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Photography QnA: Studio, Still, & Personal Portraiture Photography

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques : Studio, Still, & Personal Portraiture Photography

Read about techniques for personal portraiture photography, tricks for still photography and studio photography techniques here.

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Photography Question 
Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
  51 .  How to Shoot Silver Jewelrey
I'm using a Canon XTi SRL 10 meg. shooting silver jewelry. The silver always turns out with a gold cast. All the other colors of the jewelry (including a Kodak color chart) comes out right on. I've shot it in a "white box", have shot it outside on a cloudy day, sunny day, indoors under "white" fluorecent bulbs with color rendering index of 97, 94, with flash and without. I've tried f/stops from 5.6 to 22. The only way I know of removing it is with CS2 using a saturation brush but that is way too slow and tedious. Anyone have any ideas??? Please Help!!

3/4/2007 6:05:23 PM

Stephanie M. Stevens

member since: 4/20/2005
  Have you tried different white balance settings? That affects color cast.

3/4/2007 6:09:50 PM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
  Yes, first thing I tried. But as I mentioned, the white balance is dead on. A shot of a Kodak color chart will come out with the white and every other color dead on. Changing white balance settings only changes the hue of the "gold" cast of the silver and offsets the other colors in the jewelry (as well as the color chart). Only the silver does it. Strange enough, chrome does not and stays silver colored! Thanks for the response though.

3/4/2007 7:10:00 PM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Charles, I'm no expert on shooting silver, but I read Somewhere (???) that you should place black paper as reflectors (out of the image) that will help the color of the object. Perhaps others have used this method and will help both of us learn.

John

3/5/2007 5:58:28 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Hi again, I just googled "photographing silver" and found several articles including

http://www.mkdigitaldirect.com/tips/new-tips/jewelry_photography_tips.html#nutshell

3/5/2007 6:03:44 AM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
  Thanks John! Looks like I've got some good reading to do today! I'll be looking for some black paper and trying that as well. Thanks for the help and the great info. I sure appreciate.

Charles

3/5/2007 7:01:51 AM

  Hi Charles,
I use the ColorChecker from GretagMacbeth to do my color balance. I started with the Kodak Grey card, but the color balance of the card was off. The Kodak Grey card wasn’t grey. I haven’t checked the Kodak color chart, but at this point, I would be suspicious. Also, how are you checking the color chart?
One other consideration: Some sensors have color balance problems that are pronounced at different densities. My camera has some of these problems. This means that your balance may be perfect at 18% grey but not so hot at a brighter grey. I assume that you are not having trouble with the color of the white box, but you should never trust fluorescent light sources for accurate color. They do not have a continuous spectrum, and this causes problems. And if your shutter speed is over 1/30 of a second you get problems from the cycling of the lamps. I did a couple of Instructors Insights blogs on BetterPhoto in the last few months that you might want to check. They explain why fluorescent lights are unreliable. I would try strobes or tungsten bulbs.
Thanks, John Siskin

3/5/2007 10:24:10 AM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
  Thanks John. I just ordered the GretagMacbeth and will keep you posted. I use ambient light from all the windows open and all lights off most of the time with a 22 f stop which gives a pretty slow shutter speed. When I use the fluoresents, they are not just shop lights but have a color rendering index of 97/100 and are made for photography. Strange how a chrome plated piece of metal doesn't do it. I realize chromium is a different color but there is not a hint of the gold discoloration on it. My wife has an 18K white gold piece of jewelry I'll try shooting tonight whith and without lights. So far, haveing the lights on or off or shooting outside seems to make no difference. Thanks for the help guys.

3/5/2007 1:30:32 PM

  I haven't had this problem with silver. There are a lot of things that might be invoved. What camera are you using? Have you check the color of the silver in Photoshop. Are ther stones or other colored things associated with the jewelry? Let me know if the ColorChecker is any help. I would balance the camera on the light grey, that may help. Thanks, John Siskin

3/5/2007 2:01:26 PM

Ashley K. Manfrin

member since: 6/25/2005
  Hi, My name is Ashley, I subscribed to this site and I think I may have the answer you may be looking for.

Im pretty sure that all cameras have the parameters feature, they are very very very useful for the many different pics one may take.

Here is how to get that setting on your camera...I hope you kept your manual, it's a photographers best and I mean best friend, unless of course you refer to your dog lol. Manual...What each parameter does for your picture:image settings, which is in the table of contents... then selecting the processing parameters. Once your here you can determine with the parameters if you want a natural look in the pic, a vivid or sharp look, or set the parameters for yourself for ex. color tone, sharpness,saturation and contrast. I reco. you either go with the sharp and vivid look or set your own parameters specifically for ex. the jewellery you are taking pics of, if you want to sell it or just get a really good picture.

It continues... ISO speed is also very important for shiny object as they reflect the light as jewellery often does...unless it's plastic.

Another thing to keep in mind in adjusting the color is the White Balance... Custom balance is the best if you have it, because you are able to take a pic and use the pic info to correct the levels of color. This is the greatest tool possible because if you want to maintain the same spectrum of light in your picture, it does it for you.

hope this helps, Ashley

3/6/2007 7:18:02 PM

Ashley K. Manfrin

member since: 6/25/2005
  Hi, My name is Ashley, I subscribed to this site and I think I may have the answer you may be looking for.

Im pretty sure that all cameras have the parameters feature, they are very very very useful for the many different pics one may take.

Here is how to get that setting on your camera...I hope you kept your manual, it's a photographers best and I mean best friend, unless of course you refer to your dog lol. Manual...What each parameter does for your picture:image settings, which is in the table of contents... then selecting the processing parameters. Once your here you can determine with the parameters if you want a natural look in the pic, a vivid or sharp look, or set the parameters for yourself for ex. color tone, sharpness,saturation and contrast. I reco. you either go with the sharp and vivid look or set your own parameters specifically for ex. the jewellery you are taking pics of, if you want to sell it or just get a really good picture.

It continues... ISO speed is also very important for shiny object as they reflect the light as jewellery often does...unless it's plastic.

Another thing to keep in mind in adjusting the color is the White Balance... Custom balance is the best if you have it, because you are able to take a pic and use the pic info to correct the levels of color. This is the greatest tool possible because if you want to maintain the same spectrum of light in your picture, it does it for you.

hope this helps, Ashley

3/6/2007 7:18:47 PM

John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  Contact John Reed, c/o Tonto, Scout and Silver.

Hi-Yo

3/7/2007 10:19:28 AM

  Hi Charles,
Let me ask a couple of questions:
Are you setting the XTi to one of the Picture Styles such as Landscape? If you have the camera set to a style such as Landscape, it will emphasize and saturate the blues and greens. Other Picture Styles do similar things. I have found Neutral and Faithful to be just what the names describe, especially Faithful. But I shoot in Standard Picture Style, and either set a Custom WB or shoot a white card, and then balance to the white card in Camera Raw, and then paste the adjustments to the series of images in Bridge. But that technique works only as long as the light doesn’t change.

Also, I take it from the previous discussion that you are shooting RAW capture. Am I correct in thinking that?

I’ve found that the XTi delivers really accurate color. Do you have any pictures with the problems that you describe that you can post? I’d like to see what you are describing.

Best wishes,

Charlotte

3/8/2007 12:07:44 AM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
  Hello Charlotte,

I shoot only in RAW and get the best shots with an f stop of 22. I likewise use the white card and pretty much shoot just how you've described but with the WB on auto or custom. Best colors I get are with a combination of a set of 97 CRI floresents about 6 ft or more above the table behind a diffuser that provides just about the same amount as the daylight coming in the large open windows nearby; all whalls are stark white. I bought a cluster of white LED's on a flex neck and will try that later today but, the type of light I use seems to matter little. All the colors on the gretagmacbeth come out great with the silver still showing a brass or gold cast. I shot about 50 shots of jewlery yesterday using a light box but got only pure white for the silver which looks terrible. I'll be gone all day but will upload some shots this afternoon or this evening. Thanks so very much for the help!!!!!! As to the "Bridge", though I have it with the CS2 I have no idea what it's for. Can you suggest any good books that deal with it?

3/8/2007 6:30:51 AM

  Charles, are you saying that you're using combination light--the fluorescents plus daylight? But if you're balancing against a white card or the Gretag Color Checker, the mixed lighting shouldn't matter. Now occasionally, I've found color variances at slow shutter speeds with the XTi. I don't know how slow your shutter speeds are though.

Bridge is the file brower/organizer that comes with PS CS2. You can start Bridge by clicking its icon in PS CS2 on the top toolbar toward the right side. In Bridge, you can apply standard metadata templates (saves a ton of time), add keywords, sort and organize images, etc. I have an article on my Web site with some tips on using Bridge, though the article is certainly not comprehensive of all that can be done in Bridge.

Here is a link to the article:
http://wordsandphotos.org/Commentary/ThreeTipsToOptimizeRawWorkflow.htm

A good book that talks about Bridge is Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2 by Bruce Fraser. Of course, you know that if you buy the existing book, there will be a new version to cover the next rev of PS, right? ;) And in Lightroom, you can do some of the same things that you do in Bridge, but not all. The landscape for Adobe products has become much more complicated just lately.

I would still like to see a sample image of your jewlery shoots.

Wishing you well,

Charlotte

3/8/2007 4:08:53 PM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
 
 
 
Charlotte,

Attached are a few shots before and corresponding shots after being gone over with the "saturation" brush on CS2.

3/10/2007 3:42:59 PM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
 
 
  Photo number 1
Photo number 1
 
  Photo number 2
Photo number 2
 
 
Hopefully I can get these four pictures uploaded.

3/10/2007 8:33:10 PM

  I hate to disagree but mixed light will mater. Some digital cameras have more trouble with mixed light than film. Fluorescent lights do not have a continuous spectrum. That means there are specific colors of light where the fluorescent is brighter or darker than the colors near it. This evens out enough to see by, and even take non critical pictures. But it doesn’t matter if you do a color balance mixing daylight with fluorescent is likely to cause problems especially with neutrals. I did a blog here a couple of weeks ago with pictures of the spectra of various light sources. If you can find it things may get more clear.
Sorry to disagree. Thanks, John Siskin

3/10/2007 8:51:06 PM

Charles Carlin

member since: 3/4/2007
  John,

I'm aware of light mixing and the sometimes unpredictable results when using various sources but let me remind you that I get the same problems whether I shoot with or without any daylight mixing in or if I'm using incandescent, flouresent with a high color rendering index, all LED lights or metal halide or all sunlight. Nevertheless, I very much appreciate your help. Charles

3/10/2007 9:16:25 PM

  Hi Charles,
The reason I stopped posting here is that I had little to contribute. I don’t know what causes your problems in all these situations. However I read the earlier posting as saying that mixed lighting, fluorescent and daylight wouldn’t cause problems. I knew that to be at best highly optimistic. Perhaps I misread the post. I wish I had more to contribute to the success of your venture. Have you tried borrowing another camera; perhaps it is something to do with the sensor.
Thanks, John Siskin

3/10/2007 9:27:34 PM

  I agree with John when he says that I was being highly optimistic. In a perfect world, balancing against a white card "should" neutralize colors. But in the real world, I've also had situations in mixed lighting where balancing against a white card did not neutralize colors. In my earlier posting, I was speaking from a theoretical point of view rather than from practical experience.

Thank you for posting the images. In the first image, it looks like you have a gold reflector on the set. Notice the change in shadow tint from top to bottom on the sides of the casings and from left to right under the bracelet. If you are sure that you aren't getting reflection from something on the set, e.g., the ceiling, then I'm at a loss on what is causing this. I wish that I could be more help.

Borrowing another XTi, as John suggests, would give you a point of comparison to help resolve the problem.

Best,

Charlotte

3/11/2007 12:20:59 AM

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Photography Question 
Debbie 

member since: 2/25/2006
  52 .  Getting Catchlights in Subject's Eyes
Is there a sure-fire way to capture catchlights in a subject's eyes?

2/24/2007 4:46:29 PM

  Hi Debbie,
A small strobe near the lens will give you a catch light. Near does not mean an on-camera strobe, though that works. Generally a strobe within about 3 feet of the lens works well. If you use an on-camera strobe, you’ll have a catch light just about dead center in the pupil. If you make this the main source of light in your shot, you’ll have other problems, but you’ll have a catch light.
Thanks, John Siskin

2/24/2007 6:16:30 PM

Bruce A. Dart

member since: 1/7/2007
  Hi Debbie,
A "catchlight" is the reflection in the eye from nearly any direct light source -- and it can be from window light as well. A camera level strobe often produces another, unwanted catch light (red eye) when the flash is on the same level as the subject's eyes. For this reason, as well as better shape of the subject, lights are usually raised to nearly 45 degrees above eye level and aimed down to light the face, or subject.
Multiple catchlights, evident in magazine cosmetic ads, add sparkle to the subject's eyes. The angle of the strobe produces a catchlight in that spot in the eyes; i.e. high to the left of camera gives about an 11 o'clock position of the catchlight in the eye. Bounce light, especially from a ceiling, gives soft light and usually no catchlight. It has to be more direct.

2/28/2007 1:44:54 PM

John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  Use Photoshop. Can't miss.

2/28/2007 2:01:45 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  Many flash heads come with the pop-out reflector card - for capturing catchlights. Aim your flash at the ceiling... pop-out the white plastic card on your flash.... and shoot. Result... nice bounce flash with catchlights in the eyes.

3/1/2007 3:34:53 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  Additonal to this... just paint them in using Photoshop... or tweak the existing catchlights for any effect desired.

3/1/2007 3:36:41 PM

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Photography Question 
Gina R. Arredondo

member since: 12/16/2006
  53 .  Muslin Backdrops
I am intrested in finding out how to create photo muslin backdrops. My questions are: How or what to use for preparation of muslin? Also, what kinds of paints are recommended if using airbrush and paintbrushes?

12/16/2006 9:00:00 PM

Pat Worster
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/21/2004
  Hi Gina,
I have some backdrops I made using sheets and spray paint in my gallery. Very easy to do and quite inexpensive.

12/17/2006 5:39:38 AM

Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/6/2006
  Hi Gina,
You can check out my gallery too for muslin backdrops. I have about six colors now.
If you want to use fabric store muslin to do yourself, buy the 108". Buy some RIT dye, and have a plastic bucket to use, some household rubber gloves, boil about 3-4 gallons of water on the stove top. Wash the fabric first, then while it's wet, don't dry it, lay it out on your floor, and crumple it randomly and bunch it up, and then tie the whole ball of fabric up with twine or jute, tightly.
Either outside, or in your kitchen sink, CAREFULLY add your dye to the hot water, in your bucket with 1 cup of table salt and stir it in, and add the fabric. Wear your gloves at this point. Make sure your fabric is completely submerged in the water for a full 1/2 hour. Don't stir it, just let it sit, making sure it's covered.
Now you have to rinse it. Don't splash the water if you can help it, as it will stain everything permanently! Rinse, rinse, rinse until all of the water runs clear. This will take a little while, then you can spin it out in your washer, and dry it on low heat in the dryer. I usually do a rinse and spin in the washer, to get as much of the dye out as possible.
There's a ton of info on the net for making backdrops.

12/17/2006 6:53:51 AM

Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  Jessica, are all of those muslins that you've used HOMEMADE??!?! Those are absolutely GORGEOUS!!! I'll have to give this a try. How much does the muslin usually run?

12/17/2006 2:34:27 PM

Jessica  A. Eiss
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/6/2006
  Hi Carrie, yes I've made them all, and could do it with my eyes closed! I have the red, denim, burgandy, brown, green and white. I have more dye to do a purple, but haven't bought the fabric yet. Our school colors are purple/white.

to get the nice tye dye effect, that's where the bunching and tying it up tightly comes in.

Cost: if you have a Joann's fabric store around, that's where to get it. It goes on sale for 40% off. The normal cost for the 108" is $4.99/yd, and I buy 4-5 yrds. If you want to get enough for several colors, they'll cut it for you in the yardage you want, still at one price. Go online to joanns.com, and you can sign up for the flier, and there are internet coupons, if you don't have a store around you. They also have great props too, like wooden trucks, boas, seasonal things, etc.! Good luck, and ask if any more questions.

12/17/2006 7:47:54 PM

David A. Bliss

member since: 5/24/2005
  Here is a DIY link.

http://www.diyphotography.net/homestudio/chaep-diy-muslin-photography-background

12/18/2006 9:03:26 AM

dennis w. mcclain

member since: 8/2/2004
 
 
 
another thing you might try. go to lowes, in the paint dept find their canvas drop cloths. get hobby paint, spray paint, some sponges, and rit dye. I dyed mine brown first then used the sponges,and the hobby paint to make a fuax finish like people use on their walls. I think it turned out pretty good

12/19/2006 6:12:22 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  You can find a lot of this info and more ideas on how to create Studio Photography, background holders to props on the Studio Photography threads 1-21.
Dennis is correct, the painters ones are the cheapest way to go for the studiest Muslin.
Wishing you teh best in your ventures,
Debby

12/19/2006 7:33:28 AM

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Photography Question 
Anthony Ruiz

member since: 12/16/2004
  54 .  What Kind of Lights to Buy?
Hey, guys and gals...
Can someone help me make a wise decision as to what lights to get for someone who has been shooting for about three years but has never used lights other then a flash. I am currently looking at two different setups from B&H and I am on a very limited budget. I have posted links so you can see what I am considering.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=2251&A=details&Q=&sku=390686&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=2252&A=details&Q=&sku=121854&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation
Also are monolights better then strobes or vise versa?

12/15/2006 8:24:49 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Hi Anthony,

Assuming that by 'monolights' you mean continuous, incandescent (tungsten) light, that is only useful for still life tabletop photography with long shutter speeds. Not useful for portraits, other living subjects or bigger scenes.
Incandescent (tungsten) lights don't have enough power. Not by a loooong shot!

12/15/2006 8:54:24 AM

  Hi Anthony,
There are tremendous challenges in buying lighting on a budget. Basically, you are looking for power and a limited amount of control on the light. Then you might like to have some accessories. This light - http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=1225&A=details&Q=&sku=386687&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation - does have more power than the ones you put into your post, but it does not have a light stand or any accessories. It is more than twice as powerful, that is really important. Some of my students have used this brand of equipment and like it.
I have an article here on BetterPhoto about shooting with only one light, perhaps it would help:

http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=129
I also have one on building a light panel, I know that would be useful:
http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=156
A monolight is a strobe that uses AC power (plugs into the wall). It plugs into the wall directly, not through a powerpack. They are very flexible equipment. The light I suggested above is a monolight as is the Impact light you found on the site. The Smith-Victor stuff is very low power. Smith-Victor does make some good gear; this set isn’t it. If you can’t step up to the Patterson/Interfit monolight, get the Impact light.
I agree with W., don’t buy tungsten.
Good luck!

12/15/2006 6:23:35 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Anthony. Yep. It's a lighting jungle out there. Bowens Corp. recently starting making monolights with detachable-rechargable power packs to make the decisional process even more complicated. http://www.bowens.co.uk/catalog/

Here's one review from Shutterbug you might find interesting.

http://www.shutterbug.com/equipmentreviews/lighting_equipment/1006calumet/

As John mentioned, you need to determine how much power output you need and learn how output is measured. Some manufacturers overrate their lights (ha, go figure), but you need to consider if you'll be using light modifiers like umbrellas, softboxes, scrims, etc., AND determine what you plan to be shooting in the near future and down the road. You'd probably prefer buying a system that you can grow into not one you keep needing to replace bits and pieces of as you find you need more illumination or to produce more special effects from different types of accessories.

Also, consider that if you can't afford the right lights for your present and future needs, maybe you need to wait awhile, buy one bigger monolight, say a 1000 W.S. or even 1500 light now and add additional lights from the same manufacturer (one that you know has been around awhile) later on. That way, you'll be pretty sure that the accessories will accept the same equipment.

Here are some other manufactuers to consider as welll, and note (fortunately or perhaps not) B&H sells them as well. Speedotron (real work horses), Norman (industry stand-bys, very reliable IMHO), Elinchrom, Broncolor (truly high end and very pricey). Oh and Photoflex has a new line of monobloc lights out you might take a look at. http://www.photoflex.com. Theyu were offering some good deals recently, may have ended. I dunno.

Oh, and I'm also with John and W.S. in that you shouldn't buy tungsten.

Take it light.
Mark

12/15/2006 7:14:35 PM

  Hi Mark,
Did I miss something here? Isn’t this guy trying to buy a cheap light (ok inexpensive, are no cheap lights) as a present for someone else? You know this part of BetterPhoto better than I. You know a heck of a lot about lights also, couldn’t you make a specific recommendation for an inexpensive strobe? I’m willing to bet he would like to get something by Christmas. Given that there maybe nothing on the market that would be worth buying, at this price point, how about a recommendation for a book on lighting. I don’t have a lighting book to suggest, everything I have is out of date. Anybody have an idea for good reading about lighting? Thanks, John

12/15/2006 7:27:35 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Well, Anthony mentioned very limited budget so I suggested waiting until he expanded his funding. The reason, as you and W.S. know, is that we all get what we pay for. Cheap lighting, I think, costs you more in the end, in the quality of the work, in the durability and increased frustration from breakability, and of course, the cost of replacing it later on. In that sense, I usually explain to people that in buying with an eye toward the future they spend once and supplement it later on.

The best single book I've seen on lighting was put out by Sinar/Broncolor about 10 years ago called "Professional Lighting Technique. The Broncolor Handbook" by Jost Marchesi. It covers the theory of light, exposure measurement and filter technique and is really easy to ready through with tons of diagrams. I don't know whether it's still available but I'll bet an e-mail to Broncolor sales might get him pointed in the right direction. It's worth waiting for and you don't necessarily need Broncolor lighting to make Broncolor-like photos. LOL !!!

Amherst Photo books are a likely choice given the date. They've got a lot of good 'How To' stuff.

Otherwise, maybe B&H is still handling Dean Collins great series "Finelight". That was pretty cool as well but multiple volumes as I recall to cover various subjects like product and portraits.

Happy holidays gang !!
Mark

12/16/2006 9:58:28 AM

  The Broncolor book is excellent; I have a copy around here somewhere. Dean Collins was a wonderful teacher, I learned a lot from his Finelight series. He was also funny; I appreciate that. I have some of that around here as well. I would like to find a current reference for my students. Anybody have a suggestion? Thanks Mark and everybody! Happy Holidays! John

12/16/2006 10:10:14 AM

Henry W. Pyle

member since: 7/9/2006
  Hi Anthony,

Just thought I would throw this out there. I know little about what is reasonably priced or what is quality, etc. I heard about this company a while back and found it interesting.

http://www.alienbees.com/

This could be great stuff or it could be terrible, but it seems to be reasonably priced and the recommendation came from someone that had nothing to gain in giving it.

I would be interested in having others comment on this equipment.

Henry

12/19/2006 11:51:40 AM

patti banks

member since: 2/10/2005
  I use both alien bees and white lightings - products of Paul Buff. They are relatively inexpensive when compared to some of the names mentioned already. I lug the lights around all year, tossing them into the trunk of my car and in and out of venues and have not had any issues with reliability. The color is consistent among all of the lights I have.
Plus - Paul Buff customer service is excellent!
www.patricianphoto.com

12/19/2006 12:17:54 PM

L. W.

member since: 1/28/2004
  Check out Novatron. There's a 240 fun pack-comes with a pack, 2 lights, umbrellas, stands-all in a sturdy travel case. And, B&H has it for a good price. There are other Novatron kits available as well.

12/19/2006 6:07:54 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Yep. Novatron makes good equipment. The problem with mixing equipment, especially heads, is that one softbox that works on one type of ring and fits one head may not work on one from a different manufacturer, say mixing Bowens with Norman or Novatron with Alien Bees.

So the cost of those attachment rings and other accessories when you need to double up on them because of incompatibility, gets expensive. That's why I tend to recommend that when buying lights you try and plan for the future so as not to have to buy duplicate pieces just to make one head work with another set.

And, as far as packs go, if you're buying separate heads to work on a pack system, later if you decide to upgrade pack systems to say something with more power instead of being able to just add a lamphead or two, you'll REALLY know how expensive that initial pack system was if you have to rebuy everything for the sake of adding an extra lamp head or two. Like changing from Norman to Speedotron or Speedotron packs to Bowens monolights.

Some guys love alien bees, others bought them, used them a week or two and hated them. Mixed reviews. So, what I would do is try and find a place that you can rent them for a week or so before making that kind of investment.

And that's it for me tonight.
Later gang.
Mark

12/19/2006 7:15:37 PM

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Photography Question 
Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  55 .  Instructions For Lighting Assembly
I recently purchased the following:
Interfit Background Support System
Impact 125oW 3-Light Mini Boom Kit w/Case
Interfit/Paterson Stellar Tungsten Soft Box Kit INT106
None of these came with instructions on assembly. I did find the background kit instructions and got that together. However, I can't find instructions to assemble the light kits. Does anyone have any help they could offer??
Thanks much.

12/2/2006 11:16:51 AM

  Tell me more about what is in the kit. I'll see what I can do to help, if it is not too late. Regardless, good luck with the shoot! John Siskin

12/2/2006 1:32:19 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  B&H will be open again this evening and tomorrow. Call their customer service number at 212-444-6600 talk to the lighting department and they should be able to fax you the instruction sheet you need if John can't help you out. Be prepared to give them the order number if you need to call them.
Take it light.
Mark

12/2/2006 3:07:29 PM

Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  I'll try to call when I get back from my shoot this morning. Hopefully SOMEONE can help me because I'm getting to the point of being panic stricken!

Here's what I purchased:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=Search&A=details&Q=&sku=298604&is=REG&addedTroughType=search

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=Search&A=details&Q=&sku=386809&is=REG&addedTroughType=search

12/3/2006 5:31:49 AM

  Hi Carrie,
I had a chance to take a look at the kit and have a few suggestions. I am assuming that you are shooting people; if you are shooting a car, you are in big trouble. Set up the camera on a tripod. Position it in the relationship you want to the subject/subjects. Take one light, with an umbrella, and place it just behind the camera and above the camera - think of this angle as 90º to the plane of the subject. Take the other light with the umbrella and place it at 45º to the subject - you can use the right or left side, whatever works. If you think of the subject as being in the center of a circle then the sides of the subject, if extended would cut the circle in half. The first light is on the centerline of this half circle, and the second light is in the center of one of the quarter circles. This should get you light that is reasonably smooth, but allows for some structure on the face. Keep it simple do not use the boom. Your lights should be no more than 8 feet from the subject, less would be better. The lights should be the same distance from the subject, at two different angles. You can use your camera meter.
Your real problem is with color. These lights are tungsten balanced. You can use one of the preset balances on your camera for color, which will work. If you allow either daylight or fluorescent light into this shot you are going to be in color hell. Digital cameras can balance for only one color of light, if you have two colors (daylight and tungsten) the tungsten will appear sort of orange and the daylight will appear bluish. Not good. So cover that window with a quilt.
These are inexpensive lights. You will have difficulties working with them because of heat and light mixing. You will need a tripod because your exposures will be longer, and you may still have problems with noise. You may want to check out http://www.smithvictor.com/reference/index.asp. Smith-Victor makes a lot of lights like yours, they have some information that will help!
Good luck!

12/3/2006 11:00:34 AM

Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  Yes, these are for shooting people. ;) I called B&H and they haven't been very helpful thus far but I'm going to call back in hopes that I can speak with someone who might be a little nicer. These were purchased primarily to do "prom" photos that will have mostly 2-4 people in the shot. They'll be shot in a "locker room" with no windows and we CAN turn the flourescent lights OFF if that will help.

12/4/2006 9:32:47 AM

Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  Ok, I've called B&H at least three times and spoken with THREE different people who have been not only of NO help but have been rude on top of it. They say that there are NO instructions on how to assemble the lights. WHAT!?? Seriously? There are no instructions Anywhere? I found instructions for the softbox but I'm not following them at all. Perhaps I should have taken a class but this "photo stint" fell into my lap out of nowhere to be honest and they're depending on me. ANY help at ALL would be unbelievably appreciated!! Thank you.

12/4/2006 9:40:41 AM

  Hi Carrie,
I am not all that surprised that B&H does not want to teach lighting and does not have instructions for the lights. If you went to a good art supply store you would not get instructions with the brushes. Lighting is the most complex part of photography. Each light has variables including the size of the light source, the distance from the light to the subject, the direction of the light relative to the subject and the color of the light. You generally need to use several lights so that multiplies the number of variables. There are no absolute rules; the subtle differences in these variables are how a photographer defines their lighting style.

You have purchased lights that are basically only good for learning about light; not for professional usage. I would not have mentioned this originally because I thought you were doing personal work, and these lights are useful to learn with. To shoot professionally you need strobes, preferably good ones, Norman, Calumet, Speedotron and many more manufacturers. The strobes make the situation less difficult for you and for your clients. Brighter light for you, so you won’t need to use a tripod. Your clients do not need to worry about keeping still and do not overheat. The room light can be normal, which is good for you and your clients. The strobes also give you better files, with less noise. This makes it possible to sell bigger enlargements, more profit!

I have written several articles on lighting the article on lighting with one light source might be useful to you, http://www.siskinphoto.com/magazine3a.html. There are some lighting articles here at BetterPhoto as well. I would suggest that you spend some time practicing with your tools. The lights you have are good for learning to understand light, since you can see what you are doing.

You can use the light set-up I mentioned in my last posting, it will work. You do need to cut out the fluorescent lights in order to keep good color. The problem is that, with the umbrellas, you exposure will be about f4 at 1/20th of a second at an ISO of 200. Not a lot of depth-of-field, and hard to hand hold. If you want to be able to provide professional results you will probably need more light. If you use continuous lights the heat will be a big factor, a big reason to use strobes.

Good luck!
John Siskin

12/4/2006 12:42:49 PM

Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  Is there a strobe maybe that I can purchase to go along with the lights that I have? I can cut the flourescent and the largest photo that I'll be offering at this particular function will be an 8x10. I tend to shoot in .jpg, not raw primarily because of this. I understand that there are factors but I really just need a basic idea of how to ASSEMBLE the lights - not necessarily how to use them but rather, how to at least put them together. I definitely will be looking at your articles for placement, etc. Fortunately I'll be going over to the school on Monday or Tuesday of next week to set up and do some test shots to see how well things will work out. I also plan on doing post-processing if necessary. Again, this is my first real "gig" and I had NEVER planned on actually looking to do anything like this so quickly so this is really new to me.

Thank you so much for all your help. Additionally, should I use the flash on my camera along with all the other lighting? (speedlite 220EX with my Digital Rebel XTi, 24-105mm is lens).

12/4/2006 1:01:57 PM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/3/2005
  go here and star reading.. its a flash site so if you got hotlights it might not help but it might give ideas...

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html

12/4/2006 1:48:05 PM

  I think I have been misreading your question. I think what you are asking is “how do I put the lights onto the light stands?” You should have a bunch of hardware including several (2 for each light) parts that are shaped a little like a question mark. These are the key to mounting these lights. Two of them go around the base of the plastic thing that holds the bulb, encircling it. Then a screw goes through the hole nearest the light and a wing nut goes on the other side of that. Now there will be two holes left, about a 1/4 inch in diameter. Now you have a thing that looks like a marble attached to a metal sleeve. The marble goes between the 1/4 inch holes. Tighten this down and put the sleeve over the end of the light stand. You are entitled to swear at whomever designed this connector.

You can use strobes and hot lights (the not so technical name for what you have) together, but you have to make the color match. The strobes are about 5000ºK and the hot lights are only 3200ºK, that makes the hot lights warmer. None of this makes sense by the way. What you would do to make this match is put a Full Orange Gel over the strobe, then the color will match, or at least be close. You can get the gel from B&H or any other pro store. By the way you may want to give Calumet a try, they usually have more time for people.

I would suggest you get a strobe with at least 600 watt-seconds, real watt-seconds. Alien Bee makes a reasonably priced one. B&H carries a strobe from Patterson that is pretty inexpensive and looks ok, but I haven’t seen it for real. More nonsensical crap. Anyway the link to the Patterson light is: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=1225&A=details&Q=&sku=386688&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation.
Good Luck!
John Siskin

12/4/2006 2:53:46 PM

Carrie Zohn

member since: 10/10/2006
  I just wanted to thank you all with the help regarding the assembly of my lights. I feel like a pro now. I shot my first "prom" session last night and everything went very well. Thank you again for all your help.

12/17/2006 8:47:45 AM

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Photography Question 
April Narby
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2006
  56 .  Help Working with Toddlers
I have been having fun taking Christmas card portraits for my family and friends this year. My biggest challenge has been with those portraits that include cute toddlers. Does anyone have any tricks or tips? What works for you when you have a difficult subject? Thanks for any help you can offer.

12/2/2006 8:40:57 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Make them sit quietly with a new cuddly toy? Don't show it/give it too soon. Wait with that until you're really ready to shoot. Let them play with it - preferably on someone's lap. Then sound a little bell (which they didn't know you had), and watch the smile break through on their face... then release the shutter!
Best to have a few little bells with different pitches/sounds available. Or a quacking duck, or... so on, so forth.
Obviously, they'll get to keep the new cuddly toy. Unless you want a drama, of course... Good luck.

12/2/2006 9:21:22 AM

Kim Loupas

member since: 10/15/2005
  I work with Santa at the mall taking pictures. We use the jingle bells to grab their attention. But don't go overboard like my manager did. She put together about 6 large bells that made a lot of noise, and the little ones cried when we would swing it.

I'd also say just shoot a lot. I'm trying to take a picture for a Christmas card of a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 year old, and I'm having trouble getting them both to look in the same direction.

12/5/2006 8:40:00 AM

April Narby
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/23/2006
  Thank you both for your tips!! I am going to try out some bells this Friday. Thanks again.

12/5/2006 9:15:18 AM

Melanie Gazaway
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/20/2006
  I used to do a ton of children's photography. One thing that worked really well if you have a toddler that won't sit still, was to put them on something like a rocking horse or a sled, or even in a brightly wrapped box. The novelty of the new thing would go far in keeping them put!

As for getting them to look the same direction, if you can manage, put a toy on your head and either "sneeze" it off or have the kids try and blow it off. This works wonders with my 2-year old and my 5-year old.

12/6/2006 4:28:24 AM

Richard Paul

member since: 12/1/2006
  Also find and get a feather. Something with color and when they are sitting or laying down, brush their face with the feather and they laugh until they cry laughing. Fun work.

12/6/2006 6:19:52 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  April,
every child is different. here are a couple of my suggestions:
* having everything ready when they come in! having the parent containing the child until you have the set completely set up.
* using small chairs ,stools , slieghs and cribs ect. as "holding props" help.
* now attention getters: (it is best to wait on noise makers until absolutly needed)Bubbles are great, but I prefer starting with a simple ball ( of color)
take a small ball such as a hand ball.
hold it in front of the child as if to give it to them,as they grab you pop it up and catch it ( make sure you laugh) twice usually gets a giggle.
faking a sneeze, big dramatic AH,Ah AH chewwww and on that throw yor head all the way down and pop back up.
works Almost every time.
older toddlers and kids ( this works especially with groups) have a stuffed teddy and say " Ok, everyone be still Pooh wants his picture with you guys.
now Pooh (talking to bear) you stay right here. ( and sit him on the edge of the table, tapping his head as you walk away so he falls off.
" ah did you guys kick him off? Pooh bad bear stay there. nad do it again.
Games help kids feel like they are in a safe inviorment and like they want the games to contine.
There are alot more on the Studio Photography threads 1-22.
I do hope these help,
Debby Tabb

12/6/2006 6:34:43 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Oh and what EVER you do, do not let them have or play with your toys!
these are NOT toys they are props.
and we will let them play for a moment, but we want something for it.
you have about 30 maybe 60 seconds before a prop is of NO intrest.
so if a parent comes in your studio and starts handing over your toys- you have LOST your element of surprize and the child starts board of yoru favorite attention getters.
sorry, I had forgot to mention this and it will help.

12/6/2006 6:40:51 AM

Melinda B. Wilburn

member since: 6/10/2004
  April, My best advice is playing with the child when they first arrive. You must win thier confidance. If it takes 15 or 20 minutes to play. If you are able get on the floor and play with on thier level. Balls, bubbles, soft toys are great. Be sure and ask them what thier favorite toys is or animal. Ask the name of their dog or cat. It is all about being on their level. Think like a toddler.Melinda

12/6/2006 7:01:44 AM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2004
  The Bells is a great idea, and I agree with Melinda about sitting down on their level and talk to them, ask them questions about them...use your continous shutter mode alot too...also shoot while they are checking things out and getting to know you...these are some of the best most natural shots! Good luck and stay patient...and don't be afraid to ask the parents to let you keep the child's attention(you want them looking at you not in the corner at mom)-"be quiet" in a nice way! Or even ask them to leave..kids are always much better without their parents. I have a few parents that I have asked to leave over the years...and have one yearly repeat cleint that I actually go and get the kids and leave mom(who can't be quiety) at home...LOL.

12/6/2006 7:51:38 AM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2004
  The Bells is a great idea, and I agree with Melinda about sitting down on their level and talk to them, ask them questions about them...use your continous shutter mode alot too...also shoot while they are checking things out and getting to know you...these are some of the best most natural shots! Good luck and stay patient...and don't be afraid to ask the parents to let you keep the child's attention(you want them looking at you not in the corner at mom)-"be quiet" in a nice way! Or even ask them to leave..kids are always much better without their parents. I have a few parents that I have asked to leave over the years...and have one yearly repeat cleint that I actually go and get the kids and leave mom(who can't be quiety) at home...LOL.

12/6/2006 7:51:52 AM

Dennis H. Hernet

member since: 2/14/2006
  Most everything said is great ... but the best tool I have had is the digital camera because it costs nothing to shoot scads of photos ... just to get a couple good ones. Using everything with the toys, etc., working with kids you've got to be quick and you've got to shoot often. I've rapped off 100 shots in a matter of several minutes sometimes (the average attention span of a toddler) just to get a couple good ones. Shoot lots of photos quickly.

12/6/2006 10:31:56 AM

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Photography Question 
Kathy Cobb
BetterPhoto Member
kathycobb.com

member since: 6/30/2005
  57 .  Photo Shoot with a Newborn
Hi all,
I have my first newborn (she's 1 month old) studio photo shoot next week and would appreciate any suggestions, tips on posing and any other ideas. Thanks.

12/1/2006 3:20:34 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  It is long ago that I did babies, but I would consider stuff like what's the background, have I got (soft) enough lighting and fill-in (light? reflection?). Especially if you want high-key images, have I got 3/4 different sounds (little bells, quacking duck) and/or jiggling thingamejigs to draw the baby's attention. Be aware that the actual session probably won't last much longer than a half hour max before the baby will probably fall asleep (good for sleep photos of course).
Try to get as many eye-level photos - the baby's eye-level! - as possible. On her back, on her stomach, sitting up if possible (in her car/carry seat?), on mama's lap, on mama's shoulder, and nursing on mama's breast.
But also try to take photos from straight overhead. Both when she's on her back and on her stomach.
Good luck. Could be a really nice session.

12/3/2006 11:41:55 AM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Oh yes, I forgot maybe the most important thing about portraying the complete innocence of a newborn: nude photos!

12/3/2006 11:45:12 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Oh great, now that you said the "N" word, I suppose we're going to have to deal with the whole Jacques Sturges thing.
M.

12/3/2006 3:58:18 PM

Jennifer L. Taranto
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/1/2006
  W.S. had some great suggestions! The only other things I could think to add was to keep things simple. Too many bright colors or lots of props might over-stimulate the baby's senses and then you'll have a fussy screaming newborn on your hands (not fun, LOL). Maybe Mom and Dad can bring a special blanket or stuffed animal with them to use as a prop. My daughter was a preemie and in the NICU for 20 days before coming home, and some nice ladies from a local nursing volunteered to crochet blankets for the babies - Ashley was the 1st to get one, they put it over her isolet ... anyway ... she still uses it. And my son was given a blue stuffed animal dog when he was in the hospital that he still absolutely loves. If the baby has something like that, it would add a nice personal touch to a photo. Baby boys look great in blue, and baby girls look great in pink ... I know it's cliche but maybe for some of the photos you could use a pale pink or blue (not sure if it's a girl or boy LOL) background, or maybe a soft white background with the baby laying on a pale pink/blue blanket. Oh, and try some black and white shots!
Best of luck! -Jenn Taranto

12/4/2006 9:50:03 AM

Kathy Cobb
BetterPhoto Member
kathycobb.com

member since: 6/30/2005
  Hey W.S. and Jenn. Thanks so much for your suggestions!

I have a neutral background I was planning to use, with some added Christmassy touches (mom wants something Christmassy). I thought if things were going well, maybe use my black background at the end of the session for someting more dramatic.

I did suggest they bring a favorite receiving blanket and toy. And I do need to get some "thingamejigs".

I don't have a posing table so I guess I should bring in a table large enough to be safe to lay her on and cover it with my backdrop and the blanket? Or maybe with baby bottoms-up on a santa hat! I do have my Christmas tree up so I will offer that as a background for some.

Thanks again!

12/4/2006 11:13:47 AM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2004
  Try using natural lighting...window light is my favs with the babies...and include the parents for help too!

12/6/2006 7:52:55 AM

Richard M. Knox
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/28/2006
  This may not work on such a young baby (a 1 month old), but here goes. The second time I ever did any portraits on anyone, my kayaking buddy asked me to do some portraiture of his daughter and her 5 month old son. I also planned to shoot their cats & dogs, so I brought some toys for the cats, which they hated! But the kid loved them. One was a colorful, feathery thing on a plastic rod. the baby would reach up to grab it and I got some great shots that way. The other toy was a battery operated mouse that moves around on the floor and makes noises and has flashing lights. The baby had a blast crawling around after the mouse, and so did I rolling around on the floor getting some great shots of him playing. Find out what toys stimulate the kid, and have fun playing with him/her. Toys that make noises, are colorful and that move are good. I also got some more formal, but good shots of him & Mom sitting in Mom's lap. Kids are fun to shoot, play with them first, so they get used to you, have the camera around your neck so they get used to that. The noisemaker idea is good to get them to look at you, just be ready to shoot.
I will put some of those shots on the site as soon as I can get Mom's permission.

12/6/2006 10:49:27 PM

Debbie Del Tejo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/30/2005
  Kathy, Stock up on PATIENCE....don't expect too much from a one month old. They either sleep or cry and if they are awake their little heads wobble all over the place. Then you have the parents that put these god awful outfits on them to make them look like grown ups. I fight collars on babies ALL THE TIME. The babies are great but the outfits with the collars won't stay down and end up covering the face. So, I wish you lots of luck. One thing I do with one month old is take close ups of the feet, arms, hands, etc....then do a collage with the face in the middle...sells every time. I also keep classical music playing and a calm atmosphere....
Best wishes! Let us know how you do.

12/7/2006 3:18:22 AM

Sharla 

member since: 9/19/2004
  Have you ever looked at twopeasinabucket.com ? I get many ideas from there. go to "peanut gallery' and then under "photos" you'll find a wealth of great photos. you can narrow the search further to include babies only. have fun!

12/11/2006 6:30:23 AM

Kathy Cobb
BetterPhoto Member
kathycobb.com

member since: 6/30/2005
  Thanks everyone for your wonderful suggestions! We had to postpone the shoot, so I'll have time to "take in" all of the ideas. I'll try to post some pictures when we're through. Thakns again! Kathy

12/11/2006 7:18:50 AM

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Photography Question 
Niccole Olsen
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/14/2005
  58 .  Family Portrait Lighting
Hi there,
I have been asked to take a family portrait for a friend of mine. I have done this in the past with some senior portraits and had some very nice results using natural window light (I have no professional lighting equipment, just the flash on my camera). My problem this time is that I will be taking the photos in the evening with no natural light available. Any suggestions??? I know that using your average home lighting can sometimes be harsh and difficult to manage, so any ideas would be greatly appreciated. (I am using a Canon Digital Rebel, by the way.) Thanks!

11/26/2006 2:46:56 PM

Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/15/2004
  If you shoot in RAW, you will be able to adjust the WB if you need to because of the type of lighting in the room and how the camera interprets it.

11/26/2006 7:00:58 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Niccole, I'm afraid an on-board flash with GN 11 won't make for a pretty family portrait. The lighting will be harsh, frontal, with heavy shadows and possibly red-eye. If it's enough... If you don't have more light - much more light! - it may be wise to turn this one politely down.

11/26/2006 7:50:17 PM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Niccole,
For occasional portraiture, you can get by without any fancy lighting equipment. Go to your local hardware store and buy several clip-on reflector lamps. Get the ones with 8 or 10-inch aluminum reflectors. Load them with 100-watt lamps and place them around the room shining up at the ceiling and/or at the walls. This elevates the ambient light level. Your task is to simulate open shade. Reflected light from the ceiling and walls is non-directional like open shade (i.e. under a tree, etc.).
Some will tell you this is wrong because the color balance of ordinary household lamps is far too warm. However, most digitals will have auto white balance or have a setting for incandescent. You can replace the incandescent with compact fluorescence advertised as “true-color” or “full-spectrum”.
You can become creative and make fine portraits using these inexpensive pin-up lamps. Try them shining directly on the subject. One lamp (the fill) at camera height near the lens. One lamp (the main) off to the right or left and high. Place the main closer than the fill. Measure fill to subject distance and multiply by 0.7. This revised distance is main to subject distance. This set-up will give you a pleasing 3:1 lighting ratio.
Good luck,
Alan Marcus

11/27/2006 7:11:03 AM

dennis w. mcclain

member since: 8/2/2004
  i have a digital rebel, a 320ex speed light. I used to do the bounce off the celling thing with that. I just recently bought a gary fong light sphere. best 50bucks I ever spent. you can use it inside and out. high cellings low cellings. they make 2 versions, cloud and clear. the color is great for skin tones. I love it. its the best cheepest way ive found so far

11/28/2006 5:28:17 AM

Alice Schneider

member since: 3/24/2003
  If I shoot with film with the reflectors from the hardware store, what should I do to get a true color balance? Is the fluorescent light bulb [true color] enough?

Thanks

11/28/2006 5:41:52 AM

  Alice, if you shoot RAW like Mike suggested you won't have to worry about color balance at all becuase you can adjust it to your liking later. Or if for some reason you can't shoot RAW you can always get (if you have one close by) a Photo bulb at a Camera Shop (that is, if it is a good size store one like I have by me) Or you can order one most likely at B&H Photo online (if you have the time)... I have used the Photo bulbs in the past with those round reflectors from Home Depot and they produced a wonderful light when I shot with film. Also if their walls are colored if you are thinking of bouncing light off of them that will effect your coloring. You can get large sheets of white styrofoam to bounce the light off of instead of colored walls. (Home Depot is a good place to get them also) Hope that helps.

11/28/2006 6:35:14 AM

Stephanie 

member since: 5/3/2005
  If you want to go the clip on light approach and can't find photo bulbs, DIY networks "The Whole Picture" program suggests using the new Reveal bulbs (they are bluish color...I found 150 watt bulbs at a Big Lots store.)I would suggest trying a few shots at home with a willing test model to double check your results before going on location. Hope this helps a little!

11/28/2006 6:58:43 AM

  One other thought...if you do go with Photo bulbs...do not handle them with your hands/fingers take a tissue or cloth to handle them as the oils from your fingers can cause them to expode from the heat (that is what I have always been told anyways) :)

11/28/2006 7:03:00 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Alice,
Use color negative film and send it out to most any lab for developing and prints. The resulting color negatives will have the wrong color balance; however, Aunt Sally and Uncle Marc will be looking at prints not negatives. The miracle of the negative positive process is:
The printer at the typical one-hour shop exposes your negatives on conventional color paper. The printing cycle affords the lab an opportunity for the lab to adjust for color balance and exposure errors. The lab does this as a matter of course. Your pictures will turn A-OK.

Alan Marcus
ammarcus@earthlink.net

11/28/2006 7:21:55 AM

Alice Schneider

member since: 3/24/2003
  Thanks Alan...the miracles of modern chemistry at work!! I was hoping not to have to use a filter!!

Alice

11/28/2006 8:00:08 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
  If you do the construction work lights, you can also use Daylight Bulbs. Philips makes some, and everyone pretty much carries them (I got mine at home depot. 4 pk was like $3) The light is much more white like daylight than regular household bulbs.

Use several lights though b/c the wattage is only 100 max I think. I used to do my setup with 2, using my 420EX speedlite and it was still not enough. Had trouble with shallow depth of field.

11/28/2006 9:34:13 AM

Rex A. Looney

member since: 9/21/2005
  Hey Nicole,

There's a lot of good info here. I have studio lights, but they are a pain for location shooting. I then bought some small clamp lights there were supposed to have a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 97 or 98. By the scale, 100 is natural light. Many household lights are down around 80 or lower(?), not good. I have now ordered the medium base (regular lamp base) bulb from Adorama that has a CRI of 93 (PhotoPro Screw-Base 93 CRI Fluorescent Lamp $14.99 each). If you get where I'm going with this, sometimes cheaper is just as good and easier, especially if not used all the time. I'm also going to use the clamp on construction light fixtures I got at Home Depot. Of course, you have to have something to clamp the lights to. You may ask others to hold the lamps, but they may get hot, so use caution and advise your volunteers. Most fluorescent bulbs, such as the one's I ordered above are supposed to stay "cool".

http://www.schorsch.com/kbase/glossary/cri.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_rendering_index

Great advice about bouncing the lights off the ceiling or walls, if they are close enough and if they are neutral color. I have some sheets of foam core available at most craft/art and some discount stores.

Also, there has been talk about fixing your photos later on the computer. Do you have a Photoshop or Corel or other program? I have a couple Canon 20D cameras and each came with a Photoshop Elements II disc. I don't do much in PS, but I can adjust the lighting.

One VERY important thing is to have all the same lighting. If you are shooting with the Phillips Daylight bulbs, ensure all your bulbs are the same Daylight bulbs. In addition, if you can, turn off the other lights, so only your lights are on the subject. If you are shooting Daylight bulbs and there are overhead fluorescents or incandescents, your colors will be mixed and more difficult to adjust on the computer.

Anyway for them to re-schedule during daylight hours? Explain the issues to them. Some years ago, I got snagged by my brother to shoot his in-laws (with a camera that is ;-) and I told him I didn't have the lights and the photos wouldn't turn out. They didn't turn out. He listens to me now.

It's digital... Shoot many many images. Bracket your exposures, +1 and -1 Stop and also adjust your lights a time or two to shine from slightly different angles. Tell your subjects this might take a few minutes. Let them know up front.

Oh yeah, one more thing... GOOD LUCK!

Rex

betterphoto.com?ancphotos I have a few images where I bounced my flash off the ceiling. The ceiling was white and not too high.

11/28/2006 10:23:38 AM

Alan N. Marcus

member since: 3/4/2006
  Hi Rex,
Well done! A tip of the hat from Alan Marcus

11/28/2006 10:31:43 AM

Arlington Natl Cemetery Tomb Photos

member since: 4/5/2006
  Nicole,

I forgot one thing (at least).

How big is the family and how much room do you have? This isn't ALL about lighting, but...

If you have room to get the folks away from their background, do so. The closer to the background they are, the more prevalent will be the shadows behind them. If there's not much space behind them, due to room size, etc., you might place a light or two back there and shine it on the wall at an angle.

Many portrait set-ups have this background light. If only one light for the background, place it in the center and upwards from maybe knee height (if they are standing). Make sure the direct light from the bulb is not pointed back at the camera. Adjust a bit and get it to where it looks good. Of course, that depends on the texture of the background. Some oblique or angled lighting looks good, some doesn't. You're the photographer... you make the judgment.

Another thing I have read about portraits... I read where most portrait photographers use a 90-135mm focal length. Try to stay away from wide angle - less than 50mm. Using wide angle might distort the horizon and make the photo look curved and some folks on the end appear to be leaning out or in. (Depends on whether you are pointing the camera up or down.)

Also, if you can get to this location and have time, practice setting up the lights at different angles, etc. Maybe you can enlist some volunteers to help with standing in for your "real" subjects.

I just re-read your original post... Will you be indoors or outdoors? All these lighting tips are great if you are indoors or have the extension cords for the electric. Maybe now that we have about run the gambit on lighting, you can give us more information about your proposed set up (indoor, outdoor, around buildings, open lawn,etc,) and we can give you more detailed assistance.

Thanks for reading,

Rex

Alan Marcus, Thanks. You can thank the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy (Basic Crime Scene Photography Course) That's where I learned the basics and the basis for what I have learned since. That was in an earlier lifetime when I was a law enforcement officer. Later

11/28/2006 11:54:21 AM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2004
  I also prefer natural lighting to the flash...for low light portraits I purchsed Gary Fong's Lightsphere you can go to his website to purchase, and sometimes find them on ebay. Also use a tripod and if the ceilings are low try bouncing the flash...good luck.

11/29/2006 4:23:33 AM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2004
  I also prefer natural lighting to the flash...for low light portraits I purchsed Gary Fong's Lightsphere you can go to his website to purchase, and sometimes find them on ebay. Also use a tripod and if the ceilings are low try bouncing the flash...good luck.

11/29/2006 4:24:07 AM

stacey c. damon
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2004
  I also prefer natural lighting to the flash...for low light portraits I purchsed Gary Fong's Lightsphere you can go to his website to purchase, and sometimes find them on ebay. Also use a tripod and if the ceilings are low try bouncing the flash...good luck.

11/29/2006 4:26:38 AM

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Photography Question 
kelly pot
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/13/2004
  59 .  Photographing 3-Month-Old Twins
Hi!
I am photographing 3-month-old twins. I have no clue what to do - I don't think they sit up. One baby I can do, but I have no experience with twins (only newborns). Any suggestions or props would be so appreciated ... thank you!

11/22/2006 2:58:03 PM

W. 

member since: 9/25/2006
  Select a nice background first. If the weather is any good where you are, that could, of course, also be a picturesque landscape or such. Put down a big, thick soft blanket with the twins on that. If possible, shoot with the sun coming from the left or right, for some 'modeling', and set on-camera flash to half-power fill-flash. Then - VERY important! - get your camera down to THEIR eye-level (if they're on a table, you can use a tripod, otherwise you'll have to crouch) and shoot away.
Use a short telephoto lens (100 to 150mm; in 35mm equivalent), not a wide-angle lens, because that distorts too much. Use wide-open apertures to throw the background out of focus. Or small apertures to keep the background (relatively) sharp.
Make as many exposures as possible (before they start crying...), so later you will have as much choice as possible.
If you don't want to use flash for fill-in, you can also use a big piece of foamcore to soften shadows.
If the weather prohibits going outside, you can do the same thing inside. But you will need at least 1 strong flashgun reflected via foamcore to provide a main soft light (from 45 degrees left or right) and a big foamcore reflector on the other side to open up/soften any remaining shadows. Choose a light coloured - pastel tinted – background.
If you want to merge later with another photo as background, you should choose a black background - well-distanced from the twins (to get it under-exposed = black).
Have fun!

11/23/2006 8:24:58 AM

Courtney Lawyer

member since: 2/26/2005
  Twins are very special. I have twin brothers who are currently 3 1/2. One of the things about twins that is so cool is their special relationship. It's like none other. Many times twins are like one person, one mind, in two bodies. Try to capture their closeness. Take most of the pictures from their level but also take one to the two with the heads and shoulders, but position them so their feet are on opposite sides so their heads are right next to each other. Also take a picture of their feet together. One of my favorite pictures (unfortuantly it's just a blurry snapshot) from when my brothers were infants was one of them holding eachother's hands as they lay next to eachother. The picture was of just the hands but it is so precious. I would also do a couple of each of them seperate. While twins are so special you'll also want to protect thier individuality. Take a few singles of each so they have that but do most of them together (although note that you have to do this fast because some babies don't like being away from thier twin and will be much more compfortable together). I wouldn't use to many props because you've got two. I think if you focus on capturing the specialness and closeness of their relationship, you'll end up with the images you and mom and dad are looking for. What a privledge! Have fun! I'd love to see them!

-Courtney

11/28/2006 8:30:14 AM

  I concur with everything W.S. has written, and I would also like to add that most babies can hold up their heads at 3 months.

I sat myself and my tripod on the ground next to our bed, having placed my daughter who was 3 months old in April, 1974 on a pale pink blacket on the bed. Our daughter was dressed in a pink wigglesuit.

I then focused on her very long eyelashes and beckoned a smile. She gave me a big, beautiful happy smile, her blue eyes twinkling and her very long-eyelashes wire sharp.

Although the image has faded now, for years, it was our favorite picture.
Capture your babies now, before the time fades away. Each month creates new learned behavior which is worthy of more portraits.

11/28/2006 1:46:37 PM

LOUISE DOWELL

member since: 3/8/2006
 
 
 
I photograph lots of babies and it can be hard to get good pictures of two who cant sit up yet. If they can support their heads you could lay them on their fronts either facing towards each other or towards you and take some shots like that. its also nice to lay them on their backs with their heads close together (their bodies in opposite directions) and take the pictures from above. This is good outside with soft natural light, not sunny or theyll squint, or inside with flash bounced off the ceiling, which is how I took the sample photo. Good luck.
Louise

11/28/2006 1:51:39 PM

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Photography Question 
Ibiyomi Jegede

member since: 8/23/2005
  60 .  Taking Pictures of Products
 
Hello Everyone,
I have a huge desire to be a really good photographer. I've done two weddings in the past four years and many events. A friend owns an upscale infant and children's boutique and wants me to shoot everything from cribs to bibs. My first questions is: What do I charge? I anticipate this taking four to five hours. Next question: What kind of inexpensive lighting would be appropriate? I purchased a Smith Victor studio kit for $200.00 (three lamps). I haven't used it yet, but I wanted to know if I wasted my money. The wattage is 1500. Please advise!

11/16/2006 8:43:21 AM

  The first question you should ask yourself is whether you ever do this again. This has a big effect on your willingness to invest in lighting. Strobes are much better for this work. I would suggest used Norman lights from eBay as a good and inexpensive way to go. The 900 series equipment, 800 or 1250 watt-second power packs, and the LH2000 or LH2400 heads are the best way to go. You could get the Smith-Victor units, but keep in mind you must have almost no other light in the room including daylight. Otherwise you will have trouble controlling your color. The Smith-Victor lights will have limited utility in other sorts of photography, and you get what you pay for.
I charge $125 an hour for this work, but I am very efficient, 20 or more usable shots per hour. This used to be a better business area but digital has made it easier, and cheaper. Also a lot of people do tolerable product photography and then charge to make it better in Photoshop. Good luck! John

Editor's note: Check out John Siskin's related PhotoCourses here at BetterPhoto: Introduction to Product Photography and Understanding Professional Lighting.

11/16/2006 9:54:34 AM

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