Can I achieve this with D90 kit (18-105)? How?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Gloor, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. Gloor macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2007
    Hi guys,

    I was wondering whether or not I would be able to achieve one of these effects by using basic kit of D90 (18-105). I don't have any accessories so only things you can find at home. Is it even possible?

    I was thinking of shooting at night with just one light from above (lamp) that could get closer to this but not sure if that would work and don't think my gf would like to spend hours with me fiddling stuff :)

    So, can I do it and if so, could you please tell me how so I can test it out? If you could be specific it would really help as I am a complete beginner but this is something I like doing so its my first step.

    If I can't do it from what I have then what do I need to buy/get in order to get there? If I really need to get something then I would like to get accessories that are good quality but also good value - nothing too cheap and nothing too expensive (unless its a must and will last me for a long time) :)))

    The effect I'm after is that you isolate the object and there is only black behind it or one half is visible the other is in the shadow. Ideally, I would like my gf sitting with her back towards camera with a slight angle in her head to see some of the face and I would like to have that part to be visible and then going slightly in the shadow/black. Can I do it with the camera I have? Is it really hard?

    Here are some examples of what I'm after. I hope you don't mind me asking so specifically :)

    Attached Files:

  2. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Yes. These images are likely shot at f/5.6-f/8, and your kit lens should be sharp enough at those f/stops to give good results.

    Whether you have the lighting equipment and know-how to pull the shots off is a different matter. Photography is ALL about the light.
  3. a.jfred macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2010
    Austin, TX
    If you're doing it at night/in low light, I HIGHLY recommend using a tripod (and, if at all possible, a remote or some kind of cable release). It will help eliminate camera shake, since you'll likely have a slower shutter speed. You might also want to read your camera, and see how to use the Mirror Lock Up mode (every camera is different).

    Believe me, you can achieve a lot on a budget. My own "ghetto studio" consists of my very narrow bathroom, a black-fabric-covered poster board, and a floor lamp with 3 CFL bulbs. :)
  4. Zerozal macrumors 6502

    Apr 3, 2009
    The "look" of those photos has absolutely nothing to do with the camera and lens used, and everything to do with how the scene was lit. Your D90 and 18-105 will be fine, but what kind of lighting do you have?

    It will take lots of experimentation with light placement, model placement, distance from background, and exposure to get the effect you're looking for, but that's all part of the fun!
  5. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    You could use an overhead lamp, but the 18-105 is probably not fast enough (being f/5.6 at the long end), without high-iso.

    There's no harm in trying, especially if you do quick test shots before convincing your g/f to doll up or sit and pose for a bazillion shots. Put the camera in aperture-priority, at the biggest aperture (lowest f-number). Just stick a chair under a lamp and take a few quick pictures at ISO200/400/800/1600/3200/H1.

    The light's position & power is going to be one of the things that determines the look. From the light & shadow areas of the subjects in those photos you should be able to get some idea.

    However, the best thing you could buy to replicate them, though:
    Nikon SB600 and some good rechargeable AA batteries.

    When you have it, don't stick the flash on the hotshoe and point it at the subject.

    Instead, you're going to start reading and your camera's manual to understand this next bit:
    Stick the flash somewhere off to the side, out of frame, and fire it against a wall. Use CLS mode to fire the flash remotely with the onboard flash as master-only, and start using TTL metering... blah blah blah. Post more questions when you have the flash and have done reading.

    Other option: buy a 50/1.8 and use that - you'll get better pictures with the light you have, but it's probably not going to give you exactly what you want.
  6. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    It's not about the equipment, it's about skill. You need to invest quite a bit of work until you get photos of this quality. Your current camera and lens are in principle able to make these shots. Please don't think for a millisecond that just because you don't have a D300 or a 5D Mark II instead of a D90, you're not able to take photos like this. Sitting in a fast car doesn't make you drive like Michael Schuhmacher! ;)

    The key ingredient is light and attention to detail. And also quite a bit of post-processing (nobody has skin that smooth). If studio photography is your thing, you start with one Nikon SB-600 (or its successor which is just around the corner if you believe the rumor mongers). You can trigger this flash off-camera with the equipment you have and with a bit of phantasy and velcro, your creative options expand considerably. I suggest you start at Strobist, the website to start with when you're interested in flash photography.
  7. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    You can pick up a used cosmetology head off of eBay for peanuts, which will allow you to experiment with a subject that has infinite patience and never moves.

  8. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    I agree with the others who credit the lighting in your sample photos. For example in the second shot (with the model facing the camera), the catchlights in her eyes suggest (to me, at least) two light sources, both large and diffused--probably strobes in softboxes. The key light is camera left and up rather high. The fill light is camera right and is also up rather high. To get that kind of rapid light fall-off, the lights would probably be gridded somehow, with the background receiving as little ambient light as possible. The background may have been darkened further in post. At least, that's my reverse engineering of the lighting on that particular shot. Someone with more experience doing studio lighting could probably figure it out with more certainty.

    And no, you don't need any other camera or lens. You're fine with what you have. These kinds of shots really are all about the lighting.
  9. Artful Dodger macrumors 68020

    Artful Dodger

    May 28, 2004
    In a false sense of reality...My Mind!
    There are some notes as examples are given here:

    Also if you stop by a local shop that sells Nikon, they should have a lighting/flash guide that offers some basic info and examples from Nikon Creative Lighting Guide. I had one because I was looking into the sb-900 at the time. Borders and the like have books on lighting and you could go from there and have it on hand to reference. The one listed below has been recommended to me several times over but folks here can better assist you as this is for reference.
  10. Gloor thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2007
    Thank you guys,

    for me the question was not about the camera only but in general as I have no lighting setup or anything. Just the camera that I bought few months ago and would like to know experiment some more and I love those kinda shots.

    So, if I take a photo of a subject, is it better that there is space behind or just wall? (black, white?)

    What is the best place in a generic house to shot these kinda shots? Bedroom? Living room? Kitchen? Seeing that all those photos have black behind them then I am not sure what is best here.

    I know that photography is about the light but there is so much info that one would spend years and years to learn it so I thought I would come here and ask how to do specifically just this.

    So I guess I want be able to do it without the flash, right?

    What is interesting to me is the fact that those pics have very little light so I thought that I could achieve that with the camera only but the fact that I need flash is somehow crazy to me. I know that I have never tried those professional flashes but the one I have on the camera itself always overlight stuff so I never thought I would be using flash for pics like those. :)

    What about if I do this - would it help?

    I sit my gf next to a window so that the moonlight goes on her left side and then stick a lamp above her. Would I still need that professional flash or would that work? Or it is a complete mess :)))

    Btw, when is the SB 600successor rumoured to be released? I'm happy to wait as I waited almost a year for my Mac Pro 2008 back in the days :))))
  11. NoNameBrand macrumors 6502

    Nov 17, 2005
    Halifax, Canada
    The problem with the onboard flash is that it's a tiny light source and it's pointed straight at the subject.

    Have you started reading yet?

    You should just try it. "Schnookums*, sit here for a sec." Click. Done.

    *Don't call her that.

    Even if she gets enough light for a picture with a reasonable shutter speed, the moonlight and lamp light are different colours. That may or may not be a bad thing.

    And if you want a flash, buy the SB600. Its replacement has been rumoured for over a year.
  12. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???

    Read this, then read it again.

    You can definitely take available-light portraits, but the photos you showed above are all done with multiple strobes (and light modifiers, reflectors, etc), without question.

    There really are no shortcuts. You need to learn about lighting.
  13. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    First of all, it's not about the amount of light, it's about the *control* of light. Secondly, learn to dial in negative flash compensation on your shots and even on-camera flash will be better.

    The moon isn't very bright and you have no control over it- it's much, much easier to work with a flash.

    Why wait? The SB600 works now, and you can spend that time learning to use it rather than doing nothing- the sooner you start, the better you'll do.

    Lastly, go get a copy of "Light: Science and Magic" and read it from cover to cover.

  14. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    OP... You're looking at pix that you'd like to emulate, but you don't know how to do it, and you don't know where to start. Well, the start is simply to become more proficient with the equipment you have (I shoot, almost always, with a camera/lens set-up similar to yours). Sorry, there's no short cut to getting a particular 'look'; you'll need to understand your camera (that takes a while) and light (that takes a lifetime ;)). But, hell, learning is the fun part of photography. Enjoy!...
  15. jackerin macrumors 6502a

    Jun 29, 2008
    Not to mention that it would be a bitch to control the white balance. Two differently coloured lights hitting the same subject can create some really funky skin colours if you're not careful.

    If you're really serious about learning to take those kind of pictures, ie. learning lighting, I would also suggest getting some instructional video (if you find the Strobist guide too dense). I was lucky enough to catch Zack Arias CreativeLive workshop, and just seeing someone explain it to you with examples of how to set up lights is worth more in bang-for-the-buck than the latest 28-300 IS USM.
  16. Captpegleg macrumors member

    Jan 19, 2009
    New camera, huh? All you need are the directions for "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?".
  17. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    As others have mentioned, but I will echo, those shots are ALL (not somewhat, not slightly, not mostly, but ALL!!!!!) about the lighting. The truth is that you can get shots very similar to that with a regular point and shoot if you have the right lighting.

    A very good book for initiation in lighting if you don't read is Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting. Its the de facto starter book on lighting and to be honest, those shots are really just good lighting which is most likely (I'm sorry to say), a little too advanced for you at this point. But, if you do your homework and get the right lighting rig to do it you WILL be able to reproduce those images (yes, with your D90 and lens as well).
  18. Macmonter macrumors regular


    Aug 14, 2008
    Vermont, USA
    Since the OP wants to use his girlfriend in place of a high priced model, he may want also to achieve the lighting effect as cheaply by using 1 or 2 clamp-on utility lights (the hardware store type) with the highest wattage bulb recommended. Pose the girlfriend in a dark room with the lights positioned to create the desired shadow effect. To soften the light aim away from the subject at a white wall or cardboard coved with flattened crinkled aluminum foil. I'm not being sarcastic to the OP or demeaning to those who recommend umbrella lights and/or remote flash, I'm just offering a practical suggestion to someone who wants to experiment with light, form and shadow without a lot of expense.
  19. Gloor thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2007
    Thank you guys,

    as I mentioned before I am new to this and the reason why I started this thread was that I thought I would get advice like this:
    position one light on slight left a bit above and the other light behind the subject. Make those lights very diffused by covering them with a piece of cloth. Set your camera on M and set this and that to this and start tweaking this setting to get the desired effect.

    As you all said, its all about lighting and it takes life to master so I thought that I could chose one particular thing and would start there. With clear direction it is easier to get something right rather than playing with something by random. As someone mentioned, a workshop will improve your skills way faster than anything else so thats why I came here.

    Anyway, I agree that I am a complete noob when it comes to this but its my first step. I don't want to be a superb pro photographer as that is not my aim. I just want to take decent photos and then learn the effect I asked here as I like these kinda shots. I picked up photography because I do animation and it is all connected. Its another form of art that will improve my skills. That is also why I am learning how to draw (I do 3D animation) as that helps a lot too.
    All those form of arts are connected (layout, posing, story in a pic etc. etc. etc.) so even though I am not going to be the a pro in this I still like to learn to improve in other areas as well as in this :)))

    Paul: I'll get the book and SB 600
    Edge: I started with the strobist - the video was actually quite nice

    others: thanks a lot for your input. Ill learn more and then will probably come back with more questions

    P.s.: Yesterday I tried these two things - a) I set my flash to -5 or +5 (don't remember) and was in a dark room with my gf and managed to get some good start shots - her head and shoulder was lit but everything else behind her was a complete black darkness :)))
    b) I had flash as normal and covered it with my hand about 2-4 cm from it. That produced interesting results too. I also tilted my hand sometimes to force the light to bounce to a certain direction which was quite fun too. :))

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