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Archive 2011 · Student project on the road
  
 
essphoto
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p.1 #1 · Student project on the road


Hi everyone,

I'm a student about to fly off to shoot a project that I received a grant to complete. I'm not studying photography in school, but I would consider myself an avid enthusiast at least and maybe even semi-pro in some respects. In any case, my project has me doing portraits of very elderly people, mainly in their homes or otherwise indoors. The theme is somber, so I'm picturing low key lighting maybe with a butterfly effect. Right now I'm working with the following gear:

Nikon D300 (I know, it's not full frame, but I plan on upgrading soon when the D800 comes out so most of my lenses are FX)
Nikkor 17-35 2.8
Nikkor 35 1.8 DX
Nikkor 50 1.4
Nikkor 85 1.4
Nikkor 135 2 DC
Manfrotto 190CXPRO4

I need to pick up lighting gear now, and I'm open to all suggestions, but my budget is kind of tight (~$500-$1000 and I don't mind buying used). I also have to keep things lightweight and portable. Any help? I'm thinking I need two flashes, two light stands, umbrellas, a soft box, and collapsible background w/ stand.

Also, does anyone have ideas for how best to light older people? I do want to bring out their features and not try to hide them -- these aren't glamour shots.

Anyway, thank you all in advance. I've posted this on dpreview too, just to get two different sets of opinions. Thanks!





Dec 25, 2011 at 03:20 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · Student project on the road


essphoto wrote:
...In any case, my project has me doing portraits of very elderly people, mainly in their homes or otherwise indoors. The theme is somber, so I'm picturing low key lighting maybe with a butterfly effect. ...I need to pick up lighting gear now, and I'm open to all suggestions, but my budget is kind of tight (~$500-$1000 and I don't mind buying used). I also have to keep things lightweight and portable. Any help? I'm thinking I need two flashes, two light stands, umbrellas, a soft box, and collapsible background w/ stand.

Also, does anyone have ideas for how best
...Show more

For portraits in the home -- what are often called environmental portraits -- I like to show a bit of the environment the subject lives in. If find the most versatile lightweight and portable solution to be two Speedlights; one an-camera or on a bracket, and one on a light stand.

You can spin a Speedlight head backward to bounce soft, even fill off the walls and ceiling, and use an off-camera Speedlight for the key light, or you can use forward-facing ceiling bounce for a semi-butterfly look, and many oither permutations.

I don't usually use a softbox or other modifiers for these; if the subject has "character lines" I want to show them, and I can minimize them with bounced fill or eccentuate them with high-angle key and little to no fill.

$1,000 would easily get you two used Speedlights, a modestly-priced bracket, an iTTL cord for the bracket-mounted flash, and a light stand for the off-camera Speedlight. (If you really want a background and supports, you could stay in budget by getting just one Speedlight for now.)

Nikon makes an iTTL cord that has a built-in focus assist lamp, something I really wish Canon (which is what I use) had.

Good luck with you project.

HTH.



Dec 25, 2011 at 07:09 AM
ukphotographer
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p.1 #3 · Student project on the road


Having already said on DPReview that you won't be able to take AB's and that "I found out I'll be setting up a photo booth at a hotel, and I want to get a portable backdrop. Any ideas for how to do this?" along with "I have an idea of how I want the portraits to look" You're already pretty restricted in your options and you're obviously looking for a specific solution. http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1025&thread=40131340&page=1

So how do you want the portraits to look.. you're using low key butterfly lighting - not glamour - so maybe more contrasty? What specifically? Samples? Environment is out of the equation, you've not mentioned how you want to separate your subject from your background - if you are - and you're going to splash a decent chunk of your budget on a background and support system which for all intents and purposes a piece of fabric and gaffer tape/clamps/BlueTac could provide... (taking pop-up backgrounds, or support systems..? what was that about restricting baggage size?).

Start from "this is what I want to do" - as you must have already tried it out before embarking on your project - and your answers will stem from that.

Background and lightstands aside and allowing $2 for a couple of funfoam bounce reflectors or snoots and $10 for a sync cable $500-$1000 could buy a decent set of Speedlights with built-in optical slaves which is about all you'd need in your limited environment.



Dec 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM





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