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04/04/2012 08:59:15 PM · #1
My boss is the owner of an online clothing store that rents entire outfits to customers. He's had me take photographs of food for his restaurant and now he wants me to take some commercial/website photos of the outfits. The set up will be at his home in a room with available outdoor light (eek). He said he would pay for me to rent equipment for a classic full-body white-background style shoot. However my experience in studio lighting is extremely limited, so I'm not sure exactly what to get.

What I have: Canon 40D, a tripod, a 50mm lens (but I'll need a wider angle), a round reflector (gold or silver, about 3ft diameter) and 1 speedlite 430EXII (which I haven't completely mastered yet)

Based on youtube tutorials I THINK I need: a white paper backdrop, a wide angle lens, 2 umbrellas, another tripod, one more speedlite and maybe 1 softbox in front?

Does this sound sufficient? Also I'm totally a n00b when it comes to the external flashes and I don't understand how to set up the speedlight(s) to wirelessly trigger when I press the shutter. What am I missing?? I can't seem to find any videos or sites explaining this properly. If you could direct me to a tutorial or forum or a video regarding that or how to shoot in a studio step-by-(every little)-step I would greatly appreciate it.

Also, can you recommend any good renting site? There is one rental store by me but they are really overpriced. Let me know of any brands or which specific wide angle lens as well.

Thanks, I feel in over my head already :/
04/04/2012 09:21:37 PM · #2
This is a big question and sorta hard to answer.

First- what's the budget?

Second- why do you want a wideangle? I would recommend against this unless your shooting area ABSOLUTELY dictates it. A WA is subject to far more distortion, which you do not want when you are trying to represent a product. Also, a wider angle lens will require you to have a much larger background, which also means more lights to light that larger background evenly.
Why are you thinking another tripod? I'd presume what you'd need are lightstands, which are generally cheaper and lighter weight. You also need some way to hang your backdrop, but there are lots of options there.
For the area you'll be shooting in- is it a room with nice south facing windows or is it a dungeon? This effects things HUGELY and will dictate what sort of lighting equipment you require. Also, how high are the ceilings? What color are the walls and ceilings? How big is the room?

Next, you will need triggers or you will have to ensure that you get a 580 so you can use it as a commander. This will mean, however, that it is on camera, unless you get something like an ttl cord to get it off of there. Commander mode may work for you and may be a headache depending upon your lighting setup, but I would assume that in such an enclosed indoor area you should be able to make it work. The discussion of WHICH triggers could honestly entail a completely separate thread due to options and price range.

For your backdrop, I sorta doubt a 430 on its own will suffice to evenly light things for a full length. Might be wrong there but I think it might be difficult, since I'm guessing your room is a bit small.
04/04/2012 09:56:25 PM · #3
1) The budget is not very important, he is a man with a lot of money to spend, having said that he is my boss and I would like to only get mid-range priced items unless the scenario calls for something more expensive.

2) I know a 50mm is ideal for portrait work but I don't know what kind of space I have and I will need to get the model from head-to-toe, so I need a lens to accommodate that. I know I should avoid the "fix it in post" stereotype, but I can fix/alter it if the distortion is too great.

3) I meant lightstands, for the speedlites/umbrellas.

4) I don't know the color/space yet but he made it sound like the room had a lot of natural light. I was thinking of using a white sheet over the window to diffuse the light. I will ask him more about the room prior to going.

5) I would like to avoid using a command since the lighting can be a bit too harsh. What exactly are triggers? In all of the tutorials I've seen they never mention that and the only studio experience I had (in school) was with a wire connected. Can you elaborate on the triggers?
04/04/2012 10:49:38 PM · #4
Regarding the wide angle- If you have to use it, okay, but as I said, this means you need to make your white background MUCH larger, and thus light MUCH more. This is because a wide angle has a wider angle of view (go figure), so to get your subject large in your frame you need to get close. So, the wider your lens, the closer you are, and the larger your background needs to be. To get an idea of HOW large, consider having your subject fill your frame, and then continue the line from your camera to their head until it hits the wall. Your background has to be bigger than that or you\'ll include the edge. This quickly gets giant with a wide angle. It also makes subject to white background separation harder, which means it makes lighting the background seamlessly without contamination from your subject\'s lighting MUCH MUCH harder. What I\'m getting at is that it isn\'t just distortion, that lighting it gets much more troublesome due to the behavior of the lens.

For the lightstands, you\'ll also need some equipment to mount the umbrellas themselves. The strength of the lightstands will depend upon what lights you end up going with, but deciding what lights to go with requires you know what you\'ll be lighting in the first place.

Which brings us to triggers... triggers will vary based upon what flashes you get to use. The whole equation sorta hinges upon the conditions you have, so it\'s difficult to suggest options for you. Overall, however, I\'d say that for general ease of use, radio triggers of some kind should be your choice. Some flashes do have a dumb slave that you can have fire them, so you won\'t necessarily need a radio trigger for each flash, but having one will make your system more robust and less prone to missfires. I strongly recommend doing some reading over at Strobist before you get into this if you don\'t know what triggers are or about the behavior of subject to flash distance etc. etc. If you\'re shooting with a model, heaping all this gear together without any background experience is a recipe for disaster. Lights aren\'t hard, per se, but they are a lot of equipment to wrangle and require functional knowledge to keep from pulling your hair out.

The new Canon flash system might work very well for your needs and be plenty of power, however, it will not be compatible with your 430. To use it, you will need 1 Canon ST-E3-RT and as many Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT\'s as you want for your setup. This setup may work very well for you as you\'re dealing with limited distances and don\'t have much experience with lighting systems. Because they\'re all integrated and designed to work in concert, with radio triggering, as well as allowing remote power changes, they may be much faster for you to pick up. Another option is to do Nikon SB900\'s (they are high powered and cheaper than a 580 to rent, plus have dumb slaves built in so you won\'t need as many radio triggers) and then use however many Pocketwizards you require. You would likely need a Pocketwizard for triggering your flash in a softbox, if you use that, then the umbrella flashes would most likely be triggered by your slaves. It\'s hard to suggest using slaves for your setup, however, as they can be finicky, and it depends upon what lighting mods you\'re using as well as your room if they\'ll work for you.

Everything I\'ve mentioned can be rented through //www.lensrentals.com/ and lots of folks on here have had good experiences with them.

ETA: When is this all supposed to happen?

Message edited by author 2012-04-04 22:51:12.
04/04/2012 10:51:43 PM · #5
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Everything I\'ve mentioned can be rented through //www.lensrentals.com/ and lots of folks on here have had good experiences with them.

I just used them for the first time last month...very easy to deal with. I would highly recomend them...
04/04/2012 11:32:02 PM · #6
so are strobes pretty much the same thing as an external flash, just with less control? do they come wireless or do I need a cable and would I be able to fire more than one at once if it does use a cable?
04/04/2012 11:39:40 PM · #7
What about just using a ring flash to reduce the shadows? What else would I need for that setup?
04/05/2012 12:13:08 AM · #8
Light is light, it's always just as easy/hard to control regardless of the source. The issues I note about backgrounds etc are ones you will have with any lights and are a result of the particular scenario you are trying to use them for.
A ringflash will flatten the lighting on your subject and induce a halo around them on the background. It has a very distinctive look, which you may or may not like. I would not recommend using JUST a ringlight for this type of shooting. A strobe is an external flash, and the name is alternately used to mean various things. Some use it to mean speedlights (like a Canon 430) as well as a studio light (like an Elinchrom), and some only mean one of the two. It's really sorta arbitrary and silly.

The triggers are what you need to trigger your flashes wirelessly, regardless of what type of flashes you're using. The ability to command your flashes wirelessly depends upon what features you want and what products you're using. Because of how new you are to this, I hesitate to suggest many of the options that are out there because of the learning curve. As far as doing things with a wire- you can definitely fire one, if you get something like a PC sync cord. These are pretty cheap, but not all flashes have PC sync sockets (your 430 for instance, does not). Not sure if there is a way to fire multiples this way. Many folks enjoy using optical slaves, and I use that often, but they can be finicky at times and having a model there, while you're trying to learn how to use all this is not the time for things to be finicky. They require that one flash is able to see the firing of another flash, so assuming all your flashes can see each other, you could fire them with your pop up flash turned down really low so it doesn't contribute to the scene. The problem I have with recommending this is that if that doesn't work, and you've already rented all this other stuff, you have no way to get a set of radio triggers in time, so the cost of all your other rented equipment is a waste because you can't trigger them until your Pocket Wizards arrive from the rental place. When using the base Pocket Wizards (Pocketwizard Plus II) you will not have the capability of controlling the power of the flashes remotely, you will have to walk over to them to change the power. This isn't a big deal since you will only perhaps have to change the lighting for the model based on what they're wearing, the rest should stay the same. Alternately, the Canon ST-e3 RT I recommended allows you to change your lighting power from your camera as you desire. This is one of the big reasons I suggested it, as it will be a much easier learning curve in my opinion.

Canon does make the ST-e2 for use for their wireless system, which could command your 430 as well as other Canon made flashes, but this system, as well, must be able to see each flash and suffers from the same issues of being tempermental at times. While I use the Nikon version of the system all the time, I am acquainted with when I will have limitations and how to get around them, which wouldn't be the case if you're just renting all this together and hoping for the best.

04/05/2012 12:19:27 AM · #9
ok so I think I'm going to get the AlienBees ABR800 Ringflash with the 30" moon unit attachment from //www.borrowlenses.com. It's the least amount of equipment with the least shadows. I'm looking to also rent a backdrop stand from them but I can't find where to get the paper?
04/07/2012 02:49:27 AM · #10

It feels a tad strange to offer advice as i think most of you are much more talented and experience than I, but here\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s my take on it: The paper you can get online at any photostore like b&h adorama (tough now due to passover) or even. I b\\\\\\\\elieve sites like photographicbackdrop.com may work as well, but i have not used them myself so not too sure how you\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'ll go about that. It shouldn\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t cost more than 45$ if that. you may look into renting or securing a stand to match the paper etc, or if you can\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t try abusing a couple of super clamps. Pay careful attention to its dimensions.

As far as the setup, //tinypic[dot]com/view.php?pic=33yjc79&s=5 This is the culmination of what i\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'ve picked up from different folks as far as a High-key setup. Its a page from my lighting setups notebook. If you end up wondering, the camera is between the key and fill in terms of angle.

As a side note, you should be able to work without radio triggers if you really dont want to as long as all your slaves can be light triggered. You will need the one strobe connected to camera via cord (this may go straight to a powerpack). i hope thjis helped.

As a personal preference, i try to even avoid the 50mm for portraits because my ideal for in studio starts at 70mm and would likely end at 200mm. Considering, you\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'re working with an Aps-C, i don\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'t know the direct effects of actual distortion
04/07/2012 05:05:21 AM · #11
Take a look at this parking lot studio video and see what can be done with very little equipment. While top end studio lighting is certainly more powerful and flexible than the approach in the video, renting new toys and using them for the first few times is a process of discovery. Do you really want to add to the complexity of of doing a kind of shot you haven't done before (catalog work, churning through multiple outfits and models is a specialty on its own, just managing the models, the MUAs, and sequencing the shots) in a place you haven't shot before. That is a lot to juggle without dealing with new lights.

The more you can keep the lighting simple, the more comfortable you are, the more attention you can pay to your models and the process.
04/07/2012 07:28:20 AM · #12
Strob Box

Check out the above site. Plenty of examples of different lighting setups. Also the video ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_N.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_N.gif', '/') + 1) . ' BrennanOB suggested (An adoramaTV series) is a great learning tool that is FREE (Very important). Play around, see what will work for you in the 'simplest way' and move to more complex shots/lighting once you feel more comfortable.

Message edited by author 2012-04-07 07:28:46.
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