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Thread: lights for wetplates

  1. #21

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    The wet plate guy who does period costumes etc in Gettysburg had both a big skylight and a bank of daylight balanced fluorescents, I am not sure, it's been a couple years, but I think he had at least 8 four footers, maybe more or longer (8 foot) bulbs. On a cloudy Thanksgiving weekend or late November northern hemisphere, Pennsylvania afternoon, it was a 17 second exposure lens couldn't've been more than about f5.6 onto a 5x7. I would not be in a hurry to photograph people in UV, I have a very odd picture of my brother on Xray film (green sensitive) which I think is due to the use of sunscreen (uv absorbing paint by definition...) he looks splotchy and patchy. Much of women's makeup also contains UV absorbers, too. UV is also hard on the eyes---think cataracts etc.

  2. #22

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    To me, wetplate portraits taken with florescent often make the person's skin look pasty and fake. Review plates for a short time, and you can easily spot those with florescent. The strobes give a good effect, and are easier on the sitter.

    To get enough light to get a relatively short exposure (3 to 9 seconds), you need a ton of florescents. If you use less light, you need your sitter to hold still for 30 seconds or so, making an unnatural expression.

    Ask Mark, he used two banks of those compact bulbs, about 16 in a bank, for a while. You have to have them about 2 feet from the sitter. It's like sitting in a tanning booth. The flashes are much easier on the sitter. And the skin looks more natural.

  3. #23

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    Quote Originally Posted by goamules View Post
    Ask Mark, he used two banks of those compact bulbs, about 16 in a bank, for a while. You have to have them about 2 feet from the sitter. It's like sitting in a tanning booth. The flashes are much easier on the sitter. And the skin looks more natural.
    Ugh. Good to know.

  4. #24

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    Could it be that the people who get poorer results with banks of fluorescent lights have the wrong color balance lights?
    I've done enough oil painting to know the light affects the perception of the pictures.
    I think Flashes/strobes typically are daylight balanced unless gelled. Most fluorescents are not and don't have a very smooth spectrum of output either. There's a real difference between 5000K and 6500K. Many fluorescents and LEDs are 2700K which is very yellow compared to the higher color temp bulbs. I think but am not sure that many strobes are more like 6500K or higher. All what I have to say is mostly theoretical I have essentially zero experience with wet plate even if I used to be a chemist.

  5. #25
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: lights for wetplates

    For those considering flash for wet plate portraits, I have a suggestion for a light modifier.
    I just tested my new beauty dish/octabox, and found that the loss of light with the box was only 7/10 stop.
    With an Alien Bees 1600 (640 w/s) at half power from 5 feet, bare bulb, I got f16.5
    With the octabox/beauty dish and front screen diffuser on, the reading was f11.8. Usually soft boxes will reduce output by 1.5-2 stops, so I think this is pretty good.
    With a more powerful strobe, you could use this type of modifier without losing too much light, and still be able to provide some decent modelling on your subject.
    Attached is a photo of what I'm using; you can look up "beauty dish octabox" on eBay.

  6. #26

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari View Post
    For those considering flash for wet plate portraits, I have a suggestion for a light modifier.
    I just tested my new beauty dish/octabox, and found that the loss of light with the box was only 7/10 stop.
    With an Alien Bees 1600 (640 w/s) at half power from 5 feet, bare bulb, I got f16.5
    With the octabox/beauty dish and front screen diffuser on, the reading was f11.8. Usually soft boxes will reduce output by 1.5-2 stops, so I think this is pretty good.
    With a more powerful strobe, you could use this type of modifier without losing too much light, and still be able to provide some decent modelling on your subject.
    Attached is a photo of what I'm using; you can look up "beauty dish octabox" on eBay.
    Nice. I'm looking at a couple White Lightning X3200's, which are about double the B1600. That looks like a pretty decent option!

  7. #27
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: lights for wetplates

    I have yet to use it on a person, so I don't know how much spill there will be vs a real beauty dish, but they do look promising.
    And B&H has them: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...dish_with.html
    You just need to get the appropriate adapter: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...Adapt_For.html

  8. #28

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    Quote Originally Posted by goamules View Post
    To me, the best light for wetplate is that which is free: the sun!
    +1 Free sun. If more is wanted then outdoors or through a window use a plastic fresnel (3' x 4') and or multiple mirrors (Home Depot), rolls of foil, solar oven, concave acrylic mirror but be careful to not burn the subject. It's cheap, no-tech, portable, easy and might suit your subject.

  9. #29
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: lights for wetplates

    Quote Originally Posted by goamules View Post
    To me, the best light for wetplate is that which is free: the sun!
    Quote Originally Posted by lfpf View Post
    +1 Free sun.
    Gentlemen, I agree 100%; the sun is free and should be used whenever possible.
    But unlike you two So'westerners, I haven't seen the sun in a few days. Next time I do see it, it's likely to be below freezing, because that's when the sun shows up in wintertime - only on very cold days.
    Then I'd like to see who's willing to pour a plate!

  10. #30

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    Re: lights for wetplates

    Quote Originally Posted by Ari View Post
    Gentlemen, I agree 100%; the sun is free and should be used whenever possible.
    But unlike you two So'westerners, I haven't seen the sun in a few days. Next time I do see it, it's likely to be below freezing, because that's when the sun shows up in wintertime - only on very cold days.
    Then I'd like to see who's willing to pour a plate!
    While enjoying the cool clear north until Spring, perhaps assemble an indoor scale model, wait for clear blue and 22 then take it for a trial run. Springtime can present full scale opportunities.
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Gian...iment-in-Opti/

    While only a concept with wet plate, I have burned 2" x 4" lumber inadvertently with very bright light and with no extension cord or batteries. Might be fun on your way to either the dumpster or darkroom, depending. Enjoy the adventure.

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