Studio Lighting - advice needed please

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Sorby, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    I get a lot of requests from family, friends and customers to do high-key
    portraits but have had to turn them down as I've simply not got the set-up
    and equipment to do it.

    So I'd like to get myself sorted and have convinced SWMBO to let me convert
    one of our reception rooms into a studio.

    The room is 10'8" x 9'6" and the ceiling is 8' high.
    Not massive but luckily one of the long walls has a wide archway into
    another room which I can shoot from - adding about 6' to the 9'6" - so my
    'studio' will be effectively 10'8 wide x 15'6 long

    I intend to have a pull-down background (off a roll) mounted on the archless
    10'8" wall.

    I only shoot digitally and therefore can easily compensate for colour
    temperature - so that shouldn't be a restrictive factor.

    I'd like the lighting to be portable (I'll have a separate portable
    background system for mobile use) - but am tempted to have wall-mounted
    heads on positionable arms. Anyone had experience of these?

    Which manufacturer? Bowens, Elinchrom, another brand?
    What type? - generator or monoblocs?
    2, 3 or 4 heads? Presumably I'd need at least two to blow out the white
    What power rating should I go for? (Many of my subjects are kids and I'm
    imagining needing to use quite fast shutter speeds to freeze them as they
    leap theatrically about my studio! - so presumably low-powered heads won't
    Are systems designed specifically for digital photography worth looking at?

    I get the impression constant lighting sources aren't as powerful and can
    get too hot for the sitter's comfort.

    I don't want to buy a budget system that I'll outgrow within 6-12 months -
    unless I can add to it rather than replace it.

    My budget is about £2500 - all in. (i.e. all lighting, cables, backgrounds,
    stands, softboxes/umbrellas etc)

    Thanks in anticipation,
    Sorby, Jan 6, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  2. Sorby

    RSD99 Guest

    "Sorby" posted:
    The room is 10'8" x 9'6" and the ceiling is 8' high.

    Ceiling is TOO LOW.

    Look for a room where you can get twelve feet or higher ... otherwise you
    will be severely limited when you try to photograph standing models.
    RSD99, Jan 6, 2005
    1. Advertisements

  3. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Damn! There goes my son's bedroom!! ;-)

    Thanks for the tip.
    Sorby, Jan 6, 2005
  4. Why is too low at 8 feet? Granted it's not a great height but would it not
    make do?

    Steven Campbell, Jan 6, 2005
  5. Sorby

    Eric Gill Guest

    Put a hairlight on a boom, diffuser and honeycomb over your model's head.
    You'll need, oh, 6-7 extra feet.

    Or annoy the hell out of an art director because you cannot give him enough
    backdrop to run text over.

    However, it's sounding pretty much like Sorby cannot justify renting a
    large facility, so the point is moot.
    Eric Gill, Jan 6, 2005
  6. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    An art director? What's one of those? ;-)
    Indeed. I'm not trying to do anything too grand.

    If I ever get good enough to need to rent a larger facility - choosing one
    will be a nice problem to have.
    Sorby, Jan 6, 2005
  7. Sorby

    Crownfield Guest

    look at for example.

    these will be good, and will last. both wl and alien bees are compatible
    with acessories from balcar which seem to use the same attachment system
    for the reflector / speedrings.

    if you need any more information or photos of wl equipment, let me know.
    Crownfield, Jan 6, 2005
  8. Sorby

    Canongirly Guest

    Well done what was your secret weapon?
    Plenty of room
    Don't be temted to use a paper background, i know they're cheap but believe
    me unless you get the lighting absolutley dead on, it'll be grey in all the
    photos. Also paper backdrops seem to "enhance" any shadows that fall on

    A visit to your local blind maker is recommended, get em to knock up a full
    width pvc white. Yes it'll cost a lot more but it will reflect some of the
    light back and not look grey.
    Wall mounted units are fine you'll need to light the backdrop as well and
    again wall mounts are preferable in that circumstance.
    Yeah i've wondered that, allegedly they are supposed to be more "stable" in
    terms of repeatable exposure constants, but given that digital slr cameras
    are likenable to shooting trannies in terms of exposure sensitivity i
    think/believe that "digital" lighting systems is marketing bollocks for
    "give us more cash".

    Bowens/Redwing/Elinchrom/Prolinca/Portaflash* all fine, your choice if you
    want monobloc or gennie type, If you're doing a lot/some mobile stuff
    monobloc might be the way to go as they are easier to carry around and you
    don't have to buy two set ups.

    4 to 5 heads would be my choice, from experience. Whether you buy em all new
    or source some /all of them s/h (ebay?) is again up to you. That said 3
    heads as a start up. (main, fill, backdrop)

    *Portaflash ok except the recycle times are a lot slower than the rest.
    depends again on how well ventilated the room is. If it's easy to well
    ventilate it then photax lights might be an easier/cheaper start up option.
    Certainly as you are using digital colour correction is easy, mind you the
    colour correction gels to go over the lights are really cheap and easy to
    get hold of (theatrical/tv lighting suppliers and/or jessops).
    Good luck.
    Canongirly, Jan 6, 2005
  9. Sorby

    Ronald Hands Guest

    The problem is that studio lighting usually implies big umbrellas or
    big soft boxes, and they eat up a lot of space above the light itself.

    But, as Rumsfeld pointed out recently, you go with what you've got.
    You should be able to have a lot of fun photographing seated models
    or other subjects that don't require full height and still allow you to
    keep the main light above the subject.

    -- Ron
    Ronald Hands, Jan 6, 2005
  10. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Thanks Ronald.
    Sorby, Jan 6, 2005
  11. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    I'll need to check availability of equipment here in the UK.

    Thanks for your help.
    Sorby, Jan 6, 2005
  12. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    She's a gem. :eek:)
    Ok - noted, thanks.
    Interesting. Will investigate that.
    I think floor space will be at a premium so wall-mounting will be good, yes.
    Yup - I'm starting to think that too.
    Noted - thanks.
    Think I'll skip this budget option as I feel certain the slow recycling
    times will make for some very unrewarding studio time.
    Thank you & thanks very much for your help and for taking the time to
    Sorby, Jan 6, 2005
  13. Sorby

    George Guest

    I am shooting at home in a similar sized room as you without (m)any
    problems. I do have
    one or two advantages over your situation as the room has a sloped ceiling
    that goes from
    about 8 feet (my lights/camera end) to about 12 feet (my subject end). The
    other advantage
    is that it is almost fully open at the tall end to my dining room, so I
    sometimes use a light w/gel
    behind the backdrop without further cramping my shooting area. I always use
    umbrellas or
    softboxes on my main and fill lights (that does get a little cozy) as the
    both sides of the room
    have a sofa. But, I have shot virtually all standing shots, many full
    length, and some of them
    group shots (most to date has been 11 people).

    I noticed from your budget that you are in the U.K. -- I have been using
    Bowens monoblocks
    (the older Prolite series) and they work great, both with film and digital
    and have UV coated
    flashtubes (some brands don't and a UV filter on your lens doesn't do the
    same thing). I would
    recommend monoblocks in general, but especially for home use...not only is
    it easier to get any
    ratio you desire but you won't have to have your house rewired to handle the
    current needs of
    a power pack (many draw 30A, in the U.S. standard wiring is for 15A).

    Regarding the mounting of the flash heads, Bowens makes a beautiful overhead
    system but you
    don't have high enough ceilings for that. Probably the most practical
    solution for you would be
    regular or air-damped stands.

    Perhaps you can rent some equipment or a studio in order to try out some of
    this before you
    commit to a purchase??? I did exactly that before I bought my Bowens lights
    plus I'd used the
    Bowens overhead track system in a college photography class I took (for

    Good luck,
    George, Jan 7, 2005
  14. Sorby

    Skip M Guest

    I agree with RSD99. I have had shoots with girls in the 5'9"-5'10" range,
    put them in 4"-5" heels, put their arms over their heads, and shoot up at
    them slightly, and, voila! you've got the top of your backdrop, the key
    light and that nasty popcorn ceiling in your shot, along with the 5'10"
    Skip M, Jan 7, 2005
  15. Sorby

    ZONED! Guest

    I have used ABs quite a lot and although similar they are not the
    lights that WL are.
    ZONED!, Jan 8, 2005
  16. Sorby

    ZONED! Guest

    Not for standing adults, especially hi key.
    ZONED!, Jan 8, 2005
  17. Sorby

    ZONED! Guest

    Another option not covered might be a makeshift cyclorama. Although I
    have never attempted a ceiling mount, I used to use an inverted piece
    of remnant linoleum (often bought cheaply from a large flooring
    business) to create an adequate seamless curve between wall and floor.
    Keeping as clean as possible from traffic and re-applying a quick coat
    of paint as needed. If one could do the same between wall and ceiling
    it would allow for lights placed further back using the natural soft
    bounce against the curve.
    ZONED!, Jan 8, 2005
  18. Sorby

    Crownfield Guest

    the good news is that if you someday add White-Lightning equipment,
    they and all the accessories will be compatible.
    Crownfield, Jan 10, 2005
  19. Sorby

    ZONED! Guest

    I was not clear. I have used ABs but OWN white lightning:eek:)
    ZONED!, Jan 11, 2005
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.