Electronic Flash - What to Getgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
I've never used electronic flash (strobes), other than on my 35mm, and I want to do interiors. A Dyna-Lite 2000 series has been recommended, but I still have some questions.
For example, what is typical for the number of watt-seconds expended on a shot. E.g. if one uses one 1200 W-S, two 400's, and 800 w-s on a single shot, this sums to a total of 3800 w-s. I know that 2-4 heads can be typical, but at what watt-seconds on each?
What types of features should I look for in a power pack or heads? I know that I want an asynch system with some variable control.
-- neil poulsen (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 16, 2001
You question is a very good one. However, if the only time you have used electronic flash is on your 35mm camera you have a bit of reading, learning and experience to gain.
I would suggest that before you run out and but a set of lights you take a workshop in the subject that you wish to photograph. For example, if you want to do portraits, architecture, or product shots. Sign up and take a workshop where you can work hands on with the instructor and a system of studio strobes.
There are a number of good systems on the market, you will need all the light you can get for LF studio work. You mention the Dynalites. These are very good lights, a true workhorse system The heads are 2000 ws ea and are controllable by the power pack. Don't jump just yet, determine how much portability, power and flexability you need before spending thousands on a lighting system.
After your workshop, rent a few systems to see how you like working with them. You can rent the studio time as well and that will make it a bit easier.
Good luck. Bill
-- Bill Smithe (email@example.com), July 16, 2001.
I agree! Dynalites are great, but it might be wise to take some studio courses. I've used mine hard (I have 2 1000x packs) for years and are very light. When you have a 1000 w/s pack and have one head, you get 1000w/s out of that head. If you plug 2 heads in (and have the pack as one bank... asymetric I think), you split that 1000 by 2 rendering 500w/s per head. I'm not going to go on from there because it will get confusing... but just because you have a 2000w/s head, doesn't mean your getting 2000w/s from a 1000 pack. I would look at the 1000x pack instead of the 2000x's due to the weight alone. Dynas are VERY effcient and if your doing portraits your going to be powering down... Interiors are easily done with 1000 and softboxes especially with 35mm and medium format but I think you need to get some more info under your belt if you don't mind me saying so.
-- Scott Walton (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 16, 2001.
I do agree that I have a learning curve ahead. In fact, I took an excellent workshop just recently in architectural photography, and this is what has spurred my interest. While I have a decent feel for position of lights, I still need to learn about how much light is required. For example, in one case, we used two strobes bounced off the ceiling to raise the level of light in a moderate sized bedroom. I believe each of these were set at 1200 w-s, and these two heads alone would surpass that capacity of a 2000 w-s power pack. Note that I want to shoot with 4x5. Hence, my questions about what is typical.
-- neil poulsen (email@example.com), July 17, 2001.
What is typical depends on the space. and the complexity of the composition. If you expect to make images that show several rooms in one photo, then multiple packs and heads is more desirable. If you are going to go with Dyna-Lite my advise is to get two or three 1000 w/s packs and three or four heads as a starter set instead of single 2000w/s pack. More power is always better than too little when you are on location. I like the multiple pack approach because of the huge amount of control and versatility I then have, even if I'm not using all ofthe packs and heads (or mononolights) at full power.
What I bring on location these days:
1 5000 w/s pack
1 2400 w/s pack
1 1200 w/s pack
1 600 w/s pack
1 600 w/s monolight
1 1200 w/s monolights
1 Bitube head (for the 5000w/s)
4 3200 w/s heads
1 pencil light
All of the above is Balcar 2 1000 w/s Elinchrom monolights
2 200 w/s battery power lights (Lumadyne) 4 very small battery powered slaved flashes. (very handy when you need to hide a light under a chair to give some space to the bottom of a table for example.
All of the above gets triggered with LPA Design MAX digital triggers supplemented with Wein Superslaves.
-- Ellis Vener Photography (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 17, 2001.
I forgot to add a couple of things:
Up until last year i mostly relied on a much simpler kit and to a certain extent, I am still learning how to use all of the lighting tools I now have at my disposal.
Always start with one light and try to use as few as possible, the room should be lit to look as "unlit" as possible.
Don't forget that you can very easily build up your exposures when using a view camera.
-- Ellis Vener Photography (email@example.com), July 17, 2001.
It's nice to see that someone else travels with as much, if not more gear, than we do...
I really agree with Ellis here that it depends on just what it is you're shooting, because in my experience with shooting LF interiors, you can never have enough power, outlets, stands, clamps etc.... You can get away with a minimal amount of gear for some stuff, but then there will be shots where you'll be using everything you can lay your hands on to get it done...the most we'll travel with is a cargo van loaded with a similar amount of gear, although we use more bare bones Speedotron gear. We'll carry 2-2400 packs, an 800, and a 1000 ws dynalight (mine). 6-10 heads. Plus an assortment of quantum batteries & 283s to stick in corners, fireplaces etc. Where we differ from Ellis is in that we'll also use up to 4 Tota-lights, and 2 Omnis (all gelled to match the film) if we have too...yes, we do use many multiple pops as well, and will use ambient light if we have to, or will wait until night to shoot interiors as well.
There's all sorts of other things you'll need as well like: heavy duty extension cords, extension cables for the strobes, ladders, brooms (to clean the set & sweep the carpet in the right direction),cleaning supplies, backup gear, you may need scrims, 4x8 sheets of gator board (white & black), lots of black curtains if you're shooting around glass or mirrors, clamps, gaffer tape, Rosco foil, gels (plus green, minus green, daylight blue, CTOs etc...), spun for diffusing lights, screens for this too, shotbags & weights, probably a changing bag......literally everything you could possibly imagine and then some.
The most important thing is to know where the circuit panel/fusebox is...and to be sure that you don't run your packs all off the same line...
There are also some shooters who prefer to use more hotlights than anything when shooting interiors...I think it just comes down to the situation and preference. There's a large amount of furniture/home furnishings photography in our state, and for many years this was dominated by studios using Mole Richardson, Colortran, Bardwell McAllister & Lowel gear.....
For just one room, you may get by with less...but it all starts to add up the bigger the shot is...
-- DK Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 17, 2001.
"Where we differ from Ellis is in that we'll also use up to 4 Tota-lights, and 2 Omnis (all gelled to match the film) if we have too...yes, we do use many multiple pops as well, and will use ambient light if we have to, or will wait until night to shoot interiors as well. There's all sorts of other things you'll need as well like: heavy duty extension cords, extension cables for the strobes, ladders, brooms (to clean the set & sweep the carpet in the right direction),cleaning supplies, backup gear, you may need scrims, 4x8 sheets of gator board (white & black), lots of black curtains if you're shooting around glass or mirrors, clamps, gaffer tape, Rosco foil, gels (plus green, minus green, daylight blue, CTOs etc...), spun for diffusing lights, screens for this too, shotbags & weights, probably a changing bag......literally everything you could possibly imagine and then some. "
Nope I carry all that stuff too. I just was trying not to frighten the lad!
-- Ellis Vener Photography (email@example.com), July 18, 2001.
Just as I suspected....we've done some shots where we just had everything we owned and could borrow and still couldn't get enough light....we had to back up and say "wait a minute..." and just rethink the whole shot....I actually think working with tungsten is easier in these situations...I wouldn't want to say one was the better than the other though. Those furniture studios really have this kind of lighting down to a hollywood production level almost...it's a real art form in a way. I've always remembered that W. Eugene Smith quote about available light: "every light available"...and it's always the little things that kill you..like the footprints in the carpet, or a reflection of a ladder in a mirror that nobody sees on the polaroid...
-- DK Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 18, 2001.