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Thread: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

  1. #11

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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    Here's what I use for that:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0027IS6NG
    Hemmed and ready to use, the price is right. In terms of light loss, they work about the same used as reflectors or to push light through from the back.

  2. #12

    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    There's a great website available for strobe education. <strobist.blogspot.com> Lots of lighting lessons and examples.

  3. #13
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    The shower curtains mdarnton suggests two posts up sound very good. I've used cotton sheets in much the same way. 1x2 inch wood strips drilled to fit on top of a light stand support the sheets.

  4. #14

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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    The old rule for exposing strobe with daylight is "the aperture controls the strobe exposure, the shutter speed controls the ambient level", which means the flash is faster than the shutter, so the sync'ed shutter speed then controls the ambient exposure level... So as mentioned, you would set the camera exposure for the out the window daylight exposure, then find the strobe f-stop that matches the outside f-stop by changing the power setting, or distance subject to strobe until you find the same f-stop as the ambient exposure...

    How you light your interior is your choice, but your example photo shows it was lit using greatly diffused light, so as to create a shadowless overall light without cues from directional light (such as highlights nearer the light, and shadows behind the subject along the light axis... So the discussion has been about (how) and what to use to reflect the direct strobe light to bounce off a larger surface (or go through), to have a broad surface illuminating the scene and eliminate the harder "axis effect" of a direct light... As mentioned, a white ceiling is there and produces a natural look when lights are bounced off of it, but lacking that, you have to bring in your own reflectors, light banks, soft boxes, etc... Do you have the room for that stuff???

    Another thing we used to use was getting clear & white shower curtain liners for the store (as mentioned by Mike), where the white could be pinned or taped up on a wall or ceiling as a reflector or tent, or light enough to held up with a couple of medium light stands... The clear matte could also held up (maybe with a pole between the stands) with lights behind them as a big light bank... (I lit cars/stuff/backgrounds/etc with this stuff on many different commercial shoots...) Cheap, easy to get/use, and packs down to very small size... Just keep hot lights at a safe distance from the vinyl, to prevent burning...

    Steve K

  5. #15

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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    gel the window

  6. #16
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    gel for the windows can also be used to match white balances if needed. Probably not needed if you're using strobe, but I've seen it used for video where hot lights lit the indoor.

    Another option is to wait for later in the day when outdoor brightness is reduced. You'd have to be prepared and work quick for that as the outdoor light will change quickly at dusk.

    Tina's work, which I was not familiar with, seems more like a mixup of architectural photography with people instead of furniture, with wide angle portraits. Big diffusion and bounce; look at the peoples' and objects' shadows to judge the strength and direction/diffusion of the lights and how near/far relationships are similarly or differently lit. This is not the press photographer style.

    A blend of press photographer style and nicer style with one light would be like the Mortensen basic lighting where the flash is in a reflector and slightly closer to the subject; basically a predecessor of the beauty dish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntoUMoRP9o8 https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/8311820995

  7. #17

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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    Quote Originally Posted by jp View Post
    gel for the windows can also be used to match white balances if needed. Probably not needed if you're using strobe, but I've seen it used for video where hot lights lit the indoor.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntoUMoRP9o8 https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/8311820995
    I was thinking ND gel..roscoe makes a whole bunch of it with and without color correction... also black mesh to cut down on exposure... I've found it easier to match the outside to the inside...esp when the windows are as small as the one in the example

  8. #18

    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    Got to borrow a DSLR to preview some lighting and I am.very satisfied with bouncing off of the ceiling or umbrella. Only thing I wanted to double check on was compensating the exposure for the bellows?

  9. #19
    Kevin Kolosky
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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    another thing you have to take into consideration is the light ratio that you want. You want to have some ratio or your lighting will look very flat.
    Usually, for most portraits at least, a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio looks about right. And generally, although not always, you would want the strong part of that ratio on the short side of the face, and also on many subjects. this give roundness and depth to the subject.

    Remember, light is additive. So if want a 3 to 1 ratio and you have a fill light and a main light, you would have one unit of light over the whole subject, and then another 2 units of light on the short side of the subject. This would give you a 3 to one ratio.

  10. #20

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    Re: Fill lighting for portrait using single strobe

    Quote Originally Posted by georgekushstanza View Post
    I'll be shooting 4x5 400 portra and have one (1) alienbee 1600. I'll be looking to shoot indoors during the day. When I meter in most places I don't have enough light I'm only a stop or two away from what I want so I was hoping to use the strobe but not have it look overly dramatic. Ii like the way Tina Barney and bruce davidson do their work. Speaking of which how do I meter to have both the inside and outside of a window be correctly exposed? Example
    I have an umbrella if that helps
    In the past some commercial photographers where using Polaroid instant prints to check illumination before spending a single sheet. The Polaroid photograph usually was smaller format so it was shot with a reducing back, moving the camera back or with wider lens, or just with another plastic camera.

    Strobes have a level of uncentainty for the photographer, this is the purpose of modeling light.

    A 4x5 sheet is a treasure, so one have to nail that, with no room for surprises. Face volumes are critical, so one has to be very aware about what can result.

    Today we have an awesome photometer for this: a DSLR !!!! instead the Polaroid.


    Rig the DSLR on the rail and use it for preshots. You'll see what will happen when you learn how the DSLR image translates to Porta, in the same way that in the past photographers knew the Polaroid to the sheet translation, of course including bellows extension correction.

    More than to know the exposure the DSLR shot is to know illumination balance to get the volumes or the flatness you envision.


    Also you'll have your subject relaxed, not knowing that you are finished with adjusments so you can also take his face while he is unaware.

    When you take the sheet shot also make the DSLR fire at the same time, so you will know if eyes are closed, and will see face expression to know if you are done.


    Hollywood work that way. They take preshots with Alexas and when it looks right they play rock & roll with the Panaflex to get the unique film footprint. Also they monitor result with that, mostly to see face expressions to know if they are done.


    A Nikon D3200 is way enough for that, but a D750 or an IQ3 enhances the view camera and photographer status

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