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Thread: Portable Lighting for Newbie

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    Portable Lighting for Newbie

    Hello All,
    I come from a background of shooting nature and gardens with natural light, but have started shooting some architecture. One regular client builds custom built screened porches (very up scale) that I photograph. I can produce some really nice images, if there is enough ambient light. I have experimented with Canon Strobes with Pocket Wizards on stands with some luck. Many of my exposures are relatively long with smaller apertures so strobes are giving me a problem. I have absolutely no training with artificial light so I need all the help I can get. I need a portable system that is easily set up is another concern as I may photograph several porches in a day and there is not much room to move around. Are there any continuous light source or better strobe solutions? I realize that this a complex question but any help would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    J. Paul

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    Super Duper
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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    Are these covered porches or what? More information please.

    -Marc

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    Hello Marc, thanks for responding. Yes, these are covered porches. Very upscale, with tongue and groove ceilings and floors. Many have skylights, and or fireplaces. I try and turn on all lamps and track lighting to give more additional lighting and add to the mood. I am using a Canon 1Ds Mark III with the new 24mm TSE II lens, which is superb. I have been stitching images on certain scenes to show more ceiling/floor and I have had some pretty nice results using LREnfuse in Lightroom for blending exposures too. Sometimes the porches (depending upon design or sun orientation) are too dark and need more artificial light. Need any more information?
    Thanks,
    J. Paul

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    This a pretty broad question. Let's start with budget and how many lights you need as that will define available options pretty quickly. I really like the results possible from multiple speedlights, but the real-world costs and complexities have made that a non-starter for me. Based on the zero information you gave us, the Elinchrom Ranger and Quadra are nice systems depending on your needs. Alienbees or Einsteins could be a good option as well since they are pretty small, reasonably priced, modular as a system and can be used plugged in or with the Vagabond battery packs.

    I use Dynalites right now as I can often be plugged in, but adding a battery will be somewhat expensive large and heavy. I think Dynalites are about as mobile as you can get with a traditional pack/head system.

    So ...
    Most flexible = Alienbees/Einstein + Vagabond
    Traditional powered pack/head system that is light and small enough to be mobile = Dynalite
    Large and expensive battery system = Ranger
    Small and expensive battery system = Quadra
    Small and inexpensive battery system = Norman 200C or Lumedyne (or several)
    The Dynalite Uni Jr.'s are bigger than the Quadras, but a little less expensive.
    I'm not a huge fan of multiple speedlights in general as the price adds up fast, but they work great for accent lights or hiding a light somewhere.

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    Bill, thanks for your reply. I realized that I hadn't given enough information in my initial post and I followed up with fotografz with some additional information which is awaiting moderation. I basically have been using available light and the interior lamps and track lighting from the porches and using a Pocket Wizard setup with my Canon 580 EX firing into an umbrella to open up the shadows a bit. In some cases this is all I need to pull off a really nice shoot. There are other times due to the design of the porch or the sun orientation, that I need additional light. I had read briefly about continuous lighting and that idea had intrigued me because you get what you see. Thanks again for replying with so limited information. The Alien Bee's company is here in my hometown so I may go talk to them.

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    I think our posts may have overlapped a bit. No worries. For what you are saying, using a couple more speedlights on pocket wizards could be the most useful tool since you are just opening up a few dark areas.

    Quote Originally Posted by jpaulmoore View Post
    I had read briefly about continuous lighting and that idea had intrigued me because you get what you see.
    I would caution you against that route. Tungsten lights are very hot (think fire danger) and while you can see the quantity of light they put out, you now have one more color temperature to balance. You do with strobes too, but I think it is easier to gel strobes than hot lights. HMI lights are fragile and expensive. If you will need to shoot video at some point that changes things.

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    Not to contradict Bills advice ... but for your application Tungsten lighting may well fit your needs.

    You are working in pretty controlled conditions, and you favor using the lighting in the rooms for mood (which I also like to do). Existing room lighting is often part of the over-all appeal. My assumption is that the existing ambient is warmer BTW, so color balance in post is easy to achieve. Only you know the answer to that. However, if there is a lot of daylight spilling into the room from windows, then color balance can become problematic. When I use tungsten I often place a key light outside shining through the window for a early morning or sunset effect.

    The thing to do when considering continuous lighting solutions is to get the better fan cooled versions like those made by Elinchrom, Hensel and others.

    Otherwise strobes are the answer as covered by Bill ... which can be gelled, or warming domes used to replace the stock ones.

    One solution to consider for use with just one strobe mono head is a large globe light modifier. I use one of these to just lift the general light level in any room. Mine is a Profoto Pro Globe, but I believe other 3rd party companies make them for most any mount.

    Best of luck,

    -Marc

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    I know a cheap portable power supply, compatible to studio flashes mentioned above.
    You might want to check this review from studiolighting.net: http://www.studiolighting.net/roduct...x-explorer-xt/

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    If you want to use flash with tungsten *practical lighting* (look it up) you can use gels to convert your daylight flash all the way down to 32003400 with a CTO or half-way with a half-CTO. Going halfway may make it easier to reconcile daylight and tungsten light. See here.

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    Re: Portable Lighting for Newbie

    Thanks to all for your input on lighting. I have much to learn coming from a garden and landscape photography environment.
    Regards,
    J Paul

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