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Thread: Need guidance

  1. #1
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    Lalit

    Need guidance

    Hi all, I am interested in portrait photography.

    I need guidance regarding which lens to go for indoor/studio portrait photography (budget $200-250)

    I also need guidance on basic lighting setup for a studio. Will i need external flash apart from basic lighting setup ?

    I have canon eos 650D along with 18-135mm lens kit.


    Thanx

  2. #2
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Need guidance

    The focal length of your kit lens covers the focal lengths you are going to want to use for portraiture. Focal lengths of 50 or 55mm and longer (right through to 135mm) are going to be fine.

    If you are planning to shoot indoors, you are going to need some light and light modifiers. A fairly simple flash that you can trigger from you built-in flash, an convertable umbrella (reflector / shoot through), stand and clamp plus a piece of whilte foam core or coreplast for a reflector for your fill light (these should be less than your proposed lens budget) will be worth looking into. I use this simple 2-point lighting for many of the portraits that I do.

    You will need some kind of background / backdrop and a large enough room to shoot in. Your subject needs to be a couple of meters in front of the back when you are shooting.

  3. #3

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    Re: Need guidance

    If you are setting up a studio [ a room in which you take photos] and can organise a white celing that is not too high [ more than say 8-10ft ] you will find quite pleasing results will come from directing the flash up at the ceiling. I would look for a flash unit which has its own built in optical trigger which enables it to be fired by the camera flash... if the subjects are looking at the camera lens it is worth partly blocking off the camera flash to avoid 'red-eye'. YongNuo make ecconomically priced flash units with those capabilities. With experience you will progress to more lighting set-ups but I suggest you start with a single light source and learn what is possible with it and a reflector directing 'wasted' light in from the other side of the subject before looking for a 'kit'. Gradually building up your equipment as you try different lighting set-ups.
    If you are not financially flush I suggest you google 'Strobist' for their ideas on the subject of using flashguns rather than studio lights. If you have the money I would suggest buying a single 'studio' light such as an Alien Bee et. al. and buuld up from there ... it depends on how serious you intend to be and possibly doing it for financial return.

  4. #4
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    Re: Need guidance

    @grumpydriver thanx for ur input. the lens i have has max aperture of 3.5 only will that be sufficient for indoors?can you tell me what light source and what light modifier should i go for to start with.
    @jcuknz thanx for your suggestion. i think its wise to start of with one light setup before jumping on to expensive setups.

    it would really b helpful if any of you could give me a broad splitup of the money i m planning to spend. what to spend on exactly and how much?

  5. #5
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Need guidance

    Lalit, i take my portraits mainly around F8 which most lens's tends to be the best setting for sharpness, if you want shallow depth of fields then of course the 50mm f.14 is nice but it costs alot of cash which you would be probably be better of spending on lighting

    Read this site it gives huge amounts of information

    http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

    there are 2 courses you can read Lighting 101, & 102 they have lots of info in them also on here you will find Colin Southerns portraiture course that is also very good. link below

    School of Portraiture - Links to Lessons 1 through 8

  6. #6
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Need guidance

    Lalit - for your budget of $200 - $250, you can buy a f/1.8 50mm mm lens, which will be at the bottom end of what you should be looking at for portraiture, from a focal length standpoint. It will buy you a touch more speed, but I don't feel that this is this is going to buy you much. If you start looking at the fast portrait lenses that the manufacturere put out, you are looking at a budget that will be an order of magnitude greater than what you have.

    Even with this faster lens, you will not have addressed the important part of you requirements, which it lighting. You can't just set up in a room somewhere and assume you can shoot with daylight. There will certainly be instances where that works, but with natural light, you are not in control, and you can't simply tell your clients to come back another day because it's too sunny or too cloudy. The reasons studio photographers use a studio is so that they can control their lighting, and with that I mean flash. Add the proper amount of lighting and all of a sudden your kit lens will do a lot more for you than a faster fixed lens.

    A lot of people ask why they can't simply use off-the-shelf lighting, rather than using at least small flash, which is what I proposed you do in a previous posting. It comes down to the fact that cheap continuous lighting does not put out nearly enough light for this type of work. A small off-camera flash has a rating of around 50 Watt-seconds and fires for around 1/1000th of a second. This means while it is firing, you are getting as much light as a 50,000 Watt continuous light source. Assuming that you are shooting at 1/100th of a second with a continuous light, you are still going to need a 5,000 Watt source. You can look at various iterations, and you can see while the "hot" lights that the photographers in the 1940s and 1950s required special care and handling. They put out a lot of power and could easily start a fire when mishandled, especially with light modifiers..

    Going continuous lighting has some other issues; colour temperature, comfort of the person who is sitting for the photograph and the fact that a person's iris become tiny, resulting in an overall unattractive look in the image. In the 1940s and 1950s people were shooting black & white, so proper colour temperature and mixed lighting were not an issue.

    In my opinion, as place to start out is with a basic two-point setup and unit, whether you go with an inexpensive studio light or small flash. A studio light will give you more and better light modifier options and a small flash will be pretty well restricted to an umbrella. You will certainly need at least a key (main) light and a fill light (I use a white reflector). Adding more lights, for instance a hair light to separate the person's hair from the background, a rim or kicker light to separate the subject's body from the background and a background light to illuminate your background for even more separation all need money and experience.

    Both jcuknz and I have already given a fairly good description of some low cost lighting approaches. I have no idea as to what prices of this equipment is like in India, so you will have to do your own research. For the setup that I suggested in my previous post, I already owned a small flash, so all I had to do was but a stand, clamp and umbrella, which cost me around $100. My reflector was a piece of coreplast plastic I had lying around the house from another project. I was able to rig up a background from some old piping and material that was kicking around, etc. I you go and buy something from a photographic supplier, it will cost you, but if you are creative, you can save yourself a fair bit of money.

  7. #7
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    Re: Need guidance

    @Mark I will surely read it thanx for the links
    @ Grumpy driver, thanx for the info I have a direction now, I will work on it, I will start of with basic two point setup and then add on accordingly.


  8. #8

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    Re: Need guidance

    To me there is an interesting point that often something like the f/1.4 or f/1.8 50mm lens is suggested as the portrait lens but in other threads people I assume are experienced portraitists wrote they normally worked at f/5.6 or f/8. I suspect the advocates of the fast lens are the experienced photographers who want the shallow depth of field for their artistic efforts but the equally experienced but routine portrait taker in business needs all his subject to be sharp so works at the smaller aperture.
    So really I don't think you need another lens so long as you avoid using the wide end of your existing zoom except for full length photos in I assume a small studio area.

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