The studio Kit
Buy Eugene Struthers
The studio Kit.Studio equipment can sometimes influence the direction and level of photography you would like to achieve. To a new photographer, it can be intimidating and cause frustration. So let's have a look at each piece of equipment individually to make it less complicated and technical.
The Studio Strobes.
There is two main differences between off-camera flashes and studio strobes. These are:-
1) Studio strobes don't use a battery, they are plugged directly into a wall socket.
2) The studio strobes are more powerful and put out more light than the flash mounted on your camera. The Studio strobe is mounted on a portable stand which can be altered for height and direction.
How do we soften harsh studio strobes.
The light that comes from a strobe can sometimes be very harsh. To diffuse this harsh light and make it softer, the photographer has to make the light that is generated off the strobe larger. The main rule is:- The larger the light source, the softer the light. So we need to put something between the strobe and the model to spread the light outwards whilst softening its touch. To achieve this we use a softbox. Named as they are a replica of a box which has a light source within. They are the choice of professional photographers as they deliver excellent results. The softbox fits over a strobe as they are manufactured with a hole at one end and your flash fires through the white diffusion material at the other larger end. The softbox spreads the light, so when it hits your model, it is a larger source of light and this gives off a more flattering softer light appearance. It is great for product photography, to achieve natural applied shadows. It is advisable to also purchase a speed ring as it is necessary for connecting your softbox to your strobe.
This is the most economical way to spread light. An umbrella is inexpensive at about Â£15 at a base rate. The photographer will not point the umbrella between the strobe and the model. The umbrella is turned so that it is aimed at a 180 Degree angle away from the model in the opposite direction. The umbrella is placed in front of the strobe, so that the strobe fires light into the curved underside of the umbrella. As the light hits the umbrella it spreads out and bounces back in the opposite direction, back towards your model. The light which is spread out from the umbrella is much more softer. The only downfall of the umbrella and any professional will advise you. Is a photographer has less control over what happens once the light has bounced off the umbrella. It leaves the light open to the probability that if you fire it in a particular direction, it will probably light the model. The light from within a softbox is more contained and directional.
How do we use a model light.
Once you step into a studio, you will notice that they are generally very dark. This is done to cool the studio equipment down, but also because if we have all the lights on â€œBlazingâ€ at different strengths at your model. This will have an influence on your exposure. So we only want the studio strobes lighting your model. But this can also create a problem. So basically we don't want to have too much light, just enough so that the auto-focus on your camera has sufficient light to lock its focus onto. This is why most studio strobes come with a builtin modelling light, which is fairly dim. This is a continuous light that stays on between flashes to let your camera's auto focus do its own set requirements to operate efficiently. It also has the added advantage of giving the photographer an idea where the shadows are going to fall in and around the model. It gives an indication and an area to work with. Rather than working off nothing, making false estimations. In most professional studios the photographer will leave the model light on all the time. A simple procedure to save time.
Using a continuous light.
When you use these type of lights. You will notice that there is no flash of light. The light source is continuously on. This makes lighting a model very easy as they are fairly straight forward. What you see is what you get. Try to purchase one which uses daylight-balanced fluorescent light as they produce less heat and your studio and model will remain cool. These lights are much more softer than studio strobes, they have a speed ring built right into the light unit itself. It has only one downside. As there is no flash to freeze your model's slight movements. You need to be fairly consistent and as long as your model doesn't make any sudden movements you should be fine.
Adding a second light source.
If you need to add a second light source. I would recommend a hair light. A hair light is just a strobe, which is directly above the model on a boom stand. The light is directed towards the top of the model, her hair. It will give your images a professional look. Once again you want to purchase a softbox to give your light direction. You will need to set up your flash unit to be about one stop brighter than your light out in front of your model so that there is no competition for power. The hair light should be positioned a little bit back so that the light does not spill onto the models face. You want to achieve a silhouette of your model with no light on the face.
The main light.
Where do we position the main light? Oh no, not that question again. The answer is, there is no correct position. It is more an individual specification as to how you would like your shadows to appear with your model. Most professionals will tell you to use the tested method for shooting portraits. The loop lighting pattern which you will see most amateur and professional using. To achieve a loop lighting pattern, you will need to place your strobe â€œSoftboxâ€ either to your left or right at an angle of about 45 degrees next to you. At about three feet higher than your lens height. The light should be shining down onto your model at about eye level. It should be very close to the model, so that the light wraps itself around your model, giving her a light hug. This is the basic concept and method most us in the industry use. Once you master these, you will then want to experiment with various lighting styles either in a studio or outdoors. If you have difficulties, use your light meter as a guide- this is actually a strict requirement. Why waste time. Use a light meter. As it will assist you when you want to try a technique called"feathering". This is a basic technique for when you turn the light source away from your model so that the model is only lit by the edges of the light. This technique is great for portraits. Artistic image manipulation - done the old school method.
What do you mean by shooting tethered? This is a term which means that you have attached a USB cable to your camera. But instead of the images going directly into camera's memory , they are instead by passing the camera and going straight in to your computer / laptop. This makes it easier for you to see each as a real time large size image. At a large size, the photographer is able to verify what is going on in the photo. Determine if there is too much noise. He is able to determine if the lighting is correct, and is able to make quick and easy adjustments to alter and correct the mistakes. There may be things in the image that you have over looked whilst trying to capture that all important crystal clear image. Most new SLR
camera's come with a CD manual and an
extra disc with photography software for image transfer. The tethered software is usually called an EOS Viewer or EOS utility. It allows you to capture an image directly onto your computer. If you don't have the software. I would recommend downloading it off your camera's website. They are usually free or on a 30-day trial. Once you go tethered, you won't go back. If you don't want to cart around a laptop, I would suggest getting hold of a user-friendly Netbook.
This is one of the most inexpensive purchases you will make as a photographer. They provide a challenge for new photographers as they can sometimes cloud the focus you are trying to achieve when you take portraits in a studio. A background may conflict with the personality of your model, so it is basically best to remain neutral. As you want the personality of your model to shine through into each image you capture. The end result is the model, the background is inconsequential to your main aim. That's why so many professional portrait photographers shoot images of their models with plain backgrounds. It is less of a distraction. They retail at about £125, for a simple 2m x 3m white muslin backdrop with support stand system. The studio background is a seamless background of paper or muslin. They both come in long rolls at approximately Ât £16 each. A lot of new photographers either experiment until they establish a balance in contrast between the model's skin tone and the background or they use various lighting techniques to enhance the colour of the background. To establish a dramatic appearance in your portraits. I would recommend using a black background and a white back ground for every thing else.
Depending on where you position your lighting. However; you may encounter problems when you try to capture the outline of a model with black hair if you use a black background. A white background may appear as a grey background. Which is a very neutral colour and gives definition between various skin tones of your models. To achieve a clean clinical white background, introduce two or three lights behind your model. If you need to add texture to your background you may want to purchase a canvas or muslin background. These types of backgrounds convey a hidden quality and are mostly used for formal business or engagement photographs. However, if you are a free-minded hippie like most of us here at Glamour-photography you will probably make your own background. Going against convention and the expected normality i.e using a white fabric sheet colour dyed with various retro colours using Rit Powder - Fabric Dye.