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Photography Question 
liz read

Studio creates Dark Shadows on Background Seamless

PROBLEM - very dark shadows cast onto background seamless...UGH!
Shooting indoors, el cheapo.
* Fuji 602Z set at 6MP
* Windows draped so depending 100% on flash for lighting
* 2 Vivitar 2000 lights set to "M" - both OFF camera.
* Did NOT use on camera flash...too much drag on camera power...slows down taking pix too much.
* One light against reflector board - - other very harsh so I just put a kleenex over it (!!??) - just read about wax paper somewhere.
* flash location/height:
About 6 feet from subject; angled 45
Subject short/child, so kept lights at
about 2-3 ft off ground.
* white seamless background: possibly not enough "front runway"? Kid standing about 3 ft from background - just read somewhere this might be too close.

So that's the LONG story of the setup.
I DID get some brilliant shots...but goldarn I wish I knew how to ELIMINATE shadows!

Help! Coz I've got another shoot next week...same location...older brother.

IF copies of shadowed PIX would help...ask and I'll submit.

Thanks - Ciao - Liz

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5/17/2004 6:27:34 AM

Rhonda L. Tolar   How about a light behind the subject? If you have a white background, could you put a light behind that and maybe that would help with your shadowing.
I don't do studio work, but I have set up my garage, trying to take pictures of my husband's motorcycle, and I put a shop light behind the bike, and didn't have any shadows in my pictures.
Good luck!

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5/17/2004 9:36:29 AM

liz read   Rhonda
Thanks - but I don't think this will work in my context. I am working real tight with the subject - as mentioned - backdrop is like 3 feet away/from subject.
Meaning there is no room for light from behind...and I don't have the space (nor a garage!) to build it in.
What I DO have is a 3 yr old subject who, like any 3 yr old kid, can't stand still!!!
So it's not like trying to shoot something "static" - - I WISH it was!!!
I'll put your advice away for the day when I have space!
Where do I find pix of your bikes?
Cioa as of Now

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5/17/2004 11:15:14 AM

Rhonda L. Tolar   It is hard to work in a tight space, and with a wiggly 3 year old! The only other thing I could think of, would be to bounce your flash. If you have a white ceiling, and your flash will pivot, just point it up. You will need a light meter tho, to get a good reading on your subject.
My husband and I both have motorcycles, and I use alot of film experimenting on them. I haven't posted pictures of them, because I am such an amateur, that I would get laughed right out of this website! lol
No, really, I use film and have a scanner, but it just takes so long to scan them and then upload with my dial up at the house, that I usually don't bother unless I feel that I really have something spectacular. I took some really close up shots of my bike this weekend, when I got the prints back, all I can see is the reflections of things in the tank that shouldn't have been there, back to the drawing board!

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5/18/2004 8:05:57 AM

liz read   Hi Rhonda!
I've tried bounce but it doesn't work well (at least not for me) since I find if subject's heads is in anyway tilted's too much in shadow.
I suppose I should try ceiling bounce PLUS a "reflection" or dimmed sidelight...or even shooting up from the floor.
My most success with celing bounce was with some dog portraits...and that's because their "faces" are on top of their heads!!!
Will try the ceiling bounce and reflected from down low to counteract shadows...and will also move floor flash further away.
Yeah 3 yr olds are wriggly but she was ever so good and incredibly photogenic!
Thanks again

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5/18/2004 8:52:36 AM

Dave Cross   Hi Liz.
Try bounce off the ceiling (or a wall) again, this time tape a white card to the flash head to direct some light forward, just enough to prevent those horrible dark eyes. You CAN buy little clip-on flash reflectors, a white postcard and rubber band are somewhat cheaper.

There are loads of sites offering lighting advice (just can't think of a URL right now), with two strobes and some soft reflectors (brolly, white cards etc) you ought to be able to reduce those shadows even with 'mobile' subjects.

Digital shots are 'free' so play / experiment (use a large soft toy if you 3 year old gets bored :-).

Let us know how you get on.


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5/19/2004 4:49:11 AM

Dave Cross   Hi again Liz

Have a look at this thread:-

Looks like what you need.


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5/19/2004 4:52:45 AM

liz read   Thanks DC
Experimentation I KNOW is the key...however my teddy bear has locked himself up in the linen closet and refuses to come out!

* my flash heads do angle. I clearly haven't brought down the brilliance figure I'll play
* with wax paper/or whatever could create a cool diffused light
* mini reflectors using index card
* and back to ceiling bounce

Ted grumbled thru the door that he agrees to be the subject 'slong as I provide a jar of honey.

Back to the drawing board....

Thanks likewise for the website...

And other references, which made me cringe re cost of "real" lights...when my secret goal is a new camera.

Once I do get this figured out, I will write in a summary of how I made it work.

Thanks to again to you and Rhonda for all the advice!

Now off to the linen closet with a jar of honey.......

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5/19/2004 9:39:19 AM

Rhonda L. Tolar   Bwahahhaha! Teddy's hiding in the closet! Good luck with your experiments, Teddy sounds more wiggly than the 3 year old!
I had never heard of the wax paper trick, I am going to have to store that one for future use. We have a cheapo digital that always had too harsh of a flash, I solved it with scotch tape, but I don't think I would want tape on my good flash.
Will your flash pivot to below a 90 degree angle, if so, try that too.
I want to know how your experiments come out. This is getting to be a good story!
I have two boys to photograph this weekend, a co worker is letting me steal her boys for a little while. I want to do a multiple exposure with a ball glove in the background and the boys on top of it. My "studio" consists of my garage, with a black sheet attached to the door! I have to rely completely on my flash for lighting, coz I too, have priced lighting and haven't made that plunge yet.
Keep in touch, my email address is

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5/19/2004 9:55:03 AM

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