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You are watching Digital Photography One on One, where we answer your questions. Here is your host Mark Wallace.
Welcome to Digital Photography One on One. This is the second video in a three part series where we answer the question “what should I buy?” If you are just joining, make sure you tune in to episode three, so that you are all cutup.
In that episode, we talked about some very basic principles of light. In this episode, we are going to talk about how does principles of light relate directly to the equipment that you buy and then in the final episode of this series. We are going to talk about the basic three light setups and will really help you tie it altogether.
In this episode we are going to talk about a lot of different lighting equipment. So to make it easy for you to find the stuff later on, we posted al the links and information on StudioLighting.net. Make sure you would check it out because we have also posted a bunch of bonus materials as well.
Most lighting equipment falls into one of three categories, grip, light modifiers and light sources. We are going to start at grip and work our way back.
Grip is all the stuff that we use to support our lights and cameras and sets, bit stuff like gaff tape and clamps, sandbags and stands. In fact let us talk about stands because they are really the all-stars of grip especially when it comes to Photography. There are all types of stands and in my opinion. You can never get enough stands. There are specialty stands like this one and its job is just to hold this reflector. We got background stands that can hold seamless paper or cloth. We have got wall mounted stands to hold seamless whitepaper which is really nice and then we have several different types of light stands. They really fall into three categories here. One of the most popular light stands is the stand that look sort of like this and this is a stand has an air shock in it which is really nice because if you have an expensive light on here and you undo a knob on accident, it is not going to fall down. The air shocks will soften that blow and sort of really nicely eases its way down.
In contrast to that, here is a stand. It is also very lightweight and it does not have an air shock. So if you undo the knob, that could do some damage to your equipment. So, if you get a lightweight stand, I highly recommend the type that has the air shock in it because that could save you some money down the road when loose someone of this knobs in accident. This stand is about $70.00, so it is a pretty good deal and a lot of photographers have those.
I would say that probably the best light stand in my opinion is the C-stand. Now, the C-stand has been around for quite a while. The C stands for century stand and these are used primarily in the film and video industry. The photographers use them just as well. They do not have the air-shock, so if you undo one of these knobs, it is going to fall down. The advantage of the C-stand or many advantages, one is that they are much, much more durable than one of these lighter weight stand, so you might use one this for a couple of years, but then you have to replace it because they were out, where as the C-stand is going to last for 10-20 years. The other thing is they come with all types of attachment, so you can throw a boom arm on here and then you can mount a light on this side or fag over here and make it at any angle, if you are doing some kind of wacky complicated setup, sort of like tinker toys, you can add another arm on here and get a lighting position that maybe—wow! Better watch out before I do that. You can get a light in a position that you would not or normally be able to get it into and you can also build grids and all kinds of things. So, these stands are terrific and I highly recommend them. It is about a $180.00 to get a C-stand and a boom arm—and these boom arms are strong enough to hold backgrounds, seamless whitepaper. So we use this for backgrounds, lights, all types of stuff. So the C-stand is terrific. They also fold up, so when you transport this basis fold flat and so you can stock this and they come with—you can buy carts to hold them around. So, I highly recommend this over this other lightweight stand.
This pro photo of a cute the forehead, but most manufacturers’ strobe lights look pretty much similar to this. They have got a strobe in the center and a reflector on the outside. Now, manufacturers will allow you to buy different types of reflectors, some that are larger, some that are smaller. What does do is it allows you to control the quality of light. The narrower the reflector, the harsher the light, the whiter the effect of size, lager the effect of size of the light, the softer the light that you get. With the pro photo, one of the thing that is very nice is you can actually zoom the light in and out, so instead of having to buy a bunch of different reflectors, you can use the same one to get different degree, sort of like a maglight.
The thing that is common with all manufacturers is the ability to somehow remove that reflector and attach other modifiers to the light source. Some of the very common ones are with the head attached are the umbrella and the soft box.
Now, we will start with the umbrella. What the umbrella does, if you have a small light source—again, you are going to have harsh light. If you want to have that light to be softer, you need to make to be a much larger light source. You can do that by using a reflector such as an umbrella. Now, usually umbrellas attach somehow right to the light itself and then what you can do is you turn it around and you take a picture of your subject this way. So the light actually bounces off the reflector and unto your subject. So your effective size of the light has become much larger and so the light is also much softer. So the umbrella is used quite a bit.
And then also very common is the soft box. There is a big difference between a sort box and an umbrella. So when you have the umbrella, what happens is it tends to have light that spreads beyond their umbrella and it can bounce off of walls and ceilings and things like that, so in a small and close space, specially with whitewalls. There is not a way to control all of that light necessarily. Soft box however is fully enclosed, so you do not have light that is spilling allover the place and you get a nice even soft light. But a soft box does even more than that. so I am going to bring out a large soft box and show you the difference between just a standard umbrella and a really nice soft box.
Have a large Photoflex soft box here and this is called a light dome Q3 and I am just going to mount that to my head here. What I am using here—this is called a speed ring. A speed ring is named a speed ring because it allows you to quickly put things on and off of your light head. So that is how you put it on. And also I have got this flaps open just to show you the speed ring. Normally these are closed. I have got Velcro that holds it in place and what that does is it controls the light from spilling allover the place. Now, when we have the umbrella, what was going on is the umbrella was out here. The light would hit it and reflect. Well, some of the light could escape the umbrella. So this side panels really control the light, so you do not have light spilling unto walls and reflecting and bouncing around where you do not want it.
But there are other things that happen inside the soft box that is really, really nice, there are two panels of diffusion and so as the light travels forward, it is being defused and then defused again. So when it finally comes out at the end here, it is really, really nice and soft. So let me show you what is inside this light box here. So, if I spin it around, this big panel right in the front is a diffusion panel and you can take that off if you want to have a little bit harsher light. But inside, we have the first diffusion panel. So here is our head, so light travels, it is bouncing allover on this whitewalls here. It hits this first panel of diffusion and so what that does is it really softens the light and then finally it hits the second panel of diffusion, so when the light finally comes out of the soft box, it really is soft. So the light is a little bit softer than an umbrella plus it is controlled, so that is something you will use for like portraits or beauty shots and things like that because this really has wonderful light.
One of the things you have to be careful with though—something that you have to understand is as the light is traveling from the head through the soft box because it is being diffused and traveling through this different diffusion panels. It is going to affect it by a quarter or third, even a half stop of light, so you have to make up for that by adding more power at the head to get the same amount of light that you would have had with the standard reflector.