View Full Version : Amature Lighting, softbox or umbrella??

6th of July 2004 (Tue), 20:13
I am trying to build a cheap practice studio on my basement. I am in aww of the things that can be done with lights.. I am looking at different beginner setup's and I have a few questions??

1) Is continuous light or strobes better?

2) I would think that continuous is easier to work with, am I correct?

3) Would I get better results softboxes or umbrellas? Umbrellas are cheaper but I don't want to waste my money just to replace them...

4) How do umbrellas work? I would think that there would be a shadow from the light housing being in the way of the reflected light?


P.S. Here is the kind of thing I am looking at... I would add a background light!!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=3860&item=38245607 45&rd=1

Vegas Poboy
6th of July 2004 (Tue), 22:27
There is no one way to light or tell you what to purchase, I suggest you go to the local book store and look through some books on lighting and make notes.
I've been going to school for over a year and every instructor shows a different way to light depending on what look you're trying to get. I have over 8 books on lighting and review them often to come up with my own style & I even signed up for a lighting class this fall.
Overall I guess what I'm trying to say is if everyone was to tell you what to buy or how to do it you may get more confused than what you need to be. Take your time and read & review, then slowly go on from there. Best bet is take a class & use thier equipment first then you'll save money in the long run.
Good Luck

7th of July 2004 (Wed), 03:13
Hard to answer without knowing what you are trying to achieve but I will go through the logic for what I bought, for what that is worth.

1) Strobe over continuous (hot lights are just that - HOT). Most strobes have a modelling light that allows you to guage the effect.

2) Continuous may be easier to work with in that it is more WYSIWYG but you do soon get used to strobes.

3) I use both brollys and softboxes. Softboxes tend to be softer creating more subtle shadows. My favourite though is a big 60" white brolly that I use as shoot through, nice soft lighting and round catchlights. I often mix both and use softboxes on main and fill and a silver lined brolly as a rim light. Most softboxes are square so the eye catchlights will be square. There are Octaboxes but they are expensive. You will not waste money buying brollys as there are times when they will always be useful. I now have about 8 (silver, white, shoot through, small medium and very large) and use all of them at times.

4) You do not get much of a shadow when you use a brolly as a reflector but you do see the spokes when you use it in shoot through. The bigger the brolly the bigger the effective slight source and the greater the wrap around.

Personally I would start with a couple of lights (Main and fill) and a couple of reflectors. Too many lights at once starts to get a bit confusing and you need to get a feel for basic lighting ratios. I have ended up with digital flashes as my main and fill as I can dial in the ratios reliably.

7th of July 2004 (Wed), 07:52
I'm no expert on studio lighting, but here's one observation I've made:
A large softbox gives you a beautiful, soft, diffuse light. They take up alot of space when not collapsed, but they produce wonderful results. I use mine for portaits. The softbox should be as large as the subject your photographing.

Mike H
7th of July 2004 (Wed), 12:12
I suggest that you start with a single monolight. I like White Lightning because of their quality and the great service they give, but I'm sure there are other good brands.

The type of monolight that I am recommending has a continuos light, called a modeling light, that shows you how the light falls on your subject. In that way, you can see where the shadows fall and adjust the angle, height, or direction of your light as needed. You also get a powerful strobe, and this give you the advantages of a flash unit: powerful lighting without the high heat you would get from a continuous light source of the same strength.

A single umbrella is a good way to start. They are inexpensive and easy to set up and take down. And many people prefer the rounded catchlights that they produce in the subject's eyes. (In case you don't know, catch lights are those little dots in the subject's eyes that you often see in portraits.)

You may also want to spend some money on a reflector panel. With one monolight and one reflector panel you can make terrific portraits, and the setup is easy to work with for a beginner since you don't have several different lights to coordinate and meter.

I started with one light, built up to three, and now I usually prefer one! I haven't shot an indoor portrait for a while since I don't have room anymore, but if I did, that's the way I'd go. Keep it simple in the beginning!

I hope this helps.

Mike H