Author Topic: Studio Lighting  (Read 8903 times)

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Studio Lighting
« on: August 19, 2010, 12:26:45 AM »
Studio Lighting

     For good studio photography, the camera should be mounted on a firm surface or tripod. This will help minimize camera shake, resulting in sharper pictures. When you are testing your lighting setup, it also provides a consistent location for the camera and angle of view for the picture. Sighting through the camera viewfinder or LCD screen will help you in placing the lights.

     If you must use flash, try to take it off the camera. Bouncing it against a light-colored wall or ceiling helps, too. If you have a sheet that you can drape over something or hang up, it makes a good reflector.

     Posterboard or poster paper are inexpensive reflectors that you can place just outside of the camera view. White is generally used, although light colors can change the mood of a scene. Pinks, yellows, and light oranges will look warmer. Light blues, violets, and greens will look cooler.

     "Hot lights", lights that are on all of the time, are easier to direct. You can see where the light spills out on the scene. Clamp lights are avalable at most general stores, and can be placed anywhere. The only thing you should be careful of is the heat that they generate.

     Try to get one for each side and place them higher than the model's head, if possible. A "hair light" mounted high or bounced off of the ceiling provides more natural light. Keep extra light bulbs in stock in case one fails during a shoot. Try different wattage bulbs for more control over the amount of light cast on your model.

     Most of us do not have the room, but pros also use a 'back light'. It is another light behind the model and pointed at the background, away from the model. It is used to separate the model from the background. Sometimes this light is reversed, pointed at the model's back, for a rim lighting effect.

     Lastly, a weak light placed low in front of the model is used to fill in the shadows cast by the other lights. This takes out some of the harshness of shadow under the eyebrows and chin. You do not want to erase the shadows, or the picture will look flat.

     A photographic umbrella has a silver, white, or gold reflective surface and should be mounted on a light stand. There is special hardware used to attach the umbrella to the stand. If one is used, it can be placed anywhere behind the camera. If two are used, they are arranged on both sides behind the camera.

     There are filters that go over the lights, and can alter the color of light from any one source, or any number of sources. Use these filters with caution! One filter over the camera lens can alter all of the light.

     Regardless of how many of these extra lights and reflectors you have, make good use of the room lights as well. A ceiling light makes a good hair light. Table and wall lamps add coziness to a room. Decorative lights and string lights may also be used throughout the scene.

     If you are in an area where you can shoot near a window, natural light can help fill out a scene. Early morning and early evening is more dramatic, but harder to control. Light changes fast at these times of day, and the mood may shift before you get set up. Midday light is softer, especially when filtered through a sheer or semi-transparent curtain.

     You do not need all of this equipment. If you do have all of this, you do not need to use every bit of it for every shot. Use what you have and experiment. The only real expense for digital cameras is the batteries, and the electricity for the lights.

     Online magazines, such as Popular Photography, have articles for lighting and pictures that you can study. Look through your favorite magazines and study those pictures. Try to identify where the shadows are, and you will have an idea where the light comes from.

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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2010, 04:12:16 PM »
Hi all,

What about this set:

2 strobes to be known:
1 300 W softbox
1 300 W umbrella
1/16th step adjustable
Mettle T300A
Looks to be compatible with Nikon and Canon DSLR (there is a set for Sony DSLR too).

2 X 300 W, just enough for photographing one, maybe 2 dolls as a whole...? Seems to me just enough for doll photography, I think the 150 W sets are on the light side (from what I did read this is just too little power for photographing one or two dolls as a whole).
There is a big discount on this set now, its a bargain looks to me -> 199 Euro instead of 398...
I think with such set I will get some more benefit out my DSLR?

What I found is on the internet and might be interesting for people who want to buy such set, is that the 160 W sets of Mettle have no cooling fans in the strobe's. The temperature in the strobes will raise quick too high, and thus the lamps will burn. I personally would never buy a strobe set without fans because you have to turn it off after 20 minutes work, the 300 W set I mentioned seems to have the fans, does not cost much more and can be used continually so better look for fan cooled strobes.

I did read some more the Mettle set is probably not the right thing.
A better idea for dolls for starters is a more universal budget set, of 300 W from QiHe or Linkstar (which are the same, those are made in China but they are very good (poor mans Bowens a lot cheaper but can do the same!)
These strobes have build in fans, are from metal with quality flash and stepless adjustable from 1/32 to 1/1 (this is what you want!) and adapt Bowens accesoiry, although its said that is not needed cause Linkstar has a lot accesoiry, but its always easy huh?
I did read a lot good about Linkstar, the tripods seem to be better, more stable than a lot other sets e.g. falcon eyes too (I have no experience with it myself but its what I readed noted down by people who used this stuff a lot.)
Of coarse you don't use this for dolls only you can use this set too for the sexy gurl on the beach 8).
I need to spend some more money than for that mettle set, (399 euro for 300w instead of 199 euro) but I think I could better save it up and buy in one time the right thing.

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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2010, 07:03:45 PM »
christ, how am i going to fit all this shit in my small flat?


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2010, 09:23:34 PM » is an amazing resource for DIY projects.

I even found an instruction set for making your own soft box for photography.

I'm going to give it a go one of these days.

PS: the site requires you to sign up to view the pics in a larger format than thumbnail, but membership is free.
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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2012, 01:11:04 PM »
realise I'm adding my 5 cents worth a bit late, but anyway:

> there are 'universal' (square) sofboxes around; they have a large diameter ring in which you insert the poles that form the softbox. Adjustable clamps and a handable screw will enable you to fit the combination on almost every kinda flash(head). Studio-flash-gear-sellers probably have them ... and are probably as cheap as making them yourself ... or at least save you the hassle  :)

> recently got myself an umbrella-softbox, which is an umbrella with a diffusor attached ... you can get them in 2 different versions:

got that first version myself, and it's very easy and quick to set up or collapse ... soft lighting ... and very compact to take with you! They're rather cheap on eBay! They come in a couple of sizes.


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2012, 07:55:38 AM »
I will most certainly refer back to this post later. There is just so much good information, similar to the book for photography class at Spencerian. I'll eventually have a good camera and lights, and I want to minimize newbie errors.


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 12:48:51 PM »
I will most certainly refer back to this post later. There is just so much good information, similar to the book for photography class at Spencerian. I'll eventually have a good camera and lights, and I want to minimize newbie errors.

Learn to work with one light, learn how to "see" it and move up from there.
There are so many kinds of diffusors and shapes that it gets real confusing real fast. Grids, parabolic umbrella's, normal umbrella that are diffusing or reflecting, hecta softboxes or just just rectangular ones, etc...


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2020, 06:01:23 AM »
I used a 2 light setup with this shot.
One Godox AD600BM in a 120cm deep parabolic softbox to the right of the setup and a Godox AD200 with a 12 inch grid on the ground behind the doll to light the backdrop.
Shot with HSS at around 400th second at f5.6 ISO 100.

Sorry....didn’t realise this was an old thread!!!


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2020, 08:33:20 PM »
I don't think it matters if this tread is old. I'm sure there is still a lot of different ways to do lighting. It's also nice
to see an example to show the effect.  I am thinking the lights you are using are steady, but not sure. Your shots
look great and only using one light on the doll.

 I haven't had a lot of success with the steady lights I have. Tried direct light, bouncing off umbrellas, One two or three lights
in different combinations. Not much luck.  But they are cheap florescent "photo" lights. The color is pretty far off and almost
impossible to color correct.

With what I have, I get the best results from flash. Especially if it is mixed with natural light. I currently only have one. My
second one is broken. I either bounce it off an umbrella or punch it through a white one.
My working flash is old (no ITTL) and only has two manual settings 1/16th power and light up Grand Central Station.

Here are two examples I have using one flash in different ways. These pics aren't great, but they look ok.

This is one flash bounced off an umbrella for fill and natural light from a window. This lighting is the best I've been able to do
for a full body shot.

This is one flash punched through an umbrella three feet to the side of the camera. Very little ambient light. Works okay for a portrait.
What little light is on the background, I darkened with a brush tool.

Tighes thought this portrait might have been taken with a snoot. It does look that way. But I took it with a partly opened umbrella.
This is what it looked like before adding a vignette and also darkening background with a brush tool.


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2020, 11:36:56 PM »
They look awesome!! The second one is really moody and romantic!! Both shots are really nicely lit. I love the 2nd shot in how it looks like you have used a snoot. Beautiful!!!
There is definitely a need of good lighting in studio work. The lights Im using are studio strobes. These lights have constant model lighting when I'm using them with the bare bulbs in the soft boxes. Helps a lot when shooting against a black background. The main light was set at 1/32 power and the small back light was set at 1/1 power to direct some light on the backdrop. I don't use this backdrop often as its velvet. Great for not getting shadows but hopeless to get backdrop lighting. The lights i use are both HSS which i love when shooting outdoors. A definite benefit there. The benefit of the backdrop light is its powerful enough to give me some background light as well as a bounced light from the ceiling to act as a hair light.
Heres a couple more shots for this shoot. Same setup as the one above.

This time I turned the backdrop light off to focus on a side portrait lighting. I love this style of light runoff across her face and body. This was 1/64 +7 so it didn't overpower the shot on her.


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2020, 01:47:06 AM »
Another great bunch of photos!
I was wondering about the lights. After you mentioned it, they do look more like strobes. Images are very sharp. At least with my
limited experience with lighting, strobes and flash seem to make sharper photos than steady lights. Even with a tripod.
I see what you mean, the background light is making the hair highlights off the ceiling. That is probably the biggest problem with
only using one light, generally no top light.

The portrait I took does look a lot like I used a snoot. But the light effect came from shooting through a white umbrella fairly close to
the doll but it was only part way opened. Partly to absorb some of the light to shoot at f8 instead of f16 or smaller. I also used a vignette
and some processing in Lightroom.


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2020, 08:40:45 AM »
I think you have done a really nice edit on it. Love how the light is directed purely where you want the viewer to look. To get a good 2 light look, you could pick up a cheap LED panel light with adjustable dimmer off eBay or somewhere and direct the light off a white piece of cardboard or mount it to a cheap light stand. That way you can have a constant rim light and just have your main flash as the primary. Ive done that before and the shots turned out really good. Gives the impression of a 2 light system. You would need to have the LED fairly close to your girl to minimise shadows but works effectively. The rule i use when it comes to studio lighting is to have your soft box/umbrella fairly close to the subject for more flattering light. I like with your shots just how even the light is for a single flash. You have done really well to keep it even. You balanced it well with the ambient light to give really well lit coverage. Still love how it looks like you have shot with a snoot!!


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2020, 01:28:12 AM »
I was looking at some panel LEDs a while ago. I'm sure they would be a lot better than the florescents. They
have a little better deal buying a pair. They had dimmers and color adjustment. A bit more light output than
40w flor. I think they were around $60.00 to 80.00 each.   

I thought of using a snoot before. Now I'm thinking of trying it. They can make some dramatic light.

For those that don't know what a snoot is, besides being a funny word, it is just surrounding a light or flash with
something like cardboard or plastic to concentrate light to mostly just the center. It's easy to make one out of
something like a cereal box. Wrap it around a light or flash to make a round or rectangular tube. It can be any
shape or size. It can make light sort of like a flashlight or just reduce light spill.


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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2020, 05:58:40 AM »
Agreed. The LED panels would give you a much stronger light than flouro lights. The ones with the adjustable colour are great. Even some of the cheaper ones come with coloured panels that just clip on.
The snoot I have is the Gary Fong one that fits over the end of your plush. It’s got a grid on the end to really direct the light to your subject. Picked it in a kit with his light sphere. Works great. There are a few vids on YouTube on hove to make them DIY. A Pringles tube works well.
This is a shot I used the Snoot I’ve got. The Pringle’s tube would make the light smaller and very direct.

Here a video of the result Gary Fong gets with the snoot. This is the video that got me excited about using them. I couldn’t believe the results he got especially with the settings he was using.

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Re: Studio Lighting
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2020, 03:39:07 PM »
My lighting recommendations.

Professional lighting equipment really only makes sense if you plan on investing $1,000+ and more importantly have proper studio space like a 40x40 empty room with 12 foot ceilings.

Remember, your doll can stay perfectly still for hours so you can turn on camera exposure for a long as you like. These lighting recommendations are for helping you add some light and evened out lighting sources.

Great lighting on the cheap involves four key items.

Please note I’m not recommending these specific sales on EBay I’m just using them as examples of what to look for. FYI, I visited six local lighting stores in my metro area and none of them has anything like these items so I recommend just ordering online.

Light bulb sockets. Stock up on lots of these. Any regular light bulb will work in them and they’re pretty universal as they can be mounted vertically or horizontally on any pole with a 1/2 inch diameter or less. They also have a hole to mount a reflective umbrella. (which you will NOT need)

Lighting stands. These can also be used as regular tripods. You’ll only need two at most. Remember you can fit many sockets on just one pole.


Light bulb splitters. They sell these at Walmart on any hardware store. At $2.50 you can afford to get a lot of these as some will break or simply not work. Sure, you can buy a high quality one for $30 but why?

With these you’ve doubled the number of light sockets!

Light bulbs. As someone who’s tried 20 different types of light bulb please believe me these are the best!

-The light they put out is a very light yellow which is perfect. Most LED bulbs put out too much cyan which you then have to compensate for.

-They don’t get too hot even after an hour they’re about as cool as a light bulb can get.

-Their outer shell is plastic and not glass which makes them difficult to break so they’re easy to transport.

-Light weight thanks to the plastic. You can easily put TEN of these on a stand and it won’t collapse under the weight.


If you don’t already have these around the house you’ll need them so the multiple light sockets and be plugged into one extension cord for just one pole. Please avoid power strips as they’ll just add more weight to the pole.