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Studio Lighting Qs

2012-01-28 19:25:26.144541+00 by ebradway 6 comments

I'm going to be doing some photography for one of Asha's projects - yoga, not salads. I want to set up a good lighting system for the project. I could rent a real studio kit for a reasonable amount but I'd also like to try to assemble a kit using stuff that will see more use. I've done yoga photos for her before but we used a studio and completely rearranged the track lighting. I don't think Asha realized how lucky we were to have a space with 30-40 spots on tracks, so her expectations are higher than she realizes.

The crux of the question is:

  1. Can I get away with taking all our table lamps and placing them in the room (with or without shades)?
  2. Should I get 3-4 portable halogen work lights? If so, should I add some diffusion?
  3. If I use lamps, like clamp-on portable work lights, should I use incandescent, halogen or fluorescent bulbs?

And has anyone tried just using bed sheets for backdrops and diffusers as opposed to hitting Michael's for a bolt of muslin?

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2012-01-28 21:23:26.152877+00 by: TheSHAD0W

You can color correct pretty much any lighting digitally nowadays, but make sure all the lamps are the same type. Don't mix fluorescents with different color temperatures. Bedsheets may block too much light as direct diffusers, but if you reflect the lights off them they may suffice. If a better fabric is in the budget for a backdrop then I'd recommend you spend the cash.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-01-28 21:25:36.281409+00 by: TheSHAD0W

Oh, yeah.

Take a shot of a blank white piece of typing paper to get a baseline for color correction.

Also, if you use incandescent lights, it can get pretty warm in there. Have plenty of water handy.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-01-29 13:12:40.42459+00 by: DaveP

If you go all incandescent, you can get the cheap clamp-on "work lights" at Home Depot for pretty cheap. But you definitely want all the lights to be the same type.

Table lamps will work, but you'll be able to get by with fewer of them if you have reflectors on them. Aluminum foil inside a lampshade can make a quick reflector if the shade lets you aim it properly. A large white sheet can make a reflector, too.

You could wade through the Strobist website for tips on using small flashes to ease the heat burden in the room. One small flash with a color correction gel taped across the front of it can replace a couple work lights.

If you do have (old school) fluorescent bulbs in the mix, getting the color right is trickier, since they give off a lot of light in the green part of the spectrum, and it doesn't make people look good. Best to shut them off unless you're going all-fluorescent.

Other lighting modifiers: I have a large black wool felt sheet about 8 feet square that I use to create shadows. I seldom use it as a backdrop, but off to the side it can block reflections from colored walls, etc that would otherwise be distracting.

A large sheet of muslin may be easier to work with, but white (or neutral) bed-sheets work, too. Just make sure they're far enough behind the subject that you can drop them out of focus so the wrinkles aren't too obvious.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-01-29 14:19:55.695758+00 by: markd

Yeah, the wrinkles on a bedsheet can get pretty bad, especially if it's been stuffed in something for a while.

Last time I shot yoga it was a pretty simple setup - two speedlites crossing each other, using shoot- through umbrellas : http://bit.ly/borkyogaA . (it was a set of reference poses being used for the 2010 Cycling Fusion Winter Training). Not terribly inspiring, but it got the job done. I should have used a reflector or something to fill in her face in some of the shots where it goes dark.

If folks haven't seen Strobist, I recommend it. It's pretty amazing what can be done with just one or two speedlites

#Comment Re: made: 2012-01-29 16:17:31.286986+00 by: ebradway

Markd: Looking at your pictures, I'm even more impressed with the lighting I managed on the last shoot. Those are scaled down quite a bit and it's a mix of shots from both the DSLR I was using (my first time) and my point and shoot which was setup on a timer to take a picture every 15 seconds. Its funny how many times those pictures turned out better than my deliberate shots.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-01-30 15:31:34.163475+00 by: Dan Lyke

My shop has 7 2 bulb T-8 fixtures. They provide a fairly even light over the whole space, but I think that gives me about a 1/60th or 1/80th exposure at F/2.8.

If I were going with hot lights and digital still cameras these days I'd definitely try for compact fluorescents. A couple of circa 42 watt CF floods in the cheap clamp-on reflectors should give you a decent coverage.