everything lighting based!
hi everyone, i have been scouring the net for lighting advice and tutorials, but i cant really find a good concise guide for someone with no experience in this area whatsoever. so, i have decided to ask all the questions buzzing around my head on here. there are bound to be some i dont ask, so if anyone wants to chip in with their own questions please feel free! ok, here goes:
what are the different types of lights and what would each be used for?
what power/wattage is best for what situations?
what are the various attachments for? (umbrellas, softboxes, snoots, etc.)
do you need flash, or would a constant light source suffice?
what brands are best for value/quality/reliability, and are there any brands that are best avoided?
how is colour temperature controlled when using lighting?
are kits good value for money?
how many lights are needed for what situation?
is second hand gear good, or best avoided?
i konw a lot of this is basic stuff, but it would be really useful to have it explained by someone who knows what they are on about, and to have it all in one post.
many thanks, craig
1. Generally, flash (aka strobe) or continuous lights (aka hotlights but that's now a misnomer)
2. Studio flash does not need to be particularly powerful.... whatever you get you need to make sure you can control the output. Continuous lights use Daylight bulbs (older ones had Tungsten).... you only need 100w.
3. Umbrellas - usually you fire the light 'backward' into the umbrella and it reflects and spreads a much softer light around. Softbox gives a pleasant soft light - more powerful than the umbrella - it can simulate a window (you can even get simulated window frames to fit them, so the light seen in reflected catchlights really resembles a window). Snoots (and 'barn-doors') make your light more directional and hence more powerful. You can also get 'honeycomb' accessories - this directs the light even better and makes sure there's no excess light getting back to your camera.
4. Flash, being much brighter than continuous lighting, allows for a faster shutter speed so your shots should be sharper. On the other hand, flash can make a model quite twitchy, expecting that bright light and tensing up. With continuous lights, unless you're using a very fast lens you might be limited to a tripod and hope the model doesn't move. Even then, if you want greater depth of field you want a smaller aperture, which equals longer shutter speed. Swings and roundabouts.
5. Can't help with brands, sorry.
6. Flash gives 'daylight' and continuous lighting normally uses daylight bulbs. It doesn't really matter if shooting Raw - you can adjust colour temperature later, so you could even use a normal household spotlight or table lamp.
7. Yes, you can certainly save by getting a kit rather than individual items. There again, you might be able to negotiate a similar price with the dealer if your order has your individual choices.
8. Generally, you'll need two lights, one strong and one weaker (though a reflector can act as the weaker) but a third is useful (backlighting etc).
9. Second hand shouldn't be a problem, if bought from an experienced amateur or upgrading pro. I'd try to avoid shopping online... quality packaging and posting could work out expensive.
10. Just as useful as lights themselves would be a couple of quality reflectors and some kind of support for a background. You can get supports quite cheaply - a bit like goalposts. Also, you might consider a selection of different back-cloths and also some black velvet, some large black cards and white cards - for control of 'light spill' and reflection of light respectively.
11. Check out Amazon and search for 'photographic studio lighting'.
[I]5. Can't help with brands, sorry.[/I]
Brands are less important than specifications..
Generally the more powerful the better (provided they have variable power output), you can generally smother or cover the light to reduce it's intensity but you can't increase it beyond the max.
Look for quick recycle times - it can be a pain for you and the subject waiting for the flashes to recharge.
Try and get built in slave units, reduces the trip hazards and cost of additional remote fire units.
Check the availability and cost of additional flash bulbs..
Check the cost and availability of accessories (barn doors, snoots, modelling dishes, softboxes etc.
Weight - if you need to transport them, make sure they are not too heavy.
If you go for the less expensive (but quite good) China/korean made devices make sure they are earthed correctly.
Get some reflectors too...
There is a good book by Christopher Grey - Master Lighting Guide for portrait photographers that explains lighting ratio's, and shows lighting arrangements / effects etc.
Hope this helps
I can recommend [URL="http://www.speedlighters.com"]http://www.speedlighters.com[/URL] for great lessons in lighting.
Decoration of Marriage, Party and other function is based on Lighting, so lighting is must.
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