Thursday, October 30, 2008

Q and A: Lighting Setups

QUESTION: Kim B. asks:
"I found your site while researching Spiderlite info on the internet. I am an aspiring boudoir photographer who is not yet comfortable enough to use strobe lighting. I want to use the Westcott Spiderlite TD5 because if its halogen/fluorescent versatility. If the light is placed within 4 feet of the subject, does it cast enough light? If so, are you able to create moody, artistic high contrast photographs as well as wrap-around light? Thanks so much for your time. I love your photography by the way!

Hey there Kim, thanks for writing. I am still learning how to use strobes
myself, so I can understand your concerns. However, I LOVE the Westcott Spiderlites because they produce enough light to be main "hot lights," but the softboxes also
make sure they stay cool. Few people can tolerate hot lights for very long
in a studio setting, but I haven't had any trouble with my models who pose with the Spiderlites.

With the TD5, you can change the light source, the light output and the light temperature. Five separate controls on the back allow you to run from 1-5 lamps changing the ratio without changing the color temperature. That should help you achieve varying moods in your shots. The first boudoir session I shot, I used a Spiderlite and an Alien Bee strobe. You can see the quality of the light here and what you can do with them.

"Thanks so much for your thoughtful and quick response. I think I'll buy a Spiderlite, and (gulp) one little strobe. Here is a link to some of my photos as I haven't done a website yet. Most of those photos were done in low light situations using 75 watt tungsten bulbs. Most of the models are over 35, my specialty. If you could give me any constructive criticism (other than lighting), i
would greatly appreciate it. I will gladly do the same for you, if the need ever arises. I appreciate your input, and thanks again for writing.

" Girl, who are you trying to fool?! Your photos are INCREDIBLE and you could definitely teach me a thing or two about boudoir photography. It's cool if you want to boost your war chest and your skill set with some strobes because they give you great lighting options, but I think what you are already doing is great. Your available light is so soft and gentle on these shots. The woman are feminine, strong and sexy. I love the shots that almost seem historic in nature. Lovely! I wish I could shoot like that!

BTW, if you buy a Spiderlite TD5, it comes with strobe lights, as well as fluorescent, halogen too, so you get the best of both worlds for hot lights and strobes. I haven't used my strobe setting on the TD5s yet, but you won't need to buy anything else for a long time if you get the TD5 set. It's a great lighting option for people on a budget.

One more thing I've done to get more comfortable with strobes is to join a local Flickr group called Colorado Strobist. They hold meet and greets at locations where more seasoned lighting experts show us noobs how to work with strobes. They helped me out a tremendous amount. I would check around your neck of the woods to see if you could join a similar group there! Shoot happy!"

Community College of Denver

QUESTION: Jim T. asks:
"Nice work (on those campus logo shots). How did you light the interior shots? I think your portrait work is really getting good."

Hey there Jim. I used the basic three set lighting kit that the Auraria Campus had in it's new studio. Definitely nothing fancy, just two lights shot through an umbrella for key and fill light and a third smaller light shining up the background (a piece of black paper) to separate the subject from the background.

What has been essential for me is watching videos and reading books on lighting setups. I even watched the DVD that came with my Westcott light kit, paying special attention to where the lights themselves are placed in relation to your subject. I've also been using educational DVDs from Ed Pierce to see how to get the best environments with my Westcott Spiderlite system.

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