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    New to Photography- lighting questions

    Hello all. I have always wanted to venture into photography and have decided to take the leap. I have Nikon D3000 and a studio space with fluorescent lighting at the moment. All of this is new to me and I want to know what might be some suggestions for monolighting. Also, I understand the concept of modeling light but am unsure if this remains on all the time so I can have my fluorescents off? For me this is a self taught learning process and am also wondering if the monolights will be triggered with my run of the mill pop up flash? Thank you =)

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Hi hk001441,
    calling you that does not feel right Don't forget you can edit your profile to add your real name and a rough location if you want, as I have done. Most of us use first names here, just makes things a little friendlier.

    I think this attached video might be of help, much better than I can explain it.
    Hope you find it of some help, I think you will.
    Enjoy the site and being a member.
    Cheers
    John

    http://www.pocketwizard.com/inspirat...rials/ac9_st4/

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    ....am also wondering if the monolights will be triggered with my run of the mill pop up flash? Thank you.
    Heather, thanks for up-dating your profile.
    As you can see from the video the monolights will need some extra bits & bobs to sync. them with your camera, the pop-up flash as far as I know will not be of any help.
    We have some very experienced members here, who I'm sure will give you much better feedback than me.
    Regards
    John

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Heather
    You need to take a look at this: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html for starters. Strobist is a great site and will lead you to many other places with great info. When you say "monolighting" I think you are meaning a one light set up - this one light would be your "key" light, so often this is referred to as key lighting. Your Nikon has a great system for flash - the best on the market. You can trigger up to 12 different flashes in 3 (or is it four?) groups all from your camera and triggered with nothing but your "run of the mill" pop up flash! There is a catch though - all the flashes you are triggering have to be able to "see" the flash from the pop up to trigger. Also check out Joe McNally and Rick Sammon - just Goggle them and be amazed! There is a ton of material out there on off camera flash (or strobes) and it is a huge subject. Good luck and keep us posted as you learn - we would like to see some of your work.

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Heather,

    Although the Strobist folks may take offense, I would strongly recommend that you begin to equip yourself with studio strobes rather than go the Strobist route by modifying hotshoe flashes.

    Studio strobes are not all that expensive. Even the el cheapo Chinese models are IMO better than modified hotshoe flashes for portrait work. Your question about flourescent lights indicates to me that you are planning to work indoors.

    Living in the USA allows you to take advantage of some of the great values in used monolights on eBay USA. The eBay UK or Australia doesn't seem to have the variety or prices like those available in the USA.

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/Monolight-Flashes-/87637/i.html

    What are the advantages of a studio flash over a hotshoe flash...

    1. The studio type flashes have real modeling lights, not the stroboscopic make-do substitutes that Strobists work with. Your modeling lights allow what you see is what you get lighting. As an answer to your question about leaving modeling lights on while you are shooting with the overhead lights off... Yes, you can do that with a unit that has real modeling lights. Trying to do it with the stroboscopic lights of the hotshoe flash invites burning your unit up!
    2. The studio flash is powered with a/c current, not wimpy AA batteries. Your recycle time will remain constant not get longer as you are shooting.
    3. The studio type flashes have real modeling lights
    4. The studio flash, even the inexpensive Chinese models are more powerful than hotshoe flashes...
    5. The studio type flashes have real modeling lights
    6. The studio lights are able to mount on light stands and to accept modifiers like umbrellas and softboxes without extra accessories
    7. The studio type flashes have real modeling lights
    8. The studio type flashes are equipped with optical slaves. You only need to trigger one of the flashes to set them all off. I trigger my studio strobes with a Yin Yan infrared trigger. If you use another type of remote trigger + receiver, you only need a single receiver to fire ne flash.

    Oh yes, did I mention that the studio strobes have real modeling lights.

    A possible drawback might be that you need a/c current to use these flashes. However, there are battery operated studio stype strobes which free you from depending on a/c. But, if you plan to shoot indoors, you will have a/c available.

    The studio strobes are manual exposure only. However, that is no problem. Although I have a flash meter, I can easily determine the exposure for my lights with a few test shots and the modeling light will allow you to judge the lighting ratio rather than shooting blind.

    Besides, if you are wanting TTL type exposure, you will pay a premium for hotshoe srobes with this capability and will probly use your hotshoe srobes in manual mode anyway...

    Sure, you can shoot decent portraits with hotshoe strobes. Heck, you can shoot a decent portrait with window light and a foamboard reflector.

    For human portraits I use a set of three Mutiblitz monolights which I purchased for $200 used on eBay. I also have a 400 watt second Sunpak Studio strobe with a large softbox. But, I love the lighting that I get from my White Lightning WL5000 "Coffee Can" stobes for my dog portraiture. I bought a pair of these lights used over twenty years ago and they functioned in my commercial business for group portraits. They are now used for dog portraits. I paid $50 US dollars each for these lights and Paul C. Buff still supplies parts like flash tubes for them.

    New to Photography- lighting questions

    I love the quality of light that they produce...

    New to Photography- lighting questions

    BTW: pro-rated, these units have cost me about twenty cents each per month of use.

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    +1 to James.
    I had similar questions in mind about lighting & Strobist's blog proved really very helpful.

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Oops, Richard. Your post wasn't showing when I made my comment.

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    I would agree with many of Richards points re studio lights vs strobes, however, having said that I believe the deciding factor and what it really comes down to is: Where, what, and how are you going to shoot?

    If most of your shots are done in a studio location, then by all means go with the studio lights, but if you want to be able to do much of the same thing you can in a studio on location, then in my opinion, strobes can't be beat. They are light and portable, and the newer flashes (for Nikon sb-900 or 910) are very powerful and versatile. They are however pricey.

    Without going into a bunch of details re triggering etc., you will probably spend more $$ getting your gear set up the way you want for strobes, but for me it is preferable to be lighter and portable with my lights and set up. As I have said, I think it really comes down to deciding how and where you want to use your lights. Just one man's opinion

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    I have Nikon D3000 and a studio space with fluorescent lighting at the moment.
    All of this is new to me and I want to know what might be some suggestions for monolighting.
    If you buy Studio Flash Units, buy quality: don’t skimp.
    If you can’t afford two good ones buy one good one, with a modelling light and the light modifiers you require. An Umbrella would be a good first choice of a Light Modifier
    Buy Variable Power Output Heads and buy at least two powerful Heads.

    Understand that these Studio Flash Units are essentially designed for the Studio – although they can be, they are not really designed to pack up and drag about everywhere.
    Especially not that suitable for one person outdoor use: so be sure you want a ‘permanent style’ studio set up for your lighting.

    For Studio Flash, I use Elinchrom: other reputable brands are Bowens and Hensel.


    ***

    If you want FLEXIBILITY - and in only ONE lighting kit, then seriously investigate and consider Hot Shoe Flash Heads for use:
    • in your Studio;
    • for Outdoor Flash situations;
    • also as a portable 'studio set up' for other indoor locations.


    I suggest that you buy dedicated Nikon Flash Heads, if you choose this route.

    And note that this route provides the capacity for Integrated TTL Metering / Exposure.
    And also note that the Nikon Flash System is very smart and also very good.

    I also use Speedlites (Canon, Metz and Vivitar) for Location Work. I have Canon DSLR gear.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    Also, I understand the concept of modeling light but am unsure if this remains on all the time so I can have my fluorescents off?
    Typically a ‘Photographic Studio’ has a LOW AMBIENT light level (about 5 EV or more, below the base line DARKEST SHADOW of EXPOSURE).

    Fluorescent Lights are NOT the typical (or sought after) Ambient Lighting for Photography

    Studios – especially Portrait Studios. Soft, dimmable perimeter Up Lights are what have always used.

    Yes you can leave the Modelling Lights on: but I suggest you look at your Studio’s ’House Lights’ and lose those Flouros, especially if you intend to shoot Portraiture.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    am also wondering if the monolights will be triggered with my run of the mill pop up flash?
    Yes.

    (many) Monolights have the capacity for an OPTICAL TRIGGER. And an Infra-Red Trigger.

    Open to correction by day to day Nikon uses – as I understand Nikon’s Functionalities:

    Kill the Pre flash:
    To use the PuF as an OPTICAL TRIGGER for the Moonlights you set the pop up flash to manual mode and reduce its power. I understand with Nikon Cameras that setting manual mode prevents the flash from emitting any TTL pre-flash or sending out any CLS pulses. The bottom line is: you DO NOT want any pre-flash.

    Extra Frontal Fill:
    Even at low power levels form the PuF, you still might have to live with a small amount of frontal fill-flash from the PuF. However you can use the PuF as an optical trigger without any effective frontal fill by using an infrared-pass filter over the PuF or using a mirror to send the PuF upwards or to the side.

    Ambient EV:
    (Effective) Optical triggering is also a little dependent upon the Studio Ambient Light Level. (i.e. LOW Ambient Light Level is better) – You MIGHT have to kill some modelling lights in some shooting scenarios.

    Recharge / Shooting Time:
    The pop-up-flash recharge time (even set a low level) can be quite long, compared to the recycle time of a Studio Flash Unit: so you may not be able to take advantage of that fast recycle time of the Studio Flash.

    ***

    Other Options:

    Radio:

    Radio Triggers are probably better than relying on Optical Triggering. (or DYI Infra Red Triggering from the PuF.) Radio Interference from some (cheap?) triggers, might give Banding on the images

    Hard wire:
    You can also use Hard Wire Triggering via a Sync Cable.
    For a 'Photographic Studio' this is a good and a very cheap option.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 8th January 2013 at 06:11 AM.

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    In regards to my fluorescent overhead lights is there an option to replace those with something more ambient?

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    In regards to my fluorescent overhead lights is there an option to replace those with something more ambient?
    Nope. If they're there, they're as ambient as it gets...

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    So I can't replace the bulbs with something different?

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    So I can't replace the bulbs with something different?
    It was a joke. In photography, "ambient" light is opposed to "flash" or "strobe" light. It's the light that is continuously there in a scene. You talk of, e.g., "ambient" light metering versus "flash" light metering. As to your options for getting rid of fluorescent lights, I have no idea. Feel free to ignore me...

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    In regards to my fluorescent overhead lights is there an option to replace those with something more ambient?
    The question doesn’t make sense.

    ‘Ambient Light’ in respect of a Photographic Studio, means the ‘Existing Light of the Studio’ or the ‘light which is NOT meant for use in the exposure’.

    There is always an option to install other types of ‘ambient’ lighting onto your studio: and that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to replace the Fluorescent Overhead Lights – I expect that installation of hard wired lights requires the services of an electrician at the least, and possibly inspections etc.

    Also you might find that the simple (and less expensive solution) would be to use only the Modelling Lights once you and your Subjects are comfortable – just simply switch the Fluorescent Overhead Lights, OFF.

    Or you might use a couple of low wattage and directional Table Lamps which could be plugged into existing power outlets – which I expect would NOT require an electrician for installation.

    ***

    It occurs to me that because a lot of this is very new to you, you are asking questions about the minutia and detail, BEFORE you are addressing the Project from an OVERALL PERSPECTIVE.

    If I am correct, then you run the risk of wasting both time and money, mainly because you are unable to PRIORITIZE and thus it is possible that you could become very frustrated, very quickly.


    • What is your TOTAL BUDGET for this exercise?
    • What are the DIMENSIONS of your Studio?
    • Is the STUDIO located in your HOME?
    • What TYPE of PHOTOGRAPHY do you intend to exercise in the Studio?
    • What (in detail) are the CAMERAS and LENSES you have?
    • What is your expected START-UP DATE ?
    • Do you intend to charge money for this service?


    WW

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Hi Heather,

    If you're striving for a quality result then you'll need something other than your fluorescent lighting I'm afraid. In my studio I have 8 fluorescent lights and they contribute ZERO percent of the light that's used to take the photo; they're just not strong enough and the light quality is awful. I do leave them on whilst shooting though (most of the time) because they help the camera's autofocus.

    Just to give you an idea of the "power thing" ... my fluorescent lights are 40 watts each and I have 8 of them - so that's 320 watts of illuminating power; comparing that to my studio strobes - they're 1200 watt-seconds - they fire in 1/1000th of a second - and I have 5 of them ... which equates to up to SIX MILLION watts of illuminating power at the moment of exposure. So 320 -v- 6,000,000 ... guess which ones win!

    In my opinion - if you want a quality result then you'll need at least two (preferably at least 3) 500WS lights and some basic modifiers (softbox / shoot-through umbrellas) etc - and a means of triggering them off camera. The good news is that they're not hugely expensive - will last "forever" and give you a far far far far better result than you'll ever get with fluorescent lights.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    In my studio I have 8 fluorescent lights and they contribute ZERO percent of the light that's used to take the photo; they're just not strong enough and the light quality is awful. I do leave them on whilst shooting though (most of the time) because they help the camera's autofocus.
    Hi ya Colin -

    And I bet ALL your Fluoros are well looked after; replaced regularly and evenly (and the starters too); are all the same colour - probably soft white; and not one has neither Buzz nor Flicker . . .

    I just can't stand fluoros . . . for all those reasons and more. Just too difficult to use and maintain 'best practice' for the Studio environment - yes they are good for AF - but I put the Model in a neck brace so she doesn't jump all over the place !

    Regards
    Bill

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    The reason for a studio is to provide yourself with an area where you can control the light. This means you don't want any ambient light, just the photo lights that you are using to shoot with. If you have flourescent lighting, you will shut those off while shooting. If there are windows, you will have blackout curtains over them and any lights that you leave on are going to be so weak that they won't affect the outcome of your image.

    The next question is what are you planning to shoot in your studio. If you are looking at doing portraits (large room with high ceilings), it will require a totally different setup than a situation where you are doing product shots of small items (small room with a work table).

    As for lighting, the two routes have already been laid out for you; off-camera flash with Speedlights or proper studio lights. Both solutions are going be in the same order of magnitude from a cost standpoint; a low-end studio light (I'm thinking of a mid-range Alien Bees unit http://paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php). You will need a light stand and a light modifier as well, and I agree with Bill, start with an umbrella. I prefer the convertable style; it has a black removalble cover so that you can use it as a reflector or a shoot through type. I wouldn't get anything smaller than around 42". Nikon sells a kit with a light stand, flahs mount, umbrella and carrying case; you supply the Speedlight, or you can get your own parts and make it up yourself.

    The advantage of studio lights over a Speedlight is that they are ~ 10 times more powerful. A mid-range studio light runs around 650 Ws while a fairly powerful speedlight (Nikon SB910) is around 65 Ws. Both types can be triggered from your camera; optical slaves triggered by your built in flash will work, but unless you are using flashes (like the ones Nikon makes), you will be adding an additional (unwanted) light source into your images. A synch cord to you camera (you will need an adaptor that goes on your camera's hot shoe) is the least expensive way of doing this. My preference is to use radio triggers (I use PocketWizards).

    I would also suggest you start small. Get a single light and use it in conjunction with a reflector until you are good enough to start adding more lights and different modifiers. While I do use umbrellas, I prefer shooting with a soft box because the light is more directed than with an umbrella (less stray light to fight with).

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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=3&theaterThank you all for your replies. I plan on doing portrait photography, and feel my questions have been answered accurately about leaving the fluros on or off during shooting. My studio is not at home, and has no windows as it is located in the middle of a building. I am not sure of the dimensions of my room but it is quite large. I have included a link to what my photos look like with just the fluro lighting. I hope investing in some other lights will change this for me. And yes eventually I will be charging for my service-right now I am just practicing on my friends. Thank you all for your advice.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    If you are looking at going pro, then look at the Profoto line of monolights. They are more or less the industry standard in the US, if you ever need to rent something, that is the line that is stocked pretty well everywhere. Look at softboxes as light modifiers, rather than umbrellas and look at upgrading your camera and glass to full-frame, rather than crop frame, either Canon (5D Mk III) or Nikon (D800) as base models.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: New to Photography- lighting questions

    Quote Originally Posted by hk001441 View Post
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fb...type=3&theaterThank you all for your replies. . . etc
    You're welcome.
    Thanks for the link – I agree that the lighting could be improved for the studio work.
    Thanks for answering some questions.
    I'll leave it at that then, unless you have other questions to ask.

    Good luck with it.

    WW

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