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09-14-2014, 03:23 PM   #1
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Lighting for intimate photography

I took some photos of my wife a few weeks ago on our anniversary. I used a k50, a 50 1.8, and a not very bright 15' LED strip. Had to change them to B&W due to the bluish tint of the LEDs but the pictures came out pretty good. My wife and I were both happy with the ones I didn't mess up due to lack of experience (a pop bottle on the nightstand in the background doesn't really add to the ambiance lol). Anyhow, I really could have used some more directional lighting to really highlight the things I wanted to. So I was wondering if I could get away using something like a 100w LED spotlight or some other inexpensive lighting. I don't mind turning the pictures into B&W so it doesn't have to be anything specifically for photography. Nor does it have to be bright. Just something to get some haloing and get some light focused on half my wife's face or wherever.
Also if anyone has any other DIY tips for budget lighting for shoots like this, I'd like to hear them if ya don't mind sharing.
Thanks
Steve

09-14-2014, 04:12 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
something like a 100w LED spotlight or some other inexpensive lighting
If you are going to use a lighting strip, try daylight fluorescent. Better colour gamut than LED, so when you adjust the colour temperature, you get all of the colours, not just the wavelengths produced by the lights. The phosphorous on the tube disperses light like a softbox, so you don't get harsh shadows, either. The only downside is trying to get a spotlight effect, snouts and grids don't do much. You can also use halogen lights if you need to confine the light, but be warned they will heat up your "studio" in a hurry.
09-14-2014, 04:25 PM   #3
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You mean like a fluorescent bulb correct? I only used the led strip cuz that's what I had but I can see the fluorescent working well for ambient or fill lighting. And that's why I was thinking an led spotlight bulb. I know how hot halogens get. I don't think my wife would e happy with one pointed at her face for too long. The bulb I was thinking about is a 100w equivalent and I believe it was either soft white or daylight color. Think it was like $25 at lowes. I honesty can't see why I wouldn't get acceptable results looking at it logically but I know nothing of lighting other than using available light.
09-14-2014, 05:24 PM   #4
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You might think about a couple or more of the metal worklights most hardware stores sell, you can use cfc bulbs of any brightness you like. They create minimal heat so it's easy to lash up snoots, barn doors or diffusers. You can even use the bulbs from lamps around the house!

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09-14-2014, 09:00 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
You mean like a fluorescent bulb correct?
That's right. I mentioned the daylight fluorescent bulbs, because the light they produce does better colour rendering (I shouldn't have used gamut, it doesn't mean the same thing) than standard fluorescent blubs. Colour rendering is also different from colour temperature. You can adjust colour temperature digitally, but lights with a low colour rendering index (say 80 for a standard "cool" fluorescent bulb compared to 90 for a "daylight" bulb) produce light with more of the colour spectrum missing, and colours that don't get reflected from the subject don't get recorded in the photograph. Incandescent bulbs (including tungsten-halogen) have a perfect CRI of 100, but require more energy to produce the same light output and white LED lights can have a CRI as low as 70, although you can also buy LED lights designed for photography that have a CRI in the 90's. To further muddy the waters, there is hot debate over whether or not the colours from photography LED's are confusing digital camera sensors. LED is also more expensive, and you have the same problem with harsh light as you do with incandescent bulbs. Halogen lights are consistent in their colour temperature over their life, compared to regular incandescent bulbs that tend to cool (look yellower in photographs) as they get older, but run hotter and often don't last as long. I've only covered the bulbs you can buy from a hardware store, photographic equipment dealers can sell you all kinds of exotic lighting for photography.
09-15-2014, 12:02 PM   #6
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You can adjust for tint somewhat in the camera or in post processing by playing around with the white balance setting. That will only get you so far. Ideally, as noted above, you can use a "daylight" tuned light source. There are LED and fluorescent lights tuned for daylight, which is usually 5000K - 6500K. You can find them at any major hardware store or online. Just check the back of the box.
09-15-2014, 01:18 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
Lighting for intimate photography
I would like to suggest low natural light for this type of imagery, but this reply doesn't really belong in the flash section.
09-15-2014, 01:27 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
I took some photos of my wife a few weeks ago on our anniversary. I used a k50, a 50 1.8, and a not very bright 15' LED strip. Had to change them to B&W due to the bluish tint of the LEDs but the pictures came out pretty good. My wife and I were both happy with the ones I didn't mess up due to lack of experience (a pop bottle on the nightstand in the background doesn't really add to the ambiance lol). Anyhow, I really could have used some more directional lighting to really highlight the things I wanted to. So I was wondering if I could get away using something like a 100w LED spotlight or some other inexpensive lighting. I don't mind turning the pictures into B&W so it doesn't have to be anything specifically for photography. Nor does it have to be bright. Just something to get some haloing and get some light focused on half my wife's face or wherever.
Also if anyone has any other DIY tips for budget lighting for shoots like this, I'd like to hear them if ya don't mind sharing.
Thanks
Steve
Another dyemention, it sounds like you want to do chiaroscuro (light and shadows) style portraiture and glamour. Your LED strip light would be a unique and interesting light source, but I'd recommend one or two LED light panels -- also known as video lights -- or even LED flashlights. A photographer named Kevin Kubota likes to add LED flashlights into his shooting and gets great results.

You should focus on what's important in this kind of shooting: flattering light, good pose and expression, wardrobe, makeup, props and background. Stuff like flat light spectrum you can worry about when you graduate to doing product shooting professionally.

I'd highly recommend that you do some reading up on portraiture, lighting and posing, if you want to get good results with this. Let me know if you want a recommendation, but there are tons of books on the subject.

LED panels are actually quite good for photography, and the 160-LED panels are pretty cheap at Amazon or on eBay. Stuff it full of rechargeable AA cells and you can shoot for a few hours. The light is aimed forward in a well-defined cone so it's more controlled than CFLs or tungsten lights without needing a softbox to contain it. Try to get LED panels with barn doors so you can further control the light coverage. They usually come with slip-on coloured gels to help with matching colour temperature to the ambient (orange for mixing with tungsten; and one for daylight), but you won't need these if your only light source is the LED panels themselves.

Note that lighting with a small light source like an LED panel is going to produce hard light. That means contrasty with well defined shadows. This is great for chiaroscuro and Hollywood glamour, but can be unflattering on older skin. If you aren't careful about lighting direction and angles you will emphasize any skin imperfections like wrinkles or enlarged pores. If your subject faces the light that will be reduced.

You need to get the right white balance if you want to avoid funky tints in the shots, especially on skin. You want good skin tones unless you're going to convert it all to B&W. LED video lights typically have a native white balance of about 4200K, which is a standard fluorescent WB, so you can experiment by starting there. You'd be best off shooting RAW rather than JPEG so you can adjust the white balance after the fact.

Here's a chiaroscuro style portrait that I took a couple of years ago while experimenting with LEDs. I used a 160-LED panel on a lightstand camera-right, and a silver reflector camera-left and very close.


Vintage: Once upon a time in the west
by Bruce M Walker, on Flickr

10-08-2014, 10:56 AM   #9
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Something not clearly mentioned in this thread is to avoid multiple lighting types, especially for color portraiture. First they may not have compatible color temperatures making color balance difficult. And as @RGlasel said above, color rendering may further compound the problem.
10-08-2014, 12:47 PM   #10
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I say pores and skin texture can be good. It make the picture real as apposed to a plastic manikin doll. Of course as the saying goes you catch more bees with honey when you make a person younger than they actually are.
10-08-2014, 12:49 PM   #11
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I thought for intimate lighting , candles would be the thing, but hey... that's just me.
10-08-2014, 08:37 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Another dyemention Quote
I took some photos of my wife a few weeks ago on our anniversary. I used a k50, a 50 1.8, and a not very bright 15' LED strip. Had to change them to B&W due to the bluish tint of the LEDs but the pictures came out pretty good. My wife and I were both happy with the ones I didn't mess up due to lack of experience (a pop bottle on the nightstand in the background doesn't really add to the ambiance lol). Anyhow, I really could have used some more directional lighting to really highlight the things I wanted to. So I was wondering if I could get away using something like a 100w LED spotlight or some other inexpensive lighting. I don't mind turning the pictures into B&W so it doesn't have to be anything specifically for photography. Nor does it have to be bright. Just something to get some haloing and get some light focused on half my wife's face or wherever.
Also if anyone has any other DIY tips for budget lighting for shoots like this, I'd like to hear them if ya don't mind sharing.
Thanks
Steve
What is your budget? Off-camera flash is very, very difficult to beat. For under $200, you can get yourself a flash, stand, wireless receiver and trigger, and umbrella, and be off to a brillliant start. It is very, very difficult to compete with flashes.

As far as the spotlight you mentioned...the smaller the source of light, the harder it will appear to be on your subject, which can be unflattering. Hence the frequent use of umbrellas by portrait photographers

The other nice thing about flashes is that they are bright enough that you can have them farther away from your subject, to avoid unsightly fall-off.

Whatever source you decide to get and use, I'd recommend starting out with a simple excercise. Have your model, or even something like a fruit or a ball, pose for you. place your start with your light behind the subject, and take consecutive photos, moving the light source about 45 degrees in relation to the subject after each shot, while maintaining the same light - subject distance. In this manner, you will find what direction you prefer your light to come from. In my opinion, the direction from which a light falls on the subject is the single most important defining characteristic of a lighting setup.

I'd recommend trying this excercise before moving on to fill lighting. You can always add fill light, but unless you are clear about where you want your key light to come from, it will be difficult to create effective lighting setups.
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