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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 03 Mar 2007 (Saturday) 16:26
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Portrait setup

 
fuzzygraphics
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Mar 03, 2007 16:26 |  #1

I would like to get started doing some portrait work. I have some willing victims, but I would like purchase some lighting before I wear out their patience, and I would like the experience of working with professional lighting. After much reading, it seems that there are a myriad of possible configurations out there.

My initial goal is to do head and shoulder portraits. I've agreed to do some for a company I work with pro bono for the experience. Their last group of portraits was done by an amatuer, so I feel the expectations have been set appropriatly. I have ordered a blue muslin for the job.

Gear wise, I have a 430ex flash. I had contemplated ordering a single light setup from AB (AB800, I believe) as a main and trying to use my flash as fill with an umbrella, but I'm still slogging through any and all potential compatability issues with that setup (sync issues?). Would it be easier/more effective to just purchase two lights and save the 430ex for mobile occasions?

Based on my reading Alien Bee's gear seems to be a decent balance between economy and quality, but I am admittedly a novice and open to all suggestions.

Thanks all for your input, this forum is a wonderful resource.


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Longwatcher
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Mar 03, 2007 18:34 |  #2

For what you have stated you are doing I recommend getting two AB400s. Although I should mention first try your flash you already have with a reflector for fill. Cardboard with aluminum foil should work well until you get a proper reflector. But if trying to impress someone get the two AB400s.

The number one reason being the light from the 430EX will be different then the light from the AB800 and also it will be harder to match them up.

Two 400's will give you main and fill and a lot more control. You don't need the power of the AB800 for head shots. In fact if using umbrellas you can get by with one AB400, a reflector, two stands and a reflector boom (the second stand and the boom can be replaced by a willing (or semi-willing ) assistant )

However if you can spluge a bit go for a softbox or two to get the best light.

Just my opinion,


"Save the model, Save the camera, The Photographer can be repaired"
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fuzzygraphics
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Mar 03, 2007 22:44 as a reply to  @ Longwatcher's post |  #3

Thanks for the advice. At what point does it make since to look at the AB800? I am going to do some formal shots for my brothers wedding in a few months, group settings with between 6-8 people, all outdoors.

Does it make since to go for the AB800's now and have the versatility later on? I guess I'm just not sure what situations require the extra power.

Thanks again for all suggestions.


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Big ­ Mike
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Mar 04, 2007 00:22 |  #4

Having the extra power is always nice...you can always turn it down but you can't get any more out of it than full power. The price difference between the 400 and the 800 isn't that great so the upgrade may be a good idea.

If you are planning to use studio lights outdoors, do you have access to power? Or are you planning on buying a portable power supply?


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fuzzygraphics
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Mar 04, 2007 01:18 as a reply to  @ Big Mike's post |  #5

The outdoor gig I have coming will have access to power. As of yet, I am not planning on purchasing portable power. Now that I said that, I'll have a need for it in the next few months;).


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Longwatcher
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Mar 04, 2007 18:56 as a reply to  @ fuzzygraphics's post |  #6

The AB400's might not be enough outdoors depending, but they can work as fill to the sun as main. At night they are plenty powerful enough for small groups (up to about 12 people (6-wide) ), but larger groups then that will require more powerful lights.

Meanwhile, more is not always better as I discovered the hard way. While the ABs are excellent lights ; at 1/16th and 1/32nd power they start to become less consistant in the lighting, so keeping them at or above 1/8th power is best. The inconsistancy is fairly small about +-0.3EV at 1/32nd, but can mean a 2/3rds f-stop variation potentially between shots. Note: most (if not all ) lights in that price range and some higher have the same issue, so it is not just ABs.

Meanwhile, remember that AB has the low cost upgrade if you find you need to up the power. But in the end, if undecided and can afford two go for the AB800's, but the AB400's will probably also work well for what you have stated.


"Save the model, Save the camera, The Photographer can be repaired"
www.longwatcher.com (external link)
1DsMkIII as primary camera with f2.8L zooms and the 85L
http://www.longwatcher​.com/photoequipment.ht​m (external link)

  
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fuzzygraphics
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Mar 05, 2007 12:24 as a reply to  @ Longwatcher's post |  #7

Great advice on here. Thank you. I think I'm going to order a set of AB800s for the versatility. I am looking around for a softbox as well. I will probably be using it for portrait work and maybe smaller stationary objects as well. Any recommendations on a size? How about umbrella size?


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Longwatcher
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Mar 05, 2007 13:40 as a reply to  @ fuzzygraphics's post |  #8

For softboxes, I am kind of mixed on size. For the studio, I kind of lean for the larger the better, but having the giant softbox & large Octobox and trying to use them on locations (especially indoors ) can be a bit of a problem at times. Same with large umbrellas, but they tend not to take up quite as much room as the softbox so not as much of a problem.

I don't know what the actual desired ratio is, but I lean towards the softbox should be at least twice the size if not 3-times the size of the object you are photographing. This is rather impratical for people so compromise is needed. But my giant softbox works well with small statues 20-24" in height as the light comes from both above and below the object.

Just my opinion,


"Save the model, Save the camera, The Photographer can be repaired"
www.longwatcher.com (external link)
1DsMkIII as primary camera with f2.8L zooms and the 85L
http://www.longwatcher​.com/photoequipment.ht​m (external link)

  
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fuzzygraphics
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Mar 06, 2007 12:48 as a reply to  @ Longwatcher's post |  #9

Well, I ordered up my gear today.

2 B800 flash heads
2 10' stands
2 bags for flashes
2 32" shoot through umbrellas
and a transmitter/receiver.

Now I just need to train my dog to pose for more than 3 seconds at a time :)


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la_ricecooker
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Mar 07, 2007 21:56 as a reply to  @ fuzzygraphics's post |  #10

I enjoyed this discussion. Thank you.


First three Canon 5Ds. Some lights (some really fancy ones too). Some glass (maybe a few too many but who's keeping track?). Some cool stamps on my passport.

  
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Portrait setup
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