#389- New LIghts



Hi everyone-

Yesterday I received my new lighting set up from Alien Bees. It consisted of three strobes, a honeycomb kit, two soft boxes, a beauty dish, pocket wizards, stands, Sekonic transmitting light meter and a few accessories.

The equipment actually came on Wednesday evening but of course I was at work. On Thursday I had a full day planned to I didn't get to really do more than get everything out of the boxes and and take a look. I did have time to get it all opened and assembled or put into new containers for carrying.

Then it was off to work again. So of course everything came with me. As it turns out I had to shoot some images for a coworker of a speaking trumpet which is an early version of a bull horn that was used by fire officer's in the 17 and 1800's to call out orders on the fire ground. This one had been exquisitely hand engraved and will be presented to some one as a gift.

He wanted some images of the trumpet and the fine engraving on it. So I thought what a great assignment for the first use of the lights.

He wouldn't be until later however so I decided to do some test shooting as well, to play around with the lights, figure out how everything worked and start to zero in on a procedure for using the lights.

Deshawn, a friend and co worker, was kind enough to agree to have the strobes go off in his face over and over. What is interesting is that the image above is the first one that we took of the night and as it turns out was both his and my favorite.

It was a three light set up with a soft box as the key light slightly to camera left. A soft box to camera right a few stops less in light as a slight fill and a shoot through umbrella up and to camera left to light up his hat just a bit, a hair light if you will.

After that we played around with several other set ups but this one remained the favorite shot.

I'd love to hear what you have to say about it as well as any tips. As many of you know the learning curve with lighting is pretty big.

Have a great day!


Larry J. Patrick said...

OK. You got yourself some AlienBees. What next, a Hasselblad?

I like the lighting. It goes with his expression very well and it does not look like a "formula" lighting set-up. I really hate portraits that look like the lights have been present and the photographer merely sat the subject in front of them. I do not know if his expression is a natural one for him to make, but it really looks like a very natural expression. Really good job.

I have been using the AlienBee triggers on my Nikon SB's for some time and have found them to be outstanding pieces of equipment. I also really like their customer service. If I do go with "studio lights" I will probably go with AlienBees. I have tried AlienBees and some of the really expensive ones, and to be honest, I cannot see that much difference, especially considering the increased costs.

Hope you have lots of success with your new toys. I plan to keep shooting with my assortment of six SBs for a while. But, I will be watching how your work changes with your AlienBee lighting system.

Again, really good shot.

Barry Armer said...

Hello Brian!

That's an impressive list of new equipment! Congrats!

Terrific shot, especially for the first shot using the lights!

I'm still trying to figure out portrait lighting so I'm certainly no expert. The only thing I would question if it were my own shot is the bright spot on his left cheek just below the eye. Maybe this is the hair light spilling over the brim of his cap? I might try to clone that out to see if it was an improvement to the photo or not. Maybe using a snoot on the hat rather than an umbrella would have avoided the light spill?

Anyway, I really like the shot a lot and congrats again on the new gear!


Jan Klier said...


You're off to a great start there.

I like the overall lighting pattern. You could try to raise the light a little bit, but the hat will start creating shadows which you would have to manage.

Also the background canvas look very wrinkled to point that it's distracting. But it's lit well :-)

Looking forward to see more work from you now that you've added a whole other dimension to your toolbox.


Brian Bastinelli said...

Hey guys-

Thanks so much for your feedback! I am really glad you like the image.

Larry- A Hasselblad would be perfect...u buying??
The expression for Deshawn is pretty much him.

I used Alien Bees at the RV workshop and really liked them and they are in the price range!

Barry- I agree about the bright spot. It was a compromise. The other images had other bigger problems lighting wise so this was the better of them. I might try the cloning but I often have issues with that on faces...we'll see.

I agree with the comment about the snoot but thats not in the arsenal yet..lol I'll have to eat some cereal and make one....lol

Jan- Ya that background was actually a painting cloth that happend to be laying around. There was no planning done here at all. It was mostly a hey lets see how the new lights work while we aren't out on calls kinda thing.

I am going to be investing in a backdrop cloth of some sort in the near future...any ideas?

Thanks again for your feedback guys!

Jan Klier said...

On that bright spot - that's easy to manage in post if you end up with it. Even in lightroom just use and adjustment brush with neg exposures and a soft edge and just lightly brush into the area.

On the backdrop - there are endless possibilities, it depends a bit on taste. A roll of seamless paper is the most affordable and versatile. A canvas backdrop can also be had for reasonable money. Once you get a hand-painted one it gets pricier. For the most part I'm not a big background person, because they just always look too fake to me. For me it's seamless paper and props.