Alien Bee B800 s

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by termina3, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    This is just as much a celebratory thread as a "help me" thread...

    Just pulled the trigger on 3 B800s, 1 softbox, and the appropriate stands.

    First off, any suggestions for Alien Bees in particular? I understand they have some temperature variation on the low end, but other than that--what quirks will I discover?

    Then, I've been poking around but can't seem to find any good websites on photojournalism portraiture (maybe I should say pseudo-pj; arranged portraits don't quite fulfill my ideal of the pj on the move).

    These are going to be primarily used for lighting up HS gyms (corner strobe deal), but will also be used for some "studio" work. I might even drag one over to an on-location portrait (but I also have a SB-800; that would be better b/c of portability, no?).

    And finally, should I be looking at any additional gear? The 'bees come with reflectors, but which grids should I look at? Perhaps another softbox? Suggestions are appreciated, and reasoning for those suggestions more appreciated.
  2. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I doubt you'll see it in portraits, I don't really notice all that much shooting product, and portrait-to-portrait is probably not goign to show up much.

    If you're shooting with high ambient light, the bees pwn the Sb-800- howeve rin SU-4 mode the 800 makes a good additional background light. Overpowring ambient is fun. Also, you'll probably want to try "location portraits" or "location portraiture" as a beginning search term. Always bring the SB-800 as an extra "easy to hide" light.

    Don't get the "you don't need anything else" grid, the "kit" grids apparently fit in the reflectors just fine without the associated infrastructure.

    I find the shoot-through to be *so* much more convenient for location work than a softbox that a strip box is about the only box I'll consider these days.

    One grid for a hair light, a good-sized shoot-through, one or two light silver reflective brollys, some sandbags and a Vagabond II and all you'll be looking for is the right luggage- I assume you already have background stands, muslins and clamps- because if not, I about kick myself *every single time* I skip bringing backgrounds because the client says "You won't need them." Seriously, almost every single time, location product or location portraiture if I don't bring them, I wish I did (I don't always use them when I do.)
  3. seenew macrumors 68000


    Dec 1, 2005
    Compuwar has you pretty much covered. I bought a pair of B1600's and the ABR800 Ringflash back in mid November and have been having a lot of fun whenever I get them out.

    Something fun that I don't think a lot of people consider is to get a boom arm to get a light high and above your subjects. I've been using that in a lot of my studio portraits (most of them actually) and really like using that ringflash as a beautydish substitute. I got the 30" Moon Unit diffuser for it, too.

    As far as light accessories, I got one 40° grid, since the default reflector is an 80° spread so it cuts it in half, and then I went to the minimum and got the 10° grid for precision.

    I second Compuwar on the softboxes. I jumped in and bought the medium and large (which are both pretty big) and they are really cumbersome and take up a lot of space. I mean, obviously they do what they're intended to do very well, and they're really simple to set up, they're just BIG. And if you're working outside, it doesn't take much wind to make them move. I recommend sandbags!
    Or, if you're on a budget like me (student) get some of those $1 "eco" or "green" shopping bags from your grocery store (they're cloth and made to be reusable) and just drop some bricks or rocks or, haha, free weights in there. Works for me. And you can use them to port your gear around when they're not being sandbags!

    Gels are something you might look at. Arts and crafts stores have sheets or rolls of colored acetate, often in a wide spectrum. Just buy what you like, and cut it down to size (IIRC I measured the diameter of the standard reflector for the Bees to be 8"). Use bulldog clips or something similar to hold them on.

    My next purchase will be a Vegabond II unit for portable power. Until then, I've bought 200 feet of 12-gauge extension cords. Haha. Not that great, but it gives me some leverage.

    Also, Radiopoppers just introduced their next generation of radio triggers, some of which will control the light output of multiple AlienBees units from your camera! Look out for those.
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    What to get? I have a 22" diameter white "pan light" or "beauty light" reflector. Mine is made by Norman for a Norman lamp head but I think AB has them too. It's my favorite light. It is very even light, zero hot spots and you can use it very close to the subject. I'll use it on macro shots, as close as 18 inches from the subject. This has the effect of an overcast sky except it's brighter. For people it is more directional than a large soft box.

    Only one of my lamp heads has a fan. The pan reflector is good because I can use a no-fan head and still run the modeling light at the full 100W setting.

    For indoors try a bare bulb. At first I thought this would make for some very harsh light but no, the walls and ceiling act as reflectors
  5. termina3 thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Thanks for all the replies guys. I'm gonna stick with what I've got now and find out what I'm missing through experience... (hopefully that doesn't totally backfire)

    When I find out what I want/need to do, I'll have a place with equipment names and effects. Thanks!

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