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Photography Question 
Pamela K. Barrett
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/26/2007

Studio Lighting: Barn Doors?

I have 4 Photogenic PLR1000DRC lights and was wondering if I need to buy 4 barn doors or will just 1 or 2 serve my needs. I'm more of a photojournalist, but I also work as a portrait photographer who does official work portraits - i.e., Employee of Quarter, or Army portraits.

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7/2/2008 11:53:51 AM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Pam, when I started a couple of decades ago I bought a set of barn doors for each strobe. I stopped doing that pretty quickly as I rarely use more than one set of barn doors on a shot. Save your money for a grid spot and a snoot.
Thanks, John Siskin

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7/2/2008 12:46:25 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
I use barn doors on the back light/hair light. On the main light, I have a large soft box on the fill. My main light has the barn doors with the large parabolic reflector and diffuser.
The backlight has the barn doors with the grid for diffusers and gels. I tell people all the time it's got a lot to do with who taught you and the equipment you find you enjoy working with.
I love the old parabolic lighting myself - it is so easy to direct and see the definition of shadow. But some photographers will always prefer softboxes. It's simply a matter of preference as in most medias of art.
I hope this helps,
Debby Tabb

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7/3/2008 7:48:44 AM

Oliver Anderson
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
  Get at least 2 barn doors, but get at least 4 grids ... I use my 10 and 20 degree grids the most.

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7/4/2008 1:40:44 PM

Bruce A. Dart   Hi Pam,
As with any piece of equipment, it depends..... You didn't say but we are guessing here that you are talking about a strobe with a reflector, in which case a set of barn doors would be helpful in directing the light. Many barn doors come with doors that close in two directions, giving the flexibility of directing the light both vertically and horizontally. When I used parabolics, I used barn doors all the time to put the light only where I wanted it. Now with the soft box that is less critical and the natural fall off of light can be used much the same way. The grid spots mentioned by John and Oliver work pretty much the same and are a little easier to control. The more you use the lights, the more you will get accustomed to how they work and what kind of light pattern you are creating. As photographers we often get trapped into thinking we have to have MORE equipment when in fact we can probably do just as well with what we have. Portrait photographer Hubert Gentry used to work with a "bare bulb" or no reflector at all. Wedding photographer Clay Blackmore would use a photogenic reflector that I only use for backgrounds -- on all his lights. Commercial photographers like John often shoot through light panels. They all work. I learned photography using barn doors but honestly have not used them in years. They still can be used very effectively. A dozen photographers can use different light modifiers very effectively and watching each, you would swear that their method was the only way to go!! Practice and find ways to create the effect you want. When you see the final result, no one sees what was used to create it!! Good luck.

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7/8/2008 9:52:20 AM

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