Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Inexpensive continuous light setup Pt 1

Sometimes people want to do studio shots of family or friends. The biggest challenge with doing studio shoots is lighting. Most people will go the route of strobe lights. These will either be AC powered lights or speedlights that are battery powered. These work well and supply a lot of light. The main challenge is that they are expensive. They also have the challenge that the light meter in the camera will not work with them. So they are a little tricky to learn to use.

The alternative is continuous light. There are very few really good options for photographers for inexpensive continuous light though. You will need a lot of light. But there is a very inexpensive option if you want to get just a little creative. Go to your local home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowes. Get the halogen utility lights. You can get a single light that will put out 500 watts of light for about $15 to $20 dollars. You can get duals that also include a nice tripod stand for just over $30 that will give you 1,000 watts of light. But you need to be able to mount them and affix umbrellas to help modify the light. We will look at the single 500 watt unit in this blog post. You will take the stand off the bottom of the light. Then you will get hold of one of the brass light adapter studs that will fit in an adapter on a light stand. Bolt it to the bracket at the bottom of the light.

Once you get the stud on the bottom of the light it is ready to be put on the light stand. You will need to get hold of a light stand for about $20 and an umbrella bracket for another $17 from your local camera store or someplace light B&H Photo. You will also need an umbrella, either a white translucent or one of the opaque black back umbrellas with silver or gold reflective inside.

Now you have a nice 500 watt continuous light. It is a bit on the hot side, but it will give you a lot of light. You will most likely need to shoot at somewhere between ISO 400 and ISO 800 to get a reasonable shutter speed. If you are using a prime lens like the 50mm f/1.8 lens you will be able to get good shutter speed at ISO 400.

Now you can get some really nice studio shots like this one above. You can use the light meter in the camera. You will see what the shot will look like as far as lighting well before shooting the shot. And it will cost you a fraction of strobes. Next time we will look at the modification of the dual light setup.

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