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Thread: Flash or Continuous lighting?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    Middletown, CT
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    153

    Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2006
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    trying to escape Michigan and Illinois
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    368

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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.)

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Westminster, MD
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    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    buy an inexpensive flash meter

    such as: http://cgi.ebay.com/Minolta-Flash-Li...QQcmdZViewItem

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    God's Country
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    2,077

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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
    Life in the fast lane!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,952

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    This forum has many examples of portraits done with only one light:

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/pri...TopicID=424115

    Another vote for the Minolta flashmeter III.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,476

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Gulfport, MS, USA
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    873

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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!

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    Forest Grove, Ore.
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    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    9,476

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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 ;-)

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    1,791

    Re: Flash or Continuous lighting?

    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.

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