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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Professional lighting questions
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08/24/2003 12:03:42 AM · #1
Hello...
I have never used any type of professional lighting systems and know just about nothing about them. I went to Alien Bees website, but I have no idea what to purchase. I know there are people here who could probably make some good recommendations (ie, magnetic 9999, Dr. Jones, etc).
Any input would be greatly appreciated!
I intend to use them for portrait work. I've used the Home Depot halogen work light special for my own kids, but I'm looking for some real stuff now.
Are there any brands to stay away from, what basic components will I need? I'm assuming main light, fill light, and a back light. Are all three necessary? Umbrellas or soft box??? It's all very confusing to me as I have never worked with this equipment, or spoken to anyone who does,
Thanks,
JD Anderson

Message edited by author 2003-08-24 00:04:38.
08/24/2003 02:23:25 AM · #2
OK...
I just looked at some tungsten lighting at BH Photo. For two lights with stands, umbrellas, cords, etc at Alien Bees are about $600 or more.

I can get a three light set up with umbrellas, stands, etc for about $400... much cheaper.

I realize that the Alien Bees are actural flash units, fired from the camera and that they have model lights. What do you gain with the the more expensive units as compared to an always on tungsten set up?

As I said before, I am studio lighting ignorant... any input would be greatly appreciated. Also, do you know of a website or other source where I can learn about this stuff??
Thanks,
JD Anderson
08/24/2003 05:55:59 AM · #3
The main difference between studio flash lights and 'always on' lights is just that - regular tungsten lights are always on, and so use up a lot more electricity and give of MUCH more heat. Model lights on strobes are advantageous by indicating how the resultant flash lighting will look. The tungsten lights are good because what you see is what you get - no question about how the shot might turn out once the flash goes off.

Here's a link to a dpreview forum discussing the pros/cons of flash vs hot lights. It also contains some very good examples of work done with hot lights.

//forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1025&message=5807310

I've only ever used hot lights myself though.
08/24/2003 09:26:53 AM · #4
Well Mr Fish. I would like to say that I have an AlienBee 400 Strobe with a 24x36 Softbox. I have the Background stand. I would suggest a One Ten Foot stand as well. If you have a budget for one light I would choose the 400 for starters. It comes with 18 degree honeycomb. The Digi Bee package is nice. I think it comes with two 400 strobes two stands and an umbrella. I personally am working on trying to master one light photography. Check out some of my photos. I would suggest also check out after midnight to see the shot I entered into Negative Space. There is nothing like Good lighting and that is what AlienBees produces at a wonderful price.

Here you can see that one light is very dramatic

//www.photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=1694248

In this shot the ligthing provides for some intresting interp.

//www.photo.net/photodb/photo?photo_id=1696494

John (TurboTech)

PS It is not worth it for cheap stuff. Cheap stuff has to be sent to the manufacturer for bulb changing. YOu can do it yourself with AlienBees. Paul C Buff (the man behind the Bee) is the man Behind White Lightning So you are getting quality. Trust me.

Message edited by author 2003-08-24 09:34:19.
08/24/2003 09:55:02 AM · #5
hmm

tungsten is always on = easier to visualize effect, but also very hot and makes the room hot. not good for photographing food or fruit or veggies. to get as bright as strobes for fast shutter speed (for non-still life), you need a very bright (hot) light ..

better strobes have variable output, usually through a dial, calibrated in stops. in other words, you can turn them down. this is, believe it or not really useful. because unless you have a lot of room to move your light away and/or ND filters for your camera, even 200 watts is almost too bright .. For example, using a 200W setup for table top photography last week, i pretty much had to shoot at f/16 to f/22 most of the time to keep the light levels down. this was good for this application because i needed max DOF possible, but for situations when you want really shallow DOF, it's very important to be able to turn your light down.

I dont think tungsten has variable output because when you use a dimmer, the color temperature of the light changes (get's more red/orange) - but i could be wrong ...

strobes color balances with daylight so you can easily use them to augment window light or outdoor light; tungsten is a totally different color and needs careful white balancing. to mix with other lighting requires gels.

as i said before, 400 W is really really bright. unless you have a huge space or want to light big scenes, i personally wouldn't recommend anything stronger. no matter what you get, if u want to do shallow dof stuff you'll prolly have to invest in ND filters.

hope this is helpful ..
08/24/2003 11:40:38 AM · #6
Thanks, Lars, John, and Kollin...
I spent some time reading forums about lighting at dpreview. That info and your info here has been very helpful. I stayed up until 2:00 am reading about lighting, and I'm starting to get an idea at least. I can see that tungsten might have its applications, but probably not the way to go for my only lighting. If I want continuous on lights that generate lots of heat and has a color cast, I'll stick with my Home Depot halogen work lights! LOL
I have read quite a bit about the Alien Bees last night and today. Everyone who as one seems to really like them... I'll probably give them a try.
Thanks,
JD Anderson

My 10D is supposed to arrive tomorrow! (lenses won't be here until later in the week, though)
08/24/2003 03:20:16 PM · #7
Alien Bees has a two light setup with umbrellas, stands, etc for $600. More than I was hoping to spend to get started, but a worthy investment based on all I have read...
Thanks again for your input!
JD Anderson
08/24/2003 05:57:13 PM · #8
The 2x3 foot soft box is 100 bucks and it is double diffused and it is easy to learn to set up. I just leave mine assembled since it uses velcro I assume that after many times of taking it down it would eventually seperate at the seam. But I would assume that is the same for all soft boxes. The strobe itself has a 5 stop slide bar for adjusting power and do not forget about the one year upgrade policy.
When I am shooting for DP challenge I use the light at its lowest setting which is 1/32 of full power. It produces more than enough. Not to mention the fast recycle time does not exist when using the light at that power. So as fast as you can press the shutter it will be ready to flash.

In one of the Books I read it says "Master one light. Then you will learn how to use shadows to really make wonderful photos." I suggest just buying one light with one stand and a softbox. The speed ring is included for the softbox and I do believe they are still giving the honeycomb with the light.

You will be a satisfied customer. Trust me. :-)

John (TurboTech)

Message edited by author 2003-08-24 17:58:46.
03/24/2004 02:31:53 PM · #9
JD,

I'm not sure if you're still interested in online reading, but you can get information on studio lighting equipment and tips at: //www.studiolighting.net

Regards,

-Bill

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