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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 17 Sep 2013 (Tuesday) 10:15
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Lighting for school portraits for dummies

 
Aressem
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Sep 17, 2013 12:32 |  #16

digital paradise wrote in post #16303999 (external link)
What I would do is go the simplest route. Single flash with umbrella centred just above my head and pointing down towards the student. Have the flash/camera at least 10 feet away. Mark line or X on the floor where people stand. If they sit on a stool that is OK too.

Camera on manual, F8, 1/160 and ISO 400. You could even put white cardboard/paper on the floor between yourself and the student so some flash bounces off the floor and reflects up to light under the chin. Only really effective with a shoot through umbrella which I use for informal portraits. I use a reflector and raise it a few feet off the floor.

As for flash put in on manual like he's gone said. If you can get the whites to expose properly the rest of the exposure falls into place. Skin colour does not matter. Use the white towel method. Scroll down and look at the gent holding the white towel. Adjust flash power so the white towel part of the histogram looks the same as the image. Don't let it hit the right wall, just get it as close as you can. Once you establish this then just shoot away. No need to do it every time as long as the students are same distance to you. Thus the X on the floor.

http://super.nova.org/​DPR/Histogram/ (external link)

If you use a white backdrop be careful the histogram is not giving you a false reading from the background. An light brown or blue might be better but white will work. Is there lightly coloured wall you can use?

600 students? Like he's gone said have plenty of spare batteries for the flash and recheck using the white towel method about every 50 to 100 students. If the flash plugs in an electrical circuit then less checks are required. In fact you should be able to go all day after the initial set up.

THIS^^!


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digital ­ paradise
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Sep 17, 2013 12:34 |  #17

Yep. There is nothing wrong with a white background. The reason I use a a shoot through is was offer a bit of a photo booth when we do a wedding. I want to keep it as simple as possible, only one light source. The shoot through scatters some light and if there are things around it bounces and can help.

Here is an example and I did have a reflector just off the floor. Not saying my method is correct, just one way doing it. Lot's of good ideas from knowledgeable people.

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drvnbysound
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Sep 17, 2013 12:41 |  #18

In the example posted above, if you'd want to get rid of the wrinkles of the BG - just move the subject(s) further away from it... and they will go away as the DoF will blur them away.


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Sep 17, 2013 12:52 as a reply to  @ drvnbysound's post |  #19

I work on the yearbook at my son's school.

The company that takes all of the school pictures gives us access to all of those for the book (which we have printed through them).

I guess your case is different? Are you trying to save money by printing your own? Is your book going to be in color or black and white?

Where are you located? There may be some local resources somebody could point you to.


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Sep 17, 2013 12:59 |  #20

drvnbysound wrote in post #16304088 (external link)
In the example posted above, if you'd want to get rid of the wrinkles of the BG - just move the subject(s) further away from it... and they will go away as the DoF will blur them away.

Thanks. I will if I can. I was tight for space this time. My parter bought a nice stand but pulled out an old muslin his grandfather gave him :D. They got the PB for next to nothing.


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Sep 17, 2013 13:01 |  #21

Next time in addition to the reflector on the floor I'm going to try out a couple of pieces of white cardboard on the sides, 3 by 3 or smaller just to see what happens.

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adammazza
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Sep 17, 2013 13:33 |  #22

Just going through this now with my wife for a bunch (~600) photos for our soccer league. Most important advice I can give is "measure twice, cut once" As other have said set this up before hand.

We setup in our house. Using 2 shoot through umbrellas. Key light ~8' 45 degrees camera right, and fill closer to camera axis on camera left. Not using any ambient.

In our house we're shooting with speed lights, when done for real, she is renting mono lights (more reliable, faster recycle time). This gear is being rented....twice....onc​e to test on site and once for the actual shoot.


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Aressem
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Sep 17, 2013 14:18 |  #23

adammazza wrote in post #16304223 (external link)
Just going through this now with my wife for a bunch (~600) photos for our soccer league. Most important advice I can give is "measure twice, cut once" As other have said set this up before hand.

We setup in our house. Using 2 shoot through umbrellas. Key light ~8' 45 degrees camera right, and fill closer to camera axis on camera left. Not using any ambient.

In our house we're shooting with speed lights, when done for real, she is renting mono lights (more reliable, faster recycle time). This gear is being rented....twice....onc​e to test on site and once for the actual shoot.

Just curious why you would position the umbrella 8' from your subject when the whole idea behind using an umbrella is to produce soft light?? Wouldnt you want it as close as possible without being in the frame?


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Sep 17, 2013 14:57 |  #24

I'd be interested to know as well. I am not an inventor, I just learn from others.


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Sep 17, 2013 14:59 |  #25

Actually would then a flash meter not work with dark skinned people? I would rely on my meter no matter what the skin tone is.


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drvnbysound
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Sep 17, 2013 15:04 |  #26

Sure. The camera's built-in meter attempts to make the exposure such that the entire scene is 18% grey. If you photograph a primarily white scene, it will underexpose the white, to a darker grey color (this happens when people try to take pictures on snowy mountains). Likewise, the opposite occurs when you try to take pictures of scenes that are primarily dark.

The key here is either knowing what a proper exposure looks like; whether it be of a particular skin tone, or of a particular subject (color cards)... or just using a light meter. Once you have the settings for your exposure, you can put your camera into Manual mode using these settings and continue to make proper exposures regardless of the subject (assuming that the lighting doesn't change).


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Sep 17, 2013 15:05 |  #27

Aressem wrote in post #16304300 (external link)
Just curious why you would position the umbrella 8' from your subject when the whole idea behind using an umbrella is to produce soft light?? Wouldnt you want it as close as possible without being in the frame?

I may be off somewhat on that measurement, but if definitely wasn't right on top of the subject as I would do with say a soft box. In this case I was trying to keep some light on the background (white) without lighting separately.

Here is a real quick SOOC low resolution image testing with my kid as he threw the ball up at the end.


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drvnbysound
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Sep 17, 2013 15:06 |  #28

digital paradise wrote in post #16304412 (external link)
Actually would then a flash meter not work with dark skinned people? I would rely on my meter no matter what the skin tone is.

A light meter is reading incident light... light that is directly falling on the subject. A light meter doesn't care what color the subject is.

The camera's built-in meter is a reflective meter, and reads the amount of light that is reflected off the subject back at the camera. As stated above, reflective meters attempt to balance everything at about 18% grey.


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Sep 17, 2013 15:07 |  #29

digital paradise wrote in post #16304412 (external link)
Actually would then a flash meter not work with dark skinned people? I would rely on my meter no matter what the skin tone is.

The whole issue with photographing black people differently is the way you handle shadows and highlights. For something like school headshots it probably doesnt matter much. For more elaborate portraiture its often better to use soft shadowing to create depth in the face of a white individual. With a black person its often better to rely less on shadows than to use highlights to create depth. It can also be a factor in background selection. Really dark skinned individuals often dont look as good on a white drop simply because your eye is immediately drawn to the brightest part of the image, and its the drop.




  
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Sep 17, 2013 15:18 |  #30

drvnbysound wrote in post #16304431 (external link)
A light meter is reading incident light... light that is directly falling on the subject. A light meter doesn't care what color the subject is.

The camera's built-in meter is a reflective meter, and reads the amount of light that is reflected off the subject back at the camera. As stated above, reflective meters attempt to balance everything at about 18% grey.

That I knew about both metering systems and I should have considered that. As far as the whites for the reflective part goes even Neil van Niekerk has a blog on it. I attended a flash workshop before I knew what to do with a flash and they showed us to use a 8 by 10 piece of paper, take the cam out of AF, fill the frame with the paper, shoot, check histogram and then adjust flash output. They never mentioned skin tones.

http://neilvn.com …am-to-determine-exposure/ (external link)


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Lighting for school portraits for dummies
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