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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Lightsphere II vs. Softbox vs. Strobe
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04/22/2007 06:44:58 PM · #1
Ok, so I'm new at all this portrait lighting stuff and need some help.

I've been asked to shot the prom at a small local high school (like 30 in the graduating class) but I'm at a loss as to what I will need in the way of lighting. I already own the Lightsphere II but really don't have a clue as to what kind of results I'm going to get with it as I haven't really put it to the test in a situation like this.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of the Lightsphere II, softboxes and strobes. And in what situation would you use each (I must be able to travel with them)?

I am of course on a budget but a new purchase (if needed) would be an investment as I hope to do more on location portrait work.

Thanks a ton for any help!
04/22/2007 07:10:25 PM · #2
If you can, Go take a look at the location you will be shooting. Get an idea of the lighting and how much space you have to work with. Then come back here and read some of the other forums about lighting, follow the links in the forums to sites about lighting like this one,
04/22/2007 07:11:14 PM · #3
You might look at the strobist blog. It's all about location lighting on a budget, and has a good lighting 101 section.

edit: woops, 45 seconds too late!

Message edited by author 2007-04-22 19:11:46.
04/22/2007 07:35:10 PM · #4
Are you planning to do group images or individual images, or both? For individuals the lightsphere would be okay, but not ideal. For groups lightsphere and flash just isn't going to give you enough light. 30 people take a lot of space and so 2 strobes is probably needed.... that is if your shooting indoors. If you are shooting outdoors you may not need additional lighting depending on the location.

Message edited by author 2007-04-22 19:36:01.
04/22/2007 10:01:02 PM · #5
The shots are going to be mainly the couples posed in front of a set (with the occasional group of friends shot) and then some roaming shots at the dance.

The location (if it was like last year) will be in the hallway outside of the gym where the dance is. Ceiling is low, 8ft or lower with florescent lights. Other location would be in the gym where lighting will be minimal with very high ceilings.

Message edited by author 2007-04-22 22:02:02.
04/22/2007 10:15:17 PM · #6
You're going to have to overpower those low flourescents so you don't get mixed lighting. If you have to shoot there, can you tape some white paper over the ones in the nearby vicinity to dim them down?

I think the lightsphere would be ok for your candids, but not for the group. Do you have access to additional lighting? Even if it's halogens bounced on a reflector, or diffused through white paper (not too close ;), as long as you can white balance for it you should be OK.
What ever you do, experiment with whatever you come up with before the big night.

Message edited by author 2007-04-22 22:16:49.
04/22/2007 10:21:22 PM · #7
One of my favorite techniques is to hold the flash as far left as your arm will reach and aim it directly at your subject.

Very simple, no diffuser required, and the pictures have depth and can be stunning.

Do a web search on "Larry Fink" who uses this technique for his pictures.

Idnic is right, the lightsphere II cloud is excellent for individuals...for group shots you are going to have to be creative because you will need more light.
04/22/2007 11:01:41 PM · #8
Originally posted by Gatorguy:

You're going to have to overpower those low flourescents so you don't get mixed lighting. If you have to shoot there, can you tape some white paper over the ones in the nearby vicinity to dim them down?

IMO, its better to work with the fluorescents than try to overpower them. Get some gels, get to the venue before the event, and gel your flash so its the same color as the fluorescents. Start off with a CWB based on the fluorescents alone, and then gel the flash to get the same color when the flash is used. A good place to start is a Roscoe plus toughgreen if the fluorescents are cool white, but if they are anything else, look at //www.rosco.com/us/technotes/filters/index.asp pages 14 and 15, and use the table for daylight to fluorescent to select the right gel for your flash.
04/23/2007 03:33:13 AM · #9
Try to think of a Lightsphere as a china ball (or a big bare lightbulb), a softbox as a window, and a strobe as just another light source. Understanding how each works will help you figure out how to best apply them to what you're shooting.
04/23/2007 09:46:49 AM · #10
What all you have to work with?
Generally 2 strobes with umbrellas (add a hair light if you can)- flat but even and and easy to get decent results person after person, etc. Keep the people IN FRONT of the archway or what have you so you don't get shadows from it on the people, and then the BG...you don't want shadows on it either -getting the srobes 7 to 9 feet high so as to put the shadow behind and below the subject is best.

Got a meter? If you have the strobes 2 to 3 stops or more over the ambient the ambient won't do much. Other than that, custom WB or shoot a target/gray card and RAW and a 1 click fix after will fix any color cast.


04/24/2007 08:06:23 PM · #11
thanks for all the input..

What I currently have:

Canon 20D (& tripod)
Quantaray QDC 900WA external flash
Lightshpere II

I've read the Lighting 101 blog (very good, but a bit over my head in parts) - couple of quick elementary questions though.

Does my external flash (which can be used wirelessly) work the same as a strobe? Can I just add an umbrella to it or do i have to buy one of those alienbee flash units for $300?

And what's up with the Pocket Wizards... do you need two of them if you have just one flash/strobe? Or just one (for camera) and a receiver (for flash)?

Thanks for the continued help... I'm hoping others are going to find this useful as well.
04/28/2007 02:01:40 AM · #12
self-bump as I need a bit more help with those questions in my last post... thanks!!
04/29/2007 02:22:29 AM · #13
Originally posted by wee_ag:

thanks for all the input..

What I currently have:

Canon 20D (& tripod)
Quantaray QDC 900WA external flash
Lightshpere II

I've read the Lighting 101 blog (very good, but a bit over my head in parts) - couple of quick elementary questions though.

Does my external flash (which can be used wirelessly) work the same as a strobe? Can I just add an umbrella to it or do i have to buy one of those alienbee flash units for $300?

And what's up with the Pocket Wizards... do you need two of them if you have just one flash/strobe? Or just one (for camera) and a receiver (for flash)?

Thanks for the continued help... I'm hoping others are going to find this useful as well.


Flashes and strobes both function according to the same principles - light is light. They're not exactly the same to work with though in terms of available accessories/modifiers (ie - they don't make beauty dishes for hotshoe flashes, and even if they did you're probably not going to get enough output to effectively use it).

Yes, you can add an umbrella to a flash. All you need is an umbrella adapter.

For Pocket Wizards to work, you need to have a transmitter and a receiver. The newer Plus II's and the current Multimaxes are transceivers, which is nice if you have multiple PWs and want some redundancy in your setup. Some strobes (Profoto, Dynalite) have PW receivers built in. And some devices (Sekonic Lightmeters and Nikon D1 series) have optional PW transmitters.
05/04/2007 09:56:23 PM · #14
Thanks for the continued help....

So if I get two Plus II's, what else will I need for them to work? Cables, battery packs, etc? And how do they hook up to my flash? Like I said, I've got a Quantaray QDC 900WA, but I'm not seeing anywhere on it to plug in a cable to trigger it - is there some sort of hotshoe adapter that will trigger it?

Thanks again for the continues help... it would take me days to try and track all this info down on the net.
05/06/2007 07:41:37 PM · #15
Originally posted by wee_ag:

Thanks for the continued help....

So if I get two Plus II's, what else will I need for them to work? Cables, battery packs, etc? And how do they hook up to my flash? Like I said, I've got a Quantaray QDC 900WA, but I'm not seeing anywhere on it to plug in a cable to trigger it - is there some sort of hotshoe adapter that will trigger it?

Thanks again for the continues help... it would take me days to try and track all this info down on the net.


PW's come with a minijack to PC sync cable. They make other cables like minijack to 2 prong (personally I think it's a huge ripoff charging that much for cables), but if your flash doesn't have a sync port then you'll need to add one.

If you can solder -

//www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/95414-REG/General_Brand_SF941_PC_to_Hot_Shoe.html

//www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062452

Snip off the PC sync end, solder on the mono plug, and you're set.

If you can't solder -

//www.paramountcords.com/proddetail.asp?prod=PW%2DMHSF1&cat=85

Or buy the hot shoe linked above and a PC to mini adapter -

//www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/105429-REG/Pocket_Wizard_804605_PC_Female_to_Miniphone.html
05/08/2007 09:22:16 PM · #16
You guys helped a bunch... I ordered two PW, flash stand, umbrella and all the adapters and cables I need. Can't wait to try them out!

Thanks!
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