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Old May 24th, 2007, 10:14 AM   #1
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Lighting using umbrellas...help

I received this kit from BH to try to start out learning how to light an interview:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=298604&is=REG

I set up an interview last night in a smallish room and it seemed like the 500w key light i set up really just light up everything!

I set up the fill to the side, it came with another 500w but I need to bump down to 250...the backlight on the boom was 250w.

Everything was "lit", but I felt like the key was adding too much light to the wall behind the subject, which was about 6 feet away. I wasn't getting enough contrast between shadows and light, it looked to sterile and 'newsy'.

Is b/c I'm using an umbrella to reflect the light causing the light to spread out too much? Do I need to have the subject further away from the back wall, or do I need to send back this kit and just get a strong key light with a barn door/diffuser and a white reflector for a fill? If anything I'd thought this starter kit wouldn't be powerful enough...now it feels like it's difficult to control, is this inherent when using umbrellas? I have a couple of days to figure out if I want to take this back to BH and start over.

The problem is that I don't think I can really afford one of those nicer lowell omni's with barndoors or a softbox type light. If i turn my 500w tungsten light around to face the subject it will be way too hard without something to soften it...should i turn the umbrella around and have the light shoot through the white umbrella?
I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of these lighting options. I just want something I can have more control over. Help please!?
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Old May 24th, 2007, 10:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Donovan View Post
I received this kit from BH to try to start out learning how to light an interview:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=298604&is=REG


Is b/c I'm using an umbrella to reflect the light causing the light to spread out too much? Do I need to have the subject further away from the back wall, or do I need to send back this kit and just get a strong key light with a barn door/diffuser and a white reflector for a fill? If anything I'd thought this starter kit wouldn't be powerful enough...now it feels like it's difficult to control, is this inherent when using umbrellas? I have a couple of days to figure out if I want to take this back to BH and start over. ..
Suggestions...

1) Always get as much distance as possible from the back wall.

2) Aim the bounced light off of the background.

3) Add reflector fill...to bounce the umbrella light as fill.

4) Use flags to knock down over-spillage

5) Last resort....try turning the umbrella around using the spill through the umbrella as your key light.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 10:40 AM   #3
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2 500W lights are a lot of light for a single subject and umbrellas are difficult to direct. They throw a more general lighting. Now there are ways to overcome this though.

First perhaps a 350W bulb in the key light and move is a bit further back. 2nd, a 200w in the fill light if you use it at all. Perhaps a bounce card for a fill. Foam core or some other type of reflector clicpped to a stand for fill. For the backlight a 200W or 150W or even a 100W bulb might do the trick depending on the look you're going for. Moving the subject off the wall maybe 5 or 6 feet can help to seperate them from the backlight. Turning the umbrellas around and shooting the light thru the umbrellas can work also.

There are lots of ways to tone it down-my suggestion is take what you have get a wig head from a beauty supply store set it up like a person and practice at home trying the lights in various configurations.

There are lots of lighting kits out there and lots of ways to use them but they don't all cover all the bases.

If you're looking to return the ones you have perhaps you should look at the Lowel Omnis-you can use various size bulbs, an umbrella and IIRC you can also get barn doors for them. They also are not that costly. However thats relative I suppose.
Personally I would work with what you have and really learn how to use them and perhaps get some accessories as time goes on.

Don
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Old May 24th, 2007, 10:47 AM   #4
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Hi there

Check out this site for tips:
http://efplighting.com/?Lighting_int...ick_Interviews

I find I can get really nice light with pretty much your set up... If you put the key up higher, at a 45 angle you shouldn't get too much spill onto the backdrop...

You can add a forth light to actually light the backdrop too....

You'll need to mess around until it looks as you want, but you're on the right lines..

cheers
Gareth
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Old May 24th, 2007, 11:34 AM   #5
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great suggestions from everyone so far, thanks!

couple of clarifications from below:
2)what is the "bounced light"?
4) what are flags and where do i get them?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Boda View Post
Suggestions...

1) Always get as much distance as possible from the back wall.

2) Aim the bounced light off of the background.

3) Add reflector fill...to bounce the umbrella light as fill.

4) Use flags to knock down over-spillage

5) Last resort....try turning the umbrella around using the spill through the umbrella as your key light.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 12:00 PM   #6
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Instead of aiming the light at the subject you turn it up and bounce it off the ceiling or wall next to them, this will decrease the amount of light on your subect and background. Flags are pieces of black cloth or other material, balck wrap and so on you use, cliped to a stand in front of the light to block off the light. You can buy them at B&H or you can go to home depot and make your own. I use black wrap all the time, think tin foil but black and heavier. Great for narrowing you light to just the subject, instead of splashing it every where.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 12:45 PM   #7
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black wrap

cool, thanks. i found this stuff:
http://www.markertek.com/SearchProdu...ff=2&sort=prod

if i'm using a light that shoots away from the subject, into an umbrella, would you put the wrap actually on the light, on the umbrella, or, like you said, on a stand between the subject and light source?
just trying to picture how it would look...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Bournes View Post
Instead of aiming the light at the subject you turn it up and bounce it off the ceiling or wall next to them, this will decrease the amount of light on your subect and background. Flags are pieces of black cloth or other material, balck wrap and so on you use, cliped to a stand in front of the light to block off the light. You can buy them at B&H or you can go to home depot and make your own. I use black wrap all the time, think tin foil but black and heavier. Great for narrowing you light to just the subject, instead of splashing it every where.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 01:19 PM   #8
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Mike, If You Shoot Thru The Umbrella You Can Wrap The Outside Of The Umbrella With The Black Wrap And Create A Small "window" For The Light To Pass Thru. This Will Help Seperate Your Subject From The Background.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 01:42 PM   #9
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You can also get a piece of black foam core (distance...fire bad!) and use that on a stand as a flag...it just is placed between the light and the thing (background) that you don't want light on to cast a shadow there...Or, what I've done in the past is make sure you point your softer light in front of the subject ans use the falloff area of the light to light the subject...time for a text graphic!

Code:
L=light, S=subject
         S
      <
L <
      <
You'll want to make sure that you flag the lens so the light doesn't flare in the lens, but the goal is to use the edge of the light cone (all light is cones of photons, where the edges are less concentrated, ergo less light). Backing the light up will harden the shadows and widen the influence of the light, but make the light amount less. twice as far is 1/4 the light (inverse square law - newton)...play, have fun, shoot lots of tests...tape is cheap.
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Old May 24th, 2007, 03:30 PM   #10
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An alternative 'ghetto' approach is this:

Make your own reflector by taping crinkled tinfoil to a piece of cardboard. Shiny side out. (Very cheap, very easy to do.) The tinfoil is mirror-like and tends to reflect light in a single direction (unlike an umbrella). Crinkling it softens the light.

Aim your light into the reflector, and aim the reflector so that it bounces light into the subject. (You'll need a c-stand, grip arm, and a grip head on the end of that arm to hold your reflector.) It's an interesting way to turn a hard light source into a soft, directional source in case you don't have enough soft controllable sources.

Though it's probably easier to get a softbox with an eggcrate... efplighting.com has some great pictures of this (run, don't walk to that site).

2- Some other lighting setups:
http://www.bluesky-web.com/broadcast...les3point.html
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Old May 29th, 2007, 07:42 AM   #11
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Very soft light, like from a reflector, always spills in every direction. The best way to get rid of the spill is to use a softbox/kinoflo softlight with an eggcrate or metal honeycomb. These effectively remove the spill from soft light sources. You could also try to install huge barndoors (black flags used like barndoors)
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