I do not have an external flash. Will I need to rent one, or should I be okay with the two umbrellas at my side? I'll look into getting a different lens! Thanks!!
    And I just didn't know how the lights/camera worked together. Thank you! And yes, I will be shooting manual.
    I'm sure I will have many more questions! haha!
  16. My question about the external flash was to see if you could set up an option for focus assist in One Shot while not using the actual light from the external flash. You don't need an external flash for the lighting for the shots. So I wouldn't set out to get one if you don't already have one. I am not familiar with the 7D--does it have a focus assist option from the built in flash? Might be annoying to the kids, but might help if the lighting is really dim. Or if you have the modeling lights on from the Bowens lights, it might be enough.
  17. Sorry..
    here are some options for lenses I can see
    Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR DiII for Canon
    Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
    The Canon is the 'L' lens, but at f/4. But truthfully, I don't need the 2.8, right? I am shooting a smaller aperture anyway.
    Do you think that would be suitable?
    Or I acutally sold my older rebel xti to my sister-in-law. It has a 18-55 on it.
    But do you think I should go with a high quality lens to get a more crisp picture?
    Thanks again!
  18. Is this what you mean by the focus assist option? Because sometimes when shooting outdoors toward the end of a session, I get a red box in my viewfinder when focusing. (almost bounces just like a flash would if I had used it).
    AF-Assist Illuminator

    The Canon 7D uses the built-in flash head as its AF-assist illuminator, rather than a bright light built into the camera's body. In practice, this works well: the flash is quite bright, and probably has a longer range than the more typical on-body illuminator bulb. You can disable the 7D's internal flash (or external Speedlite) by going into the Flash Control menu, which still lets the AF-assist pulses fire; but note that you lose your flash capability until you turn it back on again.
    If you attach a Canon Speedlite 550EX, 580EX, or 580EX II external flash unit to the Canon 7D, its internal AF-assist illuminator is used instead of the flash head itself, providing a useful working range of about 50 feet with a less obtrusive light source. For non-flash photography, Canon's ST-E2 wireless sync transmitter can apparently also be used for AF assist. The ST-E2's AF-assist light has a useful range of about 25 feet.
  19. At f8, the 18-55mm should be fine.
    If you use triggers, the hotshoe will have the transmitter in it, unless you have it connected via the sync port, so the pop up flash will not be able to emerge. I'd say use the modeling lights of the Bowens units.
    The pop up focus assist is also confusing to subjects, since they may think the picture is taken when it isn't.
  20. is this the sync cord I need to get for a back up?
    Impact - Sync Cord Male Phono to Male PC
    It's only 16"..
    Or does it matter what brand of cord I get?
    Thanks, Nadine for all your help! :)
  21. I don't know what kind of tip the Bowens units require. Ask the rental outfit. It doesn't really matter what brand you get. I'd get a longer cord than 16".
  22. Thanks so much, Nadine! I really appreciate ALL the help!
    I'll have to let you know how it goes!
  23. I believe that radio triggers are much easier and more reliable than cords because pc sync is notorious for not making solid connections. The phottix triggers are about $100 for a trigger and receiver set, and another receiver is something like $75. Yes, more expensive than a pc sync cord...if you are trying to use multiple strobes without any kind of optical slave/etc. feature, then cords become infinitely more complicated and unreliable. Even 2 strobes with 2 cords is a big hassle IMO. However, all you have to do with radio triggers is turn them on and set them to the right group/channel, and you're set. No pc sync cords (most strobes involve some variation of a monophone jack like 3.5mm or 1/4"), no fiddling with anything, no praying that the cords will still be making good connection between shots.
  24. Joey--I won't argue with you because I know triggers are more reliable than cords, and because they are easier--once you know how they work and have worked with them more than a few times. IMHO, they are not that easy for someone who has never worked with them before--particularly if something goes wrong. However, Chelsie can make her own decision. I'm sure the rental place has different trigger sets available.
  25. Thanks for the input! I would probably agree with you in the fact that I would assume wireless is probably easier, but yes, after I learn how to use it! I don't have a ton of money to rent this equipment for more than 3 days, so I will only have about 1 full day to actually practice with it. I will see what the rental company offers as far as wireless triggers for this set, but where I do not own my own studio (yet! - or anytime real soon!) I will need to rent them. I cannot justify spending the money on them when I probably will never use them again for another year or so! And I'm just hoping to break even doing this anyway. The school is not very big, so I am doing more to get my name out there and yes, I think it sounds fun! It will be a good learning experience to see if I like the studio thing.
    If it were a bigger school, I would have probably just turned down the offer, as I am not sure I could give them what they want! :)
    Thanks for all the HELP!!! I COMPLETELY APPRECIATE IT!
  26. If you get your name out there by breaking even and don't own anything at the end of the day, at what point will you be able to ever turn a profit? You will keep having to rent and break even. And if you are not trying to make profit in the long run, why get your name out there? Just trying to understand...
  27. I turn a profit in my natural light photography business. I have just never done studio lighting before. It's in an area where people would call me back to do senior pictures, family pictures, and others. If I don't do it, then another photographer in that area will. There is only one studio photographer in that area. They have asked another natural light photographer in the area to do them the last couple of years... Here's my chance to show I can do it too... I'm trying it to give it a chance. If it's something that goes and well and I like it, then YES, sometime in the future I would be willing to buy the equipment. But what kind of profit would it be if I buy the equipment and never use it again.. That's not a profit... that's a loss...
    I'm not saying I would always rent... but for a first time.. yes.

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