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12-26-2010, 05:15 PM   #1
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Noob lighting question

Hi all, here's the latest of my never-ending noob questions. This one is in regards to lighting. Apparently, I have been somewhat of a good boy this year, and Santa (read = my wife) has offered to get me a little lighting. My price range is around $115-120. I know, not enough to get the top of the line, but I figure I can add on as time goes by. So, I don't want some little piece of %$#& kit I see on some sites where the reviews say you have to put it 6" from the subject to tell the difference. But I have seen some with (for example) two seven foot stands, lights and umbrellas in that price range. Would I be better off buying one higher price/quality light and hope to add more later? Or, are some of these two stand kits ok? What wattage do I need so it's not a joke (probably the most important question for me)? I'm leaning toward flourescent, is there any reason not to? I'm leaning toward translucent umbrellas, is there any reason not to?

I'm looking for something fairly "general purpose" as this will be my only non-flash lighting for the foreseeable future. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks a lot.

12-27-2010, 04:33 PM   #2
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I'd recommend something based on hotshot flashes rather than studio strobes as it makes for a portable kit you can use anywhere. I have one 7' stand, a tripod that goes to about 6', and a monopod that goes to about 5'6" and depending on conditions they all get used to hold lights/umbrella. The monopod for outdoor use when there is a breeze, as an umbrella will easily topple a stand. A translucent umbrella is just fine.

Just remember that shooting with off-camera lighting doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. I've got a set titled Low-Budget Flash dedicated to providing examples of that. Every bit of the gear needed for any of those photos fits into the two bags seen here.
12-27-2010, 05:40 PM   #3

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This could end up being a long post but I hope you will find it worthwhile.

First, you need to determine what kind of light you want to produce. The best site to learn your options is Strobist.

Since I wanted to use flashes instead of strobes, I wanted something that would have less spill than a shoot through umbrella. This site has some great examples comparing shoot throughs and softboxes --> Umbrella vs. Softbox: a quick comparison | Portrait & Family Photography - Jacob Vorpahl.

However, softboxes can be kind of pricey so I found a reflective umbrella softbox that works great for my needs. Here is an article I wrote that shows the umbrellas I bought and the DIY bracket I made to hold my flash units --> If you want more info on the equipment I bought and the costs, send me a PM.

Last but not least, once you decide what kind of lights you want, the Strobist Flikr forum was a great place to search for info on the various brands of radio triggers, light stands, ect. Here is their link --> Flickr: discussion topics

Good luck with your quest for better light.

12-29-2010, 07:09 AM   #4
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I'm so glad we were able to help.


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