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Thread: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

  1. #1

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    Feb 2014
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    Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    Long time no see LFphotographyforum!

    I have moved to a new place and no longer have that gorgeous grey Belgian sky as lighting.
    The new place has no good windows to shoot with.

    Because of that I haven't been doing any photography lately and really need to find some lighting for a small home studio.

    It should be continuous lighting because I'm a die hard available light shooter.

    LED is too expensive I think. And I am not sure how shape those lights.

    Leaving daylight light bulbs and quarts lights, right?

    I saw Greg Heisler's portraits with quarts lights and quite liked them. But maybe that's not because of the light source...

    I think I want to have a beauty dish as key and strip lights as kickers.
    I was considering THIS light.

    Does it still make sense to buy quarts lights these days?
    Can I mix them with daylight light bulbs? I'm Shooting 90% black and white film.
    I'm shooting with apertures of F4 and faster and I will have the lights quite close to the subject so power is not the main concern. (I think at least. Never done this before.)

    I don't want to exceed 400 EUR per light.

    Any tips?

  2. #2

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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    Quartz lights ( hot lights ) give off quite a bit of heat, this is the projected light I'm referring to
    something to consider if you're setting the lights close to your subject.

    If you're shooting BW mixing 3200K incandescent and 5600K incandescent color temp light is fine
    but you'll have to pay attention when shooting color, the lights can gelled with color correcting filters
    when you do shoot color and testing should done.

  3. #3

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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    In the long run LED will be cheaper, bulbs don't burn out as quickly as Quartz or tungsten, will be more neutral in color balance, will not change output of color during use and draw far less current to operate. Also, since they are much, much cooler burning they will be more comfortable to pose under and to work with. Finally many have dimmers that do not change color at different settings. Since the sharpness of a light source is dependent on its shape and distance it is much simpler to dim a LED light then a hot light. And when you dim it you do not effect the sharpness, or lack of sharpness of the light cast on the sitter.

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    A simple beauty dish can do pretty good. Mortensen used it as his "basic light" to good effect which I tried in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntoUMoRP9o8
    I used a simple hardware store reflector and 100w equiv cfl bulb which would work fine with B&W film. Use a second light to set the brightness of the background.

  5. #5
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    I'm with Bob on this, especially if you want to work in black and white.
    "Why can't we all just get along?" President Dale, Mars Attacks

  6. #6
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    Bob is right. All I have are tungsten floods and they are discouragingly hot, and when I run out of my warehouse of bulbs it is off to LEDs, lots of them.

  7. #7

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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    if you just planning to use continuous light and want to go cheap route - what Jason suggested would be best - simple reflector from hardware store will work fine.
    You can control output by distance and can even add small barn doors . Can add second light like that. If you want to go fancier - everything short of LED and flash will be too hot in long run. LED will be most expensive.

    Or you can build yourself battery of LED lights with household lamps and be happy and cheery

  8. #8

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    Feb 2014
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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    Thanks for the excellent advice everybody!
    I will start with LED flood lights like this.

    How powerful should they be if I want to expose around EV8 and considering that I want to shape the light some how with an ambrella or softbox?

  9. #9

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    May 2016
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    Cambridge, MA
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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    Even in BW I'd think you'd want to be careful of the color output of your lights. If a light emits little of the red wavelength, for example, bricks would turn out dark. Also, LEDs do not deliver a lot of lumens. When I use them, I have to put them about 2 feet from the subject (especially when they're softened). So good thing they aren't hot! The light you're showing above is meant for outdoors, not photography, and will have serious color spikes which may play havoc with you in time. Most color balance assumes a curve that moves to the blue or red, but is gentle. With LED, color spikes mean you would have to gel for individual colors, or wavelengths, to get a neutral curve, so to speak. Here's some comparisons of light spectrums I have Fiilex LEDs, which are among the best, and even they seem a bit odd, color wise. I'm not trying to dissuade you from your current decision, only trying to temper your expectations. You may run into that "crap" moment with those lights

    I'd personally look for some cheap Lowell or similar quartz lights on Ebay, or whatever you have over there. Many people are dumping them because of the heat. You will have to turn them off and on sparingly. Although they are half heat-lamps, their color is very good. Also, a monolight (strobe) is something you should also consider.

  10. #10

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    Re: Looking for a first artificial light for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by maxotics View Post
    With LED, color spikes mean you would have to gel for individual colors, or wavelengths, to get a neutral curve, so to speak.
    Sorry, I did not understand that
    Does it mean if I put a gel on that outdoor floodlight I am going to get a stable color temperature?

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