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Thread: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

  1. #1
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    How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    O.K., since I had mentioned how nice it would be for a "Lighting Forum", and Guy obliged those requesting this, I feel a bit obligated to kick this off.

    The topic title is not quite tongue in cheek, but dragged you in here, so that worked

    This has been a struggle for me for decades. I have gone from the luxury of working in a full studio with hot lights, strobes, and just about everything in between. I then went the "minimalist" route for a while, believing that natural light only was the true art, or at most, a weak fill flash. (This period was probably brought on more by lack of money for gear at the time, so what else is new?)

    That evolved into multiple small flash units to create a fast, very portable system. (I am mostly a Canon shooter, and will admit that I still envy the Nikon lighting capabilities in this area, but just HAD to prove it could be done with Canon speedlites and other things.) The biggest issue here has been really getting softened light when you need it most.

    That continued the evolution back to packs and flash heads, but portability has always been a big driver, as I need to bring the studio to the client. My present kit for this are DynaLites, and they are working out wonderfully, but sometimes even they put out more light than one wants for shooting at f1.2 and stuff.

    The most recent addition to the kit has been some Westcott Spiderlites, which use daylight balanced cool fluorescent bulbs. Have to say, they are not super bright, but they do put out a very nice continuous light at low cost, low heat, and can be toted about if you need to use them that way.

    So what is the answer? Not sure, but so far, all of them. This was not a kit that I really planned, but have found that it does allow me to do most jobs, and it will allow for mix and match things too, like DynaLites in big softboxes with a fluorescent in close for key or accent, and small Canon flashes for creating hot accents in backgrounds and stuff. The key is knowing the limitations of the gear and the shooter. (Still working on the latter at this point )

    Not looking to start a brand war or anything of the sort. Would love to use Brons or Elincroms or Profotos, and have in the past, but all are too heavy, too bulky, and much more expensive. Is this foolhardy on my part? Should I just bite the bullet and spring for those Profotos?

    With some of the new "accessories" now on the market for use with smaller flash units, for battery power, for attaching softboxes, etc., I am not so sure that the big boy systems matter as much, except for rental needs, replacement parts in out of the way places, and maybe brand loyalty. Wonder what others think about this?

    BTW, I need to dig up a report where someone took the time to shoot the various flash units at different powers, and measured their color temp variation, etc. Interesting results.....the Elinchroms and Profotos, long touted for consistent light output and color, actually underperformed the small DynaLites. (Forget the Alien Bees and White Lightnings....they are cheap, but all over the map on color temp at different outputs.)

    O.K., chip in as you see fit with experiences, thoughts, plans, images, whatever. Let's get this forum rolling along also.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Hey LJ,

    My turn to join you also, as I also lobbied for this forum.

    I have done product stuff with lighting, Nascar cars & driver stills with lighting on the tracks, and am now getting into a fashion area.

    Since selling the Nikon gear, I have really gone in three directions for lighting.

    1) The minimalist with the M8, a Metz 54 either off camera with an SC-28 Nikon cord, or the Metz on a stand with an umbrella using a Paramount cord/Pocket wizard with another Pocket wizard on the M8 to trigger everything wirelessly. This a great low power, very light weight, one light kit.

    2) Studio with two ProPhoto heads from a single generator (electric) that are primarily BG lights. I also have 3 of the AcuteB 600R units. For modifiers, I have the zoom reflectors that came with the heads, 2 - 7" grid reflectors, a Magnum for the daylight look, a 2' x 3' softbox, a 3' x 4' softbox, a 36" octa softbox, 45" & 60" convertible umbrellas, grids, gel holders, 48" flexfill gold/white reflector, stands / super clamps with extension arms, and two stands that are with booms. (Plus the required background stands for the seamless paper in 53" or 107")

    3) The last is a location set-up where I just bring from 1-3 of the AcuteB 600R units with modifiers, stands, and reflector.

    As I hopefully progress in skill, I am looking for comments on lighting set-ups from others that could improve what I do.

    Looking forward to see this subforum grow.

    Best,

    Ray
    Last edited by harmsr; 20th June 2008 at 14:59.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    I have been using a strange mix of Nikon strobes. My collection includes
    SB800, SB600, three SB-200s and an SU-800 modified with a piece of film taped over the IR emitter (so the Sekinic meter does not get confused).
    A couple of umbrellas and a few ad-hoc reflectors and away I go. Now if I could only get the SU-800 to work with the M8 (I haven't tried it with the Mamiya yet) I would be set for most of what I do in a very small studio.
    I tend to run them in manual mode and have used them with various Nikon bodies.
    I am looking for a longer term (yeah, right) solution, so I am VERY interested in this topic.
    -bob

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Ray,
    Sounds like quite an arsenal to cover quite a bit. Question for you, and this goes for Bob also: are you finding that you really get enough controlled light with the smaller flash units, or are they still resulting in a "camera flash" look?

    I have tried using various StoFen, Gary Fong and other "diffuser" type things on the small flash units, but they just do not spread the light out enough to avoid the point source effect. I just picked up something by Westcott called the MicroApollo that essentially is a tiny softbox that you mount to the flash head. It seems to help, but still not enough. (This is very much on the idea of the small softbox for the Qflash, but works on just about any unit.)

    My reason for asking is that I have to do a lot of awards shots after the polo matches I shoot, and they are almost always needing fill or sometimes main flash. The on-camera set-up is easiest to deploy and allows me to move around for shots, but it is hard to overcome that harsh light from the point source. I have not had the time to set up larger heads and reflectors on stands, and things must be portable, as there is no juice available. I have tried going to a second flash on a stand, but still hate the harshness. This is not very flattering to sweaty, tired players that just want to get their trophy and leave to get a shower and a cold one ;-)

    So, is there some easy, simple to deploy, very portable way to get a nicer, softer light for these shots, and be able to do it on the fly?

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Bob,
    Is the SU-800 thing a control unit only? (With Canon, I have something called the ST-E2, and it mounts to the camera, allowing me to control an A and B set of slaves flash units that are off camera, but must be within IR range. Not so great with bright light or streaking sunlight, limiting the effective range to under 30 ft.)

    What about using PocketWizards from the M8 to whatever is your main controller unit that is off-camera? (The M8 has been a bit of a pain to use for flash, with few choices and compatibilities, so PWs and MicroSync units seem good for this. More "stuff" to carry and maintain and have cords to work with flash units, but they seem pretty bullet-proof for working.)

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    LJ,

    What I'm trying out is the Metz 54 and a 45" convertible umbrella on a small stand. I just recently purchased the Metz and hotshoe adaptor to fire it by Pocket wizard.

    I am trying to use a light Manfrotto aluminum stand, with umbrella adaptor. Mounted on this via 1/4 - 20 stud is a Paramount hotshoe with a cable that connects to a Pocket Wizard. The Pocket wizard just hangs by the hand strap from the stand. I then mount the Metz in the hot shoe. On the M8, I have another Pocket Wizard mounted in the camera hot shoe that is transmitting and fires the Metz via the other Pocket Wizard.

    It really is a very light and fast kit to set up. So far, I have been able to vary the distance of the umbrella to the flash and the stand to the subject in order to get very nice fill flash. I have used this set-up as reflected light so far, but also plan to remove the black covering on the umbrella and try it as shoot through.

    I normally run the ISO on the camera at its lowest setting (in the case of the M8 it is 160) but just bump up the ISO by a stop or two if I need more light.

    So far I'm pretty happy with the results for a quick / light kit and not bringing the real strobes. IMHO the results do NOT look like a "camera flash" or "point source" effect.

    As I am continuing to play with this set-up, I'll post a few shots this weekend.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    I am thinking I might try PWs since I think they would be pretty universal, but they add up pretty quickly.
    I should probably just keep the nikon flash for use with the D3, but find something more universal for the rest.
    Does anybody make a battery powered strobe with a built-in PW?
    the Profoto -Rs seem pretty nice but heavy.
    -bob

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    I have an interest in artificial light as well. My own history with it won't be that pertinent I'm afraid, the last time I was in a studio, the big guns were Norman 2000 WS power units (think hand truck to move them) with the various umbrellas soft boxes, etc. For toting around, it was the Metz potato masher thing. Now, I have only a Nikon SB800, which is amazing, and versatile, but a long way from real studio lighting.

    However, I would really enjoy seeing examples using current lighting tech., both in the field and in the studio. Even to the point of showing the finished shot and then the lighting setup that achieved it. I find the various lighting solutions required for different subjects pretty interesting.

    So I'm glad this forum is here, and will contribute whenever I can, but I look forward to your examples, explanations, and solutions. Thanks for starting this!

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Bob,
    The DynaLites I use have the PW built into the packhead. I also have the XP1100 rechargeable pure sine wave unit. That allows me to plug the pack into it and run up to four heads from the pack. Still not as compact or portable as the smaller flash units, but very versatile, and the battery unit delivers a full 1100Wsec of power with a pretty decent recharge compared to everything else I have seen. It also doubles as a very nice power supply for running a laptop.

    The newer Profoto with its own battery is nice. I was and still am tempted, but it still is a lot heavier and bulkier than the lightweight DynaLite packhead and even two heads. I still have to add in the XP1100 battery, but I can use the DynaLites with mains if I have access without a problem also.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Ray,
    I understand the lack of point source look shooting into the large umbrella. I carry several for that purpose also, and that does work very well. My issue has been with being able to quickly set something up, not have it knocked or blown over (I am working outside for all of this), and get a decent recharge.

    For the superlight portable studio, what you describe does work nicely.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Bob,

    I opted for the ProPhoto AcuteB 600R that has the pocket wizard built in. The generator with battery, head, modifier, and stand only weigh about 20 lbs. complete. The pack & battery only measure 8"x5"x6" and weigh 10 lbs.

    The more powerful units do get heavier faster.

    The other thing you need to watch out for when selecting the units is how they run asymmetrically. For example, if I wanted a 1200W battery/generator unit. I could run a single head at 1200. I could also run two heads at lower power, but I don't have full asymmetric control to run whatever lighting ratio that I want. For that reason, I went with the AcuteB 600R units that I can run fully asymmetric as they are individually controlled. For my applications, the 600 units work out just fine. In the studio for product photography and really stopped down apertures, I would want more light but in this case can compensate for that with multiple pops on the lights that I have.

    In a way this also gives me a lot of flexibility to do lighting however it is needed at location. I have bought bags to handle things as just one light, or two lights as seperate kits. When I need all three lights, then I bring both kits.

    Best,

    Ray


    PS. These 600R units are fairly new to me but I just love them so far. Poor David at Dale Labs has spent soooooooooo mannnyyyyyyyy hours on the phone with me over the last several weeks helping me chose these new lights and answering a ton of questions. If you need lighting, I can't recommend anyone else more.

  12. #12
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    I have used most of the systems over the years and personal favorites are Broncolor, Elinchrom and Profoto (LOVE the D-4's) for in studio when lots of lights are needed, to the Elinchrom Rangers for portables. However, the Rangers work just fine in a studio for stills or product so can make a good double-duty alternative if you plan on using them both ways. I understand Broncolor has just released a very cool new portable unit too, but don't much about it.

    For slaves I used to use the Pocket Wizard Multi-max's and like them a lot too, but lately have migrated to the Elinchrom SkyPorts -- they are smaller than the PW's and if you have Elinchrom RX units, allow you to adjust output right from the little transmitter on the camera OR wirelessly from a laptop.

    However, while the hardware is neat to discuss, I think the most important thing with lighting is what gets put where and what gets used between the light and your subject, or the light modifiers. Here is what I'm most interested in hearing about, since there are an unlimited set of options to consider.

    Let's get it going!
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Ray,
    I understand the lack of point source look shooting into the large umbrella. I carry several for that purpose also, and that does work very well. My issue has been with being able to quickly set something up, not have it knocked or blown over (I am working outside for all of this), and get a decent recharge.

    For the superlight portable studio, what you describe does work nicely.

    LJ
    LJ,

    If you are constantly moving or in a crowd, I completely understand and also have not found a solution.

    The solution I mentioned works for me outside with a very quick set-up, but not with a lot people moving around me or the subject moving.

    If you come up with a solution for your situation, I would be very interested.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    I have used most of the systems over the years and personal favorites are Broncolor, Elinchrom and Profoto (LOVE the D-4's) for in studio when lots of lights are needed, to the Elinchrom Rangers for portables. However, the Rangers work just fine in a studio for stills or product so can make a good double-duty alternative if you plan on using them both ways. I understand Broncolor has just released a very cool new portable unit too, but don't much about it.

    For slaves I used to use the Pocket Wizard Multi-max's and like them a lot too, but lately have migrated to the Elinchrom SkyPorts -- they are smaller than the PW's and if you have Elinchrom RX units, allow you to adjust output right from the little transmitter on the camera OR wirelessly from a laptop.

    However, while the hardware is neat to discuss, I think the most important thing with lighting is what gets put where and what gets used between the light and your subject, or the light modifiers. Here is what I'm most interested in hearing about, since there are an unlimited set of options to consider.

    Let's get it going!
    Jack,
    Not sure if you are talking about gels on lights, softboxes, flags, diffusers or all of the above. And yes, they can make things work just so much nicer.

    For the softboxes, I think the Plumes may be among the best I have seen and used. The baffles and construction make them strong, rather compact for even the larger sizes, and always putting out the most beautiful light. After that, many of the other softboxes, hexes and octas from Chimera, Profoto and others all do a very nice job. I have been liking white and silver interiors on the boxes for different things. The silver pumps out a bit more light and holds a bit harder edge than a white interior, and adding another diffuser to the silver boxes is just not quite the same.

    On the diffusers, I always keep a big and small one around, as I shoot in sun a lot for some things, and popping up a diffuser works miracles for portraits. In a pinch, they work well as soft reflectors about a stop or two off direct. Not the same as a white reflector, but very effective for lighteng shadows without looking like heavy fill was pumped in or something.

    On the flags and stuff, it is pretty much go with whatever you need to knock down hot spots. Unless it is a detailed studio set-up, I tend not to bother much, just watching what I shoot and making adjustments in post if needed.

    Have not done too much gel work, but am looking seriously for a small, affordable, fresnel hot light that can be gelled for spot effect. At that point, the mixed lights almost do not matter to much, but I generally avoid mixing tungsten with daylight balanced stuff.

    I am intrigued by some of the interesting work that Irakly does with mirrors, both as within frame objects, and to help bounce light around. Would like to here more from him on that.

    On other reflectors, I have moved away from the silver and gold stuff in favor of soft white or "sunlight" as the strongest color add. That warm glow can really work nicely for portraits, but also for bathing a large background area with a bit of warm light in a shot. I started trying to push light down longer darker channels, like alleyways and between buildings, and the warmer light looks nicer, but does not carry as far.

    As for how stuff is set up, well that looks to become a lot of interesting threads from this point on. I was hoping to lay some base on the lighting side, and get folks to think about the variety of things out there now, not everything having to be big, heavy and expensive. The Profotos, Brons and Elinchroms are all very high in the class, but some of the newer offerings from others, or things like the DynaLites, are not giving up much ground. My big concern is durability with them and consistent output. So far, the DynaLites have not been a disappointment at all, and are more compact and lighter than most. Again, not a brand battle, but offering some options for folks to think about.

    This all looks like good fodder for the workshop in September. While Bron and others may be featured and used a lot, there are other excellent options coming to market lately worth considering too.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    LJ,

    If you are constantly moving or in a crowd, I completely understand and also have not found a solution.

    The solution I mentioned works for me outside with a very quick set-up, but not with a lot people moving around me or the subject moving.

    If you come up with a solution for your situation, I would be very interested.

    Best,

    Ray
    Ray,
    That is part of the problem....no staged area all the time, so mobility helps a lot. I am constantly moving and angling to get nicer backgrounds or eliminate distractions. If I had a more fixed set-up, I would go with a large umbrella in a heartbeat and get it over with The larger brand flash units from Metz, Nikon and Canon can throw out a lot of light, and work nicely in big umbrellas for a very soft wrapping light that looks completely natural.

    The issue, as it will always be, is just how large the light source is and how close you can get it to the subject to wrap it around and get soft fall-offs. I have yet to see anything really portable that achieves this.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    I guess I should clarify my comment a bit further. I have a good working knowledge of lighting, reflectors, softboxes, scrims, gobos etc. I am more interested in hearing some how others use the combinations of these creatively. For example, I knew a guy that shot smaller product. Almost all of his products were done with a single light: hard side, a black fill above and white below. Sounds horrible and I would have never thought of that set-up, but he had some of the most unique and interesting product shots I ever saw.
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Jack,
    Now I understand what you were getting at. Thanks for the clarification. I too want to hear and see what folks are doing there, as it really can help create some spectacular stuff.

    The "standard" lighting arrangement will always work but gets boring really fast. I have really been liking the look of what you are describing....lit from below through a plex table or something, completely dark top and strong side light. Does not work for all things, but can be very dramatic for sure. Did he use an color for background, or just let things fade toward black upward?

    Hmm, have to start playing around with some of that.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    The lower fill was not lit just reflected, the upper a black-out fill. Background varied depending on product.
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Well,
    I just ordered a Ranger RX.
    My thoughts are to fill in later with either a ranger rxa-s or perhaps with a couple of their rx monolights.
    The profoto acuteb 600r was a contender, but I just kink of liked the whole elincrom package better unless I were going to go the Profoto D4 route which looks very nice indeed but at att dear an entry point.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Bob,
    I think it a good choice also. Congrats. The Profoto portable unit you mention is nice, and I did seriously think about it for a bit. The one thing that did sort of stop me was the head is not compatible with other Profoto set-ups, like the D4, and other Acute heads cannot be used with the portable pack. That may also be the case with the Elinchroms, but the Ranger unit just seemed more attractive to start also.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    Well,
    I just ordered a Ranger RX.
    My thoughts are to fill in later with either a ranger rxa-s or perhaps with a couple of their rx monolights.
    The profoto acuteb 600r was a contender, but I just kink of liked the whole elincrom package better unless I were going to go the Profoto D4 route which looks very nice indeed but at att dear an entry point.
    Okay I am jealous.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    For those considering the Elinchrom, I'd really recommend going for the Speed AS unit over the straight RX. Recycle speed for the RX is 5.5 secs at full power, while it is 2.8 secs for the Speed AS. Five and a half seconds feels like an eternity when you're in the groove. Battery life is also about twice as long with the Speed. I can get about 3,000 shots at mixed power levels out of the Speed. The kit for Speed also includes an extra battery, which is about $400 by itself and a great thing to have. So the cost is a wash between the two kits if you count the battery. The only trade-off is weight, with the RX coming in at 13.2 lbs and the Speed at 17.6 lbs. So, about 4 lbs more... not a deal breaker, for me at least.

    I stock and sell a lot more Speed kits for the above reasons. Once my customers see the difference and try them out, 9 times out of 10 they go for the Speed AS kit.

    If you are looking for portability, you just can't beat the Profoto AcuteB 600R which weighs only 10 lbs and is tiny (as far as power packs go). These are coming with free heads ($750 value) right now. Two of these will give you totally asymmetry with no extension cables and PocketWizard built-in. Really nice units.

    Of course, the Profotos aren't weather sealed like the Rangers, which I have literally shot in pouring rain.

    Both are excellent choices.

    David
    Last edited by dfarkas; 26th June 2008 at 14:18.
    David Farkas
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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    OK, that's it
    New glasses and typing school for me.
    -bob
    I hope that my Ranger arrives on time, I have a shoot scheduled for next Wednesday. It would be real good if it worked :-)
    -bob

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Bob - Congrats on the lighting. I can't wait to see what you do with it.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    As far as portability for location work it's hard to beat the Hensel Porty ... probably the most rented of the bunch. It's super heavy duty but weighs in pretty heavy.

    For a small package with a nice output it's probably the Broncolor Mobile A2R 1200 w/s two port asymmetrical Power Pack that weighs 20lbs ... but it's the heads that really cut down on the load ... 1600 w/s Broncolor Picolites are the size of a pop can. Pricey as are most Broncolor products.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    The Ranger RX arrived and I have been fooling around using it in conjunction with an SB800 operating as a slave.
    The kit included a shoot through 33 inch umbrella with a nifty black back-baffle which prevents light from bouncing off the wall behind the light. Sort if a poor man's smallish softbox.
    I am toying with the addition of a second head, which seems to be the next step.
    It could be either another S head or an A head. The A gets me a flash duration somewhere around half that of the S head, and if I use it in conjugation with the S head, will get me a 75/25 power ratio. That makes sense to me if I put a softbox on the A head. BUT if I use two S heads, I get equal power distribution, and lose maybe a couple of stops in the softbox, that seems to me that I ought to use a softbox on both heads or grid down the fill to get reasonably close.
    OR, I could get a 600ws monolight that would give me the option/luxury of independent control. Grids/softbox comments also apply.
    Anybody with an opinion on the next best step? I am thinking that besides the light something like a Plume 140 is a given.
    thanks
    -bob

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    O.K., since I had mentioned how nice it would be for a "Lighting Forum", and Guy obliged those requesting this, I feel a bit obligated to kick this off.

    The topic title is not quite tongue in cheek, but dragged you in here, so that worked

    This has been a struggle for me for decades. I have gone from the luxury of working in a full studio with hot lights, strobes, and just about everything in between. I then went the "minimalist" route for a while, believing that natural light only was the true art, or at most, a weak fill flash. (This period was probably brought on more by lack of money for gear at the time, so what else is new?)

    That evolved into multiple small flash units to create a fast, very portable system. (I am mostly a Canon shooter, and will admit that I still envy the Nikon lighting capabilities in this area, but just HAD to prove it could be done with Canon speedlites and other things.) The biggest issue here has been really getting softened light when you need it most.

    That continued the evolution back to packs and flash heads, but portability has always been a big driver, as I need to bring the studio to the client. My present kit for this are DynaLites, and they are working out wonderfully, but sometimes even they put out more light than one wants for shooting at f1.2 and stuff.

    The most recent addition to the kit has been some Westcott Spiderlites, which use daylight balanced cool fluorescent bulbs. Have to say, they are not super bright, but they do put out a very nice continuous light at low cost, low heat, and can be toted about if you need to use them that way.

    So what is the answer? Not sure, but so far, all of them. This was not a kit that I really planned, but have found that it does allow me to do most jobs, and it will allow for mix and match things too, like DynaLites in big softboxes with a fluorescent in close for key or accent, and small Canon flashes for creating hot accents in backgrounds and stuff. The key is knowing the limitations of the gear and the shooter. (Still working on the latter at this point )

    Not looking to start a brand war or anything of the sort. Would love to use Brons or Elincroms or Profotos, and have in the past, but all are too heavy, too bulky, and much more expensive. Is this foolhardy on my part? Should I just bite the bullet and spring for those Profotos?

    With some of the new "accessories" now on the market for use with smaller flash units, for battery power, for attaching softboxes, etc., I am not so sure that the big boy systems matter as much, except for rental needs, replacement parts in out of the way places, and maybe brand loyalty. Wonder what others think about this?

    BTW, I need to dig up a report where someone took the time to shoot the various flash units at different powers, and measured their color temp variation, etc. Interesting results.....the Elinchroms and Profotos, long touted for consistent light output and color, actually underperformed the small DynaLites. (Forget the Alien Bees and White Lightnings....they are cheap, but all over the map on color temp at different outputs.)

    O.K., chip in as you see fit with experiences, thoughts, plans, images, whatever. Let's get this forum rolling along also.

    LJ
    Simple 2 letter answer to using your current Dyna Lites with fast aperture lenses:

    ND.

    Just get some high quality Netural Density filters like B+W MCs.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Bob,

    The Ranger RX (non-speed) is 50/50 distribution regardless if you use A, S, or a combination of both. The A (action) head just gives you a shorter duration flash versus the S (standard) head, with no difference in power output.

    Hope this helps.

    David


    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    It could be either another S head or an A head. The A gets me a flash duration somewhere around half that of the S head, and if I use it in conjugation with the S head, will get me a 75/25 power ratio. That makes sense to me if I put a softbox on the A head. BUT if I use two S heads, I get equal power distribution, and lose maybe a couple of stops in the softbox, that seems to me that I ought to use a softbox on both heads or grid down the fill to get reasonably close.
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Simple 2 letter answer to using your current Dyna Lites with fast aperture lenses:

    ND.

    Just get some high quality Netural Density filters like B+W MCs.
    Marc,
    I actually have found an interesting set-up. The DynaLite packs are 1000w/s and have four ports to handle heads. If I place two heads into one side of the pack, rather than one on each side, it halves the output. By dialing power down, I can manage to shoot the two heads in softboxes and be able to get things to f2. Move a bit further away, and I can get more open, but then I start to lose the light wrapping a bit more. The DynaLites are a lot more powerful than one would think. They put out a lot of light, as you note. The ND filters are still on the solution list, but I hate shooting through them if I do not have to.

    I have been eyeing that Hensel Porty, as well as the Bron portable. The Ranger set-up is also nice, but I would probably go Hensel or Brom myself for the portable side. The DynaLites are very compact, and they do work well off of the 1100XP battery unit, but more stuff to carry, set-up and manage. For now, I can get things to work the way I need, but I do keep looking for a more elegant solution, if there is one. Nobody mentions the Profoto 7B2 stuff. Looks quite nice and handles the same heads as the D4, making it pretty flexible....just not inexpensive.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    The Pro-7b is a great pack, but note that the D4 takes both Acute/D4 Heads and Pro Heads. The Pro-7b is a Pro pack and only takes Pro Heads and Pro B Heads (which do not work on AC packs like the D4 or Pro-7a ).

    David


    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Nobody mentions the Profoto 7B2 stuff. Looks quite nice and handles the same heads as the D4, making it pretty flexible....just not inexpensive.
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    The Pro-7b is a great pack, but note that the D4 takes both Acute/D4 Heads and Pro Heads. The Pro-7b is a Pro pack and only takes Pro Heads and Pro B Heads (which do not work on AC packs like the D4 or Pro-7a ).

    David
    David,
    Thanks for the clarifications. I was thinking about the Pro 7 heads, which are fan cooled and can be used on both the D4 and Pro 7B2 generators. At least I think that they are compatible that way. Honestly, Profoto really does not make that part terribly clear, but it seems like the Pro 7B2 pack (their newest version) is a bit faster, and it lists being able to use the Pro 7 heads, in addition to the Pro 7b heads (I think). The Pro 7 heads are also listed a being compatible with the D4 generator.

    The Acute heads are a different story.

    So, I think we are in agreement. My thoughts are shifting to the Pro 7B2 pack for both portable and studio use, using Pro 7 heads. That would then allow an upgrade to the D4 generator for studio use, still taking the Pro 7 heads and being able to add Acute/D4 heads to it. Does that make sense?

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    LJ,

    You are 100% correct. Fan cooled Pro Heads can be used on Pro-7a AC packs as well as the 7b and B2. A Pro B Head can only be used on battery packs. The D4 can take Pro Heads or Acute2 Heads. Acute2 packs cannot take Pro Heads. And... The Pro Ring and Pro Ring 2 (fan-cooled with modeling lights) work on 7a, 7b, B2, and D4. The Acute2 Ring works on Acute2, Acute B, and D4. Basically, the D4 takes all heads except B heads. So, it makes a nice addition to either Acute or Pro setups. And of course, all Profoto heads take the same modifiers.

    The D4 is awesome. I use one for table top and it is the most color stable pack I've ever used. The full digital asymmetry is very convenient. It isn't the fastest recycling or the shortest duration. For that, you'd want the Pro 7a. The 7a 1200 recycles to full power in 0.8 seconds and has a minimum flash duration of 1/12,000 sec! That is why the Pro 7a is THE fashion studio rental pack the world over.

    The B2 is the closest thing to a 7a on battery power. Full power recycle in 1.8 secs with a flash duration of about 1/6,000 sec. It will run a modeling light continuously and can use the Universal Power Adapter to "plug in" while in studio. Built-in PocketWizard is nice (just like the D4) and the B2 has 1/10th of a stop adjustments vs. the 7b with 1/6th stop.

    You really can't go wrong with Profoto. Great electronics and amazing modifiers. Reliable and consistenly great quality of light.

    David

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    David,
    Thanks for the clarifications. I was thinking about the Pro 7 heads, which are fan cooled and can be used on both the D4 and Pro 7B2 generators. At least I think that they are compatible that way. Honestly, Profoto really does not make that part terribly clear, but it seems like the Pro 7B2 pack (their newest version) is a bit faster, and it lists being able to use the Pro 7 heads, in addition to the Pro 7b heads (I think). The Pro 7 heads are also listed a being compatible with the D4 generator.

    The Acute heads are a different story.

    So, I think we are in agreement. My thoughts are shifting to the Pro 7B2 pack for both portable and studio use, using Pro 7 heads. That would then allow an upgrade to the D4 generator for studio use, still taking the Pro 7 heads and being able to add Acute/D4 heads to it. Does that make sense?

    LJ
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Thanks, David. Now, as Guy once quipped, I need to find my ski mask and head down to the bank to make a quick 'withdrawal" ;-) (Just kidding, but the Profoto prices are a bit daunting at this level for all the cool parts.)

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    David,
    Thanks for the clarifications. I was thinking about the Pro 7 heads, which are fan cooled and can be used on both the D4 and Pro 7B2 generators. At least I think that they are compatible that way. Honestly, Profoto really does not make that part terribly clear, but it seems like the Pro 7B2 pack (their newest version) is a bit faster, and it lists being able to use the Pro 7 heads, in addition to the Pro 7b heads (I think). The Pro 7 heads are also listed a being compatible with the D4 generator.

    The Acute heads are a different story.

    So, I think we are in agreement. My thoughts are shifting to the Pro 7B2 pack for both portable and studio use, using Pro 7 heads. That would then allow an upgrade to the D4 generator for studio use, still taking the Pro 7 heads and being able to add Acute/D4 heads to it. Does that make sense?

    LJ
    FYI, Acute heads are fan cooled also.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Marc,
    I knew/know that about the Acute heads, but good to mention. My thinking was that the Acute set-ups, though very nice, are not completely portable unless you use a power generator or some other power source (like the DynaLite 1100XP thing I have now). I am looking for something that will be able to do double duty in studio and on location. The Hensel Porty and the new Bron kit are good candidates also. The Profoto offereing is talked about less, and it does cost more, but the newer 7B2 unit looks pretty attractive, and using the Pro heads with it would still work with a D4. The Profoto Acute B thing seems more limited, but it is a nice compact set-up and it does take the other modifiers, so that is good.

    Still not sure what the better arrangement may be. The Pro 7B2 has a lot going for it, but is not cheap. (One could get a couple AcuteB rigs for the price of the 7B2 alone, not counting the Pro heads.) I love the compactness of the Bron and its heads, and the Hensel Porty is much the same. Good to have choices, but hate to get too many things not working with each other too much, like what you discovered with your Elinchroms when you moved to Profoto, and like I am dealing with now with my DynaLites. Just have to think about what may provide the most flexibility and utility, or keep separate sets of stuff just for specific use. Other thoughts and suggestions you may have?

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Marc,
    I knew/know that about the Acute heads, but good to mention. My thinking was that the Acute set-ups, though very nice, are not completely portable unless you use a power generator or some other power source (like the DynaLite 1100XP thing I have now). I am looking for something that will be able to do double duty in studio and on location. The Hensel Porty and the new Bron kit are good candidates also. The Profoto offereing is talked about less, and it does cost more, but the newer 7B2 unit looks pretty attractive, and using the Pro heads with it would still work with a D4. The Profoto Acute B thing seems more limited, but it is a nice compact set-up and it does take the other modifiers, so that is good.

    Still not sure what the better arrangement may be. The Pro 7B2 has a lot going for it, but is not cheap. (One could get a couple AcuteB rigs for the price of the 7B2 alone, not counting the Pro heads.) I love the compactness of the Bron and its heads, and the Hensel Porty is much the same. Good to have choices, but hate to get too many things not working with each other too much, like what you discovered with your Elinchroms when you moved to Profoto, and like I am dealing with now with my DynaLites. Just have to think about what may provide the most flexibility and utility, or keep separate sets of stuff just for specific use. Other thoughts and suggestions you may have?

    LJ
    FYI, the Hensel Porty is larger and heavier than the Bron A2R ... but as my photo above shows, it's battle ready : -)

    Unless you're on a budget, I'd skip the Acutes. Very nice boxes and pretty durable, but they're 3 head generators where the D4s are 4 head and offer tighter digital control over the light out-put.

    I'd also look closely at flash duration times. When you invest this much into lighting you have to consider all the possible uses ... so the quick recycle and short duration of the Pro7s can become quite valuable IF you do that sort of work frequently. I don't, so I rent when I need it. The D4s do it for me for 99% of the work I do.

    I like the Pro 7B2 also, but would much rather use D4s in the studio or on location where there is power available. I use the 4 head outlet a lot, especially with the dual bulb D4 head with it's 2 cord plug-in. If the ProB2 is your only box, 2 heads may not cut it for you.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Thanks, Marc. You brought something back into play that I was overlooking....number of heads that you need to power. My DynaLites are 4-head packs and I have two packs, so I sort of forget about what would happen if I shifted to something like the ones being discussed, except the D4. I generally shoot with at least three heads for a lot of stuff, but have two packs or could drive everything from one, but at lower output if needed. Good point to consider.

    Goes back to thinking that a couple Bron A2R or Hensel Porty rigs would be needed to cover three heads, verus maybe on D4 and some extension cords or using one of my Honda gererators ;-) Thanks for jogging the thinking again.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by LJL View Post
    Thanks, Marc. You brought something back into play that I was overlooking....number of heads that you need to power. My DynaLites are 4-head packs and I have two packs, so I sort of forget about what would happen if I shifted to something like the ones being discussed, except the D4. I generally shoot with at least three heads for a lot of stuff, but have two packs or could drive everything from one, but at lower output if needed. Good point to consider.

    Goes back to thinking that a couple Bron A2R or Hensel Porty rigs would be needed to cover three heads, verus maybe on D4 and some extension cords or using one of my Honda gererators ;-) Thanks for jogging the thinking again.

    LJ
    I think what you have to evaluate is really how often you are without a power source for strobe work.

    I use a D4 and the head extension cords for light placement all the time.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Most of my work is studio based, where I use Broncolor based on the accuracy of the color and the very excellent line up of light modifiers. I have two each TOPAS A4 and A2 one with RFS. The most recent novelty that I have bought is the Lastolite background light. This is a pop up box that is somewhat like a mattress which is lit by firing one or two bare flash tubes into the edges of the background through zippered ports provided for that purpose.

    Jerry Reed

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerryreed View Post
    Most of my work is studio based, where I use Broncolor based on the accuracy of the color and the very excellent line up of light modifiers. I have two each TOPAS A4 and A2 one with RFS. The most recent novelty that I have bought is the Lastolite background light. This is a pop up box that is somewhat like a mattress which is lit by firing one or two bare flash tubes into the edges of the background through zippered ports provided for that purpose.

    Jerry Reed
    Can you post a shot of the Lasolite unit or provide a link Jerry? Sounds interesting.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Can you post a shot of the Lasolite unit or provide a link Jerry? Sounds interesting.
    Marc,
    Not to jump in, but I ran across this Lastolite thing that Jerry mentions also. Here is a link to their site with some shots:

    http://www.lastolite.com/hilite-backgrounds.php

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    It is an interesting device. The idea of also being able to use it as a large softbox is interesting. This could provide the kind of coverage that one needs from something like the more expensive octodome things. Just looks a bit harder to manage for that kind of use due to its size and construction, but for the price and versatility, it is interesting.

    The video clips on the Lastolite site are decent to get an idea of its deployment, use, and what things look like in shots.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Anyone else using Alien Bee's or are they too mundane for you lot?

    I'm a wedding shooter, I have 3 AB800's. Not the most powerful but with a translucent brolly (shot into not through) I still get f5.6 @ iso 100 for large groups indoors and that's plenty. I use two as main/fill and the thrid for background or accent. For modifiers I use two 40" translucent brollies from Calumet. In a room with a white ceiling half gets bounced from the brolly and the other half shoots through, spreads and bounces of the ceiling for an incredibly soft and even effect, far softer than regular silver or black backed brollies which I hate, far too harsh for me. I also have two of the Lastolite umbrella soft boxes (36" I think), basically an small octobox which folds and stores as a brolly. Great for when I need more directional light, lighting the background or accent. Also great for product shots though I don't do much of that anymore.

    Reason I like the AB's are that they are truly tiny, I carry two in a tiny backpack, they are very efficient with fast recycle and loads of features and although at the very much lower end of the power they aren't as consistent as our studio bretheren may like, on location and with digital (not trannies) a difference of a 1/3 of a stop isn't enough to worry about, certainly at that price!

    I usually shoot with a simple 1:2 ratio for indoor wedding portraits or switch off the fill entirely for effect. Nothing too complicated and turn the subject towards or against the main depending on whether you want broad or short lighting. I don't go for more complicated than that simply because with wedding photography you need to work very very fast with a fool proof (the fool being the assistant) setup that you can repeat again and again without having to test the setup. Nothing is more unprofessional at a wedding than taking a long time setting up and then doing test shots with the bride as subject!

    In the reception hall I use both my AB's and Wireless ETTL (always in C mode) in conjunction with on camera bounce. It provides lighting where I want it to truly replicate as far as possible the natural lighting, i.e. to achieve with flash a look that is similar to what the eye saw. To that extent I use the lights bounced to bring the ambient light level to the level of the lighting on the subject (if that is what it looked like, candlelit is very different). You can of course do this by using the flash only as fill and exposing for the ambient but most of the time I need more DOF and a higher shutter speed so I try to achieve the same effect, or close by using judiciously placed strobes bounced. I hate false sidelighting or backlighting from direct off camera flashes during a reception which although so beloved of most people shooting in my small sector of the market, I prefer it to look like it did on the night unless using the natural light for a specific effect. It's one thing to have sidelighting on the brides face as she looks at the groom lovingly during his speech (shoot without flash using the videographers hotlight!), it's another to have weird sidelighting in a impromptu friends shot during the meal!

    I've never used anything other than on camera fill outdoors and then rarely for effect, more just for even lighting or because I want the subject backlit or sidelit. I would love to use off camera wireless flash diffused and held high but I'm yet to find an assistant good enough for this to work seamlessly on location in limited time.

    If I had the time I would love to take 6 months working for an excellent fashion/people photographer in studio and on location to learn how to achieve truly great lighting to achieve a specific effect, but with the minimal amount of faffing around. I have a huge amount of respect for the talent that uses just one light and a reflector plus possibly an accent light to achieve real greatness. I understand light, I can use light, but what I want to learn is how to choose a specific look and then use the lighting, whether natural or manmade, to achieve the effect. I have a small understanding for it, I use a lot of natural sidelighting and backlighting in portraiture and 15% of any wedding album is shot without any flash at all using the direction of the light to tell the story, but there is an entire world out there that I would love to learn till the point it became subconscious and I truly believe that only working day in day out with someone whose grasp of lighting you admire can to do it properly just as when I apprenticed before I became a wedding photographer.
    Last edited by Ben Rubinstein; 31st July 2008 at 09:01.
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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Have to admit that that Lastolite HiLite thingy does look very good for location photography. I know someone who has one but to date they've been a bit too small for a shooter who needs to be able to provide both 2:3 and 4:5 ratio images, they have one on their website though that is 7X8' and that would be sufficient. I phoned up my supplier to ask why no one seems to have this size, he told me it's brand new and it hasn't hit the stores yet. When it does I might well take a serious look at it.
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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Have to admit that that Lastolite HiLite thingy does look very good for location photography. I know someone who has one but to date they've been a bit too small for a shooter who needs to be able to provide both 2:3 and 4:5 ratio images, they have one on their website though that is 7X8' and that would be sufficient. I phoned up my supplier to ask why no one seems to have this size, he told me it's brand new and it hasn't hit the stores yet. When it does I might well take a serious look at it.
    7X8 could well be a 2 person operation. I can barely handle the 6X7 alone.

    Opening it is no problem if you have enough room ... closing it is a bit more difficult.

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Ben,
    I actually have a similar device, the Photek SoftLighter II or something like that. It too is an umbrella, but it is solid reflector. However, it has a diffuser that goes over the entire opening, and with the flash pointed in, provides a very soft wrapping light also. They are 46" or so, and easy to set-up umbrellas. Little bigger than what you describe, but not quite the size of other larger things. (They have them in 36" and 60" sizes also.) I use them with my DynaLite pack and heads. Easy to set up, good consistent light that I can control, and plenty of power. The cables and stuff are still a pain at times. My biggest worry is folks tripping over them. No matter how careful, taped, marked, etc., somebody always seems to want to cut through the wrong place.

    LJ

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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    LJL, sounds like the Lasotlite brollies http://www.lastolite.com/umbrellabox.php

    Have to admit I do like the idea of getting the 60" and using it as a single light on location for the bridal portraiture, use it behind and slightly off to the side, plenty light to wrap around from that big brolly but enough direction to provide some modelling.

    I'm trying to go as easy and fool proof for my location work as possible, fed up with complicated. I do a lot of winter weddings (more than summer, this is the UK where it always rains!) where I'm expected to shoot bride and groom portraits infront of a backdrop. Not to make everything boring I used to cart loads of backdrops around. Then I started taking one grey backdrop and a packet of gels to colour it with. Too many people didn't like it, and now I've cut down to just one backdrop with a white 'fantasty cloth' drape that is going over very well.

    Please excuse the rather formal style of portraiture, it's what my extremely conservative clients expect:



    Plain backdrop and some plant pots they insisted were included,



    Using coloured Gels on a grey backdrop



    The new simple one colour fits all solution with drape. Boring but works!

    BTW, here's two from the last wedding just to show you that I'm not tied to the above style, it's client dictated!



    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  49. #49
    Super Duper
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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Marc, I always use an assistant, bloodly useless most of the time (what intelligent person has random days free during the week?) but I don't think that would be a problem. Got to be careful opening those things though if you want to keep all your teeth! Almost killed my wife first time I opened my giant reflector in an enclosed space...

    LJL, Gaffer tape! I go through rolls of the stuff trying not to ever have to use my liability insurance! I should really sandbag my light stands as well, one day I'll get round to it...
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

  50. #50
    tetsrfun
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    Re: How many lights does it take to change a photographer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    Marc, I always use an assistant, bloodly useless most of the time (what intelligent person has random days free during the week?) but I don't think that would be a problem. Got to be careful opening those things though if you want to keep all your teeth! Almost killed my wife first time I opened my giant reflector in an enclosed space...

    LJL, Gaffer tape! I go through rolls of the stuff trying not to ever have to use my liability insurance! I should really sandbag my light stands as well, one day I'll get round to it...
    Nice Bentley with the premium package.

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