Lighting a studio

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by yeeehi, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. yeeehi

    yeeehi Guest

    I am quite excited :)

    I have found a stunningly beautiful subject to photograph. I would like
    to do the shots in white walled room which has a 10' x 7' window on
    wall wall, a 3'x4' window next to it and opposite the smaller window
    there is the white wall. The large window faces West and sunset light
    should come through, but i don't want the model to face the sunset as
    the backdrop is no good. The ceiling has a small fluorescent tube light
    shieldedby a translucent scrim.

    How am I going to get the lighting right for this?

    Looking at the room i can see that there won't be enough light. It will
    be a little bit overcast in there. The light is kind of grey / cold /
    hospital like. I would prefer something warmer / more golden... less
    like the interior of an insane asylum, haha!

    I don't have any lighting equipment. I have a Canon 10d. I don't want
    to use the flash on that really. I would like soft, diffuse lights, you
    know, the sort of light women like to be photographed in because it
    brings out their beauty.

    Should I get / try something?

    Later, in the same room, I would like to try to get some dramatic
    shots, with shadows accentuating the bone structure etc. I should
    probably close the blinds on the windows, and then what? I read that we
    need a 'small' or 'tight' light source for this sort of thing...
    Any suggestions? Will probably aim to print those dramatic shots as
    black and white.

    Thank you!
    yeeehi, Jul 22, 2005
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  2. yeeehi

    Charlie Self Guest

    You're going to print them as b&w but want golden tones in the light?

    If you're serious, get a halogen construction light or two from Home
    Depot or some similar place. Pick up some moldable black "aluminum
    foil" from Porter's Camera. Use those two items to direct and develop
    the light you want. Probable cost is under 100 bucks for two lights and
    the foil.
    Charlie Self, Jul 22, 2005
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  3. Okay, let's see... Both the 10x7 window, which I'm assuming in 7' tall,
    and the 3x4 window are on the same west facing wall. Right? But the
    wall opposite the 10x7 window is unattractive as a background, whatever it
    is. A fireplace, maybe? How big is the room? What are the walls that
    face south and north like? And how close is the closer edge of either
    window to them?

    I'm going to make some assumptions here: the room is rectangular about
    15' wide by 22' to 27' long with a white 8' ceiling and mostly white
    walls. Floor covering is light, neutral tone carpet.

    To get the most light into the room for the highest shutter speeds, shoot
    in the afternoon when direct sunlight is coming through both windows, more
    or less.

    (You can shoot earlier, but you're going to have to use much slower
    shutter speeds and, since the room will be illuminated mostly by very blue
    skylight, you'll have color balance problems with your color
    shots, which may or may not be alleviated by the "auto" white
    balance of your camera, but probably not, or doing a custom
    white balance, which would be better. White balance won't matter much, if
    you're converting to b&w.)

    Soften the direct light by covering both windows with white, translucent
    fabric like parachute nylon or commercially available diffusion material.
    The result should be soft, diffuse light throughout the room, and the
    ability to shoot most anywhere, even using the large window as a
    background, having the room fill for a dramatic high-key. However, the
    best angle to shoot -- you're not going to like this -- is with the model
    opposite, facing and more or less centered on the 10x7 window with the
    photographer between the model and the window. To handle the unattractive
    wall behind the model, bring in your own background: seamless, roll
    background paper; a commercial photographer's muslin background, even a
    large piece of faric like a blanket or bedspread or gauze/shear window
    fabric. Use you imagination.

    Have the model as far away from the background as possible and shoot with
    as wide open an f-stop as you can use while still maintaining sufficient
    depth of field to keep your subject in sharp, but throw the background out
    a little to a lot, all without letting the shutter speed fall below 1/60
    of a second . If you can shoot with a tripod, you can use a slower shutter
    than 1/60. Most people can hold sufficiently still to use a 1 or 2 second
    shutter speed, but I'd advise not to go that slow. Set whatever ISO speed
    you need, but remember the higher the speed the more noise.

    Now, for the more dramatic lighting, use the 3x4 window with the diffusion
    material still on it. Pose your subject with the window to one side,
    turning the subject slightly and moving her closer or farther from the
    window to get the lighting effect you want. If there is too much fill
    light from the rest of the room, cover the 10x7 window, either partially
    or completely, to reduce the extra light. The 3x4 window should be big
    enough for head and shoulder to 3/4 length shots. For full length shots,
    use the 10x7 window covering parts of it until you get the desired effect.

    I additionally recommend that you go to the library or book store and
    look for books on Natural Light Portrait and/or Glamour photography.

    stefan patric, Jul 23, 2005
  4. yeeehi

    Hunt Guest

    Also, get a 4'x8' sheet of white foamcore (or two), a package of regular
    aluminum foil, and a roll of "Herculene" drafting film. Use the foamcore to
    fill any shadows that are too deep, bouncing either the work light, or the
    window light onto the subject. Use the Herculene to soften the work light, by
    hanging it, or placing it on a 1x2 wood frame, some distance from the work
    light. Use the aluminum foil, shiny side, to reflect catch lights. I'd crumple
    it up, then flatten it and tape, or glue it to another piece of foamcore. If
    you want warm light, buy a sheet, or a roll of Rosco cine-gel in the desired
    color. If the window is in the picture, then you can use double-stick tape to
    hold pieces of it, cut to the window panes. The exposure through the window/
    gel should obliterate the double-stick.

    Hunt, Jul 23, 2005
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