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Archive 2013 · question
  
 
sandman22
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · question


I am just getting into doing some studio shots and was wondering if I would have a decent beginner setup if I had an alienbees b400 for main light and 430exii for fill light all indoor home studio shooting. Any other suggestions would be excellent. Thanks

Ben



Jan 14, 2013 at 02:42 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · question


That can work, although two ABs would be better in many respects.

You can use the 430 on-camera for near-axis fill, or you could move it off camera with a cord for off-axis fill. Bouncing it off a large white surface, umbrella, or soft box would soften the fill.

How are you planning on triggering the lights?



Jan 14, 2013 at 02:53 AM
basehorhonda
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · question


biggest thing is just some modifiers. I started out with a 24" and 36" umbrellas and then worked my way to using softboxs and a beauty dish. Dont worry about getting a bunch of stuff right a way. Get one, learn how to use it and then go from there.


Jan 14, 2013 at 04:01 AM
sandman22
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · question


thanks for the info. do you need to spend money on top end softboxes or do cheaper ones do the job?


Jan 14, 2013 at 05:26 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · question


If you buy the studio light it will be like standing on the dock with one foot holding the studio light and having the other foot in the boat with the 430ex. You'd have half of an ideal studio lighting solution and half of an ideal location / candid solution.

If instead you bought a Master capable Canon flash (550ex, 580ex, etc.) you'd have an ideal location / candid solution which with the addition of an umbrella, softbox, or just creative bouncing will create results similar to what you'll get with the AB400 key light and 430ex as fill.

Here's an unplanned comparison I did a few years ago I have on-line already. I have both a pair of 580ex speedlights and a set of four AB800. House guests arrived after a long day of sightseeing and while showing them the house I grabbed the camera with speedlights and grabbed the shot of the boy. A while later I set up the studio lights to shoot the girls and group shots. I didn't reshoot the boy because his speedlight shot looked OK:







I use this as an example because I was surprised by the results and learned from them. Overall the lighting on the girl seems a bit "harder" to me despite the use of much larger modifiers on the lights, more fill and better placement relative to the face (reaching under the chin better). What is creating that impression? It's due to her skin being oily which created more specular highlights than the smaller sources did on the boy's face. He had washed his face on arriving, the girl wearing make-up didn't.

Neither are great shots because they were 30 sec. "snap" shots without a great deal of preparation but they illustrate the results you'd see with the option you are thinking about or what I suggest won't be very different and in some cases, as here, variables you can't control such as glare off an oily face negates the benefit of a larger key light modifier.

The advantage of investing in the second speedlight is you will probably find more ways to use it than if you have static, foot on the dock, studio set up in the basement or living room. I shoot mostly with the 580ex flashes because it's more convenient. See: http://photo.nova.org/CanonPracticalUsage/ I break out the studio lights when a friend needs a formal headshot or family photo. The in-house model hides when she sees the studio lights come out.

If you do opt for the studio lights buy two and invest an extra $55 each and get the AB800 ($280 vs $225). The two lights make it logistically easier to shoot for both you and the subject because you simply put the fill centered at chin level and dial in the desired mood in the lighting via the ratio: normal, darker and "harder", lighter and "softer" as needed vs. futzing around positioning a reflector to catch the light, get the fill on the front of the face where it is needed and keep it out of the frame.

The AB800s will allow you to operate in the middle of their power band most of the time and allow a reserve for situations where you need more. By comparison with the AB400 you may find yourself shooting at max power and wishing you had more.

What will likely happen if you do opt for two lights and learn to use the is that it will open your eyes to the possibilities of what can be done in your "run and gun" candid shooting with a pair of speelights and buy that second speedlight.



Edited on Jan 15, 2013 at 12:37 AM · View previous versions



Jan 14, 2013 at 06:37 PM
DigMeTX
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · question


sandman22 wrote:
thanks for the info. do you need to spend money on top end softboxes or do cheaper ones do the job?


You can make great photos with cheap ones or expensive ones. The cheaper ones typically suffer from cheaper construction. I have a cheap cowboystudio softbox that has been just fine but it has its weaknesses.

brad



Jan 14, 2013 at 07:21 PM
 

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BrianO
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · question


sandman22 wrote:
thanks for the info. do you need to spend money on top end softboxes or do cheaper ones do the job?


DigMeTX wrote:
You can make great photos with cheap ones or expensive ones. The cheaper ones typically suffer from cheaper construction.


I agree with Brad.

The cheaper ones may not last as long, nor hold up to frequent set-up and take-down cycles, but the actual light quality won't be much different than that from a more expensive softbox. Size is what makes the most noticeable difference, and price is related to size within a line.

Chuck makes a good point as well. I do the great majority of my shooting in the field, and only sometimes use my home studio; so for me I thought a total Speedlite solution made more sense than splitting my money into Speedlites and monolight strobes.

I do, though, like the look of modified light from high-quality modifiers, so I've invested in Photoflex umbrellas, Apollo soft boxes, RPS Studio BeautiDishes, Manfrotto Combi boom stands, and other equipment that allows me to get studio-quality light from Speedlites.

This approach works for me, but the particular set of trade-offs may not work for others.

Here's the 60-inch umbrella, and the small dish with grid on the boom that I use as a hair light:







Here's the 20-inch beauty dish:







and here's the 28-inch Apollo showing the interior set-up:








Jan 14, 2013 at 10:20 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · question


Brian's photos illustrate something to keep in mind when selecting modifiers. Notice how low the center of his big umbrella is because that's all the higher it can go in that room? The vector from the center rod is aimed below the camera. I'm sure he doesn't use it that way but it illustrates the pitfalls of big modifiers in low ceiling room.

Natural looking facial modeling is a function of key light angle relative to the eye line. The ideal angle is around 45 degrees because it matches the angle of mid-day light and makes the nose shadow fall under the nose when centered or down over the side of the just the side of the nose when put 45 to the side.

Now visualize that 45 degree angle to the eye line on a standing 6' subject. My math skills suck but three feet away you'd ideally what the center of modifer about 8' or more off the ground. The further you place the light on that 45 vector the higher the ceiling needs to be to get the center of the modifier on that vector. As the said on Star Trek, space is the final frontier.

With 8' ceilings I can barely get my small speedlight DIY reflectors and 24 x 36 studio SB high enough for flattering modeling on a standing kids.. I seat tall adult subjects on a stool for H&S shots with the studio lights. With the speedlights on location I'll press the top of the diffuser on the ceiling and bounce the light off it to get the angle off the ceiling close to 45 degrees.

All things considered I'd rather have my studio in the family room with the 12' ceiling but the wife vetoed that idea



Jan 15, 2013 at 01:29 AM
shmn
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · question


cgardner wrote:
but it illustrates the pitfalls of big modifiers in low ceiling room.


Good point. Something I didn't think about. I've been considering a large modifier but may opt for a slightly smaller model in light of (pun intended) the reason you mentioned. Thanks!



Jan 15, 2013 at 02:11 AM
basehorhonda
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · question


As far as cheap vs expensive modifiers go, you get what you pay for. I started out with some Impact umbrellas and they worked just find, but they were quite flimsy. They died on me quite quickly. I how have some Westcott umbrellas and right when I opened them I could tell the build quality was very much better.

For a 36" Impact, it cost me like $15, where the same thing in Westcott was around 40-60.



Jan 15, 2013 at 03:36 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · question


cgardner wrote:
Brian's photos illustrate something to keep in mind when selecting modifiers. Notice how low the center of his big umbrella is because that's all the higher it can go in that room? The vector from the center rod is aimed below the camera. I'm sure he doesn't use it that way but it illustrates the pitfalls of big modifiers in low ceiling room.


Correct, I don't use it that way. In fact, I rarely use any umbrella as a key light these days. I mainly use that big umbrella as a fill light, and I use a 20-inch dish or a 28-inch soft box as the key light; or I use the soft box for fill, and the dish for key; or I use bounced light for fill, and straight flash for key; or ...

One size doesn't fit all situations.



Jan 15, 2013 at 06:47 PM





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