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Where to start? (lighting)

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17 Feb 2009 - 9:48 PM

I am just starting up photography and I have lots of thing i'm interested in shooting.

I however..would love to shoot some portraits and still lifes,but I know nothing about what kinda kit I would need to achieve quality (i'm talking about lighting here)

So can anyone inform me in what I need? I have a D90.Stuff I've shot is in my portfolio if you want to take a look.

I would however,like some qaulity products to have more control (student budget)

Last Modified By Nubian_Greene at 17 Feb 2009 - 9:49 PM
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17 Feb 2009 - 9:48 PM

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sgamble  639 forum posts England4 Constructive Critique Points
17 Feb 2009 - 10:06 PM

Lighting on a budget you say? Have you read the strobist blog? Specifically the lighting 101 section: lighting 101. There is a ton of information on here but it is mostly hidden in the text (knowledge hidden in words - what ever next?!) so it is often hard extract the details if you only have time to scan read it. This blog champions the use of cheap kit controlled manually so should be right up your street.

andytvcams  1210396 forum posts United Kingdom
17 Feb 2009 - 10:12 PM

Quote: I would however,like some qaulity products to have more control (student budget)

What is a student budget ?.

croberts  102160 forum posts Ireland8 Constructive Critique Points
17 Feb 2009 - 10:16 PM

Quote: I would however,like some qaulity products to have more control (student budget)

maybe hang a white sheet over a window, and sit your subject beside it?.

make a reflector out of some tinfoil/white card/black card etc

try using a long exposure and "paint" the light on with a torch

etc etc

Id not worry about buying anything. You'll learn waay more, by working with what youve got, and finding a creative way past any problems you encounter. Smile

17 Feb 2009 - 11:36 PM

thanks for the reply,perhaps I am jumping ahead a bit.....thanks for the links and words.

Hamer  643 forum posts United Kingdom
17 Feb 2009 - 11:45 PM

I've just started out in the world of portrait photography and the first thing I bought was a reflector. Cost me about 8 from Ebay and just using that to bounce window light onto a subject taught me more than any books or internet sites ever have done about lighting.

So for 8 (the price of a few pints) grab one and start to play.

miked70  5225 forum posts South Africa3 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 7:52 AM

at the price buy a few sb800 and/or sb600 flash units and use the creative lighting function on the d90. i would use one sb800 master and maybe two sb600.cheaper and easer to move than studio lights.
look at what some pro,s have done with the sb800,s

Koert  636 forum posts Netherlands
18 Feb 2009 - 10:27 AM

I'm not sure "a few" sb800's would fit in a student budget..........

18 Feb 2009 - 11:04 AM

Quote: I'm not sure "a few" sb800's would fit in a student budget..........

was definatly thinking the same thing....oh and my budget for everything is 200-400

18 Feb 2009 - 11:09 AM

If you're just getting started with lighting, then you can either go down the "free" route - natural light, homemade reflectors, etc, etc, or you can also achieve very good results with just a single lightsource.

Having a read of the strobist blog will definitely be a good starting point - it will give the idea of what can be achieved and what is required.

Overread  63806 forum posts England18 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 11:12 AM

maybe get yourself one good SB800 or SB600 (I am a canon shooter so I don't know what you get for the extra money in the SB800)
a good flash can really make a lot of difference to what you can do with it and its a good investment in building a photography kit. I am tempted to say go for the 800 model - then if you want to expand later the 600s area cheaper addition and should work well as secondary flashes to an 800.

After that a lot of the other additional kit can be bought over time at smaller costs (things like reflecters (which I note you have one of) flash diffusters (though a stofen omnibouce might be a good cheap option for now) and other bits)

edit - amazon appears to list an SB 900 for just cheaper than the 800s (?). Still wait for a nikon shooter to appear as I really don't know their flash range

Last Modified By Overread at 18 Feb 2009 - 11:14 AM
Koert  636 forum posts Netherlands
18 Feb 2009 - 12:53 PM

I would say, get one good flash a sb 800 or 900 (to allow you to take advantage of their commander function later!) if budget allows and make the rest yourself.
have a look at www.diyphotography.net for inspiration/advice.
I've just started to make a diy super cheap light from a halogen flood light, sees to be working okay (picture taken with it shoul appear in my pf later today Wink )


sgamble  639 forum posts England4 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 12:55 PM

Thinking about it I am with croberts. Start dead simple and dont spend any or much cash as once you start playing around with stuff you start to know what you want to add next. At the start knowledge is more valuable than equipment. A possible route to mastering light could be something like this:

- natural light (free - just use a window, a crack under a door anything!)
- modified natural light (modified with reflectors, diffusers or anything else that takes your fancy)
- continuous artificial light (from lamps still using modifiers like reflectors - don't forget about white balance here as you will probably be using tungsten blubs)
- strobe lighting (either studio or mobile using speedlights)
- modified strobe lighting (softboxes, snoots, grids all that stuff)

Each topic builds on the next as you often use strobes with natural light for example so ideally you would understand natural light before working with strobes. It is just that add one thing at a time approach.

If you really start getting interested you might want to look at how films are lit - once you know a bit you will never look at a film in the same way again.

There is a good technical book on lighting that you might want to read after you have started experimenting a bit: Light: Science and Magic.

Anyone got anything else to add or take away?

Last Modified By sgamble at 18 Feb 2009 - 12:59 PM
18 Feb 2009 - 1:30 PM

thanks sgamble,I think i'm at the continuous artificial light stage now...but I would like to move on to strobing in the next couple of months.

I've got the light science and magic book to continue with.
Such a helpful forum,thankyou all for your input..

miptog  93532 forum posts United Kingdom61 Constructive Critique Points
18 Feb 2009 - 1:42 PM

If you have a speedlight, I would get a lightstand, umbrella, and umbrella bracket and experiment with just one light. Alternatively purchase one of the basic studio lighting kits (200 - 400). Whilst it is all about learning how to control light, the technique using speedlights and studio strobes are different, so decide which is better for you.

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