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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 
Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  81 .  Lighting with White Background
I am working with my lights, and I need to know how you get a white background (muslin) to be good and white without blowing it out? Or is it OK to blow it out to get it white? Can anyone help? Thanks!

2/27/2006 1:32:16 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Tonya,
If you are using two lights, then point one toward the background. With your lights, try 1/2 power from the side so you can move them back as needed. Use your other on your subject from close to you camera. If you try this and post, maybe I can see what's up.

2/27/2006 2:06:02 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  Debby,
I have 4 lights, but I am shooting right now with 3: fill, main, backlight. I am going to shoot a few more and then post.

2/27/2006 2:08:14 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2004
  If you are using 4 lights, then I would suggest using 2 on the background, both at 45 degrees so you get an even blanket of light. Incident read this at around +1 to +2 stops above your main light reading. Now set your main light at what you want and your fill accordingly to the ratio you want to use (or use a reflector so you're not using so many lights). Example: you know you want to shoot at f/11. Meter the background anywhere in between f/16 and f/22. Now meter your main at f/11. Meter your fill anywhere in between f/11 and f/4 (depending on the desired effect). Good luck.

2/27/2006 2:18:18 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  Hey Justin,
thanks for helping. Some will probably gripe, but I don't have a light meter. I am trying to do without one because I don't have the $$$ right now. So, if I want to meter with my camera, how exactly do I do that? I get what you are saying, but can I do this without a separate meter?

2/27/2006 2:28:14 PM

Justin G.
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/13/2004
  Well, I won't gripe too much, but you should make that your next purchase! lol!. Anyway, lucky for you you're shooting a D50. Having a digital is nice because you can simply guess what your lights should be at, and then shoot and make adjustments from the LCD. If you can tether to your computer, that'd be even better, because the picture would be so much larger. Anyway... just set up your lights, fire a test shot or two, and make your adjustments from there. I would assume that doing one light at a time would be easier. So get your BG lights good to go, next do your main and get your exposure correct, and then pull in your fill until you get what you want! Hope this helps.
Justin
P.S.: Seriously though, investing in a light meter will save you loads of time!

2/27/2006 2:37:43 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
 
 
 
Thanks again justin,
I am working on the meter..lol, glad you did not gripe at me...:)

here are my first shots. They look pretty good on the puter, but on my LCD the white was blown and a-flashing!
there are some shadows in the corner, I had my sub to close to the background I presume...
(don't laugh at my model) I like to compare the whites!

2/27/2006 2:50:12 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
 
 
 
on these, I moved the sub out from the bg, moved the bg light out as well, and I was much closer to the sub, you can see the bg is blown here.

2/27/2006 2:55:33 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Tonya,
is the main light about a foot above your subject at 45 degrees and fill at
eye level at the left of your camera.
using two backlights on each side at 1/4 or 1/2 power?

2/27/2006 3:01:07 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
 
 
 
Debby,
yes on main and fill, best I can tell. The above are all on the same setup as the first entry except for movement of the backlight. These just have one backlight, using a reflector on full power, tried it on half in the second postings.

The next ones, I read another thread and moved my lights around a bit..see pic, and played around with the angle of the backlight, place directly behind sub. still blowing out and bad "spot of light"
here are my last try...

2/27/2006 3:05:11 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  ok, I have to step out to run my daughter to practice...be back later...
and thanks again for the help

2/27/2006 3:09:22 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  so I get my pics loaded and everyone goes away?

2/27/2006 6:52:08 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  one more bump to see who is out today...

2/28/2006 7:30:57 AM

Denyse Clark
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/2/2002
  I'm here Tonya, but unfortunately I don't have studio lights so I can't help :( I know it's tough to use white backgrounds from what everyone says. Do you really want white, or is that just what you have? Or is it just about mastering the white?

2/28/2006 9:19:18 AM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  Hey Denyse,
I have a white, black, denim color and tan, but the white is becoming an obsession. I want to master it! I can get it to look really good with my nikon sb600(on camera), bounced of the ceiling with a small slave flash on the background, but I cannot get it with these studio lights, it is making me crazy!

2/28/2006 9:29:48 AM

Bret Tate
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/12/2005
  Tonya:

You will continue to get the "spot of light" unless you:

1) Follow Justin's suggestion & use 2 background lights - one on each side at 45% angles (Copy light set-up)
-OR-
2) Move the background light farther from the background - this doesn't look like an option in your set-up.
-OR-
3) Try to diffuse the background light more - this may or may not work.

Option 1 is the best solution.
You also need to be careful, while trying to get the background white, that the exposure difference between the background & the subject doesn't become so great that the light starts to wrap around the subject from the back.

Hope this helps.

2/28/2006 9:45:04 AM

Sebastian J. Scalora
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/9/2005
  Well I have found most o fthese answers to be helpful but nobody has mentioned distance. I would be sure the backdrop is evenly and well lit but also have it a little further behind your subject than usual.

2/28/2006 11:12:49 AM

  Justin, how do you tether the camera to the computer? Is there a faster way of doing it rather than the cord that comes with the camera? I have a feeling I'm going to be asked to do that. I always use a card reader. Thanks!

2/28/2006 11:56:14 AM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  Thanks for all the info everyone. I guess this is just a practice, practice, practice thing! LOL
I don't mind that, it just frustrates me when I can't figure something out.
I will try again soon and let you all know how it turned out.

2/28/2006 12:17:13 PM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Tonya,
sorry I have not been around much-trying to get finished before the weekend to send out this Cd
Looking at you last room set up.
you have to move the back light back it is way to close.
do try one on each side just behind the subject-that way the light will give yuo a wider arch.

2/28/2006 12:33:10 PM

Tonya Cozart
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/22/2003
  no problem debby, and thanks!

2/28/2006 12:48:08 PM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Anita Taylor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/19/2001
  82 .  Reducing Red Eye
I have heard or read somewhere that by taking a picture of a person or group at an angle while they are looking ahead, or having them look off to the side of the camera while you shoot straight on, will reduce red-eye. Does anyone know if this really works?

1/31/2006 3:37:55 PM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Red-eye is the reflection of the light directly off the subject's retinas (which are red with blood vessels). So, whether you will get red-eye depends on a bunch of things: the distance of the flash tube from the axis of the taking lens, the distance you are from your subjects, the diameter of their pupils when you take the shot (which, of course, depends on how dark it is), as well as the direction in which they are looking.
It is certainly likely that red-eye will be reduced or eliminated if you tell your subject to look off to the side - again, depending on how dilated their pupils are. A better way might be to move the flash up a few inches (this is why pros often use flash brackets) as this will increase the angle of incidence from the tube to the retina and consequently the light reflecting off the retina will fall below the lens rather than go directly through it.

1/31/2006 3:47:03 PM

Anita Taylor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/19/2001
  Thank you for responding so quickly, Bob! That information is very helpful. I guess it would be worth it just to try a few shots and see what happens.

1/31/2006 7:24:55 PM

Courtney Lawyer

member since: 2/26/2005
  If you have an external flash I would invest in a flash bracket. I have one and it works really well. Not only does it eliminate red eye but it also places the shadow from the subject lower. (because the light is higher the shadow lands lower than the subject so often you don't even see it.

I wouldn't try having your subject look away to much because then all your pictures will begin to look the same. Engaging your subject through the eyes can be very powerful. I would sugest getting a flash bracket. If you want to know my preference on the different kinds you can e-mail me. (if you get a bracket you'll have to also get a cord to connect your flash to the camera.

e-mail me with questions!

-Courtney

2/12/2006 11:38:00 AM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  I realize that this answer may sound unprofessional. I use speedlites for protrait work when not in the studio and I don't worry about red eye as it's so so easy to remove in photo editing programs now days.

Gary

2/12/2006 12:30:54 PM

Courtney Lawyer

member since: 2/26/2005
  Actually, I don't agree with Gary. Red eye removal in photo shop isn't as easy as it sounds. Most of the time Red eye ENLARGES the pupil. So not only is the pupil red but also alot of the actual color in the eye. The less pupil you see in portraits the better. And also removing every trace of red can be very difficult (I've removed red eye before)AND The more pictures you have to remove red eye in the more time you spend on it - the less time to spend on other things (like experimenting with artistic touches)
You can only change so much in photoshop. the more you do right when you take the photo. The more time you save.

-Courtney

2/12/2006 12:49:03 PM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  Of course Courtney is correct, that's why I mentioned the word unprofessional. What's I'm trying to say is I use every trick I can including having the model close their eyes for a few moments before the shot, using a bounce shield, ect. ect. but in the end, if there is red eye, it's not the demon it used to be.

Gary

2/12/2006 12:57:37 PM

Anita Taylor
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/19/2001
  Thank you Courtney and Gary! I don't have an external flash yet, but plan on getting one soon. However, I do have a flash bracket! Didn't even know what it was for :) Got it with my dad's old camera....guess I should have asked LOL
Courtney, just for reference, in case I purchase a better one in the future; what do you recommend for a flash bracket? You can email me, too, if it would be easier!
Thank you all so much!

2/12/2006 6:21:01 PM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Anita, the most popular flash brackets seem to be those from a company called Stroboframe. I'll sell you mine, though, as I replaced it with one from a company called Custom Brackets (the CB Junior) which, IMHO, is both better designed and built.

One more thing - if you are using a flash that has communication with the camera body (a TTL type auto-flash) then you will need to get the proper cable connector so that communication can be maintained. This is something from the manufacturer only, and they aren't cheap...the Nikon cord was something like $40 or maybe more.

2/12/2006 10:33:31 PM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 
Lisa Jones

member since: 7/29/2005
  83 .  Family Portrait - Tips and Techniques
Please is there is any advice you can give me? I have been nominated to take my boyfriend's family portrait this Sunday (5 teenage grandkids). I have always had a very big interest in photography, and they seem to have the confidence in me!! I'm going to be using my new Digital Rebel 6meg. I still have not finished reading the manual yet! So it will have to be automatic. I'm hoping we can pick a nice spot outside. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

1/27/2006 1:11:32 PM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Lisa, while it's generally true that it's the photographer, and not the equipment, that makes the picture great - that's particularly true of portraiture. The real trick is to get the subject(s) to feel comfortable in front of the camera, to make them forget that there is someone with a fancy contraption standing in front of them to gather an image.
So, putting everyone at ease (no small feat with most teens, for sure) is a big part of things. One possible help here could be to set the camera on a tripod and use a remote shutter release (wired or wireless) - people have a tendency to behave more naturally if the shooter is standing to the side of the camera, chatting them up, and surreptitiously snapping shots with the remote. Of course, to do this, you need to get everyone situated in their general positions and frame the shot through the viewfinder, but then move away from the gear.
As for lighting, if you'll be outside, pick a shaded area or, if it's an overcast day, you should be okay in general. What you want to avoid are the harsh shadows that come with strong direct lighting - think of the beach at noon as an example of terrible lighting. Indoors, you might want to try aiming the flash off the ceiling (called "bouncing") to soften that light (assuming you have a flash).
The auto-exposure will no doubt work fine - the question of how much of a focus zone (how much depth of field) you want is an artistic decision. If the background is visually distracting - say, lots of colors and shapes back there, then you will want to use a wider aperture to limit DOF so when the group is in focus the background is pleasantly blurry.
I hope that helps, at least...

1/27/2006 2:01:34 PM

Christopher A. Vedros
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/14/2005
  Lisa,
Bob gives some good advice. Here's a little more:
If the weather is nice where you are, try to take the picture outside. If it's a clear sunny day, try to do it before 10:00 am, or in the afternoon after about 4:00 pm. You want to avoid the middle of the day, when the sun is high. Your subjects would either be squinting or their faces will have dark shadows.
Find a large background that is not too distracting, like a wooden fence or some large bushes. Place your subjects 6 or more feet in front of the background, not right up against it.
Have your subjects get comfortable. Maybe they could sit in a close group on the grass. Don't just line them up shoulder-to-shoulder; that will look boring.
Try some shots in Auto mode (green square), but also try some with your camera in Portrait mode (the little picture of a person's head) or A-DEP mode. Either of these should put your subjects in focus and the background blurred, which looks nice in a portrait. Remember, a portrait is a picture of people, not necessarily a scenic landscape shot with people in it.
If you are using the 18-55mm kit lens that came with the camera, don't get too close to your subjects. If you are close and using the wide-angle end of the zoom range, it can make people look funny. Back up some, and zoom in on them. Good luck!

1/27/2006 2:26:25 PM

Betty Fleet

member since: 12/5/2001
  Once I learned a tip from a professional portrait photographer, that can make even everyday 'candid' shots look like a million. The trick is to choose 3 colors and tell each of the people in the photo to wear any two of those colors. Usually white or black can be added without distraction. We did a family shoot a long time ago and chose red, blue and yellow. It worked great with people who like to wear jeans. There can be various shades and textures of the 3 colors, but no more than three.
Have fun!

1/31/2006 5:26:24 AM

William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  I'm not sure I'd "chat anyone up" while I was trying to take their photograph - unless I really meant it. verb. To talk flirtatiously with someone, to make sexual overtures. {Informal}

1/31/2006 5:35:11 AM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Why, William is right, of course... what was I thinking? Don't speak in any but monotonous tones (if indeed you can't just point them to where you want them to stand and avoid talking altogether), for fear of making the subjects too relaxed. Perhaps you can get a computer and have it "voice" some words that you can type in beforehand - just to further eliminate any emotion in the process. After all, that's the point of a portrait - to be as clinical and concise as possible.

Thank you for checking the dictionary, Will - always great to see productive commentary!

1/31/2006 8:02:54 AM

Maria Melnyk

member since: 5/2/2004
  Just to add to the great advice above, have your subjects' heads at all different levels. Definitely the group's clothing MUST be color-coordinated; don't take the photograph if it's not. Either follow the above advice on 2-3 colors, or just use one color (ex. all in white).
Have fun and good luck. It's not easy photographing your boyfriend's family (been there, done that).

1/31/2006 8:50:06 AM

Linda D. Smith

member since: 5/10/2005
  HI LISA,
ALL SOUND ADVISE. TIMING FOR THE SUN IN THE SKY WILL DEPEND ON WHERE YOU ARE. I KNOW AFTER 4 THIS TIME OF YEAR WHERE I AM THE SUN IS PRETTY MUCH GONE AND SO ARE PORTRAITS. A SUGGESTION WITH TEENAGERS, TO MAKE IT MORE THEM AND FUN, HAVE THEM HOLD, OR SIT ON THEIR BIKES, FOUR WHEELERS ETC, GET THEIR PERSONALITY IN IT WITH THEM. THEY WILL LOVE TO SHOW OFF THEIR STUFF. THIS WILL HELP YOU TO NOT GET THEM IN A "LINE UP" OR GIVE THEM THE MUG SHOT LOOK TOO.

WHEN I SHOT OUT SIDE I TRY TO KEEP THE SUN OFF TO ONE SIDE OF MY SET UP, AS I LOOK THROUGH THE CAMERA THE SUN SHOULD BE TO THE RIGHT OR LEFT OF MY SHOULDER. CAREFUL OF THE BLACK EYE LOOK, YOU CAN GET YOUR BOYFRIEND TO HOLD A WHITE BOARD TO REFLECT LIGHT BACK ON THE FACES IF YOU THINK THEY HAVE TO MUCH SHADOW, WHILE HE DOES IT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO SEE THE DIFFERENCE. SHOOTING DIGITAL OR FILM THE BASICS ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, BUT I GUESS IN DIGITAL YOU CAN REPAIR SOME MISTAKES.
KEY TRY TO MAKE IT FUN, AND SHOOT UNTIL YOU FEEL YOU GOT WHAT YOU WANTED.

1/31/2006 12:23:55 PM

Respond | Ask Your Own Question
 
Photography Question 


member since: 1/27/2006
  84 .  Strobe Vs. Continuous Lighting: The Basics
I am a super-beginner to studio photography. I'm buying some lights but I can't figure out what the difference is between strobe and continuous lighting. Is strobe a flash? I want something that acts just like a light - stays lit. Thanks if you can help me!

1/27/2006 12:23:38 PM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  I'll try to keep this short and to the point, no technical garbo -
'Strobe' is 'flash.'
'Continuous light' is just what the name implies. It can be household lightbulbs, tungsten lights, fluorescent lights, etc., and as you stated, "...stays lit."
FYI - All modern studio strobes come equipped with a "modeling light." This is a built-in continuous light bulb placed near the actual strobe/flash tube, that shows you exactly what your strobe lighting will look like. Modeling lights allow you to set up your strobes precisely, so that when you fire them, you will get the same lighting as what you see.
I would NOT recommend continuous lighting for most products, and NEVER EVER for people, or other live subjects. Tungsten, household bulbs, etc., are too hot, and will fry your subjects in a hurry. Fluorescent bulbs are cooler, but need tricky color correction, since they are primarily green in color. Continuous light is NOT very powerful, and will need to be used very close to your subjects, or you'll need a large bank of bulbs.
My advice: Look into the gazillion brands of amateur strobe lighting kits available. I don't know of a single studio strobe unit that does not have a modeling light, so just about anything you look at will be OK that respect. A decent 3-strobe kit in the 400 Watt Second range - with stands and umbrellas or softboxes - will get you started.

1/27/2006 4:11:43 PM

William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  All Hollywood movies are shot with continuous or "hot" lights so I would say that it's perfectly acceptable to use hot lights for all subjects - it just depends on your style and how you want to work. If you are just starting out you might find hot lights represent a good value.

1/31/2006 5:43:30 AM

Linda D. Smith

member since: 5/10/2005
  HI K
I USE CONTINUOUS LIGHT ALL THE TIME AND MY SUBJECTS, FROM GRAPES TO PEOPLE LOOK GREAT NATURAL COLORS AND I HAVE NEVER PUT THEM SO CLOSE THAT MY SUBJECTS ARE TOO HOT OR WILT. ANY WAY, TRY B & H PHOTO THEY HAVE A GREAT STARTER SET CONTINUOUS LIGHTING LESS THEN 300.00 FOR THREE STANDS, 3 ULBS, 3 UTLETS, 2 MBRELLAS THEY ALL COME IN A NICE CARRYING CASE AND ARE VERY PORTABLE. MOST OF MY WORK IS LOCATION AND I CAN CARRY THESE ALONG WITH LITTLE EFFORT, I SUGGEST YOU GET AN ELECTRIC CORD AND A MULTI-OUTLET IN CASE YOU HAVE TO SET UP FAR FROM THE ELECTRIC SOURCE.

ALSO I FEEL IT IS REALY EASY TO CONTROL WHERE YOU WANT YOUR SHADOWS AND HIGHTLIGHTS, WITH OUT EXTRA STEPS.

OH I HAD ONE SUGGESTION FROM AN "EXPERT" (THAT I TRUST) AT MY PHOTO LAB, THAT FOR SOFTER SKIN TONES TRY "BLUE" LIGHTS IF YOU ARE USING FILM. I HAVE USED WHITE AND BLUE, AND HAVE HAD GOOD RESULTS WITH BOTH.

I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE AN EXPERT, BUT THIS HAS WORKED OUT WELL FOR ME. AND MY CUSTOMERS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HAPPY WITH THE RESULTS.

http://www.betterphoto.com?lds

1/31/2006 6:14:03 AM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  Sorry William,
Your statement is a little hypocritical, misleading, and somewhat inaccurate - Someone just starting out cannot afford the caliber of hot lights that professional Hollywood movies are made with. What represents a "good value" in hot lights would not be nearly powerful enough at ranges over 3-4 feet away, and once you get up to a few hundred watts of hot lights staring at you from a short distance, you, or whatever subject, WILL be fried quickly. Foreheads will sweat, and flowers will wilt.
It is NOT "perfectly acceptable to use hot lights for all subjects."
In today's market there are so many good entry level Strobe units and kits available (MOST with modeling lights, and all reasonably priced), that there is just no real reason to have to resort to continous light in the studio, least of all, from a financial investment.
And K, also remember that with continuous light, be it tungsten or fluorescent, you will have major color corrections to deal with, whether you shoot film or digital. Strobe light is daylight balanced. No problem there.
Michael H. Cothran

1/31/2006 6:26:23 AM

Aimee Bickers
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/15/2005
  Michael -- I have to disagree with you. I have cool continuous lights and they are "daylight balanced" and I have no color corrections to make due to them. So that's just wrong.

I use cool continuous lights -- two of them, a main and a fill, for ALL my studio portrait photography. I have a 2400w light that I can TOUCH and a 600w fill that I can touch as well. My kids don't sweat due to them and my families faces and nice and crisp and clear from any hot spots.

They produce a GREAT amount of light and are relatively inexpensive. I work with children and strobes were not for me. I also was worried about the heat of the traditional continuous.

Therefore, I paid the money and went with cool and they are PERFECT! :)

1/31/2006 6:54:05 AM

William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  So tell me what's hypocritical, misleading and inaccurate about my statement, or are you just flameing me? I use hot lights because I also shoot video and nothing wilts or gets fried - that's misleading and inaccurate and kind of silly. If you are going to be in the business you may as well learn the business and figure how to balance different kinds of lights and how to control the lighting on a set.

The full answer is that for still photography I use either, depending on what I'm doing and how I want the finished photograph to look. For someone starting out there are good inexpensive tungsten light sets that will help a person learn about light.
The advantaage is cost, you will learn about different kinds of light, and it won't all look the same.
Just for my information, what subjects are not perfectly acceptable to photograph with hot lights?

1/31/2006 6:56:00 AM

Maria Melnyk

member since: 5/2/2004
  Gee, this is quite a discussion. I use hot lights only for Hollywood Portraiture; I like tradition and I find it easier to see the effects better. Mine are not that hot; I use a longer exposure to compensate. And I do this with black & white film, filtered either with an 81A, a #11, or a cyan-colored filter, depending on what era I am portraying.

1/31/2006 8:54:25 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  K,
PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING THIS QUESTION ON THE "STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY " THREAD.
MICHEAL GAVE YOU SOME REAL GOOD INFO.
YOU MAY WANT TO LOOK AT THE OTHER THREAD TO SEE MORE AND MORE INFO ON SOME OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES(BRANDS)
I RECOMMEND THE PHOTOGENIC MAX III
LIGHT KIT AT THIS TIME-PHOTOGENIC IS A WONDEFUL BRAND OF LIGHTS THAT HAS BEEN AROUND THE US SINCE 1903.
THEY ARE THIER OWN WORST ENEMY THOUGH-BECAUSE THEY BUILD TO LAST.
YOU CAN ALSO LOOK IN MY GALLERY AND SEE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHTS USED- I HAVE WORKED WITH PHOTOGENIC, CALUMET /BOWENS, JTL,BRITCK AND REALLY ALL CAN BE VERY GOOD.
*PHOTOGENIC ALLOWS THE SAME ASSORIES TO BE USD FROM THE STUDIO MAXIII - UP TO THE PRO LEVEL LIGHTS- WHAT DOES THIS MEAN: WELL WHILE YOU ARE STARTING OUT ,YOU MAY CHOOSE A MORE AFFORDABLE KIT. SUCH AS THE STUDIO MAXIII.
AS YOU GROW AND YOUR NEEDS GROW, YOU CAN USE THE SAME SPEED RINGS AND REFLECTORS ETC. ON YOUR NEXT GENERATION OF LIGHTS.
I USE THE PL 2500DR'S AND THE SAME ASSORIES FIT THOSE AS THE STUDIO MAXIII'S THIS MAKES IT EASY TO INTERCHANGE ANYTHING I WOULD LIKE.

* ANOTHER THING TO MAKE SURE YOU ASK ABOUT BEFORE YOUR PURCHASE IS " CAN I CHANGE MY OWN BULBS AND DO I NEED SPECIAL TOOLS?"
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT: SO MANY COMPANY'S ARE MAKING DISPOSABLE HEADS -WHEN THE BULB BRAKES, YOUR DONE!!
PROBLEM BEING SO MANY THINGS CAN CAUSE A BLUB TO BRAKE-YOU SHOULD NOT WANT OR NEED TO REPLACE YOUR LIGHT HEAD BECAUSE OF THIS.
* PHOTOGENIC: PLUG AND PLAY:PUSH THE BULB IN AND GET TO WORK.
* CALUMET / BOWENS: YOU NEED A TOOL.
* BRITECK: (WATCH THE KITS, MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER) SOME ARE PLUG AN DPLAY SOME ARE NOW DISPOSIBLE.
SAME WITH : JTL.

I DO HAVE A STUDIO WISH LIST , THAT WAS MADE UP TO HELP THOSE LOOKING TO MAKE THINGS EASIER IN THIER STUDIOS AN DONE LIST IS ON JUST LIGHTS.
EMAIL ME IF YOU THINK THIS WILL HELP,
I DO HOPE THIS HELPS,
DEBBY TABB

1/31/2006 1:40:12 PM

Norbert Maile

member since: 7/28/2004
  My 2 cents worth. I like "hot lights" ! They are easy to get the right lighting with because, what you see is what you get. They are cheap to by for a first set, and you can get daylight bulbs requiring no filters. Your subject will get hot no matter what your lighting so get a fan! It will only be a problem if you let it.

1/31/2006 9:32:58 PM

Bryan J. Sorenson

member since: 1/4/2006
  Aimee,

Where do you get cool lights. I went to your gallery and really like the way they look. I currently use a 4 strobe setup. Even with all the regular lights in my garage/studio on peoples pupils are dialated quite large. This doen't let you see much of thier iris coloration. I really like the way the eyes show up in your photos. Thanks for any info.

Bryan

2/1/2006 8:19:20 PM

Aimee Bickers
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/15/2005
  Hi Bryan! I got mine at two different places...

http://www.akcesmedia.com/
and
http://www.skaeser.com/

Hope that helps!

2/2/2006 6:05:29 AM

Kristine Slipson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/27/2006
  Personally, I like using strobes with modeling lights built into them. They have a low heat, medium bright bulb thats always on that sits next to the strobe unit. When combined with an umbrella, it appears to be a hot light, but without the reason why it got that name- hot. Its also not too bright to look into. When you release the shutter, a much brighter burst of light comes from the strobe unit. But thats just me and what I am used to working with.

2/2/2006 4:45:35 PM

Kyle Whitaker

member since: 2/26/2008
  Here's the deal...william was at little off and michael started a good argument. This seems to be a forum for beginners but I feel its always good to get the right info even if you don't fully understand it all just yet. So I'll add some of the technical "garbo" that's really not that complex and, in fact, necessary in making a good decision and not wasting time/money.

Strobes = Flashes. Hot lights = continuous lights. However not all continuous lights are "Hot lights". As for the arguement about hot lights and film...well yes all hollywood movies and film/video do use continuous lighting but they use HMI's that can put out a couple of hundred to several thousand watts (@5600˚k daylight) without generating nearly the amount of heat of a typical 1k watt fresnel which might compare in heat and light intensity to roughly 5 200 watt home depot work lights or 20 (60watt) household lamps.

Now for a beginner who wants to learn...If the camera you shoot with has a hot shoe mount you should start with an on camera flash and learn with that first. Get yourself a light meter that will take ambient and flash readings and learn to use it. Once you have a grasp of those tools you can step up to 1, 2, or preferably 3 MONOLIGHTS which are 120v(AC) strobes that have at least a 60watt modeling light which is like a built-in household lamp (180w total using 3 light setup). Compare three of those to what you would get with a starter hot light kit approx. 1200watts from three lights. They would create the heat of about 12 household lamps and rather weak luminance, for photographic purposes, and inaccurate color temp. This doesn't particularly matter as much with moving images in film and video very basically because you don't scrutinize every frame.

Another plus of the monolight is the modeling light which will will give you some idea of what the strobe is going to look like. Variations of these lights can use battery power(DC) but those are more expensive. Oh and you're gonna want user replaceable parts and a guide number of at least 100'.
Basically, you want to use strobes for photography unless you have a crazy budget to get HMI's or Fresnels plus enough studio space that you won't deep fry your subject.
Just remember your light meter and you should be ok!

Peace,

Nova
The 25yr old phenom!

2/26/2008 6:18:44 PM

Keith Levkoff

member since: 8/13/2008
  OK, I'm a relatively new photographer, with most of that being outdoor - and using natural light - and occasional flash macro stuff. Also (I'll admit it) pictures of pets - mine and other people's. I do. however, have a serious electronic techie background.

Now, obviously, walking in the woods, or climbing up a mountain, only a moderate flash or a very small hot light (for macro stuff) is going to be anywhere near portable. There are other situations where a strobe just isn't going to be acceptable - they annoy the heck out of animals, even in a studio, and some people don't especially like them either. Ditto for incandescent hot lights.

Incandescents also use a lot of power. Those 5 kW of hot halogen lights in that studio use about 45 AMPS at 100V - odds are you're NOT going to have that at a client's HOUSE if you're shooting on-site. And you aren't going to run THOSE babies on batteries. (When that TV station uses them, they have a generator TRUCK parked out front.)

For macro stuff, we now have the neat option of LED light panels. They don't use much power, don't get too hot, don't weigh much, and seem ideal for small work. (I'm guessing that bugs wouldn't mind them as much as a strobe either.) There are expensive commercial ones, or you could build your own - or there are cheap commercial ones. I haven't used any of the panels, but LEDS in general have built in lenses, and built in "color control" - and some of them are very odd colors - which may include a lot of UV. They also have a tendency to be inconsistent in color - so a panel might put out a white overall light, but with little blue spots corresponding to where the individual LEDs are focussed, or simply a hot-and-cold grid because the individual LEDS may not blend together well. Definitely an exciting technology though. If you build a panel I would be very careful about selecting LEDs first.

There are also now a lot of color-balanced fluorescent lamps available. They don't use much juice and run pretty cool. Pro ones are going to be color corrected - hopefully, but hardware store ones are not - and they vary a lot. Some are better than others and you could build a board with a bunch of sockets pretty cheap, then try different ones for different effects (or mix them). (Check the CRI number - which is the rating of how close the bulb is to "ideal" - if they mention it - 90+ is good. You will also want high-CRI bulbs in your home and studio lamps if you want to be able to see what your proofs REALLY look like after you print them.)

8/13/2008 8:23:31 PM

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Photography Question 
Jennifer Cresse
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2005
  85 .  Removing Eyeglass Glare in Photoshop
Is there a good way to remove glare from glasses in Photoshop CS2? Thanks!

1/26/2006 12:57:02 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/17/2005
  I would just play around with the clone tool. The best thing to do is just avoid it in the first place. One way that I know of is just take the lenses out.

1/26/2006 3:04:18 PM

Jennifer Cresse
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 10/12/2005
  I took a big family portrait that I am trying to save... thanks, though... I'm open to more ideas!

1/26/2006 5:29:03 PM

Danielle E. Rutter
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2006
  I just removed some glasses glare using the clone tool. I had the mode set to "darken" and the opacity at 50%. The darken makes sure it only clones over the areas that are darker than your selected area that you choose to copy. I'm not sure if the opacity made a difference. But it worked nicely! But if the glare is over the eye... you're pretty much out of luck unless you can copy the other eye (assuming it's glare-free). Good luck!

1/27/2006 6:50:42 PM

Tina D. Carroll

member since: 1/13/2006
  If you have another shot without the glare, the clone tool will work from one photo to another. I have gone as far as cloning the whole head of someone in a group because that particular persons expression was better in another photo.That gets a little tricky around the edges, but it can be done.
I find that when taking a photo of a group where someone has glasses (I know this doesnt help now, but possibly in the future) have them tilt their heads slightly down to avoid the glare.

1/31/2006 8:46:55 AM

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Photography Question 
Fonda Ciesielski

member since: 12/20/2005
  86 .  Glare on Eyeglasses
Hello, Everyone! I took some great pictures of a teen today for her senior pictures, but there is one problem: Her glasses have a glare on them. Do any of you know how to get the glare off of glasses?? I should have taken the lenses out before the pictures, but of course, I wasn't thinking. Please let me know if you know how to do this!!

1/19/2006 5:40:01 PM

  Polarizer, polarizer, polarizer. Any time I shoot a subject with glasses, I use a polarizing filter. It's a cheap way to remove glare without tearing their glasses apart.

1/19/2006 8:02:03 PM

Fonda Ciesielski

member since: 12/20/2005
  Okay, awesome. Is there anything I can do digitally on PS to get rid of the glare for now??

1/19/2006 8:04:35 PM

David Earls

member since: 4/15/2005
  You may or may not be able to clone the glare out - difficult to say without seeing the images. Can you post the images?

1/20/2006 4:04:45 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  Fonda,
The glass flare can be lifted if the glare is not on the eyes themselves. OK, some other things you can do to get rid of glass glare at the time of shoot is to have the subject ...
- Push their glasses all the way back on their nose.
- Lean toward you.
- If using a flash, just have the subject lower than the flash, or flash angled up a bit.
- If using studio lights, just raise the lights or again lower the subject.
I do hope this helps.

1/20/2006 5:49:38 AM

L. W.

member since: 1/28/2004
  Even after doing all the things to get rid of glare on glasses during the shoot, I ended up with a reflection. Yes, you can remove the glare in PS but it is VERY time consuming. I zoomed into the eye/glass area and used the patch and lasso tools to grab "patches of skin" to correct the glare. Remember that if the eyeball is covered by glare, it will probably be much easier to reshoot the subject again than trying to recreate an eye.

1/24/2006 5:49:09 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  It is very important to have Proper eye level during the shoot-then unless huge glasses-the above will work just about every time.
the graph and disription for proper eye level in on 2-3 on the Studio Photography thread.
I will try to get back here and repost it later.

1/24/2006 5:56:47 AM

Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com

member since: 9/4/2004
  Removing glare in PS is probably THE most difficult thing you can try to do... and even a pro cannot always do it well. It just requires LOTS of time cloning and patching. If you have one eye that is not glared over, you can select it, and actually use it to replace the eye covered with glare. Every photo is different, so I cannot tell you any step by step method. You basically have to use every clone, heal. patch, and select skill you have. It is often best to just do a reshoot and work to prevent the glare in the first place. Steve

1/24/2006 8:06:58 AM

Li Su

member since: 11/4/2005
  Polarizer can work best on light from 90 degree angle. If the reflection is due to the flash in front, polarizer is little use in this case. Moreover, unless there is a modeling light on the flash, it is not possible to adjust the polarizer to the right angle to correct the reflection from the flash. The best thing to do is to raise the flash above eye-level and/or change shooting angle.

1/24/2006 8:07:41 AM

Fonda Ciesielski

member since: 12/20/2005
  Okay Great thank you SO MUCH for all the advice everyone I really really appreciate it and I can't wait to try them out!

1/24/2006 8:10:11 AM

Lin Jackson
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/24/2005
  Fonda,

You can help keep the light flare in glasses by ether having the model raise the frames off of the ears; or by having them slightly angle their chin downwards. I hope this works. I have to deal with glass glare all season long during school portraits. Good Luck

Lin

1/24/2006 2:14:04 PM

Guy Burns

member since: 1/21/2006
  Yes you can do it in photoshop but it is VERY painsataking. It is doen almost a pixel at a time and can't alway be made perfect. I spent 45 mins once to get an important picture cleaned up.

Guy

1/24/2006 3:46:33 PM

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Photography Question 
Gerald Coppola

member since: 11/15/2005
  87 .  Portraits in Digital Format?
I am an amateur photographer interested in trying some digital portraiture. I would like to buy a digital SLR to use for portraiture in the near future. My question is, can I expect to get professional quality results with a DSLR in the $1000-2000 range? Also, any recommendations as to what camera(s) might suit my needs best? I would also like to be able to use the camera for stock photography as well. Am I asking for too much out of a single camera?

1/15/2006 7:32:21 AM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Gerald, I think you will be able to get quite excellent results from the DSLRs now available in the $1000-$2000 price range. Heck, lots of folks shoot wedding, etc., with Nikon's D70 or the Canon equivalent. Some of the differences between these cameras and their more expensive brethren is the chip (though that difference keeps narrowing), and some is the build quality ("pro" level gear is built to withstand a lot more abuse).
The real issue is the lens, frankly. If you put a 28-300MM Tamron lens on a $5000 or more DSLR, you are still going to deal with the limitations of the lens itself. And while a lens like that is fine for folks doing vacation shots, etc., it simply is not as sharp (nor as fast) as other lenses that cost more, even with less zoom range.
As for deciding what gear to use - before folks throw "buy brand X" at you - I suggest you go to a store and actually hold and sample the DSLRs available in the $1000-ish price range. Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Konica-Minolta and Pentax all make good equipment, though the first two are the brands generally thought of as making "professional" gear. But at the $1000 price point, their differences have much more to do with how a given model balances in your hands, how easy it is for you to focus or understand the viewfinder indicators, etc. In other words, don't get lost in the specification sheets - a 6MP or higher chip should suit you fine. The fact that some companies offer 30+ lenses while others "only" offer 5 lenses is also generally moot - it's quite unlikely that you will need the more exotic glass for a while, at least.
So, again - try the various models out. You might find one clumsy in your hands - with the buttons and controls in awkward places. You might find one whose viewfinder is just exactly right for your eyes. You want to make the decision based on these ergonomic factors, since the reality is that, nonsensical status symbol issues aside, the important differences are not things that others can decide for you. I hope that helps.

1/15/2006 9:02:16 AM

Gerald Coppola

member since: 11/15/2005
  Thanks for the insight, Bob, (and quick response). I will certainly take your advice!

1/15/2006 9:23:18 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Gerald,
Bob's advice is right on... and I will echo and reinforce his statement about lenses. Nearly all $1,000 to $2,000 DSLRs have great sensors, good ergonomics and pretty decent build quality. Whatever you choose, I'd resist the temptation to get the "combo" kits that offer one or two lenses with the camera body, as they are generally (I say "generally" so as NOT to start another war) are not that good.
Do as Bob recommends, hold them, see if you like the placement of buttons etc. Then, I'd suggest getting the body only and shop for a couple decent lenses.
There is tons of info out there on lenses, quality, sharpness, build quality etc. Not to dissuade you, be prepared for sticker shock. Good lenses are not cheap, yet they will make or break any camera.

1/15/2006 7:24:07 PM

John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  You can get great portraits with almost any camera - digital or film. Well, maybe not a pin hole! It's not the camera, it's the photographer. You need lighting and background. You need a photogenic model! What you don't need, necessarily, is a $1,000-2,000 camera body!

1/16/2006 7:01:54 AM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Of course, John's point is well taken. But good portraits are usually those where the subject stands out from the background - and this entails a shallow depth of field (or post-process blurring in Photoshop, et al). To get the former, you need a fast lens and/or larger format imaging surface, as DOF increases as aperture closes as well as for smaller imaging areas.
In addition, while DSLRs have the reaction times of film cameras, the fixed lens cameras (point-and-shoot or prosumer point-and-shoot with 12X zoom lenses) still have an annoying shutter lag - you press the shutter button and it is still a noticeable delay for the shutter to fire. If your portrait subject is sitting still, this may not be an issue. If they are animated (like a child clowning or an adult talking), then this can become a real detriment, as you will press the shutter button when the smile (for example) is just right and a quarter second later when the camera fires the expression is gone.
Of course, lighting and subject are obviously key, but if those factors are equal, the shots taken with the more appropriate gear will prove more appealing to most viewers.

1/16/2006 8:15:33 AM

anonymous 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/7/2005
  In defence of the the lenses that come with the camera (and no definitely not getting my backup etc) I have had no problem what so ever with the stock standard lenses that I have. I have a 18-55mm, 28-90mm, 90-300mm. I love them. Check out my gallery if you want, if you are happy with the clarity of my work - well then, you will be happy with a "stock standard lense". It is all about how you use them and not pushing them to their extremes.

1/16/2006 3:56:58 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Natalie,

I love many of your photos, nice gallery.

Just so I am not misunderstood, and this is probably part of my photographic persona; I read a ton of tests done with various lenses..and there IS a difference in good glass quality and poor to average glass quality.. I'm speaking about (low Dispersion) glass and such..especially in the area of "contrast" "sharpness" "ghosting" "flaring" "pincushion" "chromatic abberation" etc...
..and we also have build quality of more expensive lenses..Mounting of the elements, mechanical slides, sealed tubes against moisture etc....They are better...and I want mine to last forever! LOL

Does it make a difference in an average shooting day or the average scene? Probably not.
Does a expensive lens make or break an award winning photo..Naaa; I doubt that too.

Any difference with expensive fast glass in closeups and detail work? Most definetly! Color saturation and contrast in portraiture? Oh yes.
These are not just my opinions, but backed up by many pros who not only test in a lab, but also in the field and see the results.

I try to buy the best glass I can find..or as much as my wallet can tolerate before begging for mercy! LOL

There are some lens names you could not give to me for free..I would use them as paper weights..No; I'm not gonna' mention names.;)

I think if we could all afford the top stuff, we would buy it. I can't afford it all either...wish I could.

Pete

1/16/2006 8:32:17 PM

Gerald Coppola

member since: 11/15/2005
  Thanks to all of you who responded. Just to clarify my original question... assuming I've got adequate studio equipment( i.e. a three strobe set-up, background, etc.), and I'm willing to invest in very good quality 50mm lens, (also assuming my skills are up to par)I can expect to get professional quality portraits with a DSLR such as the Canon digital rebel or the Nikon D70? Does anyone feel that a medium format film camera is a necessity for true professional studio portraits?

1/17/2006 9:05:24 AM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Gerald;

A 50mm lens is NOT the lens of choice for portraits. Makes peoples noses look big, eye sockets deep and a host of other reasons.
90mm-250mm are portrait lenses.
If you go to the high end, (250mm) you'll need some real estate in your studio. LOL..unless it's just a head shot.

..and no, you don't "need" med format to achieve pro results in portraits. Just look around at many galleries here..very nice portraits in many of them.


Pete

1/17/2006 9:51:41 AM

Bob Fately

member since: 4/11/2001
  Gerald, Pete's comment is valid...for a film camera or full frame DSLR.

Remember to takeinto account the crop factor (as it's often called). The Nikon DSLRs have a 1.5 factor, which means that a 50MM lens on the DSLR behaves like a 75MM lens would on a film camera. So, yes, for portraiture on a DSLR, a 50MM could be quite nice. If you style goes more towards the longer telephotos for portraits, just keep that calculation in mind. Some Canon models have 1.3, others 1.6 crop factors, so base your decision on the particular model you end up deciding to buy.

1/17/2006 11:05:44 AM

Larry Larsen

member since: 11/1/2004
  Go out and rent a camera for the weekend, then you will know for sure.
Larry

1/17/2006 12:29:54 PM

Larry Larsen

member since: 11/1/2004
  Go out and rent a camera for the weekend, then you will know for sure.
Larry

1/17/2006 12:29:55 PM

Kerry L. Walker

member since: 12/21/2004
  "Does anyone feel that a medium format film camera is a necessity for true professional studio portraits?"

Only those of us who shoot with MF film cameras. lol

1/17/2006 12:41:26 PM

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Photography Question 
Janessa L. Taber-Webb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/14/2005
  88 .  Backdrops for Studio Set-up
I saw a photographer on TV the other day who made a studio in a room in her apartment. She had one backdrop, and all the walls were painted different colors. (I am assuming for different colored backdrops.) What do you think about painting the walls in one room different colors? Like green, pink, blues, etc.? I have thought a lot about that, but I am unsure what the end result would be.

1/12/2006 4:37:02 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Well Jan, that's a nice idea. Two problems. First, when you're shooting against a wall of one color, one of the colors from the other wall might cast its color into your shot, causing a color shift of the scene. The other problem that comes to mind is that if you paint a room that's not large enough, you may not have enough room to shoot in rig lights, keep the subject off the background, etc.
I suggest that, instead of investing in paint, buy a couple of background stands with a background pole and buy a couple of paper or fabric backgrounds to use. They're portable and if your walls and ceiling are white (or black), you probably don't need to be concerned with color casts.

1/12/2006 7:05:30 PM

Janessa L. Taber-Webb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/14/2005
  I sort of figured that there could be problems involved with that, but what if the room was really big? I have a big stand for paper, but it's a pain in the rear to change the roll all the time because it's so dang long. It's like 9 feet long and HEAVY! And I am not a very BIG or STRONG girl, and I need to be able to do this on my own (change the rolls). So, instead, would you suggest me buying a bunch of stands with the rolls already on them so I don't have to worry about the hassle of changing them? (That seems like a hassle too, in a way.) This whole studio thing is stressing me OUT! Thanks for the advice, though. I really appreciate it.

1/12/2006 7:10:58 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/9/2005
  Hi Janessa;
My 2 cents. I would not even use paper backdrops. Yes, they're cheap, but they also have a nasty tendency to wrinkle, tear, etc., and always at the worst time.
You can get 3 or 4 muslin backdrops these days quite cheaply. There are, of course, the more expensive muslin cloths, but for just starting out, I don't think you'll need them. I'd suggest a white, a black, and maybe a tie dye multi-color.
Concerning the walls, I agree with Mark, painting them different colors is a bad idea for the reasons he mentioned. If you want to be a purist and don't mind the look, paint them all flat black. This will "control" the light. This is exactly what I did. I have a roll out thin piece of white translucent lexan for the floor 16x20 when doing group shots. Great lower reflector to add light... over that, I can also overlay a black piece of lexan depending on the shot I want.

1/12/2006 9:00:54 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Well Jan, you could rig sweeps - that is like backgrounds mounted on stands and swept in a long curve with muslins or paper. Muslins are nice since they're washable, and if you get tired of one, you can always toss some more paint or dyes on it.
And, no matter how large the room, if you paint, I'd only do one wall. Our studio has a wall with a built-in shooting cove made of plywood with a swept curve at the floor to make it look seamless. It can be painted any color we need or will support backgrounds either paper or muslin.
Sure, you can paint white or black, or even neutral gray. But I wouldn't go multi colors in the same room, unless it's really really big. Be well. Mark

1/14/2006 7:44:10 PM

William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  It seems that the concern here is for the cyclorama, the unbroken curve from the floor to the wall. There are professional systems that allow you any number of background combinations on the same wall by front or rear projection. Do a search on cyclorama in google and see what you get.

1/17/2006 11:58:57 AM

Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com

member since: 9/4/2004
  Hello Jan, take a chill pill, it is not all that bad! LOL Just start with some basic muslin backdrops, black, white, and grey. Grey is great, it goes with any skin tone and hair color. Another alternative is to look into DIGITAL backdrops. Try probackdrops.com. You can buy hundreds of beautiful backdrops on CD and put them into your photo later. It has it's problems though. You usually have to shoot against a chroma key green or blue color, and even then removing your subject from the photo to put into the digital backdrop can be a pain in the rear. Do what I do. I use the basic colors I listed above, then tell people I'm striving to capture THEM in a portrait, not just take a photo of a fake scene... anyone can do that! Also... look into PROPS. Screens, decorative chairs, stools. tables. antiques... there are a world of items that add much more to a portrait than just a backdrop.

1/17/2006 1:25:45 PM

Harold Bonacquist
haroldbonacquist.com

member since: 11/7/2005
  The cost of muslin quoted in the mags is astounding -- over $100. Wouldn't a bolt of cloth from a local store be cheaper?

1/17/2006 2:59:36 PM

Victoria G.

member since: 10/19/2004
  Has anyone tried Ebay for backdrops?

I do know stay away from Dreammaker, terrible attitude and disappointing product. I have noticed that Steve Kaeser Backdrops have excellent reviews of their backdrops. Most of time they go for about $90 or less. Just be sure you read all sellers' feedback and the listings extremely well. Watch for the shipping charges and keep them in mind when bidding.

1/18/2006 12:34:18 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  I have a garage studio (a big garage). So far I have painted one end all white.... and after I clear up the mess at the other end, will be painting that all flat black. Switching between the two should be a breeze.
I also have 10ft x 12ft backdrop. My back drop system only carries one roll at a time. I should have bought the slightly better system which has "rungs" to hold multiple rolls, which are much easier to interchange.
If your work area is limited in size.... why not take your back drop and tripod "outside" to a nice shady spot. Pick your day when the shadows are in your favour (and some small sandbags to help steady your uprights).

1/18/2006 5:14:01 PM

Rachel Tribunella

member since: 6/6/2005
  Is there any reason Janessa couldn't hang her muslin drapes from several wall-width curtain rods and just pull across the one she needed? I imagine they'd need to be hung from sturdy ceiling hooks - some kind of loop at the ends would be enough to support the rod if it was room width. Closet rods are very cheap. Just an idea... Rachel@transcendingtime.com

1/19/2006 1:35:11 PM

Dawn T. Palmerley
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/30/2005
  I've bought backdrops from ebay. One seller in particular who is great. (funkybackdrops) Great product! I also just bought a strobe/softbox/stand from Dreammaker which seems to work well. And I got it at an okay price.
Fabric from fabric stores are okay for about 4 feet width or about 6feet with certain fabrics, but not good if you want to go bigger. I recommend ebay.

1/19/2006 6:03:26 PM

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Photography Question 
Jessica 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/12/2004
  89 .  Reflectors: Buying One Vs. Making Your Own
I would like to purchase a reflector. I am a novice who uses primarily natural light. What would you all recommend? Thanks.

1/10/2006 4:34:54 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Jessica: Instead of purchasing one, make one. The easiest thing is to just get a large piece of foamcore, available at many camera stores, art stores, etc., and cut it into whatever size you want to work with. OR...
You can also paint a sheet of 1/4 " plywood white or any other color and use that. Or...
You can buy material of any color you want at a local fabric store, and any reflective value you want, and just attach it to a sturdy backing like poster board, foamcore, even plywood, and use that. Gold, white, silver are popular. If you've got a light stand, you can attach your home grown reflector to that using any number of spring clamps available in a hardware store or B&H sells a number of clamps by Bogen made for the purpose.
Aside from homemade reflectors working well with available/natural light, they also work fine with studio flash or even hot lights. Get the picture? ;>)
Mark

1/10/2006 5:03:17 PM

Jessica 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/12/2004
  You're funny, Mark. How about aluminum foil on a core board? Too harsh? Have both right here, as well as two little friends who would like nothing more than to help me! Isn't there something magical about the parabolic shape of the umbrella deal? Can you tell I haven't a clue what I'm doing?! :)

Thanks!

1/10/2006 5:09:56 PM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  Hello, Jessica. For outdoor portraits, my choice is white. Gold is too soft, and silver is too harsh. You can purchase a collapsible reflector and, after a week learning how to fold it up, you should be set to go. lol, just kidding. If you take a reflector on a hike, your youngest daughter looks old enough to be your assistant and cast some light into a shadow to illuminate a flower. She'd like helping mommy, I'm sure. Just a suggestion. (I viewed your gallery.)

1/10/2006 5:09:59 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  As Gary said, silver produces a hard, kind of cold reflection on people. Gold is nice and simulates late afternoon or early morning sunlight ... or jaundice. Depends on how it's used.
The light discs that can be folded up into a small pack are OK, but a bit pricey depending on the size you get. And, although not widely reported, a number of photographers have been attacked by discs with very high-strung bungee cords while trying to fold them up for storage. I hear this is true for the especially larger sizes.
BTW, you should experiment if you make your own. Sure, you can use some spray adhesive or tape to attach whatever reflective surface you want to a piece of foamcore or anything else for that matter. Sometimes a pattern, mixing say gold in strips with white strips softens the effect a bit.
Umbrellas are light modifiers as well, but usually used with an accompanying light source like a flash directed either into it or through it. Umbrellas (depending on the kind you have) are nice for wrapping the subject with diffused light. But I have to tell ya, using an umbrella (or a reflector panel for that matter) on a stand on a breezy day can be a rather exciting experience. Almost lost a perfectly good assistant last year who was holding a reflector panel out on a roof top behind a window blocking reflections for a food shot. YIKES!! Poor guy almost got blown half way to Big Sur. Fortunately, he let go of the panel in time.
Mark ;>)

1/10/2006 6:10:04 PM

Rodd 

member since: 6/16/2004
  I purchased a couple of the sun shades people put on the front window of cars to keep them cool in summer , you know the ones that fold out along the dash.
cost me $1.95 each come in silver or gold and fold down to the size of a small newspaper. if I lose one or what ever its just back to the auto parts store and replase it..
hope that helps.
Rodd

1/17/2006 1:17:21 PM

Steve Parrott
LightAnon.com

member since: 9/4/2004
  I can attest to the large discs that fold up being a HAZARD! It is all but impossible to fold one back up into its cute little pouch. So don't buy one with the idea of how convienant they are. Once you try to fold it back up once, you will never do it again!!!

1/17/2006 1:30:32 PM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  lol, Steve, come on, it's easier than tying shoes.

1/17/2006 1:37:05 PM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  Rodd,,,I still use the automobile sun shades also. You can't beat them in some lighting situations that no other reflector is going to work in. and, you don't want to go to fill flash.

1/17/2006 1:41:22 PM

anonymous 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/7/2005
  I made my own. I bought a windscreen reflector, it was silver on one side, and gold on the other, I cut two big circles out of it and then sewed bias binding around the edge to finish it off. They work great, only time they looked a little off was when I held it too close to a baby once, cause she couldn't hold her head up well, and she looked a little jaundice, but that was it.

Total cost about $12 AUD

1/17/2006 3:17:02 PM

Michelle  Heath
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2006
  I am an amateur pet portrait photographer that gets talked into people portraits by friends (and they turn out great) I had to make one for an indoor shoot over last weekend. I had a 12x12 piece of cardboard (I saw this on photo show on tv)I covered it with aluminum foil. It worked great. The friends had two standing lamps and some outside light from one window. I was afraid I wouldn't have enough light but with that and my flash it was perfect. I have not tried gold yet. But am going to.

1/18/2006 11:58:54 AM

Maverick Creatives
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/1/2004
  watch reflected light off a gold reflector Michelle, it can make a person look jaundiced. Balance it out with flash. If you do it right though, especially when being used to photograph the female complection, it can really really stand out. Good Luck with your new challenge.

Regards
Gary

1/18/2006 2:49:51 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  For what it's worth... the fold-up reflectors are definitely the best way to go. They are quite cheap (considering), fold up easily, they do the job.... and even a child can hold it.

1/18/2006 5:21:18 PM

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Photography Question 
Hope Anderson

member since: 11/12/2005
  90 .  Picturing People Wearing Eyeglasses
How do you take a picture of a child with eyeglasses and not get a reflection of the glasses?

11/23/2005 4:59:31 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/4/2004
  There are a few tips to photographing anyone with glasses.
- First make sure your subject's body is angled - and that you have brought their nose around so you have full eyes.
- Make sure the glasses are all the way back on the nose.
- Have them lean towards you - this would be from the waist.
- Lower the subject a little or raise the lights a tad more.
Try these things - one or all should help. A person who wears glasses 75 percent of their day should be photographed in them.
And a little light on the very top of the frame is acceptable if you can't get rid of it.
I do hope this helps.
Debby Tabb

11/23/2005 6:08:15 AM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/3/2005
  Or try a circular polarizer filter. It cuts off glare on cars with shiny chrome ... great ...
Craig-

11/23/2005 8:14:38 AM

Jason Kesselring
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/14/2005
  If you know the person wears glasses before the shoot, you can ask them to bring frames without lenses in them. Or you can tilt the glasses down a bit as well.

11/23/2005 8:26:53 AM

Craig m. Zacarelli
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/3/2005
  Just have them remove the offending glasses.
Craig

11/23/2005 9:23:44 AM

Elzbieta Stanczak

member since: 8/31/2005
  What kind of pictures do you have in mind? Candid? Studio portraits? I try not to use flash at all (unless it's off the camera or the child is not looking straight into camera - if it's not reflecting off the lenses, it usually reflects off frames and produces at least some glare). I usually use natural light only and try to remember that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. It is simple but you will need a lot of practice; I practiced with some good results - my daughter has been wearing glasses full time since she was 15 months and she is 6.5 now). But still when we go to have her pictures taken (Passport only - renowned photo studio in DC area)- they still have problems, and we usually don't like the results, and they use flash for this kind of photos.

11/28/2005 2:07:46 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 3/17/2005
  Hi Hope!
The rule is that angle of incidence = angle of reflection, as Debby said. The trick to photographing people with eye glasses is to ensure that your lights aren't set to bounce reflections directly back into your lens, producing a fireball in the subjects lenses. If you're using an on-camera dedicated flash (like a Polaroid passport camera), then you're going to have some problems and sure, at that point, you'd probably do better using available light.
A polarizer has little value in these situations unless you can adjust it while your light source is actually on. Otherwise, you're just guessing at the setting for both lights and filter. Unless you have modeling lights on your strobes, that's pretty tough to do. Even if you don't use strobes with a modeling light (to enable you to actually see if there is any glare or reflection before releasing the shutter), you can try setting up some sort of strong directional light, for example, a photo flood in a clamp-on socket, attached right next to your lighting source. Looking through the viewfinder at your subject, if you don't see your flood light reflected in the subject's glasses, you'll probably avoid the glare/reflection.
If you do use strobes with modeling lights, then all you need to do is adjust either the light or subject or camera angle to the subject or all three until you no longer the modeling lights reflected in their glasses. Lastly, what I always do in such cases is take some with their glasses on and some off. Glasses can make a good prop for the subject to hold, depending on your framing.
Seewhatimeanhuh?
Mark

11/28/2005 2:40:33 PM

anonymous A. 

member since: 9/19/2005
 
 
 
If you still have glare on the specks after following all this good advise, or want to fix existing photos, you can select the lenses in your editing program and either reduce the saturation, selectively clone out the reflections, or if the eyes are too obscured, clone them in from another source....

11/30/2005 10:56:26 AM

anonymous A. 

member since: 9/19/2005
 
 
 
If you still have glare on the specks after following all this good advice, or want to fix existing photos: Select the lenses in your editing program and either reduce the saturation, selectively clone out the reflections, or if the eyes are too obscured, clone them in from another source ...

11/30/2005 10:56:44 AM

Rhonda L. Tolar

member since: 3/19/2004
  This is what I learned in one of my photography classes: If you need the flash, take the subject's glasses and tilt the ear pieces up, just a little - it reduces that angle of reflection they were talking about before.
If you have enough available light and are just using the flash to get the catchlights in the eyes ... here is another trick my teacher told us
Point your flash straight up, and attach a white plastic spoon on the back of it. Just where the bowl of the spoon comes over the top. The flash will bounce off the spoon just enough to put the catch lights in the eyes. It won't be enough light to provide any fill flash, though.
Good luck!

11/30/2005 12:05:39 PM

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