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xvelids
30-May-2016, 19:30
Hi all - Iím a documentary photographer whoís working on a portraits series in which I would like to create portraits in look/style of Peter Lindbergh (via the ones shot in the cage), but also inspired by the work of Fazal Sheikhís portraits in particular his work in the white tents in Africa. (Will link to a mood board at the end of post) While, Iíve watched numerous videos of Peter Lindberghís sun-bounce cage at work through BTS youtube videos - any feedback from regarding the set-up, metering and lighting would be great as I begin testing!

By the way, Iíve decided to build the sun-bounce cage out of EMT Canopy materials because of the logistics of the grip (from what I can tell so far it is various single/double wind-ups, 12by frames and etcÖ) and also I can keep the entire cage on set.

About my gear:

Iím shooting on 8x10 view camera in B&W (the goal of project is to create 8x10 contact prints for each individual portrait). Iím most likely using a 360mm lens, Ilford FP4, a yellow filter for contrast if need be and have access to a pro darkroom.
Firstly, from what I can tell, Lindbergh uses a 12x12 double net as a backdrop and shoots through at the beach/ocean. What I like about this set-up is that the double net helps create depth/separation from the subject to the background and probably prevents the white sand from completely blowing-out the background. While I understand that the DOF in particular on a 360mm 8x10 in similar lighting conditions will probably result in a DOF of mere inches, it is something I would like to test. However, my issue is that I will not be shooting at the ocean with white sand, but will be shooting on a farm surrounded by grass/trees. Furthermore, for the specific look, I would like an off-white background (aka. not Avedonís bone white seamless..) such as this image, but also a little lighter.

http://i.imgur.com/EcBBwrG.png

My initial solutions:

Use a white fabric backdrop or wall and figure out the distance and size upon set-up of cage and lighting. And also make sure the backdrop is evenly illuminated and not blown out.

Iím going to test all of this, but any advice or tips would be greatly appreciate as I am now in the process of building the cage. If there is a better/smarter solution, I would appreciate hearing that as wellÖ

Secondly, I have not shot in this set-up before, but is there any particular way to position the box? I see that Lindbergh places his cage in many positions even with the sun coming through the back. For me, I am looking for more of an even/directionless light (or rather open shade) much like in Fazal and Avedonís work (In the American West) and I believe Iíll place the box either with the Sun on box/camera right and use duvetyn on the top/left/right of the cage. Itís now summer and Iíll most likely start shooting in full sun from 11 am ~ 4 pm. I can also bounce/feather the light towards the subject and of course use various silks/reflectors/flags for more contrast control. The main question is how to position the box and backdrop? Iím going to test meticulously, but would appreciate any feedback.

Thirdly, and these are tertiary concerns:

I will bringing with me 12by full-stop silks, China silks, 18x14 flags for contrast control. Iím thinking out loud here, but Iíll probably might switch the duvetyn for the silks depending on the exposures, lighting control and overall look I want. Any feedback for contrast control such as negative fill, diffusion and etc would be appreciated as well. As for metering, my subjects are light skinned and Iíll probably meter for a zone 6. Iíll expose twice and bracket for the tests (STD processing and N-1). Iíve also attached the following as various mood board inspirations:
Peter Lindbergh - the technical and refinement of his work.

http://i.imgur.com/vJ8vck8.jpg

His set-up:

http://i.imgur.com/T5NQWgb.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/tZD7edj.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/nURXFNG.jpg

 Fazal Sheikh - the look and feel of its documentary work is awe-inspiring for me.

http://i.imgur.com/BYT46qI.png
http://i.imgur.com/29HK3eV.png
http://i.imgur.com/sQ9U1fI.png

Avedon - mainly because of it is 8x10 work and also composition and framing.

http://i.imgur.com/XLhrCgO.png

I just like this shot of Avedon at the show.

http://i.imgur.com/VFKJ7ux.png

Irving Penn - mainly because of its composition, framing and refinement. Also, the platinum prints from Penn are break taking and among the greatest Iíve ever seen.

http://i.imgur.com/9amoMqT.png
http://i.imgur.com/Su94HKR.png

August Sander - mainly because of the subject matter which is similar to mine.

http://i.imgur.com/9KxUqm4.png

Guys - thank you so much for reading! I understand itís overdrawn, probably over thought out, but mainly Iím trying to see if I covered all my bases and feedback/suggestions from experience is invaluable. I havenít shot an elaborate set-up like this and also have my hands full from producing the tests, shoots and just normal working life. Cheers!

AtlantaTerry
30-May-2016, 21:08
My first thought about all this is you should not slavishly copy what Mr. Lindbergh was doing, just use it as an inspiration and "do your own thing".

I, too liked what Richard Avedon did out in rural America with an 8x10" camera and a white backdrop. One of the checkoff items on my bucket list is to do something similar with my 4x5" cameras. LOL, I tried it once but the wind blew down my backdrop. Lesson learned. You can see the fallen backdrop on the right side of this crappy cell phone photo of me with a Cambo and 300mm f/5.6 Rodenstock lens here:
151331

(Yes, I use a Manfrotto video tripod and fluid head for my large format photography work because it is easier to make adjustments than with my Gitzo tripod.)

Thanks for the behind the scenes photos of how Mr. Lindbergh's crew set it all up. In my case, I need to figure out how to do it all by myself. I work as a cinematographer and director of photography so own a lot of grip gear. One way I am considering is to get a 10x10' or 12x12' pop-up tent (WalMart has them) then use various black or white sides.

http://www.walmart.com/search/?query=pop-up%20tents%20and%20canopies&typeahead=pop-up%20te&sort=price_low

Cor
31-May-2016, 07:37
Your links do not seem to work from my computer..

Cor

Jim Noel
31-May-2016, 08:30
Go to Harbor Freight, a store or on line, and get the larger portable garage, about $200. A great way to get a huge softbox, about 9x17 feet and 8-9 feet tall, with white background.

Greg Davis
31-May-2016, 11:25
There is a book called Avedon at Work that shows behind the scenes of his American West travels. His set up was a white sheet of paper taped to any convenient wall with both the paper and subject in the shade.

Tobias Key
31-May-2016, 12:12
How many people are you able to have working with you for your set up? I would guess the big limiting factors would be man power and set up time.

I have used a Lastolite 6x4' diffuser in bright light before and found it worked well, but it's a bit flimsy in the wind. This photo was taken in bright sunshine of the beach with one

https://c8.staticflickr.com/6/5160/7096034183_b50260a25b.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/bP42JX)Gisela (https://flic.kr/p/bP42JX) by Toby Key (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobykey/), on Flickr


If you added a black/white reflector or two and you would have a decent set up that one person could put up quickly.

Taija71A
31-May-2016, 16:50
*Tobias has made some very good recommendations/suggestions for you (above).

To begin...

I am all for you using a large Cage 'Set-up'... For your personal Portrait Lighting -- With a few small 'Caveats' as noted below.
In Life... Things of course are not always as simple or easy -- As they may 'initially' appear (*Ask me how I know this).

A Large (8'x8' or more) 'Professional' Cage Set-Up (*Perhaps like the ones from California Sunbounce or MSE) -- Costs Thousands of Dollars.
They also require more than one person to set it up properly (*Safety is a 'Given' on all Photographic Shoots).

Photography Lighting is of course an acquired Skill/Art.
(*Just having a Cage 'Set-up' is not a direct replacement for 'Lighting Skills' or even a quick, pancea... To achieving 'World Class' results).

Are you perhaps willing/able to start on a bit 'smaller' scale... While still on the path to achieving your Photographic Goals?
Have you seen the 'Dean Collins' Portrait Lighting Videos?
--
Do you have the 'Technical Knowledge' to make the best purchasing decisions... With respect to all of the 'various' Fabrics available?
(I.e. Scrims/Silks/Grid Cloths/Solids/Bounces/Reflective Materials etc.)

The list of available Fabric/Material choices of course is 'Endless'... And goes 'On and On and On'.
It can even 'perhaps' be somewhat bewildering at times... For a Beginner (And mistakes can be costly!)

Sometimes... 'Less can be even More'. Thus the 'Dean Collins' Video suggestions...
However, if all of the above cited suggestions are within your 'Immediate' capabilities... Then 'Go For It!'
--
Unfortunately, not everybody is a Greg Gorman or Richard Avedon...
Nor do they have the same 'Budget/Crew/Technical Resources' (*At their 'Immediate' disposal) -- For each and every one of their Shoots!
--
Like they say... This is just 'Food for Thought'.
Nothing More and Nothing Less...
--
Enjoy the Greg Gorman/California Sunbouce Videos!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFPvHdFZ04c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UxqPmini0U

Thank-you, -Tim.

Ari
31-May-2016, 19:25
I agree, start with something simple and see what it gives you.
There's so much you can do with a 36x48 frame, and three sheets of fabric: translucent, white and black.
It will help determine what you actually need, rather than eyeballing it with pen and paper, and you'll know if you then need to go bigger.

Daniel Stone
31-May-2016, 21:18
Get a 10x10 ez-up, they come in white(translucent), and also in black(opaque).
Higher end models have detachable "walls" that are an extra available accessory, those "walls" come in both black and white, so you can create a "softbox" effect where your walls make a big, soft sidelight source, or black(like Lindbergh's setup).
If you need/want to photograph people standing, put the legs up on some stools, and sandbag the crap out of the whole thing. These become flying objects VERY quickly if they're not tied down. Just like with a tent, guy lines and pegs/stakes are a good, lightweight alternative to sandbags, if you're on grass or in the sand.

Lindbergh has an army of assistants most of the time, and large budgets.
You don't need to spend money like Lindbergh to get results that equal, or better, his.

-Dan

Taija71A
31-May-2016, 21:49
I agree, start with something simple and see what it gives you.
There's so much you can do with a 36x48 frame, and three sheets of fabric: translucent, white and black.
It will help determine what you actually need, rather than eyeballing it with pen and paper, and you'll know if you then need to go bigger.


Get a 10x10 ez-up, they come in white(translucent), and also in black(opaque).
Higher end models have detachable "walls" that are an extra available accessory, those "walls" come in both black and white, so you can create a "softbox" effect where your walls make a big, soft sidelight source, or black(like Lindbergh's setup)...

Dan, your idea of an 'E-Z UP' Instant Shelter/Custom Pop Up Tent/Canopy is Excellent! (*Why didn't I think of that?)
--
Also, as per both Ari's and your suggestion...

I too fully 'concur'... That one can do a lot with just three (3) Different Materials.
White, Translucent White and Opaque Black... Would also be my 'First Choices'.

*Hopefully, the OP will take your 'wise' suggestions to heart.



... Lindbergh has an army of assistants most of the time, and large budgets... -Dan

Dan... Please "Say It Isn't So!"

I was always under the 'general impression' that both Ari and yourself...
Also, have an 'army' of Photographic Assistants -- At your Beck and Call.
(*If not a 'Large' Army... Then at the very least -- A 'Small' Army?)

:) ;) :D

Daniel Stone
1-Jun-2016, 19:24
Tim, Not sure if "wise" would be the category my suggestions would fall into, perhaps "practical" and "multipurpose" would be more fitting :)
I can easily fit an ez-up, some grip equipment, 10-15 25# sandbags, and 1-2 cases of lighting/camera gear in the back of my Prius, with the rear seats folded flat. And still have someone in the passenger seat :).
Dean Collins and his dvd's taught me a LOT, and I still re-watch those videos to refresh my brain from time to time, at least 2-3x a year. The tools/camera/materials might change/evolve, but light itself doesn't.

-Dan

Taija71A
1-Jun-2016, 19:52
Yes, if the 'Physical Properties of Light' were constantly changing for Photographers... We would all be in a lot of 'Deep Trouble!'
--
Agreed in full Dan. I too... Learned an awful lot (Very large amount) -- From the 'early' Dean Collins Videos.
No DVD's for me however... Just plain old VHS Tapes.
--
Okay Dan... 'You Win'.
Your suggestions were of course not very wise -- They were 'Pragmatic and Practical'. ;)
--
Also of course... Having a good knowledge of 'Subtractive Lighting' (Leon Kennamar) --
Can be extremely beneficial in 'Fine Tuning' your Results.

Neal Chaves
2-Jun-2016, 14:20
I took the course in photojournalism at Boston University and there it was suggested that "available light is the light you have with you". Later I traveled assisting a very successful location photographer who had found that "Most photographers fail because they don't bring enough light to the job." Here's a portrait I made with an 8X10 and sharp 360mm lens under cloudy-bright conditions with 400 speed film and 2000WS from a medium softbox high at camera left and another 2000WS from a bare head inside the garage. f45-64 at 125th. Straight scan of neg.151430

Daniel Stone
2-Jun-2016, 15:53
Neal,

I've met(and worked for) some photographers who simply CANNOT work WITHOUT strobes. Many have said "I wish I could, but I gave up". I guess it's a personal choice in the end. But yes, having a strobe at hand(even if not needed, but just in case) can really help if the natural sources dim :)

One of the best "natural light" photographers I've assisted did not WANT her pictures to look "strobey", so we used large sources and LOTS of bounced strobe heads to make things look as natural as possible. Think bright, beach conditions in the Bahamas or Hawaii, where everything is bright, but the contrast(even for color neg film, until she went fully digital) level was still too high, especially if the subjects were backlit, or during high-noon conditions. We/she primarily used strobes(if a griflon/ultrabounce or foam core bounce was not enough in itself) to fill/open up shadows, not as a primary light source(since that was usually the sun).

Pictures like this:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_W7yE1dEFcmM/S60W2MQJouI/AAAAAAAABNQ/1ity1smowFQ/s1600/Picture+4.png

Ari
2-Jun-2016, 17:51
Conversely, I spent a few years assisting a Paris-based German photographer who didn't own strobes and never even rented them.
He would tell me that nothing looks as good as daylight, and I'm inclined to agree.
He used only daylight and occasionally would pull out a large black or white piece of fabric to slightly alter the contrast, or to play with reflections in glass or mirrors.
The guy is as successful as you can get without being a household name, so to each his own.

I'd bring strobes only if I hired an assistant, which is exceedingly rare these days.

Tobias Key
3-Jun-2016, 03:33
Conversely, I spent a few years assisting a Paris-based German photographer who didn't own strobes and never even rented them.
He would tell me that nothing looks as good as daylight, and I'm inclined to agree.
He used only daylight and occasionally would pull out a large black or white piece of fabric to slightly alter the contrast, or to play with reflections in glass or mirrors.
The guy is as successful as you can get without being a household name, so to each his own.

I'd bring strobes only if I hired an assistant, which is exceedingly rare these days.

I think that there are two types of 'natural light' photographer.

Type A are usually amateurs or beginning professionals who, don't feel confident using strobes and try to spin it into some kind of misguided artistic 'purity'.

Type B know how to use strobes, but know how they want their photographs to look and don't think strobes are appropriate to their style.

Being a Type B is best.

LabRat
3-Jun-2016, 07:14
I think the the keys to using this kind of lighting is it are;

#1/ To be in a medium to low key,

#2/ Not hard, but in a natural softness,

#3/ To not be able to tell it was deliberately lit, and,

#4/ The light should at least have a sense of some directionality to it (usually from above)...

When this light is slightly dimmer and slightly directional, I call it "death light" (like something used to expose some past-living thing)... There's an emotional element to it that is somber...

Steve K

xvelids
6-Jun-2016, 20:30
Hi all,

Thanks for getting back to me. The replies have been helpful in their critique. I'd also like to add a few points. I'm building the 12x12 because I need the size for the subject matter. I'm largely using subtractive lighting to shape the light, contrast and my subject. I'll have a few reflectors and might bring a beauty dish for extra pop, but am largely avoiding the silks. Furthermore, I've seen the MSE sun-bounce cage before and you are all right - it's wildly expensive.

Also just FYI - I'm not copying Peter Lindbergh, but I'm applying the practical aspects of the cage for a certain light - but in terms of creative direction and what I'm doing with the portraits are entirely different.

Thanks!

Ari
12-Jun-2016, 18:42
I just wanted to add a small coda to this, now that the OP is safely on his way.
After having given up on strobes - again - I found this on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/120824488407?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
It comes in a few different rectangular sizes, and seems practical to use as it will attach to a light stand, and be positionable.

xvelids
13-Jun-2016, 17:24
Awesome - Thanks for recommending that! I don't have many hands on deck so having a reflector that can attach to a light stand is great!

Quick question - anyone out there shoot with a Calumet 8x 10 C1 - black beast? I have a carbon fiber tripod, but part of me feels that it is a little top heavy. (haven't tested it yet!) Any recommendations for a cheap old heavy one that can support it? My friend suggested the tiltall 4602, but I haven't used that one either. I'm ok for a heavy tripod weight since I won't be moving the tripod far at all and will be doing portrait work.

Daniel Stone
13-Jun-2016, 19:55
Awesome - Thanks for recommending that! I don't have many hands on deck so having a reflector that can attach to a light stand is great!

Quick question - anyone out there shoot with a Calumet 8x 10 C1 - black beast? I have a carbon fiber tripod, but part of me feels that it is a little top heavy. (haven't tested it yet!) Any recommendations for a cheap old heavy one that can support it? My friend suggested the tiltall 4602, but I haven't used that one either. I'm ok for a heavy tripod weight since I won't be moving the tripod far at all and will be doing portrait work.

Get a BIG #5 Studex Gitzo with a No5 Studio head. Pair that with the hand crank center column, you've got a great, highly stable, heavy-enough base to work from. Especially with the C1, which ain't no lightweight!

Bill Kelleher
14-Jun-2016, 20:05
Awesome - Thanks for recommending that! I don't have many hands on deck so having a reflector that can attach to a light stand is great!

Quick question - anyone out there shoot with a Calumet 8x 10 C1 - black beast? I have a carbon fiber tripod, but part of me feels that it is a little top heavy. (haven't tested it yet!) Any recommendations for a cheap old heavy one that can support it? My friend suggested the tiltall 4602, but I haven't used that one either. I'm ok for a heavy tripod weight since I won't be moving the tripod far at all and will be doing portrait work. if you want I can bring the tripod I used for the camera your using,it is a beast as well.let me know before I drive up saturday

SergeiR
15-Jun-2016, 08:31
If you lean toward subtractive light - black flags + white scrims ;) Just saying..

DrTang
15-Jun-2016, 13:15
Awesome - Thanks for recommending that! I don't have many hands on deck so having a reflector that can attach to a light stand is great!

Quick question - anyone out there shoot with a Calumet 8x 10 C1 - black beast? I have a carbon fiber tripod, but part of me feels that it is a little top heavy. (haven't tested it yet!) Any recommendations for a cheap old heavy one that can support it? My friend suggested the tiltall 4602, but I haven't used that one either. I'm ok for a heavy tripod weight since I won't be moving the tripod far at all and will be doing portrait work.

oh no way - that thing will squash a tiltall

I used a majestic when I had that camera