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Photoflex Lighting School

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

HD Video & Stills Lighting with the Constellation3

Lighting Equipment

With the recent advent of HD video functionality in SLR cameras, photographers are now able to shoot stills and video, all with the same camera! And just as with still photography, you need good lighting equipment for top quality video results.

Whether you're shooting glamor stills or video, it's important to have the softest, most flattering light possible. In most situations, this requires you to position your soft light source as close to your subject as possible. Doing this, however, can make it uncomfortable for your model when you are working with a continuous halogen lighting because of the intense heat put out by the lamps.

This is when using Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) can come in handy. Their cooler operating temperatures allow you to work with your lights close to your subject without the need to worry about your model sweating or being uncomfortable.

There are pros and cons when using both halogen and CFLs. This lesson demonstrates the advantages and disadvantages of using halogen vs. fluorescent bulbs for portrait photography.

(Click on any thumbnail image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  •     Constellation3
  •     Large SilverDomes
  •     CoolStar 150w CFLs
  •     StarLite 1000w Halogen Lamps
  •     Full Length Portrait with Constellation3 and 1000w Halogen Lamps

Constellation3

The Constellation3 is Photoflex's premier continuous lighting solution. The Constellation3 can accept up to three lamps simultaneously. You can use 500w or 1000w Starlite halogen lamps, 150w CoolStar CFLs, and 2 pin G9.5 lamps with a Bi-Pin Adapter. You can use one, two, or three lamps at any given time via the individual power switches for each lamp socket. This gives you the ability to power down or up your light without having to reposition it. The Constellation3 is compatible with all Photoflex medium, large, and extra large heat-resistant soft boxes, excluding the OctoDome. [figure 1]

Figure 1

The Constellation3 Large SilverDome Kit includes one Constellation3, one Large SilverDome nxt, one 12-foot LiteStand, three CoolStar 150s, three 1000w Starlite Lamps, and one Transpac Dual Kit Case.

SilverDome nxt

The Large SilverDome is the perfect light modifier for creating soft, even light without any hot spots. The SilverDome soft box can not only be used with your Constellation3, but is also compatible for use with strobes. This soft box is heat-resistant up to 400° Fahrenheit making it the best solution for soft continuous lighting.

Using the CoolStar 150w CFLs

The CoolStar 150 is Photoflex's new daylight-balanced compact fluorescent lamp. The CoolStar 150 is color balanced to 5600K, which means it has the same color as natural sunlight. So to begin, we set our camera's white balance to 5000K, which is within the range of the color temperature of daylight. [figure 2 and 3]

Figure 2

Figure 3

The main advantages to using the CoolStars are that you have the ability to move them in very close to your subject, keep your studio and model cool, and still have enough power output to be completely functional. With the cool operating temperature of the CoolStar, we were able to move our lights in close to our model, allowing us to use a faster shutter speed, a smaller aperture, or a combination of the two. Although it's possible to move these lights back and still acquire an acceptable exposure.

Here, we had our Constellation3, Large SilverDome, and three CoolStars positioned at 90° camera left. The light was approximately twelve to eighteen inches from our model. It was set about five feet high and pointed down at approximately a 30° angle. [figures 4, 5, and 6]

Figure 4

Figure 5

Figure 6

We brought in our second Constellation3 with another Large SilverDome and three CoolStars. We placed it at about 100° camera right so we could use it as a rim light on our model. It was positioned at about three and a half feet from our subject, four feet high, and pointed straight at our model. [figures 7, 8, and 9]

Figure 7

Figure 8

Figure 9

With our two Constellation3s (each with three CoolStar CFLs and in a Large SilverDome soft box) placed very close to our model, we were still able to maintain a comfortable work environment because of the cool running compact fluorescent lamps. The temperature after having both lights running for over 30 minutes was 70° Fahrenheit. [figure 10]

Figure 10

Switching to 1000w Halogen Lamps

Next, we decided to change the lamps in the Constellation3s from the CoolStars to the Starlite 1000w halogen lamps. The major advantage to using the halogen 1000w lamps is that you have substantially more power to achieve desired depth of field or shutter speed. The major disadvantage to using halogen lamps is their hotter operating temperatures, which at times can heat up your studio, making for an unpleasant photo shoot.

The color temperature of Tungsten lighting is around 3200K. So to use the 1000w halogen lamps, you will need to change your camera's white balance from 5600K or Daylight to 3200K or Tungsten. [figure 11]

Figure 11

Here, we used one Constellation3 with three 1000w halogens. This gave us more power to work with, but the very warm temperature of the lamps forced us to double the distance from the light to the model. We repositioned the light about 3 feet from our model, five feet high, and angled down at about 30°. [figures 12, 13 and 14]

Figure 12

Figure 13

Figure 14

Bringing in our second Constellation3 with 1000w halogen lamps, we placed it at about 100° camera right so we could use it as a rim light on the model. It was positioned at about three and a half feet from our subject, four feet high, and pointed straight at the model.

This is the same position we had shot with the CoolStars. We decreased the effect of the temperature change on our model and set because of the extra distance between the model and lights. [figures 15, 16 and 17]

Figure 15

Figure 16

Figure 17

The temperature after using two Constellation3s (each with three 1000w halogen lamps) for 15 minutes was a bit more then the CoolStar 150s. The temperature ended up being around 76° Fahrenheit. Even with the lamps being run for less time, because we already had the lights positioned correctly, the temperature was already starting to rise in the studio, approaching uncomfortable levels. [figure 18]

Figure 18

Full-Length Portrait with Constellation3 and 1000w Halogen Lamps

With the power of the 1000w halogen lamps in our Constellation3s and the large SilverDome soft box, we were able to move everything back and take a full-length portrait of the model.

We brought in our first Constellation3 at about six feet high and tilted down at about 30°. We positioned it at about 60° camera left. [figures 19, 20 & 21]

Figure 19

Figure 20

Figure 21

After we had our left light dialed in, we turned it off and brought in our right light. We placed this light at about 20° camera right, five and a half feet high, and pointed straight at our model. [figures 22, 23 and 24]

Figure 22

Figure 23

Figure 24

With both lights positioned where we wanted them, we took our final shot. [figures 25, 26 and 27]

Figure 25

Figure 26

Figure 27

Another enjoyable part about working with continuous lighting (as opposed to strobes) for studio photography is that both the model and the photographer do not have to deal with the constant flashing of the strobes going off. As a photographer, you can shoot as much and as fast as you want and never have to wait for the flash to recycle. And, you get to see exactly how your light will interact with your subject before you even take the shot!

Remember to experiment with your lighting and have fun!

 

Lighting Equipment

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