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Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

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  #1  
Old 02-18-2010, 10:34 AM
dvbear dvbear is offline
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Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Intro
So I started photography a couple months ago (shooting with a Canon XSi and a 50mm 1.8 lens) and bought a cheap strobe package off Ebay.
The package came with 3 strobe lights, a soft box, 2 umbrellas, a honeycomb grid and 3 colored gels. For my purpose it does its job but I find myself playing around with the setup each time and needing to take too many test shots. Also, I've always been a retoucher and am quite proficient with photoshop but I want to get a better base image to work with. So I've been doing a lot of research and noticed with men, the lighting is usually harsher. So my questions are:
  • Lighting Meter Questions
  • Is it necessary?
  • How to use a light meter on a 3 key lighting setup?
  • Where to buy a cheap one as I am college student broke?
  • Is this what they use to measure the F2, F1 etc in lighting diagrams?

  • Color Filter Questions
  • Anyone know how to use them?
  • How do you use them in a 3 key setup?
  • How do you use it to make the backdrop white?
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  #2  
Old 02-18-2010, 03:30 PM
madclark madclark is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Lighting Meter Questions
* Is it necessary?

It depends. If you have a tricky setup or a "you only get one shot" setup, you can make sure your exposure should be dead on. However with digital cameras, it's probably just as easy to take a test photo and see how the histogram is reading and reshoot if it's too light or too dark.

* How to use a light meter on a 3 key lighting setup?

I'm not as experienced here, but I think you'd want to do test fires and take reading from where each light is focused to adjust the flashes, then a final reading on the main subject for your exposure.

* Where to buy a cheap one as I am college student broke?

The regular places? Adorama? Ebay?

* Is this what they use to measure the F2, F1 etc in lighting diagrams?

:-/ dunno

Lighting Setup Questions - I really like the GQ and Esquire look.
What kind of lighting setup do you need to get that magazine look similar to this:
* http://thebosh.com/upload/2008/07/30...ther-thumb.jpg

Someone posted a clever idea I'm borrowing for this answer. Basically, look at the catch light on the eyes (the reflected white area from the flashes). Looks like they used two key lights, one from the right and one from the left, The round shape and the shadow makes me think they used an umbrella on the left but something more harsh (but round) on the right, maybe a ringflash. And you can see they had a large bounce reflector at the bottom. Pretty standard setup. They probably washed the seamless backdrop with some sort of flash as well.


Color Filter Questions
* Anyone know how to use them?

Nope, nobody knows how to use them. :-) But seriously, what is it you want to know about them? They're generally used for two things, either to balance the temperature of the flash to match the lighting conditions of the ambient lighting (like fluorescent or tungsten) or they're used for special effects. You can throw a colored gel on a white backdrop flash to get a specific color for example.

* How do you use them in a 3 key setup?

It would depend on what you're trying to achieve I guess.

* How do you use it to make the backdrop white?

You can overexpose any backdrop with a flash to generally get white I guess in theory, but I think you're better off starting with a white background. And if you do, you can actually get a variety of colors out of it with gels and modifying the lighting. No light on the background (in a blackened room) gets you a black background, half light gets you grey, and full lighting gets white. Used with gels you can get any variety of colors.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:55 PM
dvbear dvbear is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Thanks madclark for some very informative answers, although I'm still quite lost! Anyways, I hope you don't mind me taking advantage of this situation by asking some more questions:

1. What is the advantage of using color filters as to adjusting the white balance via camera settings/photoshop?
2. I feel a lot of my pictures have a lot of over-exposing issues, how do I use a light meter to fix these?

Thanks again.
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  #4  
Old 02-18-2010, 05:08 PM
madclark madclark is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

1. What is the advantage of using color filters as to adjusting the white balance via camera settings/photoshop?

Well if you want to use flash lighting you have to balance it to the ambient lighting. All light has a different temperature. So if you're in a room with incandescent or fluorescent lighting for example, you have to match your flash lighting to that and then adjust your white balance on the camera to make everything match. That's the only scenario you'd use a filter on your flash unless you were doing something creative.

2. I feel a lot of my pictures have a lot of over-exposing issues, how do I use a light meter to fix these?

Well it may be that you need to use a different evaluating method on your camera. Try playing around between matrix and spot evaluation. The camera should be able to get it right if you're automating it. Or use the manual settings. Sound like you just need to spend more time with your camera experimenting and getting to know all the controls before worrying about a light meter really.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2010, 07:47 AM
dvbear dvbear is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Thanks much madclark.

I haven't even considered different evaluation methods.

Last question (before my shoot todday). Can you give a general sense of what the histogram for RGB will look like, shooting a medium skinned person (wearing white tanktop) on a white seamless backdrop?

To my knowledge, most of the histogram would be shifted right of center...but I want lots of contrast...
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  #6  
Old 02-19-2010, 07:54 AM
LydiaRachael LydiaRachael is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Hi Dvbear

This video might be useful until you get a light meter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItzQyIRJt8s

And here is a video about using light meters

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfKzY4wMixQ
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  #7  
Old 02-19-2010, 12:50 PM
madclark madclark is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Well your histogram in the scenario you describe would most likely register more midtones and highlights. It would be a wave cresting to the right. If it's bunched up too much though, either on the right or left, you would want to use the exposure compensation in your camera to bring it up or down.

Here is a good tutorial.

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...istograms1.htm
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  #8  
Old 02-20-2010, 04:04 PM
dvbear dvbear is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Thank you guys so much for the advice. Will be looking to test these techniques out today.
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Old 02-21-2010, 07:15 AM
LydiaRachael LydiaRachael is offline
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Thumbs up Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by dvbear View Post
Thank you guys so much for the advice. Will be looking to test these techniques out today.
Don't forget to show us the results
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  #10  
Old 02-21-2010, 09:58 PM
dvbear dvbear is offline
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Re: Lighting, Meters and Gel Filter Questions

Will do.

BTW this is a self portrait and as I am not a model I do not know how to pose at all so awkward much? hahaha
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