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Author Topic: Flood Lights  (Read 5210 times)
Robert Spoecker
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« on: October 05, 2005, 12:39:01 AM »
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I am thinking about doing a little portrait photography with my 10D and get two relatively cheap (compared to strobes) photo floods with stands. I heard that the bulbs cost about $7.00 US and last about two hours. These are of course high wattage bulbs that are color balanced. Is the socket the same as for a standard lamp bulb? If it is why not just use hundred watt light bulbs. The camera will adjust the white balancde anyway or I could use a White Balance Card. to use in the raw work flow. I could of course use the photo flood bulbs when the situation warrants it.

Robert
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2005, 08:11:10 AM »
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Please read this thread...
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Robert Spoecker
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2005, 08:41:40 AM »
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OK thanks Jonathan,

The last time I read the thread you referred me to it was still all about strobes. I guess I will have to rethink the whole issue (translates to forget about it) as the strobe route is a little too rich for my blood.  :p
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Bobtrips
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2005, 10:01:30 AM »
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No reason why you can't do portrait work with inexpensive hardware store clip on reflectors and regular light bulbs.  Strobes are nice, especially as they aren't throwing off a lot of heat (and wasting power) in between shots.  

But a budget is a budget.

Think about making some inexpensive reflectors with cardboard and aluminum foil, some inexpensive light stands from PVC pipe or 1x2 wood.

A white card would most likely be money well spent.

Try this page and check the two embedded links.

You might also try a search using 'inexpensive studio lights'.  Also try using 'cheap', 'portrait', etc.
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Hank
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2005, 10:18:25 AM »
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You can also do some dandy portrait work with no lights.  You just need a sunny day and a big window.  Draping a white sheet across the window turns it into a huge soft box and close or open dark curtains to affect area of coverage.  White cardboard, aluminum foil or butcher paper on scrap plywood make great reflectors.  

Lots of room for creativity and not a nickel out of your pocket.  Experiments with the materials at hand will teach you a whole lot about portrait lighting, allowing you to be very selective if you decide to spend money on additional gear.  In my experience, first-time models are also a lot more comfortable without all that lighting gear, too.

Most important of all, the quality of light you get when doing all this is often quite distinct from studio lighting, giving a more "natural" feel to your shots.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2005, 10:21:44 AM »
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An Alien Bee AB800 is ~$300, and a stand and basic white or silver umbrella will run you another $50-100, depending on build quality. For about the price of a 580EX, you can have a nice 1-light portrait setup that will do excellent low-key work.
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John Camp
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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2005, 10:43:46 AM »
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Maybe Jonathan could enlarge a little on the incorrectness of what I'm about to say, if it's incorrect...if Robert's going to do "a little" portrait photography, and not get involved in terribly long sessions, why couldn't he use a couple of work lights from Home Depot and do a manual white balance every few frames for color correctness? I mean, people work reasonably comfortably in their garages with work lights, and I know work lights get hot if they're on for a long time, but if you set up and maybe even rig some modelling lights with cheap clamp-on standard bulbs (so you can see your shadows and so on) and then turn on the bright lights when you're ready, do the white balance, then shoot...and if the whole thing is done in fifteen minutes, it shouldn't be too bad. A couple of pretty powerful work lights can be had for seventy-five bucks or less, complete with stands, and you could get a could get a couple of small clamp on lights for less than 20 bucks to use with 60w bulbs as modelling lights...I don't see why it wouldn't work, and it'd cost you less than $100. It'd be a problem wiith film, no doubt, because of white balancing problems...Another question: can Canon cameras like Robert's use older Nikon flashes?

JC
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Hank
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2005, 11:08:26 AM »
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I won't try to answer for Jonathan, rather I'll relate my own experiences.  

You're right about adjusting color balance.  But clamp lights are a royal PITA when moving them around to adjust not only incident angle, but also intensity.  It seems like they always need to be somewhere with nothing to clamp them to.  Right away you get into the game of manufacturing your own light stands.  They are very much a last resort for me, with window light being a lot easier to use and giving much more pleasing results.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2005, 03:57:44 PM »
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Quote
...if Robert's going to do "a little" portrait photography, and not get involved in terribly long sessions, why couldn't he use a couple of work lights from Home Depot and do a manual white balance every few frames for color correctness? I mean, people work reasonably comfortably in their garages with work lights,
There's three main issues:

1. Intensity control. Unless you rig up a high-wattage dimmer circuit (which costs $$$) your only control over a work light is to adjust distance between it and the subject. That may be difficult/impossible unless one has a lot of space.

2. Modifiers. Attaching gels, grids, softboxes, etc to work lights is difficult to do without overheating the fixture and risking a fire hazard, and you have to design all of your own attachment hardware, which takes time and $ to build. Shooting with a bare bulb tends to result in harsh, unflattering light not well-suited for portraits.

3. Heat. In a portrait lighting situation, your subject's going to be a lot closer to the business end of the lights than in a typical work situation, and your he/she will get hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable rather quickly. This will cause unattractive shiny spots on the skin, and will ruin makeup, both of which are bad ju-ju for attractive portraits.

The bottom line is that you can do whatever you want; this is a free country. But by the time you factor in all of the disadvantages and mounting hardware and extra labor involved in getting good portraits from work lights, you're not really saving much over strobes unless your time is worth zero.
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Art Gentile
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2005, 07:21:31 PM »
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I regularly use Alien Bees with umbrellas or light boxes for portraits. But if you want quick and clean use a 4X8 sheet of Foamcore cut down to 4X6 with a score down the middle so it will stand by itself. Bounce any shoe mount automatic flash, I prefer the old Vivitar 283, into the reflector as you turn your camera vertical for a portrait. The remaining 2X4 piece of Foamcore mounted on a light stand opposite the large reflector will kick in just the right amount of light for a fill. You can also bounce a halogen work light into the big relector. The light will mimic window light and it doesnt get any better than that. At least with digital you can see what you're getting as you shoot. Good luck.
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Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2005, 08:13:02 PM »
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There is really no problem using tungsten lamps - known as hot lights. They were used for a very long time before strobes became the norm. It does not need to be expensive, but you just need to work around the limitations. Whether photofloods are the best is another question. They can be very strong and harsh. You may find regular bulbs easier to control. They fact they are not daylight balance is not a problem unless you also have a significant amount of daylight coming in. Your white balance can handle one lighting source better than two or more. You can alway convert to black and white in a pinch.

It is simple to gel you flash to tungsten if you want to use it as fill. I usually try to get a free Rosco gel sampler from B&H when I order, but you may be able to get one from the company. The sampler has lots of great color balance filters that can fit small strobes - they are not optical filters so do not work well on lenses.

100 watt light bulbs can be tricky depending on the area you are illuminating. Too far away and your exposure time increases - fast lenses can help here. Too close and it is hard to get an evenly illuminated subject. Multiple lights can help - say three 100 watt bulbs for the main light and one or two for fill. It is certainly worth trying. You can practice on yourself to see what you can get and what you need to do.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
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Jonathan Ratzlaff
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2005, 11:08:24 PM »
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At our seminar in October Booth Photographic was displaying a photo flood lamp with three 22 W colour balanced fluorescent lamps.  This will defiinately solve the heat problem as well as providing a balanced light source.  they also had a metal halide lamp as well.
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2005, 12:59:15 PM »
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I believe the original post stated budgetary constraints.  So, taking the roll of the Devil's Advocate (somebody's gotta do it)  here goes:


Quote
There's three main issues:

 1. Intensity control. Unless you rig up a high-wattage dimmer circuit (which costs $$$) your only control over a work light is to adjust distance between it and the subject. That may be difficult/impossible unless one has a lot of space.

Peter: A 300W Home Depot worklight is adequately dimmed by a $6 Home Depot Dimmer. Actually, you could dim several of them from the same dimmer, should you want to.


2. Modifiers. Attaching gels, grids, softboxes, etc to work lights is difficult to do without overheating the fixture and risking a fire hazard, and you have to design all of your own attachment hardware, which takes time and $ to build.

Peter: Abslolutely true.  However, with resourcefulness and patience, scrims and flags can be implemented at essentially zero cost.  Bouncing, perhaps the simplest and easiest way of generating soft light is about as simple as it gets.  Use a wall.

JW: Shooting with a bare bulb tends to result in harsh, unflattering light not well-suited for portraits.

Peter: Maybe.  Depends on the lighting style you're after.  Bare bulb shooting (point source) also leds itself to creative shadow generation, something that's much more difficult to make and is much more uncontrollable with soft light.  Study the work of BW cinematographers from the 30's and 40's for examples of hard light (point source) creativity.  It's not soft, but it looks great.


JW: 3. Heat. In a portrait lighting situation, your subject's going to be a lot closer to the business end of the lights than in a typical work situation, and your he/she will get hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable rather quickly.

Peter: Also true.  Maybe.  Depends on how big the room is, how many watts the lights are and how much they're dimmed.


The bottom line is that you can do whatever you want; this is a free country. But by the time you factor in all of the disadvantages and mounting hardware and extra labor involved in getting good portraits from work lights, you're not really saving much over strobes unless your time is worth zero.
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 * Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds on perfect tools.

 * Time experimenting with unconventional solutions can result in huge leaps of learning, especially with regard to lighting.

* Safety is paramount, of course.  Nothing you do should endanger anyone or anything.  Common sense applies here.

I'm currently fooling around with lighting things with a single point source white LED that probably disappates about 1 microwatt.  I'm learning lots and having fun, but I'm not trying to sell these images, nor am I keeping track of the time spent having fun.  

Peter
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2005, 01:04:14 PM »
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And yes, many photofloods and household bulbs are the same screw-in socket.  "Edison" base, I believe.

You can get photofloods in larger ("Mogul") base, but they're hundreds of watts.  Who needs it?

Photofloods last a short time because they're over-driven to boost their colour temperature from "normal household" (2700K or so) to photo standard 3200K.  With RAW, that's all irrelevant.

Peter
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Anon E. Mouse
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« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2005, 06:08:34 PM »
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Robert, is your new Avatar taken with clip lights? Nice job.
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Robert Spoecker
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« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2005, 07:49:47 PM »
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Anon,

Thanks for the compliment. My Avatar is a self portrait taken taken with the camera self timer under two photofloods and stands that I bought. One twice as far from me as the other to give me the one stop difference in light intensity. 3200k cheap photoflood bulbs are fine as the Wibal card works great for white balancing. It was taken with my new Canon 5D. Now you know why I cant afford strobes yet   but thats ok my poor credit card just needs time to recover a bit.

Robert
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