Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Editing OK?: Yes
Here are some suggestions on lighting.
Use a white or gray background to start out, and get rid of the green screen.
Green screens are fine for video but a pain in the backside for still photography. You will get green light reflection off the background and showing up on the back edges of the subject and showing through translucent clothing or through the hair. It takes special software to fix that, and there is no reason to spend that extra money.
Since you are using an octobox and an umbrella open them up and measure the actual real diameter of them. Now use them between 1 and 2 times the measured diameters away from your subject and you will get nice soft light. You will also get a good highlight/shadow ratio from your main light.
If your umbrella is a white translucent one use it in reflective mode for a fill light. You can use it out to 3 diameters IF it is the fill light. Be sure to put the black backing on it to reduce the stay light coming from it.
If the umbrella is used as the main light then use it in the transmission mode, and put the black backing over the stem of the umbrella and attach it to the edges of the umbrella to cut down on the stray light.
If you use the diffuser closer than 1 diameter you will get very soft light but a large highlight/shadow ratio. This can be good for rugged male subjects but is very unflattering for female subjects.
As you move the diffusers further from the subject the light will get harder and the light will get flatter, i.e. the highlight/shadow ratio will decrease. Beyond 3 diameters you might as well not use a diffuser.
Learn the classical lighting styles inside out before trying anything else.
Portrait Lighting - Names for different portrait lighting set-ups in photography
Test the lights light with a mannequin if possible (they have infinite patience). For the main light, vary the height and distance from the subject, and feather the light until you understand how to position it for the best effect.
Feathering the light means varying where the center of the light hits the subject by rotating or changing the angle of the light. Feather the light so the center of the light is above, below, in front of, and behind the subject until you see the effects. Commonly you will want to feather it so the center of the light from the main is in front of the subject and the subject is lit by the back edge of the diffuser.
For the fill, start out light 2 stops less than the main and at the camera position as Benji suggested.
Place the fill light on the same side of the camera as the main light and centered at lens height for female subjects for maximum softness. Shift it to the other side of the camera for less softness for male subjects.
Here is a link to Benji's excellent tutorial on portraiture lighting and posing. The lighting is for Rembrandt lighting, one of the most flattering lighting styles.
Benji's Studio Lighting and Posing Tutorial
To get the exposures do the following.
In manual mode set the shutter speed to about one or two clicks less than the sync. speed given in the manual for your camera. Now set the aperture to give you the depth of field you want - I suggest f/8 until you get comfortable with lighting.
With only the main light turned on have your model hold an 18% gray card - you can buy one at any half way descent photo shop for less than $20. The gray card should be held only by the edges to keep the face clean. Position it just barely in front of the nose and flat on to the camera. Step up close to the card, but don't cast a shadow, so it covers most of the image and take an exposure reading.
Adjust the strobe power until your exposure is correct. Camera meters are actually adjusted to read 12% gray, not 18% so your exposure may be off by 1/3 to 1/2 stop. If you see that when reviewing your images you can usually correct it on RAW files. Learn the difference and correct for it in the future.
Benji - PS Technique For Checking Exposure (Portraits)
Now turn off the main light and turn on the fill light. Open up the aperture two stops and adjust the strobe power until you get the right exposure. You will have to step off to the side slightly so you don't cast a shadow but keep the card flat on to where the camera will be when you take photos. When you return to the correct exposure the fill light will then be 2 stops underexposed, which is what you want.
Now with both lights on measure the exposure. It should be about 1/3 stop greater than the exposure for just the main light.
This is a lot of trouble so write down everything so you can go back to the right setting in the future without having to do all of this. Record the distance of the light sources from the subject, the strobe power settings, how they are positioned, shutter speed and aperture, and anything else you can think of. Take pictures of the setup for reference. You can even do a lighting diagram.
Online Lighting Diagram Creator - Tools for photographers
Canon 7D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II, Tamron SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM
Nissin Di866, Electra CLASSIC Plus studio strobes & modifiers
Sekonic L-358 Flash Meter, Yongnuo RF-602 Transmitters & Receivers
Dell 20" 2001F (1200x1800) IPS monitor, Samsung SyncMaster 23" F2380 (1920x1280) PVA monitor, Datacolor Spyder3Elite for monitor calibration
Location: Dallas, TX
Editing OK?: Yes
I cannot speak to the lighting of PCA or PCI who have now become absorbed into one company and do business as Sears Portrait Studio, JC Penny Portrait Studio, Dillard's Portrait Studio and Picture Me at Walmart. Photo Control Corp one of the companies at the impetus of the department store photo studio designed a lighting system and a long roll film camera unique to the industry. The camera required no visual focusing. A split beam was projected and it aligned as a single beam along the forehead of the subject when in the depth of field. PC used multiple lights and the system was highly effective.
Recently the Lifetouch company bought out what remained of the privately held Olan Mills Inc. Olan Mills as a brand will cease to exist as Lifetouch feels the company has no brand recognition. The remaining Olan MIlls studio locations within K-Mart stores will be re-badged in the near future. The purchase of the studio division comes on the heels of the buy-out of the Olan Mills church directory business.
We now return you to normal mis-information programming.
Editing OK?: Yes
This is why I love this place. Thank you all for your help.
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