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Not all light are created equal - time for a light meter?

JackAllTog Plus
8 4.8k 58 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2012 1:38PM
I had my first front room home studio shoot in the new house this Saturday, this room is wider but not as long as the old ones i used.
The hardest part was trying to balance the lights by eye. ( I won't be able to post them for a few days)
I tried my normal setup with 150W units adding some light to the background to reduce shadow - but as these were now further apart the fall off seemed to mean that very little light got where I wanted it. Perhaps they were too close to the background paper to reflect much light forward.
The two main 600W lights - one into a big parabolic reflector initially intended as the main light at half power, the 2nd through an oct box with just one later of diffuser at about 1/3 power. The idea here was that this softer light would fill in the shadows from the other side.

But i could just not seem to balance the lights as too little light seemed to come from the parabolic. Finally i swapped the modifiers round and this seemed better - perhaps one light has a lower light output?
Its not the effect of ambient light as with no flash the shots look almost black.

So why the light meter - well i think it would have given me a much quicker tool to balance the light with the model waiting.
I could have had her hold it and fire each one separately, say get a reading of F11 & F9 and know they were closely balanced- then tweak the final tweaks by looking on camera.
Basically it would be there as a direct quick measuring tool and save me running from camera to light to other light etc.

Meanwhile, now its over, i can set them up side by side and fire each one and compare them in camera against a blank wall to see if one is really stronger than the other.

It might have been a poor trigger not firing the light properly or at all sometimes, but this did not seem to be the case.
Also This room is not yet painted in the Dulux light reflecting paint i'd used in the old house - so I would have had much less light bouncing around compared to what I was used to.
One day I'll have time and build that dedicated room to play in easily - sigh.

The morals of the story - Prepare more, Practice often, use the right tool for the job. Learn from your mistakes.

I think is almost time for that Sekonic Flashmate L-308S - i think they also come in bright colours.

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arhb Plus
10 3.3k 68 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2012 2:09PM
Get the light meter asap Stuart - they make multi light set-up, and further adjustment so much quicker.
I would have thought that you would get a better quality of light using the octobox as key light, and the parabolic as fill.

If I have the time on a shoot, I do like to start with one light, get that right(exposure/angle), shoot some images, then add further lighting units one at a time.
This isn't always possible with time factors, but it does allow you to explore and refine the possibilities with the philosophy, 'less is more' Smile
Also useful if you have a model waiting, as it gives him/her the opportunity to shoot sooner rather than later, during light set up.

Re Dulux(light&space), consider the light quality between a white and a silver reflector, where the silver creates more specular highlites than white(maybe you want this).
Standard white emulsion is perfectly satisfactory, and considerably less expensive.
That said, I am curious as to any findings you made when you previously used 'light'n'space' as a reflective surface, compared to standard white?
JackAllTog Plus
8 4.8k 58 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2012 2:25PM
Many thanks for you detailed reply - make me think about the topic in a more systematic way.

Re: 'light'n'space' - we first used a sandstone colour in a a dull hallway, it brightened it up just as it said it would and had a lovely matt finish.
So then i thought I'd use it in the front room (studio) - i really wanted a high key effect in my photo's so pure white & lots of light was fine. Small room 5M long, 3.2M wide 2.2M high. With the 'light'n'space' on the ceiling, and then the walls i got a white tube with the white paper background. as it was a great matt surface i hardly ever got a reflective hot spot that you might from a vinyl silk paint. (That matt texture does mean that finger/ lighting stand scrape marks on the wall show up an are hard to wipe off).

As pointed out at the time i'f i needed to use snoots etc the white walls all so close to each other would just keep bouncing it around until falloff hid it.

So better that normal Matt paint - Yes for the house,a lovely cosmetic Matt finish and much more light in the room.
And yes for photos if you want effects approaching giant fill in soft boxes as the light bounces back into the scene - better with smaller spaces.

I'll be using it again on all my ceiling's as i get round to it and would use it in any small or photo room, if i want dark then i've black fabric to hang to block it out.

Chrism8 10 863 17 England
3 Dec 2012 2:47PM
Hi Stuart, I use a L308's all the time when setting up, usually a 4 light system with a white b/g, I set the exposure on the model first as desired, usually between F5.6 & F11 depending on DOF required,

for example, set the main light to F8, set the fill to give 1.5 to 2 stops less, then check main again, Then set b/g lights to give 2 stops over to white it out.

When changing to a black b/g, I then just knock out the 2 rear lights and use one as a hair light or similar.


JackAllTog Plus
8 4.8k 58 United Kingdom
3 Dec 2012 3:04PM
Thanks Guys, I've just ordered one - i'm thought about this many times and now see enough of a reason to bite the 308s bullet.
Paul Morgan 16 18.8k 6 England
3 Dec 2012 3:59PM

Quote:Get the light meter asap Stuart - they make multi light set-up, and further adjustment so much quicker

This is something I`ve been saying on here for years, meters are so much better than prating around with guess work and chimping Smile

Any entry level meter will do, I still use an old Polaris meter from the 90`s Smile

ikett 7 545 England
3 Dec 2012 5:20PM
Slightly off topic, over thirty years ago I was sent on a studio lighting course.
A complete nightmare!

Day one was pure maths how to calculate "candle power" at different distances with different sized reflectors. inverse law and so on.

Day two was worse as we now had to spec the lights based on day one maths, for various lighting effects, studio flash was so expensive every thing was hot lamps.

After lunch day two I lost the will to live, apparently the colour temp off hot lamps changes over their life, excercise calculate the colour varience and work out the correct watan filter!

Exit course, job lost pathalogical hatred of hot studio lightsSad

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