Input Concerning Lighting Kits

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Al B, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Al B macrumors newbie

    Jul 21, 2008
    I recently purchased a D90 and I've been getting requests to do portrait sessions based on what little work people have seen. What kind of lighting would you suggest I purchase to enhance indoor settings?

  2. a350 macrumors regular

    Jul 8, 2009
    David Busch's Quick Snap Guide to Lighting is a great book to read on lighting.

    It all comes down to what conditions you are working in and what kind of result you want. I feel it's far to complex to sum up in a post in a forum, thus the reason for so many BIG books on the subject.

    I hear soft box's give good results, the closer they are to the subject the softer the lighting will be, so I hear.

    A nice window can also give some unbelievable lighting, you know depending on conditions and where the subject is.
  3. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    I'm not afraid to make a blanket suggestion without knowing your experience, knowledge, or skill.
    (that's a joke...)

  4. m3coolpix macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2007
    Lots of good advice in the posts above, and a good book suggestion.

    However, that being said, practice, practice, practice and more practice.

    Take a Photography 1 class if you can. Learn how to shoot with a basic film camera with no automatic settings if you don't already know. This will help understand how all the functions correlate. The class will probably go over many lighting techniques. Things like how to light from a window, how to multiple light (with flashes or reflectors), even how to light subjects with a single candle.

    And, yes, a large softbox will produce softer (IOW more evenly distributed) lighting when it is close to a subject than when it is a several feet away (given the same camera settings and flash settings). The farther away a softbox light source is away from a subject, the more it becomes a point source light (like the sun).

  5. Cliff3 macrumors 68000


    Nov 2, 2007
    SF Bay Area
    An umbrella is cheaper than a softbox if you're working with non-studio strobes. You ought to visit the site if you haven't already.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    budget? and how portable does this have to be?
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Start small. The first step is a flash unit that can mount on the camera and be aimed indirectly (via a bounce) to the subject. Next yo start thinking about light that is not camera mounted. and then you think abou controlling it's softness and direction and maybe even its color.

    The worst light is one that is aimed directly at the subject, like the built-in strobe on the camera. ANYTHING is better.

    Read a book or two. This is a big subject. But it need NOT be expensive. For a long time I used some cheap Vivitar H285 strobes ($60 each). These are very powerful and durable. and cheap. You can aim these at an inprovised reflector (a projection screen or white foam core board) and get an effect just like a softbox.

    Later I bought a used studio power pack system. for cheap from a photo studio that is closing down.

    Nikon system strobes are good for camera mounting because they have an easy to use automatic mode. But once you take the strobes off camera you will not be using automatic exposure. So don't waste $1,200 on Nikon strobes only to be stuck on a light stand. Buy some big, powerful "dumb" lights.
  8. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    3 or 4 strobes with modifiers. A grid for the hair light, reflective light silver brollys for the fill and background and either a shoot-through or softbox for the key. These days I tend to use a shoot-through because it's easier/quicker to set up and I like the round catchlights more than square ones. If you're in the US, Alien Bees are the way to go- 400's for a small area, 800's if you might have to go outside from time to time. You'll also want a background stand and backgrounds- I find muslins to be easier to deal with than seamless paper, but I've got both. If they're not out yet and you can wait, the next generation of ABs won't need sine wave inverters, making portable power options significantly cheaper (plus they'll work on non-US power.)
  9. canonguy macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2009
    I agree with most of these posts... the budget is key. The best set–up and a set–up that will work are two completely different things. A set of hot lights can be found for under $150, strobes are much more... and much more complicated to master.

    Although I am sure I will be blasted for suggesting it... work lights. For about $10 a piece you can purchase 500w halogen work lights at your local home improvement store. Build a scrim (diffuser) or a soft box or use them reflectively (bounced off a reflector). I have two that I mounted onto tripods and two more that are not... this setup has served me quite well for under $70.

    If you feel you will have enough work to justify the investment, then by-all-means go with a professional set... strobes if you can afford it. But if you want something that will work until you can ascertain how profitable senior portraits will be for you... then rock the work lights.

    And get a portrait lighting book.
  10. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Work lights are hot, which means (a) fire danger, (b) they're uncomfortable for people and (c) all your live subjects are going to have small, unfriendly pupils. You must be *extremely* careful with diffusion material and hot lights because of (a).

    Using strobes isn't that difficult, especially if they have modeling lights, but they cost more (but they're safer and generally produce more light for a period that allows freezing motion.)

    If you're doing people portraits, having their pupils small and beady from work lights frankly kills the look most of us strive for- I'd avoid hot lights for live subjects- worst-case you're much better off with LEDs for continuous lighting for safety reasons.

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