Studio Lighting Help

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Roy Hobbs, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. Roy Hobbs macrumors 68000

    Roy Hobbs

    Apr 29, 2005
    I recently purchased a lighting set from Alien Bees and some backdrops hoping to take some decent pics of my daughter.

    Can any one recommend a good book or web tutorial on portrait lighting...every photo I take is either way too dark or way to light.


    Also I am using a Canon Digital Rebel
  2. mromero macrumors member


    Sep 30, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Light: Science and Magic, Third Edition: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting (Paperback)
    by Fil Hunter (Author), Steven Biver (Author), Paul Fuqua (Author)

    Matters of Light & Depth (Paperback)
    by Ross Lowell (Author)

    Master Lighting Guide for Portrait Photographers (Paperback)
    by Christopher Grey (Author)
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    First off you should be working with manual exposure. Just set the camera to (say) 1/250th and about f/4 or something close to that. You set the corect exposure by turnning the lights up and down. It it's to bright you need liss light., to dim add more.

    A hand held flash meter helps a lot but they are not cheap. With the meter you walk to the subject location pop a flash and compare the meter reading to what you camera is set to. say to your self (lights are 1.5 stops to bright. So you dail them down. Pop again, say "good" th move to the next light

    It place of the light meter you can use your digital camera. place a grey card at the subject loaction. Shoot the grey card using the main light ONLY and check using the histogram display that it comes out as mid tone Next shoot the same card using just the fill light and adjust the light so that exposure is one stop (or whatever) less. The trick is to set and measure one light at a time. The main light determines the exposure the fill determines how dark the shadows will be. For little girl picures you wan the fill up high, maybe only 1/2 stop below the main.

    Remember the inverse square law. Move the light back by a factor of 1.4 (1.4 = square root of 2) reduces it's intensity by one stop. moving by factor of 2 is two stops.

    You control "softness", that is how sharp the shadows are, by controlling the physical size of the light source. Size is measured by angular diameter as seen from the subject's location. So, an overcast sky looks bigger than the sun, clouds make softer light. Same with softboxes and unbrella. Moving the box back makes it "harder" closer is "softer".

    One thing I suggest is pretending you are a photography student and take a series of images where you vary one thing, like "softness" of the main light or the fill ratio. Don't use your daughter as the subject, find some ananamate object. Students get asigments like this. Do a whole series where you change just f-stop. Another where you move the camera in while zooming back to keep the same objects in the frame. Everyone should do these.

    You have to learn the mechanical stuff before you can worry about "art". Learn to make grey cards come out 18% grey on the final print.

    One more thing. Color balance should be dead easy in the studio. Place a color chart in the subject location and shoot it after you shoot the real subject but before you change the lights. Then in PS you can get the color dead on.
  4. Roy Hobbs thread starter macrumors 68000

    Roy Hobbs

    Apr 29, 2005
    Thanks for the wonderful responses....I am going to head home after work and start practicing!

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