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02-13-2017, 06:51 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
@gatorguy Your lighting setup information is really helpful. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I'm still chasing down my preferred lights and setup.

I'm getting to the point that a couple of 400+ watt strobes upfront with 250+ watt model lights and a pair 200+ watt rear for highlights or background blowout is what'll give me the flexibility I'd like.

The problem being that the front strobes to get high a wattage modeling light is a pain. A 10 watt LED doesn't cut it for 100 watt output equivalence.
Ugh…
Agreed. that's why I've gone with LED 150W key light which is 1500W equivalence (supposedly) and LED 100W fill which is 1000W equivalent, again supposedly. Even if not it's probably fairly close. I'll take a couple unmodified as-shot pics of "Penny" to post here so you can see the results.

02-14-2017, 05:59 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
@Brooke Meyer I was strongly considering the AlienBees DB800 Flash Unit, but it's only 120 VAC. With my globe-trotting travels, I've got to have 90-240 VAC possibility. The Einstein 640 does check the box for much of what'd be nice.

Heck, I'd be pretty darn happy to pull together 2 AlienBees DB800 and 2 Einstein 640s with 2 Vagabond packs and use them however needed on my travels. I might get there yet, but for now, I'm wondering if Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Kit EL20839.2 B&H Photo suffices enough for now.

---------- Post added Feb 14th, 2017 at 19:59 ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
Agreed. that's why I've gone with LED 150W key light which is 1500W equivalence (supposedly) and LED 100W fill which is 1000W equivalent, again supposedly. Even if not it's probably fairly close. I'll take a couple unmodified as-shot pics of "Penny" to post here so you can see the results.
@gatorguy what lights are you using then?
02-15-2017, 04:13 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
@Brooke Meyer I was strongly considering the AlienBees DB800 Flash Unit, but it's only 120 VAC. With my globe-trotting travels, I've got to have 90-240 VAC possibility. The Einstein 640 does check the box for much of what'd be nice.

Heck, I'd be pretty darn happy to pull together 2 AlienBees DB800 and 2 Einstein 640s with 2 Vagabond packs and use them however needed on my travels. I might get there yet, but for now, I'm wondering if Elinchrom D-Lite RX 4/4 Softbox To Go Kit EL20839.2 B&H Photo suffices enough for now.

---------- Post added Feb 14th, 2017 at 19:59 ----------


@gatorguy what lights are you using then?
Here's two real quickie as-shot images from a few minutes ago. One is wide-angle so you can see some of the setup. I didn't put the 150 back up, but I will tomorrow so you can see the difference. These are NOT strobes. This one was taken with a 100W RPS studio Coolled key light and another dialed back a bit on the right as fill. You'll also see a 20W RPS Studio behind the fill light being used for hair and another behind "Penny" adding highlight for the background. There's no natural light with both room windows blacked out for this. If you look at the EXIF you'll see the settings are very manageable even without the bigger LED.
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02-16-2017, 01:17 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
The RPS LED's are a good portrait solution if you can 1. control ambient & 2. don't need to stop motion. I love to use the old fashioned tungsten equivalent, Mole Richardson tungsten fresnels but shooting during daylight hours, in a dance studio with lots of big windows I can't block is problematic. Nor can I stop a dancer in motion like with a strobe.
I agree with that sir. I do have pretty good natural lighting with one east and one south-facing window so during the day I can usually augment with one of the LED's and a reflector. Those two sample pics taken in the evening with the windows blacked out. I would guess some members here would be at least mildly surprised that relatively cheap continuous LED's would be as workable as they are. Maybe not worthy of professional use but I've recently seen some of Hurley's training videos on KelbyOne (subscribed in Dec) and he's a strong supporter of constant lighting.

Of course my room's so small there's little danger of much dancing going on so that's one thing less for me to worry about. You seem to have found a good solution for your situation.


Last edited by gatorguy; 02-16-2017 at 01:24 PM.
02-16-2017, 03:48 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
I would guess some members here would be at least mildly surprised that relatively cheap continuous LED's would be as workable as they are. Maybe not worthy of professional use but I've recently seen some of Hurley's training videos on KelbyOne (subscribed in Dec) and he's a strong supporter of constant lighting.
Looking at your EXIF, Gatorguy, to go to 1/200s for sharpness you'll be needing ISO 400 or 800, and that's with those lights being super close. When you move them back even one yard watch that requirement go to ISO 1600 or 3200. Go for the depth of field and lens image quality calls for f5.6 or f8 instead of the f3.2 you shot at, so the ISO starts to get up to 6400 or 12800.

Still, the modifiers in the kit are nice and big, and being continuous is good for a beginner in that they can see right in front of them the shadows and highlights on the subject, and correct a pose in real time.

Last edited by clackers; 02-16-2017 at 03:54 PM.
02-16-2017, 04:28 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Looking at your EXIF, Gatorguy, to go to 1/200s for sharpness you'll be needing ISO 400 or 800, and that's with those lights being super close. When you move them back even one yard watch that requirement go to ISO 1600 or 3200. Go for the depth of field and lens image quality calls for f5.6 or f8 instead of the f3.2 you shot at, so the ISO starts to get up to 6400 or 12800.

Still, the modifiers in the kit are nice and big, and being continuous is good for a beginner in that they can see right in front of them the shadows and highlights on the subject, and correct a pose in real time.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments @clackers. I hadn't noticed any issue so far with sharpness, tho now that you've brought it up I'll be more cognizant of it. I've not had a reason to move the lights another yard away (and in this room it would be tricky to do anyway) but I know you're right that using constant LED's in the manner I have requires they be moved relatively close to the subject if I don't have ambient lighting available. Many times I do tho, and still for a small studio like mine I do believe it's definitely workable and good results can be had. Would strobes be more effective? I'm sure they would, but as you mentioned using constants gets me up to speed faster with portraiture. If I ever make it a business I may have to go the old traditional route with my lighting. Maybe not. Constant lights are getting better.

Anyway I'll keep practicing as I've got lots to learn. I appreciate any advice you and others have to offer.

Last edited by gatorguy; 02-16-2017 at 05:37 PM.
02-17-2017, 04:57 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
There's no such thing as worthy of professional use. It works or it doesn't. I have no problem using $63 YN560III's for a shoot. Or $500 Einstein's. It's just photons. Check out Kirk Tucks Visual Science Lab blog
You're right, it was a poorly constructed sentence that didn't make my thoughts completely clear for you. Yes my 40W worklight in the garage is worthy of professional use for a special case. I was actually referring to my set-up as one that many photogs depending on studio portrait income, studio professionals, would not consider for regular use. But yes it can be worthy of professional use if it works.

Anyway with even hot-shoe mounted flashheads being a confusing topic for a lot of us adding stuff like what to use in a studio, shadows and highlights, head and neck position of your client, what the heck do you do with hands, shooting techniques and tricks, how to put your subject at ease (biggie!), make it all more daunting for even experienced photographers thinking about studio portraiture. When I was looking into it sometimes it had the feel of a private club with secret handshakes. Light meters, lumen calculations, "classic" lighting, where to put which light, how many and what kind and when, triggers and syncing and... Oh my! The only way to begin understanding was to just do it.

The biggest roadblock for me personally was clearly understanding even basic lighting technique. All of us have seen a pretty face look bad in the wrong light. I didn't get the details of what made artificial lighting bad or good, why one shot the face looks fat, flat, or otherwise unflattering while in another it looks pretty good. Nevermind all the posing stuff. That's where continuous lighting like my LED's is a HUGE assist for me. Real-time results.

Like Clackers says, for a beginner like me it's so much easier to see the effect of a 6" nudge of a key light this way or a simple forehead forward and down shift in real time instead of needing to shoot and individually review a half dozen pics one at a time with one strobe, then two strobes. Tehn turn your head this way. Now chin up. Nevermind, chin down.... I think in the time a new home studio photographer could set-up and shoot 10 different flash/strobe-lighted test-shots I could have composed dozens of variances using different light combinations/modifiers, positions and poses and come up with a more predictable idea of the end results I expect. It's faster and more enjoyable for both me and my subject when a session moves along without stop and look every shot.

As I build experience I'm pretty sure that strobes will be part of it too if i stick with it. I get that my light output is limited and restricting depending on what the intent and subject is. I'm not doing stop-action with any continuous lighting that doesn't at least cause the person to squint and tear up. Understood. But my completely inexperienced opinion is that especially for someone new to DSLR's and interested in setting up a small photo area in their home, using constant light sources whether it be from a well-lit window or LED's/flourescents or a combination of both is absolutely worth considering over flash, and a whole lot easier to pick up technique from.

Shoot a single image and review, rinse, repeat may well frustrate many photographers, particularly when they don't have someone they can mentor with outside of a YouTube video. I know it would me. There's just so many variables, with even a minor tilt of the head or 1 foot closer to a light source making the difference between a keeper and another blah shot. Ya get the lights right but the pose is wrong and I guess wrong it might be the lights. Or the pose is right but too much shadow. Was the light used wrong or just needed to be angled differently, up/down/over a bit? There's a reason I see lots of landscapes and outdoor family pics posted here and elsewhere. Constant lighting lets the shooter see what the results will be before they take the shot. They're somewhat confident about the result and look forward to finding those opportunities and take 'em. . I'm trying to do the same in a small studio and make it easier to suss out and thus repeatable. I've not yet developed that eye for what a light is going to reveal when it goes off, and I know I'm not in the minority. It's no wonder not that many forum members ask about this stuff. I doubt it's because of a lack of interest but more that they don't even know where to begin and the costs seem like they'd be more than many of us could afford.

Anyone at all interested in home portraits for fun (or maybe an occasional dollar or two) could cover all the most basic needs with one window, one decent variable 100W LED and one reflector (My wife wishes I had stopped there ). And they'd start getting to the results they'd like a whole lot faster and more reliably than going the strobe route. it doesn't have to be expensive or difficult to grasp. Once the lighting starts sinking in, and it quickly will, it's so much easier to concentrate on technique and people-skills. Everyone here can do portraits, and good ones too! Just make it simple, and IMHO continuous lighting plays a big part in it.

That's my .02 cents anyway.

Last edited by gatorguy; 02-17-2017 at 08:56 AM.
02-17-2017, 01:53 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
You can make a good portrait with a window and a reflector.



Or a 85W CFL in a Morris softbox
Those are REALLY nice.

Yes you can. That's actually how I first started with a couple of people pics. Except no reflector. But I got's one now!
Continuous lighting is my best friend. I just augment what ever is available if it doesn't work the way I want as is.

I hope more photographers realize it doesn't have to be involved or expensive to do studio-grade work. And thanks for the Visual Science lab link. He's had similar experiences with the RPS lights, and finding authentic comments about them is not easy. I've really liked working with them in case you can't tell.


Last edited by gatorguy; 02-17-2017 at 02:20 PM.
02-17-2017, 04:53 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brooke Meyer Quote
A 20"x30" piece of white foam board, what school kids use for posters, makes a very good reflector. Couple of dollars at Wal Mart, Michaels, Staples, etc. Cut down a 4x8 sheet of home insulation with the silver side, a few dollars. 3 yards of 60" wide micro fleece fabric makes a good background, especially black.
Thanks for the tips. I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates 'em.
02-18-2017, 04:47 PM   #25
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Wow everyone, thanks for all the great details. I've got a couple of Elinchrom BRX 500 units that are helping me beat the ambient issue without shame, but that softboxes leave much to desire with specular highlights. Ah, a new problem to fix.

Still, for constant light and professional portrait setups. I've trained with Peter Hurley and behind the Westcotts flex lights are usually some Profoto B1s to high key the background.

I'm finding that a mix of constant lights and strobes are changing the pace of a shoot for good.

Oh yeah, a good light meter too really helps. I was able to accomplish in 30-60 minutes of getting my first with the newly received BRX 500s in an hour, what 12 hours of frustrating experimentation without a lightmeter, though tethered did.
03-12-2017, 04:25 PM   #26
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Doing a little optimizing in the studio today and think this works pretty well.

It leaves a good amount of walk space, de-clutters the floor and offers quite a lot of lighting flexibility. All the larger softboxes and gear stow behind the backdrop when not needed. A combination of wall brackets and Kupole's rids the room of light-stands. The 4'x8' dormer section lets me get some distance between me and the model when needed and for times I need a wider backdrop than the stock paper 54" I put up a ceiling mounted pole for one that easily gets me 7' wide.

Ohh...
This is kinda important for those that think they just don't have the space. I must'a had a brain-freeze when I mentioned room size in an earlier post. This is the (much) smaller of the two upstairs bedrooms. It's only 11' wide by 10' deep. But it certainly shoots a whole lot bigger than that IMHO.
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Last edited by gatorguy; 03-12-2017 at 04:40 PM.
05-17-2017, 02:34 PM   #27
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Way cool @gatorguy. I've got my stuff crammed into my office right now. I'll pull out things to shoot in another room or make a hole in the office for now. I'm envious of your dedicated space. The flying are serious…
05-20-2017, 03:32 PM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by comprock Quote
Way cool @gatorguy. I've got my stuff crammed into my office right now. I'll pull out things to shoot in another room or make a hole in the office for now. I'm envious of your dedicated space. The flying are serious…
Thank you sir! I've really enjoyed both shooting and editing there. BTW that's a studio monitor and not a TV on the wall. Same 4:3 screen as the camera and it was cheap too, less than $50. Depending on who's modeling I'll tether my camera and let them see exactly what I'm capturing. Makes it easier to point out what works and what didn't.

I've also discovered that a single reflector combined with the ambient window light in the dormer or the south-facing side window works REALLY well. Probably could have saved some money on LED's but whatever. It's take's only a minute to uncover them since they're hung on hooks and secured to the wall at the bottom with tiny but strong name-badge magnets. So I can cut-off all outside light even at mid-day or open it up to natural light. I just wish I had more portrait opportunities. Outside of family and good friends it's rare to have other models. I'm working on it.

Maybe if I charged something for it I'd get more interest.
05-21-2017, 04:18 PM   #29
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I fully get it @gatorguy.

I consider myself an unpaid professional, but at some point, I should be making money from my photography. Especially when I do things like 30 headshots in a few days; e.g., Axelerant - Headshots | Flickr.

Last edited by comprock; 05-23-2017 at 05:23 AM.
05-21-2017, 07:26 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by gatorguy Quote
Doing a little optimizing in the studio today and think this works pretty well. .
Yeah, I like your space, Gatorguy!

You can do a lot with little.

For this, I only had the stool at the piano of this muso, and relevant to this thread, I went for continuous lighting instead of flash for this pic, using an Ice Light clone. Held upright, it's simulating a window or softbox camera right.

K-1, DA*55, f3.2, 1/160s, ISO 800:

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