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What equipment do i need to start out taking portrait shots.


Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
1 Feb 2014 2:25AM
I meter is not essential but it is a great teaching aid and saves one heck of a lot of buggering about and farting around shifting lights, fiddling with flash settings and chimping.

And if your using more than one light source a meter really starts to pay for itself.


Quote:And if you don't use a flash, you don't need a flash meter!


There is still the ambient light and incident readings are far better than reflective readings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lJzGrzVW4s

A second hand meter need not cost any more than fifty or sixty quid, a basic flash another 30 or 40, maybe less.

Lighting modifiers, just pennies if you make your own.

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lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
1 Feb 2014 12:11PM

Quote: but IMHO it is better to be able to understand lighting ratios whatever the circumstances, than to just be able to master selecting ttl and hoping for the best.


I couldn't agree more. It is so easy to bang on about flashes and equipment but once you understand lighting and can visualize how you want a picture to look, the posing, the personality, you are on the way to mastering portraiture.

The technical side of it is much more easily learned, luckily.
thewilliam 6 4.7k
1 Feb 2014 2:05PM
Some folk can "see" lighting but others can't. It's still possible for both groups to create good photography but some have to work at it.

She-who-must-be-obeyed is one who just sees light, so when she started shooting professionally about a decade ago, her work was good from the start. When she retired from weddings and started to use the studio, the conversion was painless because our lights are truly WYSIWYG and she always drew the curtains when shooting her "bump" clients.

We'd both find it tricky to work on location with an assortment of flashguns if they were all of different power. There's a lot to be be said for getting "a set" of lights!
Sooty_1 4 1.2k 202 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 10:44AM
And if your using more than one light source a meter really starts to pay for itself.
There is still the ambient light and incident readings are far better than reflective readings.


A hand held meter is very useful, but perhaps this would be a good moment to define the differences between flash metering and ambient metering.

If using flash, a normal hand held meter will not do. The duration of the light is so short that it will not give an accurate reading, so a dedicated flash meter is needed. If using continuous light, an ambient meter is needed, whether you do reflective or incident readings (incident is more accurate). Each can be bought for only a few pounds (you really do only need a basic model), but if only testing the water, how much do you want to spend?


Quote:A second hand meter need not cost any more than fifty or sixty quid, a basic flash another 30 or 40, maybe less.


To start out doing even head and shoulder portraits using flash, you will need:
A flash
A stand to attach it to
Light modifiers....eg softbox, brolly (reflective or shoot through), snoot, barn doors etc
A way of triggering the flash (pc lead, slave cell, ir trigger, radio trigger etc)
Reflectors
Backdrops
A meter
Your camera

Some of this list you may have, some you can improvise, some you can do without, but if you were to buy what some recommend, you will easily spend into the hundreds of pounds.

Also, it doesn't have to be a case of "seeing the light", more a case of "knowing the light". You can establish several set ups by experimentation and making notes, if you can't visualise how it will look. There are some very famous photographers who made a name just shooting a couple of set ups, but it's capturing the character of the sitter that is more important. Keep the lighting simple and spend the time interacting with the sitter; it is far more important and productive than minor tweaks to the set up.

Nick
lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 11:27AM

Quote:And if your using more than one light source a meter really starts to pay for itself


Light meters were great in film days but the ability to make immediate test shots and view them on a tablet makes them an unnecessary encumbrance on digital in my opinion.

No-one was a greater advocate of the Minolta meter for studio use than me back then but now, I don't see the need.
keithh e2
10 23.2k 33 Wallis And Futuna
2 Feb 2014 12:15PM
People who learn by fiddling, generally never come to fully understand what they are doing. A flash meter will help you grasp what is happening and what needs to happen.

Digital is no different to when we shot a few Polaroids for previewing. I could have worked without a meter even then....but I didn't. I do now, but I can set things up blindfolded these days because of what I learnt with a meter.
lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 1:42PM

Quote:People who learn by fiddling, generally never come to fully understand what they are doing


I don't regard making test shots and adjusting lighting exactly to requirements as 'fiddling'. There is more to be learned by actually changing things and seeing the effect than taking a meter reading and simply using it.

I learned my studio technique by wandering around Holborn Studios and seeing how David Bailey, Terence Donovan and others had lit their jobs before their set was struck down. After noting the positions and nature of their lighting I started setting up my copies of their set up by trial and error. It was the trial and error, your 'fiddling' which gave me the knowledge I needed to develop my own style.

I learned a great deal by what you might call 'fiddling' and I consider that I understand what I am doing perfectly well. I'm not saying that a meter should not be used, merely that it is of limited value and largely unnecessary.
keithh e2
10 23.2k 33 Wallis And Futuna
2 Feb 2014 2:38PM
I would disagree. Wink
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
2 Feb 2014 3:17PM
I would disagree as well Smile

A meter even today is still a great bit of kit, its speeds the process up and it teaches you at the same time.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
2 Feb 2014 3:28PM

Quote:If using flash, a normal hand held meter will not do. The duration of the light is so short that it will not give an accurate reading, so a dedicated flash meter is needed. If using continuous light, an ambient meter is needed, whether you do reflective or incident readings (incident is more accurate). Each can be bought for only a few pounds (you really do only need a basic model), but if only testing the water, how much do you want to spend?


No a bog basic hand held meter is all you need, they meter both flash and ambient.

If you get just a flash meter you will have no way of measuring the ambient and balancing the flash.

Either of these will do

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aspen-9500-Polaris-Digital-Meter/dp/B000J4DLTO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391354947&sr=8-1&keywords=polaris+flash+meter

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sekonic-Flashmate-L-308S-Digital-Light/dp/B000BTCJNG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_ph_1
lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 3:31PM

Quote:I would disagree.


No, you can't do that. You have to admit that I am totally right, otherwise my self-esteem is damaged and I would be justified in going berserk with a chain saw in my local Tesco and it would be all your fault. Grin
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
2 Feb 2014 3:41PM
If you have a dry enough day, get out doors with just a camera and lens.






And when your ready, take it to the next level




Sooty_1 4 1.2k 202 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 5:28PM

Quote:No a bog basic hand held meter is all you need, they meter both flash and ambient.


No they don't. Flash meters often measure ambient and flash, but ordinary (ambient) meters cannot usually measure flash. To get both in a single meter means spending more money.

And, tbh, I wouldn't complicate matters at first by trying to mix flash and ambient. If you want to do basic portraiture, I'd suggest sticking to either outdoor or indoor without flash, continuous light indoor, or flash indoor, but only use one type of light source.


Both meters suggested above are well over 100.

Something like this is just as suitable (and this is the first I looked at, not even been to eBay yet!)...
http://www.ffordes.com/product/13081613123381
lemmy 7 2.0k United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 5:42PM

Quote:continuous light indoor, or flash indoor, but only use one type of light source.


Or window light, especially from the north - the most beautiful light of all. This was my son sitting near a north facing window in the south of France - I've been trying to reliably reproduce the warmth and sensual glow of this light in the studio ever since, occasionally approached it but never fully reproduced it.

jonathan.jpg

Sooty_1 4 1.2k 202 United Kingdom
2 Feb 2014 5:53PM
Can I just say, Lemmy, you son had a splendid haircut. How does he feel about this picture now? Wink

I agree north window light is great - it's free, it doesn't change very quickly and it's repeatable, metering is simple, you can modify it with reflectors and it's free (did I say that twice?). Tongue

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