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Thread: tungsten vs strobe lighting

  1. #1

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    tungsten vs strobe lighting

    I am shooting with a cooke 229mm lens on a 4x5 camera. I am wanting to shoot at f/4.5 to get the softest lens effect as possible. With my Bowens Gemini 500 Pro monolight set at the lowest setting, 15 watts/sec and with a one-stop reducer in the softbox, I can use only one light and must keep it around 8 feet away, otherwise the shot is overexposed. I am shooting ASA 100 at 1/125 sec. at f/4.5. I would like to be able to use fill lights, hair lights, etc. without that overexposing the film. I thought of using tungsten lighting, so I bought a 650 W Tungsten Fresnel, but with that I have to get 3 feet away at the tightest spot to shoot at the same shutter speed and aperture. I don't really want to go below 1/60th sec., and I don't want my models melting under lights so close to them. Also, the tightest spot covers less than 1 foot at that distance. With a 650 W flood, forget about getting enough light. I have done some reading on the internet already. Some suggest going up to a 2000 W Tungsten fresnel or larger, but that would mean I would have to get farther away, which would lead to loss of light intensity. Why the fresnel? I love the look of fresnel spotlights of the old Hollywood portraits of the 20s and 30s. Oh, and I can't afford HMI.

    Thanks for reading my lengthy question,

    David

  2. #2
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    What about a ND filter, either on the lens or ND gels over the lights?

  3. #3
    Greg Lockrey's Avatar
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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    Put some filtration on your lens.... you can get a couple of stops or more that way. Your polarizer will get you 2.5-3 stops alone.
    Greg Lockrey

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  4. #4

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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    Thank you for your repspones. I know there are many photographers that would strongly disagree with me, but I don't like to put filters of any kind on my lenses. I would be happy to put them over the softbox. I'll see what they have online. What about the quality of light from the fresnel spots? Can that be replicated by strobes with a snoot or other attachments?

    David

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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by David Solow View Post
    Thank you for your repspones. I know there are many photographers that would strongly disagree with me, but I don't like to put filters of any kind on my lenses. I would be happy to put them over the softbox. I'll see what they have online. What about the quality of light from the fresnel spots? Can that be replicated by strobes with a snoot or other attachments?

    David
    some photographers will gut a fresnel fixture and stick a bare bulb strobe head in there to get similar effects. I think Norman even sells a fresnel head for their packs..or used to

  6. #6

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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    Quote Originally Posted by David Solow View Post
    Thank you for your repspones. I know there are many photographers that would strongly disagree with me, but I don't like to put filters of any kind on my lenses. I would be happy to put them over the softbox. I'll see what they have online. What about the quality of light from the fresnel spots? Can that be replicated by strobes with a snoot or other attachments?

    David
    Some companies made Fresnel spots for their strobes.

  7. #7

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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    If I remember from my long-ago studio portrait days, the main light provided the base exposure. Adding a fill light, hair light, and background light in the 'classic' manner did not affect the overall exposure- they only added light to areas otherwise too dark. We used 400 w/s Photogenic packs back then with 4 outlets...

  8. #8
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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    You know that if you move your main light from 8 feet to 11 feet, you'll drop the light on your subject by a full stop. Do you have room?

    You may also try to use a scrim, unless you are looking for hard lighting. Even a white bedsheet hanging in front of your softbox will knock it down (but also diffuse it). If you are using a softbox, then that effect might not be incompatible with your objectives.

    If your softbox has a silvered reflector, try covering that with white cloth. Cheap white bedsheets will be a lot cheaper than neutral-density gels.

    If you need a spot, use a snoot rather than a Fresnel. It will block unwanted light instead of redirecting it to the spot.

    Rick "just some ideas" Denney

  9. #9
    Drew Saunders drew.saunders's Avatar
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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    Color or B&W? If B&W, do you have an Ikea nearby? Get a handful of these $10 LED lights:
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20169658

    Or spend $5 more for the clamp version:
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80169636

    They might provide the hair light and other highlights you want without any heat and aren't too strong, but strong enough.
    Flickriver (to avoid Flickr's annoying new format): http://www.flickriver.com/photos/drew_saunders/

  10. #10

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    Re: tungsten vs strobe lighting

    The LEDs panels are coming on strong but not quite there yet for me...

    Most people have their lights too far away and the light quality they think they are getting just turns into a relatively tiny hard spot, it doesn't matter how much money you spend or how fancy the fixture is....

    Instead, practice with an inanimate object (a wig store - mannequin head perhaps?) and put the lights right up to where they look best, which I predict is 1-2 feet away.

    You may have to switch out the bulbs to lower wattage ones. Just because a fixture is rated to 650 watts doesn't mean you can't use lower wattage ones.

    Roscoe makes theatrical gels that come in colors and densities. Get a couple of 2-3 stop NDs.

    I suspect a 250 watt bulb in your fresnel, supplemented with some 100-200 watt bulbs in your other lights, will work nicely and not fry your model.

    If you are mimicking the old school and using B&W, then you can mix all sorts of different color temperature bulbs, fancy and cheap fixtures. Note that even Dan Winters will use Home Depot painter's lights on occasion, mixed in with ProFoto and whatever....

    I use hot lights and wide open lenses too, although not even close to the precision of a 1930s Hollywood 8x10 photographer. What I do to prevent cooking the model is to turn them off in between.... When you think about it, you can do most of the prep with dimmer or no illumination, then only expose your subjects to a minute or two of intensity. If it is a cool room to begin with, they actually welcome the warmth. If I was doing a fancy Hollywood lighting scheme, I would use a stand-in object instead of the model for most of the "roughing-in".

    It's really a shame most photographers get stuck on strobe*. Hot lights are a lovely way to work and it is so much easier to see the light rather than guessing what is going on or chimping a hundred times with your digital (or burning Polaroids $$$) just to do an obvious shot.

    *I qualify this though... shoot a group of people and you need strobe, no group is going to be patient enough for hot lights.

    Finally, I used to use the Arri Fresnels too and they are nice fixtures. But in practice, I don't see the value in them, or in the Fresnel at all. Try a bare bulb or simple spot and you'll also get nice quality, with very little difference in my opinion. So I'd sell the Arri to some aspirational kid and get a bunch of old Lowel and Mole stuff for cheap if it were me... it's like ProFoto versus White Lightning... not really worth paying 5x more for something that is 99% the same.

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