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AnselAdamsX
1-Dec-2006, 20:06
I tried to do some portraits with my LF recently using only available light and realize I'm going to need some lighting or flash equipment. What kinds of setup are people using? Is 3 lights/flash sufficient for a basic setup? I don't have a proper flash meter either. I use my Nikon D70 to determine exposure for available light but I haven't tried that with flash. I did get my Nikon SB800 to work with my LF and did some simple test shots:)

Thanks
Chris

cobalt
1-Dec-2006, 20:33
Hi.
Oddly enough, I tried the same thing, using my d70s as an exposure meter. Didn't like it; I find the meter on my hasselblad prism works for me--don't know why. Any how, don't see any reason to give up natural light...then again, I am shooting b/w, and pushing 8x10 a stop or two is actually preferable in my case. (I like HP5 pushed a stop or two.)

Walter Calahan
1-Dec-2006, 21:06
buy an inexpensive flash meter

such as: http://cgi.ebay.com/Minolta-Flash-Light-Meter-IIIF-III-F-with-case-strap_W0QQitemZ200053900471QQihZ010QQcategoryZ708QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Capocheny
1-Dec-2006, 21:21
Chris,

Flash... much easier on the subject. :)

I use a 2 head system with a 1600 w/s Balcar... got it fairly inexpensively off the bay.

Walter is right... buy yourself an inexpensive flashmeter. I use a Minolta Flashmeter III and it's a great meter. :)

Cheers

Ron Marshall
1-Dec-2006, 21:44
This forum has many examples of portraits done with only one light:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/printthread.php?TopicID=424115

Another vote for the Minolta flashmeter III.

Frank Petronio
1-Dec-2006, 21:51
In the past year I've been using bounced tungsten Lowel lights, Totas and Omnis, 250 - 500 watts, and shoot wide open at f/4.5 to 5.6 on IS0 400 film, usually in the 1/15th to 1/60th range.

I used to do a lot of corporate work with Dynalite strobes and smaller f-stops (and smaller formats too). For some assignments you need that speed and power. But I honestly think the portraits I do with continous light are better because I can see what I am doing (focusing is easier too, things are usually brighter than they were with modeling lights and Chimeras).

Using a shoe mount flash with a modeling light may work, but it will never, ever work well with any sense of finesse or control.

Vick Vickery
1-Dec-2006, 21:51
One strobe at the side of and above the camera aimed into an umbrela gives a pretty good approximation of "Rembrandt Lighting" and is a simple setup. After you get used to working with one light, try adding fill and background and reflectors to see the different effects you can get. I, by the way, have a bank of 6 strobes with modeling lights available...and I HATE doing portraits!

neil poulsen
2-Dec-2006, 01:02
I think it's much better to work with flash.

Having enough continuous light for LF portaits can make a sitter do some very unphotogenic things, like squint and perspire. I tried shooting a portrait one time using two 750 watt DP's and umbrellas. What a dismal experience. It seemed like I had to shoot at 1/8th second to obtain even the minimal depth of field needed.

Much better to use flash and be able to shoot with confidence. Let's you concentrate on the composition and sitter, versus worrying about the lighting.

Frank Petronio
2-Dec-2006, 05:17
You can cook eggs with that much wattage! But I've found that most people like 250-500 watts bounced, beyond that it does get a bit "warm".

Here is a bunch of "hot light" traditional portraits, all 4x5... the hard thing is matching them because I shot them on location over several months, in various spare offices and whatnot. So a better (more anal) photographers would have controlled the background lighting more consistently.

It is just an umbrella and $100 Lowel Omni spot on the subject, and a $100 Lowel Tota with a flag washing the background. 1/15th and f/8 on a 240mm lens on ISO 400 4x5, metering with a digicam and Polaroid.

For groups and situations that require more light, strobe is definitely the way to go. But tungsten is inexpensive and also provides a nicer viewing situation if you manage not to shine the lights directly into the people's eyes or burn/melt them ;-)

Someday we'll have Dedo HMIs ;-)

Nick_3536
2-Dec-2006, 07:03
Well Ansel I think the question is:

Are you looking for very wide open apertures and fast film? Dealing with the issues that brings? Then maybe you can manage with hot lights.

Or are you looking for smaller F/stops? Possibly with slow film? Then you'll want strobes of some sort.

I picked up an old Speedotron 2401 and one head for $300. Can be too much power if you want to shoot at F/5.6 but can handle smaller stops with ease.

steve simmons
2-Dec-2006, 08:56
I regularly use one 2000w/s power pack with a large soft box (800-1200w/s) to the camera left (model right) and 400 ws in a hair light up and behind the model and another 400w/s light bounced into a white card to the camera's right (model left). With Tri-X I generally shoot between f11 and f16.

steve simmons

Oren Grad
2-Dec-2006, 09:19
I've tried some experiments with a pair of 750w Totas in my living room. But the subject gets well and truly cooked. And between my exposure and development habits, bellows extension in larger formats like 8x10, loss due to umbrella or bounce, etc., at best this setup buys me 1s at f/8 on HP5 Plus, which is untenable for my purposes. So I'm saving my pennies and shopping for some serious flash power.

Helen Bach
2-Dec-2006, 09:49
...
Someday we'll have Dedo HMIs ;-)

We have them now, don't we?

Best,
Helen

Frank Petronio
2-Dec-2006, 10:25
maybe you have them ;) How do you like them, really?

AnselAdamsX
2-Dec-2006, 16:39
My first attempts were with 100 color and 200 speed B&W. I now have some Porta 160 and I do like the face and body in focus 2 people deep max. So I do try to use the smallest f-stop I can (and some tilt). It sounds like strobes is the way to go. I see from other posts that a single light/flash with reflectors can do quite a bit. I assume they are much more powerfull than my SB800. Can I use multiple small flashes like SB600/SB800? I don't know how to compare them to the speedotron you mentioned.

Thanks
Chris

Well Ansel I think the question is:

Are you looking for very wide open apertures and fast film? Dealing with the issues that brings? Then maybe you can manage with hot lights.

Or are you looking for smaller F/stops? Possibly with slow film? Then you'll want strobes of some sort.

I picked up an old Speedotron 2401 and one head for $300. Can be too much power if you want to shoot at F/5.6 but can handle smaller stops with ease.

Ron Marshall
2-Dec-2006, 17:19
The SB 800 has a quide number of 125 @ EI 100, equivalent to f12.5 at 10 ft. But that is without any light modifiers. Bounce or diffuse and you drop one or two stops.

Multiple pops are possible if the subject is inanimate, not for portraits.

Try to find a used pack or go for something like the Alien Bees 1600:

http://www.alienbees.com/b1600.html

Frank Petronio
2-Dec-2006, 18:08
A modeling light would be quite a concept... seeing what you're doing, focusing, knowing where the light is, etc.

The little shoe mount flashes are about 25-100 watt/sec, versus a 2400 watt/sec Speedotron (or Dynalite, Profoto, etc.). Different set-ups have different qualities, so an 800-watt/sec Dynalite can be within half a stop of a 2400 watt/sec Speedo, but we could talk for months about that.

Sure, you can point the SB-800 at people and if they are close enough you can hit f/16. But the light quality will suck. Once you start diffusing the light, you'll need that 2400 watt/sec pack pumping through one strobe head just to get back to f/16.

phil sweeney
3-Dec-2006, 07:34
I tried to do some portraits with my LF recently using only available light and realize I'm going to need some lighting or flash equipment. What kinds of setup are people using? Is 3 lights/flash sufficient for a basic setup? I don't have a proper flash meter either.
Thanks
Chris
A little info from left field: I wanted to do the same thing and have had great results bouncing bulbs off of an umbrella for 8 x 10. One gun. I do have a flashmeter (luna pro digital F) and it does meaures the bulbs accurately. All shots at 1/15s, f22-f32 and 1.5 bellows factor. You can pickup the bulbs and gun cheap if you are not in a hurry. If you are doing 4 x 5 you can use some of the smaller bulbs like #11s. I went that route because I did not want to spend much on lighting. I do not do many portraits. I use some direct lighting via a foot switch for a short time for focussing. I had an extra tripod to hold the flashgun.

Important for me was lamp headroom and distance from model to backdrop. And notes because I do not do it often. Have fun!!

Richard Kelham
3-Dec-2006, 10:14
Really the only way to do LF portraits in a studio setting is with proper studio flash gear (and that includes a meter). Trying to get the same effect with multiple SB800s would cost even more and be a right PITA while sufficient tungsten lighting to do the job would fry your sitter in no time at all.

Frank Petronio
3-Dec-2006, 11:01
Not if they're nude

gregstidham
4-Dec-2006, 07:48
A 400 -500 ws monolight or studio strobe with an umbrella or softbox will get you f16 or 22 @100ISO. Add in a reflector for bounce fill and you have a nice portrait.

If you aren't shooting portraits everyday, try renting the gear for the weekend if you live near any camera shops that rent pro gear.

C. D. Keth
4-Dec-2006, 07:51
I'm sure I'm in the minority here but I'm much more comfortable working with tungsten light. I am seeing the exact light that will expose film, not modeling lights that are a different shape than the strobe and probably aren't proportional to the strobes in quantity, either. Plus, being a professional cinematographer rather than a professional still photographer, I'm just used to it more.

Ron Marshall
4-Dec-2006, 08:06
In the early days of the movie industry, using carbon-arc lights without UV shielding, retinal sunburn was an occupational hazard for actors.

C. D. Keth
4-Dec-2006, 09:41
In the early days of the movie industry, using carbon-arc lights without UV shielding, retinal sunburn was an occupational hazard for actors.

By the forties, maybe earlier, they were filtered to provide protection. Now, certainly, there is no danger of it unless one was to use HMI PARs without a lens.

gregstidham
4-Dec-2006, 17:47
I'm sure I'm in the minority here but I'm much more comfortable working with tungsten light. I am seeing the exact light that will expose film, not modeling lights that are a different shape than the strobe and probably aren't proportional to the strobes in quantity, either. Plus, being a professional cinematographer rather than a professional still photographer, I'm just used to it more.

WYSIWYG with tungsten lighting is very nice indeed. Getting a fresnal effect with strobes takes some doing and requires additional equipment but is quite simple with basic tungsten fixtures. (Unless someone here has a secret strobe fresnal system they would like to share about :) )

Another bonus to tungsten, HMI, strobes, etc. is that when working with IR BW film, the results are different with each color temperature.

C. D. Keth
5-Dec-2006, 08:42
WYSIWYG with tungsten lighting is very nice indeed. Getting a fresnal effect with strobes takes some doing and requires additional equipment but is quite simple with basic tungsten fixtures. (Unless someone here has a secret strobe fresnal system they would like to share about :) )

Another bonus to tungsten, HMI, strobes, etc. is that when working with IR BW film, the results are different with each color temperature.


Very true about the IR film. As for the fresnel effect, I don't any way to do it except with a fresnel lens on a light. I like fresnels a lot for portraits. A junior is just about the right intensity and softness to look great on most people.