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Archive 2012 · Simple two light portrait.
  
 
tjpenton
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Simple two light portrait.


Hello guys,

Just a quick question with what I am hoping will be an obvious answer. I have to set up for some family portraits soon and I'm concerned not only about my technique (or lack there of), and my gear. Currently I have a have a Sb-800 and MEtz-50 AF-1 for my lights and only umbrellas to bounce off of.

I'm wondering what size soft boxes I would need to light a Mom, Dad and child nicely and what angles I should place lights. I was thinking having a nice, simple setup with 45 degree angles toward the family from either side of the camera to avoid any shadows. The backdrop will be a fireplace decorated in a christmas fashion with potentially reflective items (that hopefully can be removed from the scene is necessary).

Am I totally screwed here? Is there a cheap two light strobe kit I should look into for this purpose? I would only need these lights 2-3 times per year so I am nervous about invested thousands into a set up.

Thoughts?



Dec 02, 2012 at 02:49 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Simple two light portrait.


tjpenton wrote:
...I was thinking having a nice, simple setup with 45 degree angles toward the family from either side of the camera to avoid any shadows.


Actually, that might give you crossed shadows on the background, rather than no shadows, which is usually not a good look. "There is only one sun" is an oft used rule of thumb for positioning lights, as a look to try to emulate. Properly placed shadows give subjects "depth" and "character."

If you're only doing this kind of thing a few times a year, I think your two flash guns are all you need. If you live near a shopping mall that has a "Photos with Santa" area, take a look at how they're doing things: often one light centered over the camera in a small pan reflector, and one other light to one side for a bit of subject definition. The latter may be in an umbrella or soft box, but it may also just be in a standard reflector.

You can come close to that with your flash guns by putting one over (or close to over) the camera position at a height that will give a small shadow under the nose of a subject looking straight at the camera (but not so high as to cast a strong shadow in the eye sockets), and the other flash in an umbrella at camera level and far enough to the side to give a little shading on one side of a subject's face.

If you're shooting in a typical home-sized space, you could also turn the fill light up and to the rear to bounce off the back wall and ceiling for some really soft and even fill.



Dec 02, 2012 at 03:18 AM
tjpenton
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Simple two light portrait.


BrianO wrote:
Actually, that might give you crossed shadows on the background, rather than no shadows, which is usually not a good look. "There is only one sun" is an oft used rule of thumb for positioning lights, as a look to try to emulate. Properly placed shadows give subjects "depth" and "character."

If you're only doing this kind of thing a few times a year, I think your two flash guns are all you need. If you live near a shopping mall that has a "Photos with Santa" area, take a look at how they're doing things: often one light centered over
...Show more
Good Call!

Thanks for the advice, obviously I'm going to try out a few shots before hand to make sure, but your advice sounds legit to me!



Dec 02, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Gregg Heckler
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Simple two light portrait.


For something like this I would suggest using a 32" to 40 or so inch shoot through umbrella instead of a bonce umbrella. You'll get a pretty soft light that will easily light both people. Place it a bout 30 degrees from your camera position and up so the catchlight is at about 2 o'clock in the eye. If you place it right of the camera feather it a little left so it falls nicely on the person on the left. It should wrap enough so you get a nice light ration on both faces. Then use your other strobe back as a hair or rim light. pretty simple. If you need to raise the IS) a little to get enough power, don't be afraid to do that.


Dec 02, 2012 at 10:47 PM
pokemanyz
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Simple two light portrait.


Gregg Heckler wrote:
If you need to raise the IS) a little to get enough power, don't be afraid to do that.


I'm not following you on this part. Please explain, thanks.



Dec 09, 2012 at 12:48 PM
 

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myam203
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Simple two light portrait.


He must've meant "raise the ISO".


Dec 09, 2012 at 03:25 PM
pokemanyz
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Simple two light portrait.


Yeah, I should have figured that one out, thanks.


Dec 09, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Gregg Heckler
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Simple two light portrait.


Yes ISO, sorry, I should have taken that typing class in high school.


Dec 09, 2012 at 06:50 PM
henryp
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Simple two light portrait.


tjpenton wrote:
I was thinking having a nice, simple setup with 45 degree angles toward the family from either side of the camera to avoid any shadows.


That;'s copy lighting and not at all flattering for portraiture. The light directly above your camera is your fill light and it provides overall illumination. I use mine with a large umbrella. The off-camera light is 30-45 degrees from the camera-subject axis and high enough it causes a shadow cast by the nose into but not past the upper lip. it should be low enough to provide catch lights in the eyes.

To get a traditional 3:1 light ratio you'd want (for example) f/8 from the main light (and about the same on the background) and f/5.6 from the fill. Shoot at f/8.

Henry Posner
henryp@bhphoto.com
B&H Photo-Video



Dec 19, 2012 at 09:07 PM





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