First Try At Studio Lighting
/forum/topic/1165942/0

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Ken_K
Registered: Jun 23, 2009
Total Posts: 235
Country: United States

In case you couldn't tell, I'm an absolute newbie at lighting.
These images are lit with a pair of DIY Kino FLo lights ( 4 tubes total)
Each tube has the following specs:
F-32T8TL950P
Wattage: 32 Watt
Bulb Type: F32T8
Color Temperature: 5000 Kelvin
Length: 4 ft.
Lumens (Mean): 1860
CRI: 98
I'm shooting with a Canon 5dII and a 70-200 2.8
These images were shot aperture priority f5.6 ISO 160 1/5 sec 160mm
The camera was 7 ft from the subject and each light was 45 degrees camera right & left 7 feet from the subject.
The first image is SOOC and the second had minor tweaks in LR with exposure, shadow & highlight tweeks.
The SOOC image looks better as posted here than it does on my monitor.

My concern are that the image is "overlit" and isn't very sharp.
I guess I could move the lamps back farther but I'm running out of room in the small space I have to work with.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated.






Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 2884
Country: United States

It's okay for a first try. A fifth of a second is a bit slow for portraits. Try bumping your ISO to 800 and opening up to 2.8 or f/4. That will help camera and subject movement. Next. What you've basically done is a copy shot set up, and while that's fine for flat art, maybe not so much for flattering people. Instead of evenly lighting from both sides, I'd move both panels to the left side, placing them right next to each other and move them as close to your subject as possible without them being in the frame. Then, maybe add a fill card on the right as needed. The quality of light will improve and the quantity will as well. I've shot people with real Kino's and it's no picnic. They have to hold still. After working on the lighting setup, then maybe tackle the color balance issues, but first things first.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

Ken_K wrote: I'm shooting with a Canon 5dII and a 70-200 2.8 ...These images were shot aperture priority f5.6 ISO 160 1/5 sec 160mm ...The camera was 7 ft from the subject and each light was 45 degrees camera right & left 7 feet from the subject. ...My concern are that the image is "overlit" and isn't very sharp. ...I guess I could move the lamps back farther but I'm running out of room in the small space I have to work with.

On the contrary, I think your image is underlit: as Peter Figen mentioned, 1/5 of a second is too slow; you could be getting motion blur causing the unsharpness you notice.

Also, a check of the histogram shows that your exposure is shifted to the left, even to the point that your blacks and dark tones are clipping with total loss of detail and texture. (See histogram capture below.)

If I were you, I'd move the lights closer, increase your shutter speed to at least 1/125, and leave your aperture at 5.6 or possibly even increase it to f/8 for maximum sharpness. (You may need to bump your ISO setting, but the 5D Mark II can handle several stops higher than 160ISO without problem.)

Remember: Expose to the right.



dougfatheruk
Registered: May 29, 2012
Total Posts: 98
Country: United Kingdom

Hi Ken,

I like the portraits but for me I notice that the area of sharpness seems to be the mouth, it's tack sharp and the eyes are a little off. Is your AF system on auto or do you have it on single point AF right in the eyes?

I'd also be inclined to increase the DOF to f8-11.

I hope it helps.



Ken_K
Registered: Jun 23, 2009
Total Posts: 235
Country: United States

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.
I did move the lights closer as Brian suggested and opened the shutter to 2.8. This resulted in blown highlights on the lit side and shadows on the other side despite a reflector. Doug, I'm using single point AF but it's impossible to "aim" it since I'm using a remote trigger and have to go back to my camera/laptop to check the results each time.
Again, thanks for the help.



novicesnapper
Registered: Nov 15, 2012
Total Posts: 46
Country: United States

Excellent thread. I just picked up a lighting set (2400 watt) myself and fully expect a wb shift from the kelvin of the lights, 6500K, high end of daylight spectrum. To me, the original looks ever so slightly shifted to blue and slightly under exposed. I also would close down the aperture some, f6-f8 as mentioned above. I'm wondering how to deal with the highlights clipping.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

Ken_K wrote: ...I did move the lights closer as Brian suggested and opened the shutter to 2.8. This resulted in blown highlights...

Did you also increase the shutter speed?

How are you metering your exposures?



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

novicesnapper wrote: ...I also would close down the aperture some, f6-f8 as mentioned above. I'm wondering how to deal with the highlights clipping.

Yeah, I rarely shoot portraits at wide apertures; too thin a DoF for my liking.

As for highlight clipping, if you don't have an incident light/flash meter (or even if you do, and want an extra measure) take a test shot and then look at the histogram. Change your exposure to bring the right-most line on the histogram close to -- but not touching -- the right side of the graph. Nothing will be clipping at that point.

With the ETTR exposure set, if you now have sections that are too dark you need to add fill light to bring them within the contrast range that you want.



novicesnapper
Registered: Nov 15, 2012
Total Posts: 46
Country: United States

Thanks Brian, one thing I learned along time ago, is the histogram is a tattletale lol, good, bad or ugly, it tattles. With me, I'm always fighting the urge to drop the fstop, ruined some nice shots doing that ugh, one eye in focus, one out, nice. Then I discovered DOF charts a year ago. But still I have to always remember to raise it to get my desired DOF and effects, thinking the shot through in my head. The light kit I bought is an experiment to me, it may end up on Craigslist, if I have to fight it to get proper exposure and wb lol. We'll see. And to think, I thought two years ago, this would be an easy hobby to learn ha lmao. But I am looking forward to learning more here on the forum.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

novicesnapper wrote: ...I'm always fighting the urge to drop the fstop, ruined some nice shots doing that ugh, one eye in focus, one out, nice. Then I discovered DOF charts a year ago. But still I have to always remember to raise it to get my desired DOF and effects, thinking the shot through in my head. The light kit I bought is an experiment to me, it may end up on Craigslist, if I have to fight it to get proper exposure and wb lol. We'll see.

I've taken photography courses in high school, college, and by mail; been a member of a photographers' cooperative; worked in a studio; etc., and I always found lighting to be harder -- and more fun -- than the basics of composition, film developing and printing (back when we used paper and chemicals and stuff), and other aspects.

I can whole-heartedly suggest two books on the subject of exposure and lighting: Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson, and Light -- Science and Magic by Fil Hunter, Paul Fuqua, and Steven Biver.



Ken_K
Registered: Jun 23, 2009
Total Posts: 235
Country: United States

Once again, thanks for all the great, thoughtful responses.
Here's a second attempt. The setup this time is:
Both lights left of subject (bored wife) barely out of camera.
36" reflector to right of subject barely out of camera. Tried silve & white without much difference.
ISO 800, f5.0 110mm 1/100 A larger aperture resulted in too many blown highlights.
As you can see from the histos., there is still some clipping on the left but I've managed to fill the right better. I'm still not happy with the shadows on left (subject's right) side.
Maybe this is as good as it gets with my makeshift lighting setup. These images are SOOC except for cropping.
Thanks again for the help.









BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

Do you see how the background has seperated into bands? That's the result of trying to stretch out the histogram. (See the gaps between bars on the left side of the HG.)

You don't need to fill the whole HG, a section in the middle is fine, or a section to the left of middle for low-key or to the right of middle for high key.

As you mentioned, you still have highlight clipping. Instead of f/5.0 I would have gone with 5.6 or maybe even 8.



novicesnapper
Registered: Nov 15, 2012
Total Posts: 46
Country: United States

Thanks Brian, I'll look into them.

ETA, watching and learning.



Ken_K
Registered: Jun 23, 2009
Total Posts: 235
Country: United States

Not to beat this point to death, but I started at 5.6. I'll spare you the image but here's the HG




Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 2884
Country: United States

"ISO 800, f5.0 110mm 1/100 A larger aperture resulted in too many blown highlights."

A larger aperture would have no effect on whether your highlights are blown or not. You would use a correspondingly higher shutter speed to compensate. Open up to f/4 and bump your shutter speed to 1/200th, or if it's still too bright, a 250th. But the important thing here is, is that you how have some direction to your lighting and it's drawing the shape of the face much much better. That's a huge improvement.

Looking at the catchlights in the eyes, I'm not seeing a reflector on the left, and we usually refer to light direction as being from the right or left as the photographer is looking at the shot, so this would be lit from the right. If there was a Fomecore reflector on the left, that would take care of the shadow side, or you could just leave it and let it go dark. It's not always necessary to have detail everywhere.

What program(s) are you using? Are you shooting in camera jpegs or are you also shooting raw files?

It seems to be like this second attempt is a lot better, but it still feels kinda cold and clinical in terms of color. It may be "right" from a technical perspective, but lacks emotion at this point. If you're shooting raw files, I would move the color temperature slider up several hundred Kelvin and see if you don't like that better. Maybe a sheet of some sort of diffusion material over the lights would help soften them up some too.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

Ken_K wrote: Not to beat this point to death, but I started at 5.6. I'll spare you the image but here's the HG



Wow, that's a really wide range, and shifted way to the left; at least no highlights are clipped (though the shadows are). I'd bring in more light on the shadows to narrow it down. A reflector in close as mentioned above could do it, or -- since you have two DIY lights -- one to camera left and one to camera right. You can use different light-to-subject distances to adjust the highlight:shadow ratio.



Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 2884
Country: United States

Don't get too hung up on histograms. All they are are a graph of the distribution of pixels and their values throughout the image. There is no right or wrong histogram. All that the "peaks" at the left indicate are that you have more "shadow" type pixels than midtones or highlights. It says nothing at all about whether you image is good or bad. Too many people starting out get way too caught up in their freaking histograms. Don't go there! The only thing a histogram is really good for, and there are much better tools for this, is determining whether you actually are clipping highlights or shadows. Depending on the image, that may be a bad thing - or maybe not. Personally, I'd rather see you monitor your actual pixel values and start to get an idea of what works in terms of actual values, not spikes on a histogram, but first, I want to see you get a hardware monitor calibrator - an X-Rite - and start out at least seeing a somewhat accurate image on screen.



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

Peter Figen wrote: Don't get too hung up on histograms. All they are are a graph of the distribution of pixels and their values throughout the image. There is no right or wrong histogram. All that the "peaks" at the left indicate are that you have more "shadow" type pixels than midtones or highlights. It says nothing at all about whether you image is good or bad.

Yeah, I hope I didn't send the OP off on a fool's errand by even bringing it up. If you have a lot of dark tones in your image, of course you'll have some stacking on the left; and if you're shooting a picture of a polar bear in a snow storm, of course you'll have a lot of stacking toward the right. I hope I didn't give the impression that evey picture has to have a bell-shaped HG curve.

Still, I think they can be a useful learning tool for checking dynamic range and overall exposure until one gets a good flash meter and/or a lot of experience. I brought it up to show that the OP's first image wasn't really "over lit" from an exposure point of view.

As an example, this portrait (top photo; one of the few I'll post, because I have express permission to do so) is a low-key shot in a relatively dark environment; so the bulk of the bars on the HG are toward the left. However, there isn't a huge stack completely against the left side and then almost nothing to the right of that; there's a fairly large number of bars on that whole side of the graph.

If I were to shoot a similar portrait, but using a gray seamless BG (badly simulated in the second photo), the HG would be even less up against the wall.



rico
Registered: Jul 13, 2003
Total Posts: 3678
Country: United States

I find histograms and lightmeters to be worthless for critical exposure. Especially if SOOC is important (it is for me), your best friends are the blinkies. They will show what is blowing out, and you can decide on the spot if you care about those areas. In studio, I try to get within 2/5 of a stop if the subject doesn't move around too much. Otherwise, I underexpose a bit and bring up the important highlights in post. My preferred lighting scheme is contrasty for portraits and tabletop both. Shiny chrome is particularly challenging since it will blow out, and you have to judge the optimal acreage of featureless white. Histograms cannot help in this determination.




Ken_K
Registered: Jun 23, 2009
Total Posts: 235
Country: United States

Made a couple of changes that improved things (at least to my novice eye).
- moved lights so that there is 1 camera left and 1 camera right 45 degrees to subject about 3-4 ft away
- added a third light with same specs. as other 2 above subject

ISO 500 125mm f7.1 1/100

The only PP is setting custom white balance to 5200 , a slight crop and very small exposure adjustment.
BTW, I am working on a calibrated monitor (Spyder 3) on an iMac.

This is closer to what I had hoped to accomplish. I know I have a long way to go but I'll keep at it.

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread. Very much appreciated.




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