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01-26-2015, 12:36 AM   #1
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Lighting kit for Flash remedial student

Hello! I am in need of reliable flash photography assistance. I have started a part-time, hobby business of taking photos for the school (where I teach) sports/events and selling them on a website I started.(mustangsphoto.com) Long story short, it is growing quickly and I'm pushing $2K in sales for January. I even stumbled into having a photo of mine getting put on the cover of a national magazine: Dec -American Football Monthly. (Along with 2 other pics in the magazine as well) BUT HONESTLY, I REALLY AM A RANK AMATEUR. I just have grown in understanding of basics to where I can do ok. Now my problem, flash photography. My boss has now said that he would like to use me to take the formal team pics (and him ditch the pros that have done it in the past.) I believe I can really add revenues if I start doing this!! Remember, I know little about flash. I'd like to go as cheap as possible, but still do things well. What all do I need? Are 2-3 off camera flashes with umbrellas enough? Size umbrella? White or silver? What all would I need? After reading ...Cactus V6 + 3 RF60s? (Just one V6 enough?) Better options? Stands with hot shoes I'm assuming. What else would I need that i may be missing? I like the idea of having triggered flash for adding light to other things as well like pep rallies. BOTTOM LINE: If you needed to take sports team pics in a gym without great lighting and had to buy a full lighting kit on a budget, what all would you buy? Bear in mind, simplicity is good for where I am in my journey. Thanks for your time.
Kevin

01-26-2015, 01:28 AM - 1 Like   #2
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In the end it might be easier to just get a couple of Paul C Buff Einsteins like I did. The entire setup should cost you about $1300-1500 for a two light kit. They give really good light and could even be used during sporting events if that's what you want. Since you're bringing in revenue it's probably worth it.

A beauty dish (especially white) with monolight(s) is like the miracle solution for most portraits. For group shots you may need standard reflectors.

So you basically need two Einsteins with their proprietary radio trigger receivers, one of the $60 transmitters, extension cords, 2 light stands, dishes/reflectors, and a used Minolta light meter. I suppose you need to add a little money for the case to carry it in. You'll look professional, you'll be professional, and it's better than monkeying with equipment that isn't really designed for that purpose. In the end it may not even cost as much as rigging much weaker camera-mount flashes to work off-camera. Did you know you can even use powerful strobes like this at mid-day on a sunny beach shoot to "overpower the Sun?!" I've got some photos to prove it. And honestly, while they look impressive, I actually think this is a simpler setup, since they're designed for the task. And the Einsteins are a better value than their cheaper lights because they're more advanced and have the integrated radio trigger system (which saves some money, is simpler, and is probably more reliable too).

You can order everything (except the light meter and standard 3-prong power extension cords) from their website, and they have good prices and a generous return period.

EDIT: These newer OMNI reflectors look interesting - I'd like to try them. If you get good lights in the first place you can instead concentrate on directing it well and evenly, which is the most difficult part anyway. http://www.paulcbuff.com/reflectors.php

Last edited by DSims; 01-26-2015 at 02:11 AM.
01-26-2015, 04:46 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
Are 2-3 off camera flashes with umbrellas enough?
Depends on what you want to do.

There are a lot of lighting techniques that work with one light (and reflectors) only.

For larger group shots, I would suggest at least two lights for frontal lighting, and ideally a third (or fourth) for back-lighting, if you use regular light modifiers.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
Size umbrella?
The larger, the better.

The larger the apparent light source, the softer the light will be.

With group shots, you will have to use the lights from a distance, which makes their apparent size smaller. I'd say that the PCB OMNI reflectors would be unfit for this purpose, unless you can use existing surfaces such as walls and ceilings to bounce from them.

I personally prefer softboxes over umbrellas, as they allow more control over the light, but sometimes the light spill of umbrellas can be beneficial. It is just hard to control.

Instead of using small individual modifiers, you could also buy or construct yourself a big scrim/reflector (there are many DIY tutorials on this topic) and fire multiple flashes into the big scrim/reflector. If you feather such a large modifier across the group, you could get even lighting with just one big modifier.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
White or silver?
White provides softer light.

Sometimes hard light can be desirable, but you can always turn a soft light source into a hard one by making its apparent size smaller (more distance, blocking some of the modifier), but making a hard light source softer is more challenging (requiring additional large surfaces to bounce off or flash through).

QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
.Cactus V6 + 3 RF60s? (Just one V6 enough?)
You don't need more than one V6, unless you want to use existing flashes and need further V6 as receivers.

You may need more than 3 RF60 depending on your power requirements.

If you need a lot of light with short recycling times then it makes sense to use two RF60 with one light modifier.
This helps with recycling times, power, and battery lifetime.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
Better options?
Yongnuo is cheaper, but I would avoid Yongnuo because of reliability, compatibility and functionality issues.

Godox makes some attractive equipment, but they had a lot of issues with their Li-Ion batteries and their triggering system isn't half as good as the V6.

QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
If you needed to take sports team pics in a gym without great lighting and had to buy a full lighting kit on a budget, what all would you buy?
I think your suggestions are good, but would probably go for four RF60, depending on group size and the style of lighting you want.

There isn't a substitute for learning about lighting and lighting equipment. "Strobist 101" is good starting point, just forget about the gear recommendations which are hopelessly outdated).
01-26-2015, 05:09 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
In the end it might be easier to just get a couple of Paul C Buff Einsteins like I did.
These have the big disadvantage that they need AC power.

It is not always possible to get access to AC power on location.
Of course one can get an inverter from PCB and/or battery driven monolights, but all this is a very different price league compared to a small number of flashguns.

It just depends whether one needs the power of monolights and is prepared to pay the price (not only when purchasing) but also in terms of bulk and weight when working on location.

BTW, the Einsteins are high-end strobes with certain capabilities regarding flash duration and colour stability, that I'd regard as overkill for the OP. If the OP wanted to go down the monolight route, there would be cheaper options (including from PCB).

QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
A beauty dish (especially white) with monolight(s) is like the miracle solution for most portraits.
I would advise against a beauty dish for the purposes of the OP.
It has its applications, but they are limited and it is certainly not a modifier for beginners as it is much easier to get bad shots from it than good shots.

QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
...and a used Minolta light meter.
I don't see the need for a light meter at all.

With today's technology, you can do a few test shots (even before subjects arrive) and be done with it.
I've never seen anyone work faster with a light meter.

Again, a light meter has its (few) applications, but is not an essential item for the OP.

QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
You'll look professional, you'll be professional, and it's better than monkeying with equipment that isn't really designed for that purpose.
Why use derogative terms like "monkeying"?

As Joe McNally has demonstrated numerous times, one can obtain professional results by using multiple flashguns.
They can even be more flexible and adequate than big monoglights, in particular on location.


QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
In the end it may not even cost as much as rigging much weaker camera-mount flashes to work off-camera.
Why speculate, if one can do the math?

Of course a high-power studio setup will be much more expensive than say a Cactus setup that isn't as powerful, but may be powerful enough.

QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
Did you know you can even use powerful strobes like this at mid-day on a sunny beach shoot to "overpower the Sun?!"
The Einsteins do not support HSS, so with Pentax you'd have to use ND filters on the lens in order to bring down the shutter speed. Even if you manage to get a flash trigger at higher shutter speeds (say by using an HSS-capable P-TTL flash) then the Einsteins only support the HyperSync approach which leads to a graduated exposure.

The RF60, BTW, support a manual HSS mode and could hence be more suitable in bright daylight, if you use enough of them. I have successfully used two RF60 in tandem in bright sunlight myself.

01-26-2015, 05:11 AM - 1 Like   #5
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Look over at strobist at their lighting101 section. A wealth of lighting knowledge.

Strobist: Lighting 101
01-26-2015, 06:52 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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I strongly disagree on the advice to "simply get Einsteins". they're nice, but they're NOT the only viable solution. They are one option among many. And I for one strongly dislike having to carry AC power all the time.

I agree with most of what Class A has written, as usual he gives good advice. Cactus has the most flexible and complete remote triggering system out there, with more features being controlled via the remote (namely, zoom position, which might not be that much of an issue when using an umbrella).

I'd say that Yongnuo has come a long way in the recent past, with an interesting system. I'd still choose the Cactus over it.

I personally use the Godox system. What won me over was the amazingly fast recharge rate and long-lasting capacity of their Li-Ion batteries. I now have three of those flashes, and indeed one battery has a lower capacity than the others, but it was replaced immediately under warranty. There are reviews of the Cactus and Godox system here on Pentaxforums (written by Class A and me ).

As for light modifiers, for the type of work you plan, large umbrellas will serve you well. If you plan on doing portraits, then you can consider learning to use a softbox, it molds the light differently. But take things one step at a time, no need to rush. You can get a nice Westcott stand and umbrella kit or about 70$. They're great. Or you can go the eBay route, Cowboystudio is a nice chinese brand making decent quality products.

Start easy, don't rush into excessive spending. Learn your stuff. The Strobist blog is an excellent place to start. Joe McNally has written many books, I find "sketching light" to be a fantastic one. Learn your stuff and let yourself evolve and learn.
01-26-2015, 10:51 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
So you basically need two Einsteins with their proprietary radio trigger receivers, one of the $60 transmitters, extension cords, 2 light stands, dishes/reflectors, and a used Minolta light meter.
I agree with this, especially for professional money-making gigs, but I'd modify the list above to include the Cyber Commander remote control, and remove the crappy Minolta light meter. The Cyber Commander is a brilliant piece of gear as it includes a built-in flash meter. So you can think of it as a flash meter with built in wireless trigger for less money than the least expensive Sekonic flash meter.

The huge downside of the Paul C Buff Einstein route is the system weight as compared to the hotshoe flash method. If you are toting this gear to a location you will have to invest in a big roller case with good solid wheels. I recommend the Photoflex Transpac series. I got one for all the hotshoe flash gear I'd been transporting around, and now I'm using it with my Einsteins.

But the even huger upside is as DSims says. It's well made, reliable, will give you three full stops more light than any flash, works with more modifiers, has faster recycling times, ... the list is long.

If you also expect to work outdoors or somewhere with no AC, then also get the PCB Vagabond Mini battery pack. Will drive two strobes for 400 pops fully charged.

---------- Post added 01-26-15 at 01:00 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
I don't see the need for a light meter at all.

With today's technology, you can do a few test shots (even before subjects arrive) and be done with it.
I've never seen anyone work faster with a light meter.
I have, and I do. Much faster. Anyway, to use a light meter or not is a personal workflow choice that everyone has to decide on for themselves.

Personally, I rely on my light meter in the studio (and sometimes out) to get perfect exposures fast. I don't waste my models' time taking test shot after test shot, then f*cking it up anyway because the scene is black garments on a black background where the histogram looks like a hockey stick and you cannot tell anything from it.

But that's just me.
01-26-2015, 12:24 PM   #8
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
In the end it might be easier to just get a couple of Paul C Buff Einsteins like I did. The entire setup should cost you about $1300-1500 for a two light kit. They give really good light and could even be used during sporting events if that's what you want. Since you're bringing in revenue it's probably worth it.

A beauty dish (especially white) with monolight(s) is like the miracle solution for most portraits. For group shots you may need standard reflectors.

So you basically need two Einsteins with their proprietary radio trigger receivers, one of the $60 transmitters, extension cords, 2 light stands, dishes/reflectors, and a used Minolta light meter. I suppose you need to add a little money for the case to carry it in. You'll look professional, you'll be professional, and it's better than monkeying with equipment that isn't really designed for that purpose. In the end it may not even cost as much as rigging much weaker camera-mount flashes to work off-camera. Did you know you can even use powerful strobes like this at mid-day on a sunny beach shoot to "overpower the Sun?!" I've got some photos to prove it. And honestly, while they look impressive, I actually think this is a simpler setup, since they're designed for the task. And the Einsteins are a better value than their cheaper lights because they're more advanced and have the integrated radio trigger system (which saves some money, is simpler, and is probably more reliable too).

You can order everything (except the light meter and standard 3-prong power extension cords) from their website, and they have good prices and a generous return period.

EDIT: These newer OMNI reflectors look interesting - I'd like to try them. If you get good lights in the first place you can instead concentrate on directing it well and evenly, which is the most difficult part anyway. Paul C. Buff - Reflectors
Thank you so much for your help!! I now have narrowed my choices down to just a few which is a big relief. Thanks again!

---------- Post added 01-26-15 at 01:25 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
These have the big disadvantage that they need AC power.

It is not always possible to get access to AC power on location.
Of course one can get an inverter from PCB and/or battery driven monolights, but all this is a very different price league compared to a small number of flashguns.

It just depends whether one needs the power of monolights and is prepared to pay the price (not only when purchasing) but also in terms of bulk and weight when working on location.

BTW, the Einsteins are high-end strobes with certain capabilities regarding flash duration and colour stability, that I'd regard as overkill for the OP. If the OP wanted to go down the monolight route, there would be cheaper options (including from PCB).


I would advise against a beauty dish for the purposes of the OP.
It has its applications, but they are limited and it is certainly not a modifier for beginners as it is much easier to get bad shots from it than good shots.


I don't see the need for a light meter at all.

With today's technology, you can do a few test shots (even before subjects arrive) and be done with it.
I've never seen anyone work faster with a light meter.

Again, a light meter has its (few) applications, but is not an essential item for the OP.


Why use derogative terms like "monkeying"?

As Joe McNally has demonstrated numerous times, one can obtain professional results by using multiple flashguns.
They can even be more flexible and adequate than big monoglights, in particular on location.



Why speculate, if one can do the math?

Of course a high-power studio setup will be much more expensive than say a Cactus setup that isn't as powerful, but may be powerful enough.


The Einsteins do not support HSS, so with Pentax you'd have to use ND filters on the lens in order to bring down the shutter speed. Even if you manage to get a flash trigger at higher shutter speeds (say by using an HSS-capable P-TTL flash) then the Einsteins only support the HyperSync approach which leads to a graduated exposure.

The RF60, BTW, support a manual HSS mode and could hence be more suitable in bright daylight, if you use enough of them. I have successfully used two RF60 in tandem in bright sunlight myself.
I really appreciate your help! You have helped me tremendously! Thanks again!

---------- Post added 01-26-15 at 01:30 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by bdery Quote
I strongly disagree on the advice to "simply get Einsteins". they're nice, but they're NOT the only viable solution. They are one option among many. And I for one strongly dislike having to carry AC power all the time.

I agree with most of what Class A has written, as usual he gives good advice. Cactus has the most flexible and complete remote triggering system out there, with more features being controlled via the remote (namely, zoom position, which might not be that much of an issue when using an umbrella).

I'd say that Yongnuo has come a long way in the recent past, with an interesting system. I'd still choose the Cactus over it.

I personally use the Godox system. What won me over was the amazingly fast recharge rate and long-lasting capacity of their Li-Ion batteries. I now have three of those flashes, and indeed one battery has a lower capacity than the others, but it was replaced immediately under warranty. There are reviews of the Cactus and Godox system here on Pentaxforums (written by Class A and me ).

As for light modifiers, for the type of work you plan, large umbrellas will serve you well. If you plan on doing portraits, then you can consider learning to use a softbox, it molds the light differently. But take things one step at a time, no need to rush. You can get a nice Westcott stand and umbrella kit or about 70$. They're great. Or you can go the eBay route, Cowboystudio is a nice chinese brand making decent quality products.

Start easy, don't rush into excessive spending. Learn your stuff. The Strobist blog is an excellent place to start. Joe McNally has written many books, I find "sketching light" to be a fantastic one. Learn your stuff and let yourself evolve and learn.
Very helpful! One question: I know the Cactus has the V6... what about triggering the Godox flashes? Thanks for the sound advice! I'm grateful for your time.

01-26-2015, 02:29 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
I agree with this, especially for professional money-making gigs, but I'd modify the list above to include the Cyber Commander remote control, and remove the crappy Minolta light meter. The Cyber Commander is a brilliant piece of gear as it includes a built-in flash meter. So you can think of it as a flash meter with built in wireless trigger for less money than the least expensive Sekonic flash meter.
The Cyber Commander might be a good or even better solution today, but my used, $50 on CL Minlota light meter (cheap since no one thinks they need one anymore) gives exactly the same readings as a buddy's new ~$250-300 Sekonic. So it's hardly junk. Plus Kenko still makes it and sells new accessories for it (though you can get those used too).

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
I would advise against a beauty dish for the purposes of the OP.
It has its applications, but they are limited and it is certainly not a modifier for beginners as it is much easier to get bad shots from it than good shots.
I might go with something else given the current options, but if you look at his website he certainly takes individual portraits too.

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Why use derogative terms like "monkeying"?
What, am I going to hurt the equipment's feelings? The picture here is of equipment that frustrates you as you try to make it work.
QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
The Einsteins do not support HSS, so with Pentax you'd have to use ND filters on the lens in order to bring down the shutter speed. Even if you manage to get a flash trigger at higher shutter speeds (say by using an HSS-capable P-TTL flash) then the Einsteins only support the HyperSync approach which leads to a graduated exposure.

The RF60, BTW, support a manual HSS mode and could hence be more suitable in bright daylight, if you use enough of them. I have successfully used two RF60 in tandem in bright sunlight myself.
I have no idea what you're talking about here - that is, I'm pretty sure I didn't need/use HSS for these shots. I may look for them later when I have more time.

Last edited by DSims; 01-26-2015 at 02:34 PM.
01-26-2015, 02:55 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by DSims Quote
The Cyber Commander might be a good or even better solution today, but
Hey, if you are going to go this route you may as well get all the benefit.

Lights are all set up and ready, with guessed-at power setting.
Model steps into place.
Hold Cyber Commander under model's chin with dome pointing at key light.
Pop!
Adjust F-stop on CC to match what you desire; this sets strobe power automatically.
Same F-stop on camera
Shoot.

Publish shot; tremendous applause.
01-26-2015, 06:47 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kevwaly Quote
I know the Cactus has the V6... what about triggering the Godox flashes?
Have a look at my comparison between the Godox FT-16s and the V6 as part of my RF60 review.

In a nutshell, the trigger system for all Godox flashes/strobes is in need of an update. It works well for one flash, but as soon as you have two or more groups, you'll be a lot quicker with a V6.

In case you are thinking about the V850, note that the radio receivers are extra and need to be attached/detached. The RF60 has the receivers built in.

If you need faster recycling and more stamina, you can add an external powerpack to an RF60, but that obviously increases setup time and adds to the weight. An RF60 with a (reliable) Li-Ion battery, providing the recycling rate and stamina of a V850 would be great. One more note, though: Both RF60 and V850 have built-in thermal protection. After 20-30 shots at full power in quick succession, they will increase the recycling rate considerably in order to allow the flash tube to cool down. So a Li-Ion battery is mainly useful for stamina (and easier handling of batteries) and the occasional quick-firing, but unless paired with a high-performance flash-tube, it won't give you high-performance triggering.

The Einsteins would be much better suited for high-frequency shooting at high power levels. However, for portraits, you don't need that kind of performance at all.
01-26-2015, 07:14 PM   #12
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Light meters

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
I have, and I do. Much faster. Anyway, to use a light meter or not is a personal workflow choice that everyone has to decide on for themselves.
I agree that it is a personal workflow choice, but I don't think that a lightmeter allows you to work faster (see below).

I still see one good use for lightmeters and that is to establish fixed lighting ratios from multiple light sources. However, one can replace that by making records of well-working lighting scenarios, including light distances and power levels. This will be even better to re-create working lighting setups quickly.

If you can not recreate a known setup due to some constraints of the location then a lightmeter will allow you to more quickly establish certain desired lighting ratios. Anyone needs to judge for themselves how often that will be occurring and whether they won't be tweaking ratios anyhow, due to the subject. Incident level readings are one thing, what you'll see in the image is also determined by the reflective qualities of the subject, so in general, you'd be tweaking either way.

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Hold Cyber Commander under model's chin with dome pointing at key light.
Pop!
...
Publish shot; tremendous applause.
Yeah, right.

What you describe is an incident metering that will always give you the same results, independently of the subject, provided your lighting setup is constant.

Hence, in a studio, you wouldn't need to meter or take test shots at all. You just use the same settings as last time.

If you recreate well-working lighting setups from records then, again, you don't have to do any test shots (or incident metering) at all.

Also, the technically accurate exposure is rarely the one that works best for a particular desired outcome. Perhaps one wants the skin to be slightly overexposed, different skin types require different exposures, perhaps there is a bright reflection in the frame that requires underexposure, etc. In other words, unless you are dealing with an extremely standardised setting, it is never ever a matter of "Meter | Pop | Applause".

Starting with reasonable manual settings (either from records or experience) and tweaking from there (no real subject needed yet) is pretty much as quick, in my experience (which isn't vast, I have to admit). Note that you don't have to walk back and forth to get incident readings, if you don't use a light meter.

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Personally, I rely on my light meter in the studio (and sometimes out) to get perfect exposures fast. I don't waste my models' time taking test shot after test shot, then f*cking it up anyway because the scene is black garments on a black background where the histogram looks like a hockey stick and you cannot tell anything from it.
Histograms are not that useful in general, except for checking extreme under- and over-exposure, and the latter still works in your scenario.

Ultimately, the visual impression counts, not what a light meter or histogram tells you. Whether you can do that with a well-calibrated back-LCD, an attached monitor, tethering, or from experience (a lot of reasonable exposure errors can be fixed in post without any significant impact on IQ), is up to you. A light meter, however, is surely not a magic wand that provides a one-click fix.

Last edited by Class A; 01-26-2015 at 09:50 PM.
01-26-2015, 07:47 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
What you describe is an incident metering that will always give you the same results, independently of the subject, provided your lighting setup is constant.

Hence, in a studio, you wouldn't need to meter or take test shots at all. You just use the same settings as last time.

If you recreate well-working lighting setups from records then, again, you don't have to do any test shots (or incident metering) at all.
I see now why there's such a disconnect: I don't work anything like that, nor have I ever worked with anyone who does. Recreate lighting from records? Use the same settings every time? I can see where a professional shooting Santa Claus "portraits" might do that, but otherwise, gah!

I create new lighting patterns each time I work. I look at the subject and what they are wearing, the backdrop, the props, take into account the theme, throw in what I feel like ... and place the lights accordingly. Then I measure and adjust for the amount of key, fill, hair, rim, whatever. Without a meter this takes ages. With a meter, much less time. Simple as that.

Then -- and this is critical -- your model will be moving around. If the lights are placed close for drama and specific falloff, even small changes in pose cause large changes in exposure. Each time I get the model to move a step back or a step to the side, I re-meter. Quickly walk to the model, fire the flash meter, see what the reading looks like. If it shifted more than one-third stop, I adjust it back to where it should be.

Again though, workflow follows requirements. If you aren't shooting the kind of stuff I shoot, then your methodology will be better suited to your task.
01-26-2015, 09:29 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
I see now why there's such a disconnect:
I don't see the disconnect, because I only (apparently incorrectly) inferred from your descriptions that you are doing rather standardised shoots. Standardised shoots are not what I do and it is not the reason why I argue light meters have become pretty much obsolete in the the digital age (with the exception of a some rare application scenarios).

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Recreate lighting from records?
Of course.

Professionals do it all the time, with the records often being in their head.
You can try to reinvent the wheel with every shoot, but there are standard solutions that have proven their worth and only require tweaking, instead of re-development from scratch.

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
I look at the subject and what they are wearing, the backdrop, the props, take into account the theme, throw in what I feel like ... and place the lights accordingly.
See, "what they are wearing", "the backdrop", etc. all that matters, but none of it is captured by incident metering.

Just as you set your lights according to the scene (preferably inspired by working lighting setups instead of starting from first principles every time), the appropriate exposure is something that depends on the scene and not just on a single dumb incident metering level.

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Then I measure and adjust for the amount of key, fill, hair, rim, whatever. Without a meter this takes ages. With a meter, much less time.
It doesn't take ages without a meter. Not at all.

Have you ever used a trigger with remote power control?

With the V6, I will tune each group to my liking individually first and then combine them partially or completely in order to find the ratios that I like for the scene. If it is a scene that is similar to what I have shot before, I can start from default values that will be close to what I need. There is no need for the real subject to be present at this stage, so no VIP's time gets wasted and my time is well spent on getting the optimal setup.

My tweaking is based on actual visual feedback as opposed to relying on a simple, single reading that is meant to achieve "correct" exposure. When does the latter ever lead to the right (in terms of artistic impact, not technical levels) exposure straight away, in particular with multiple lights?

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Then -- and this is critical -- your model will be moving around. If the lights are placed close for drama and specific falloff, even small changes in pose cause large changes in exposure.
A simple turn of the dial (potentially pressing a button at the same time if I don't want to change all groups in the same way) on the V6 fixes that. Again, my tweaking will be informed by experience (one click of the dial always corresponds to the same change) and visual feedback, not some raw technical number. If I haven't judged the change in exposure correctly, this may mean to take a shot or two that won't be useful, but we all take many more shots than the one that gets published anyhow, don't we? You don't need to tell the model that you are doing "tests shots", if you don't want to.

QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Each time I get the model to move a step back or a step to the side, I re-meter. Quickly walk to the model, fire the flash meter, see what the reading looks like.
You "quickly" walk to the model, I quickly turn a dial. What is quicker?

After a while, you figure out how much of a relative change you need in response to some scene change, and if you don't get it close enough the first time, you tweak again. You are still quicker compared to pulling out your meter and doing the walking routine.

Which approach is more detrimental to the flow of the shoot, losing moments, connections, etc?

When I see photographers walk up from behind their camera, hold a meter against the model's nose, and walk back again, I always put myself into the model's shoes and think how uneasy I'd feel with the close contact of the meter and how disruptive I'd find such an interruption.

I don't want to talk anyone out of using light meters if this approach works for them. Different people have different workflow preferences and that is 100% fine with me. The only reason why I'm responding again is that I object to the idea that working without a light meter only works well for Santa Claus pictures, or anything of that sort.

Last edited by Class A; 01-26-2015 at 09:49 PM.
01-26-2015, 10:32 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
Hey, if you are going to go this route you may as well get all the benefit.

Lights are all set up and ready, with guessed-at power setting.
Model steps into place.
Hold Cyber Commander under model's chin with dome pointing at key light.
Pop!
Adjust F-stop on CC to match what you desire; this sets strobe power automatically.
Same F-stop on camera
Shoot.

Publish shot; tremendous applause.
I think you're right, and since I already have the other equipment I'll probably have to get one some time. I was just saying that a Minolta light meter is a high quality example of traditional technology/methodology, not a piece of junk. This is why we still have current models of traditional Kenko/Minolta, Sekonic, and other designs on the market.

QuoteOriginally posted by Class A Quote
Ultimately, the visual impression counts, not what a light meter or histogram tells you. Whether you can do that with a well-calibrated back-LCD, an attached monitor, tethering, or from experience (a lot of reasonable exposure errors can be fixed in post without any significant impact on IQ), is up to you. A light meter, however, is surely not a magic wand that provides a one-click fix.
Thanks, Class A - I think you've proven once and for all that light meters are not obsolete. Few photographers want to go through the meticulous and thoughtful process you use, superior though it may be (and it sounds like it is).

I'm completely serious here, though I am enjoying teasing you about how you disproved your own statement!
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