Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Not-So-Professional Lighting Tutorial

This is my very non-professional lighting tutorial for those who have asked me how I do my lighting. I will preface this by saying that I did nothing to these shots. They are basically SOOC except for a convert to jpg from RAW (except for the ones taken in Auto) and resized down for viewing but if you click on the images, they will open bigger.

So we will start off with two pictures of me looking goofy.


#1 This me me using my camera in Auto (gasp) with my pop-up flash in my dirty mirror:


#2 This is me with my Speedlight (Canon 430EX). I wanted to show what it looks like on the camera. I have one white diffuser that I keep on my camera 90% of time. If I am outside I take it off and use the reflector that is built into the top. I keep the flash pointed toward the ceiling or angled slightly back behind my shoulder to minimize the shadows and get that bounced look.
Goofiness over. Here are some examples. My daughter on the couch.


#1 On board flash. Its very harsh. (although this example doesn't do the harshness any justice)


#2 With my speedlight on ETTL (which is Speedlight-speek for Auto). Notice its a nice warm color. This was taken on Manual with ISO 200 1/125)


#3 With my speedlight on M. I find that I can crank up the power of the light. There are fractions on the back of the light. 1/1 is the fullest power and its BLINDING. Then it goes down in increments 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 - you get the picture. This is where you have to play to get it right. When you have more light, you can reduce your ISO and increase your SS which helps with noise and blur. So I tend to use it around 1/4 or 1/8 power and keep an ISO of 200 which is what I used in this shot. The light in M is also whiter and less warm (which can be good and bad depending on the look you want).

Here are some more examples from a more willing subject model. This is my son's Build a Bear, Fred.

This shot was taken in Auto with my on board flash. That means the camera selected an ISO of 400 with 1/60 SS based on lighting. My 'studio' is a small room with little light. Therefore the flash has to compensate a lot. This looks quite harsh.

Since I don't like those setting, mostly because that SS is way too low for fast moving kids, that's where manual and the speed light comes in. This shot was taken with an ISO of 200 and 1/160 SS at an F/4.0. I tend to shoot at these settings often. Now I could have cranked up the speedlight as it is slightly too dark for my taste here. However, that's something that you have to adjust as you use the speedlight, unless you have a light meter, which I don't. However, looking at the quality of the light it produced, there are less shadows and a nice warm glow.


Here are two pictures of my new studio lights. I have one softbox that I keep camera left high and pointed down. Then I use the umbrella for fill on the side.

I use the softbox for my main light. I like the way it looks and I think it produces nice catch lights. As you can see above, I position it above the subject and pointed down. I have this light set to around 1/2 power. I am currently using the sync cable that came with the light to hook directly to my camera. As I mentioned, its a small room and I don't wander too far from the light. For the second light, the fill umbrella, I set it to about 1/4 power and I am utilizing the infrared sensor. This means when the first light is triggered by my camera, the second light detects that flash and will also flash. The only draw back to this is I cannot go above about 1/250 SS as that second flash won't be fast enough to catch it in time.

Here is an SOOC shot of my bear using my lights. The subject is fairly evenly lit, even though I could still move my fill light around some to get different effects. The biggest benefit to shooting with studio lights are two-fold. 1. I can shoot at ISO 100, 1/200, f/8. This works so well for multiple kids/people in one frame. and 2. You can keep your settings static throughout the entire shoot. Which, again for kids, is really really really nice. I can shoot off 20 exposures (once I get the lighting correct which I am still practicing) in a matter of minutes. Since my kids have very short attention spans, setting the camera/flash once and taking as many as I can in a short time is a real life saver!



One last closeup for good measure. Unfortunately, with this model you can't see the beautiful square catch lights that the softbox produces, but you can scroll down and see the photos I posted last week as examples.

Hopefully this was detailed enough to be informative. This is my first tutorial so I may not have explained everything as well as I could. Please feel free to leave me questions if there is something that you would like me to explain further.

7 comments:

MamaGeek @ Works For Us December 18, 2008 at 3:49 PM  

I am so bookmarking this. Everything flash related I've ever learned was/is from Planet Neil and this tutorial is so fantab HG!

THANK YOU.

Christina December 19, 2008 at 1:01 AM  

Wow, this is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing. You're really making me want to experiment with a speedlight now!!

Oh, and Fred looks familiar...he's the twin our resident bear, TedBear. :o)

Momma E December 19, 2008 at 1:12 AM  

Fred's so handsome! :p

Thanks for the tips - VERY helpful. I can't wait to get home and play around with the "studio" stuff after Christmas.

What brand of lights did you go with???

Head Gaggler December 19, 2008 at 8:28 AM  

I bought this kit from Interfit:

http://www.interfitphotographic.com/Lighitng/Pop%20up%20pages/EX150%20MKII%20INT182%20Kit%20pop%20up.html

Its for people like me who just dabble.

Jaimee January 3, 2009 at 1:39 AM  

THANK YOU for sharing your tips!! I NEED to go get an external flash now!!!

Jen January 5, 2009 at 1:26 PM  

tfs these tips...looks like you get great results with minimal set-up.
i hesitate ever going to studio for that very fact, but this looks really great!!! thanks again.
btw...followed you here from CM ;)

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