Hairlighting and background lighting
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Old 10-11-2006   #1
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Default Hairlighting and background lighting

Hi guys,

As you may already know, I am interested in portraiture and currently have two 500W Bowens heads. The more I look at various tutorials and books, the more I'm wondering about the need for a third light.

Obviously there are many ways of achieving similar effects but I'm hoping you could share your collective wisdom.

Should I use one of my strobes and a reflector for main and key lighting and use the second as a hair or background light? If I was to get another strobe (eventually) would it need to be the same power (500W)?

Just wondering what you thought

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Old 10-11-2006   #2
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

If you're sure you have mastered portraiture with a two-light setup, adding another light opens up more possibilities. Like adding cameras, though, adding more lights does not necessarily mean you will produce better pictures, which is why I made the first comment.

How you position and configure your lights, no matter what number you have, will depend upon the effects you're after. There's no subsitute for experimentation, and study under an experienced portrait photographer will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Ultimately a five-light setup is what you will find gives you the flexibility you seek, I feel. I'd argue for having all lights be the same power; you can always turn one down, but you can't always turn an underpowered light up.
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Old 10-11-2006   #3
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

Wise words JDArt. No I certainly haven't mastered the two light setup, but I have noticed that sometimes a hairlight gives a bit of extra depth to some photos. Equally, to ensure I can get a pure white background, I'm unsure how to do this with just two lights.

I am pretty much of the same opinion that all the lights I get should be of the same power and for my amateur messing around 500W is pretty much all I'm likely to need.

Thanks for your considered comments.
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Old 10-12-2006   #4
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

The simplest way to get a white background is outside against a cloudy sky. Indoors however, you will need a white background and at least two more lights. In order to get a white background with digital you need the ENTIRE background to be above 255. If parts areabove 255 and parts are below 255 you will not have a solid white background, instead you will have white areas and light gray areas. I use three lights to insure I get a solid white "curtain" across my background. I have one in the center, and two more 1/3rd of the way out from the center relative to the edges of my area which is 13 feet wide. They are about 24 inches away from the back wall, aimed up at the ceiling at a 45 degree angle. The flash strikes the area where the ceiling and the back wall meet and it then washes down and out. At the point on the floor where it begins to peter out, I pose the subject and I feather the main and fill onto the floor in front of them and they overexpose that area so i wind up with a pure white background and foreground.

Benji
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Old 10-12-2006   #5
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

Nice explanation Benji, thanks for your knowledge. Hmm, two more lights . I get what you mean though.

Thanks for your helpful response.
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Old 11-08-2006   #6
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Photomoose
Nice explanation Benji, thanks for your knowledge. Hmm, two more lights . I get what you mean though.

Thanks for your helpful response.
He's saying that he uses three for a 13' wide background area.

I use two for a background of 48" - Two Alien Bee 400's. - with a single person.

I am going to add two or three more lights to my current four Alien Bees very soon. I believe all will be added as AB 800's.
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Old 11-08-2006   #7
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

Thank you Photomoose for asking these questions. I have wondered the same myself. Just today, I ordered Photoflex's starflash 650ws, and softbox. I'll be waiting quite awhile before I add lights to this setup! I too wondered if you could use lower powered lights for say, the hairlight, or the fill. thanks for the answers. Jess
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Old 11-14-2006   #8
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

You can use it all with one flash if you know how the light falls and you use translucent screens.
With more flashes the system just get's easier.

When you want to do it with one try the following.

Use one bare flash next to your model.
Place one/two translucent screens between your model and the light.
The restlight hitting the white background should blow it out.
Place the reflectors just highenough to get softlight on the face and hair.
Place one silver reflector on top of the model channeling the light hitting over the translucent screens back on the hair, this should give you about 1 fstop higher highlight than the main.

(an old Dean Collins trick )
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Old 11-18-2006   #9
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

I'm going to give that a try Frank..

That sounds interesting.

Julio
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Old 12-27-2006   #10
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Default Re: Hairlighting and background lighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by J.A.F. Doorhof
You can use it all with one flash if you know how the light falls and you use translucent screens.
With more flashes the system just get's easier.

When you want to do it with one try the following.

Use one bare flash next to your model.
Place one/two translucent screens between your model and the light.
The restlight hitting the white background should blow it out.
Place the reflectors just highenough to get softlight on the face and hair.
Place one silver reflector on top of the model channeling the light hitting over the translucent screens back on the hair, this should give you about 1 fstop higher highlight than the main.

(an old Dean Collins trick )

Woah.. sounds interesting... does anyone have a sample picture of this method?


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