Art and Photography

Potrait lighting recommendations

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2008
1421 posts
503 upvotes

Potrait lighting recommendations

Hi there,

I am trying setting up a home studio for potrait photography so I can take individual headshots. I watched a few YouTube videos and some recommended softbox, others umbrellas, some with the reflectors and some don't.

Any thoughts on which one works best to get a decent potrait photo. I don't have budget to buy all the lights so please don't ask me to buy all the lights and try it out.

Thanks!
14 replies
Deal Fanatic
Mar 17, 2004
5430 posts
873 upvotes
In my experience the light that comes out of an umbrella vs softbox isn't all that different. It's very subtle difference so I would just pick whatever one is cheapest that you are okay with.

More importantly it sounds like you want to buy some that use light bulbs or leds? I would recommend against that. Get a flash instead. Something like Godox is affordable
Deal Fanatic
Jul 13, 2009
5078 posts
3324 upvotes
Oni-kun wrote: In my experience the light that comes out of an umbrella vs softbox isn't all that different. It's very subtle difference so I would just pick whatever one is cheapest that you are okay with.

More importantly it sounds like you want to buy some that use light bulbs or leds? I would recommend against that. Get a flash instead. Something like Godox is affordable
Lights (CFL/LED) are great to actually see what you're trying to do but yes, flashes will give best results but learning with continuous light is best. Be glad you did not have to grow up learning with actual "hot lights", LED lights these days are so good for cheap, and no heat!

There's a lot of good youtube tutorials to show effect, but generally umbrellas give "BIG light", lots of spread and diffused while softboxes are great for control, especially when you slap on modifiers like grids. I rented an octobox once for my elinchrom and good lord it was big light.

Godox flashes are great now, strap a bunch together and you'll get some serious big light power
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1931 posts
1259 upvotes
If it's head shots only, you don't need large softboxes (12x12" will do), and powerful strobes (a regular speed light flash will do). Umbrellas would make it cheaper, but I prefer the softer light from softboxes. You can start with one softbox and a reflector, plus the background material I like Yongnuo manual flashes (YN560), they can be controlled by their cheap radio triggers. Ideally, you'll need two softboxes (main light and fill-in), and then perhaps another one as a hair light.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2008
1421 posts
503 upvotes
Oni-kun wrote: In my experience the light that comes out of an umbrella vs softbox isn't all that different. It's very subtle difference so I would just pick whatever one is cheapest that you are okay with.

More importantly it sounds like you want to buy some that use light bulbs or leds? I would recommend against that. Get a flash instead. Something like Godox is affordable
bhrm wrote: Lights (CFL/LED) are great to actually see what you're trying to do but yes, flashes will give best results but learning with continuous light is best. Be glad you did not have to grow up learning with actual "hot lights", LED lights these days are so good for cheap, and no heat!

There's a lot of good youtube tutorials to show effect, but generally umbrellas give "BIG light", lots of spread and diffused while softboxes are great for control, especially when you slap on modifiers like grids. I rented an octobox once for my elinchrom and good lord it was big light.

Godox flashes are great now, strap a bunch together and you'll get some serious big light power
pulsar123 wrote: If it's head shots only, you don't need large softboxes (12x12" will do), and powerful strobes (a regular speed light flash will do). Umbrellas would make it cheaper, but I prefer the softer light from softboxes. You can start with one softbox and a reflector, plus the background material I like Yongnuo manual flashes (YN560), they can be controlled by their cheap radio triggers. Ideally, you'll need two softboxes (main light and fill-in), and then perhaps another one as a hair light.
Thanks for all the responses. Would you think instead of investing in lights at all, investing in a software like lightroom or similar be a better option?
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1931 posts
1259 upvotes
I'd start with lights. You can probably do under 200$ an umbrella with a stand, flash, and reflector. There are free alternatives to Lightroom and Photoshop.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2008
1421 posts
503 upvotes
pulsar123 wrote: I'd start with lights. You can probably do under 200$ an umbrella with a stand, flash, and reflector. There are free alternatives to Lightroom and Photoshop.
Yes, but I when you can shoot RAW and fix everything in lightroom does it matter whether the light was not great in the first place. Also, what are the free alternatives to Lightroom please?
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2008
1421 posts
503 upvotes
dairymandip wrote: AD200
itemsale2003 wrote: Yes, but I when you can shoot RAW and fix everything in lightroom does it matter whether the light was not great in the first place. Also, what are the free alternatives to Lightroom please?
Deal Expert
Jun 15, 2012
15427 posts
10069 upvotes
Southern Ontario
https://www.google.com/search?q=dylan+p ... 1173&dpr=2

I've had Dylan Patrick's Cinematic Headshot Series for years. He's using a fullframe DSLR, 70-200mm at 200mm, and only 2 speedlites plus a reflector. Octo on the main, flash disk for kicker. You have to take several shots, pose correctly and invoke natural happy emotion. Look up some Peter Hurley youtube about accentuating the jaw line, and other headshot teachers. You're basically continuously talking to the subject and cracking jokes. Here's a screenshot in Dylan's vid, equipment used.

Image
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1931 posts
1259 upvotes
Good light doesn't mean simply bright light, there are so many other quantities which are more important in portaiture - direction, softness, color temperature etc. This is impossible to fix with software (well unless you completely fake it with AI). Look up some online resources on studio lighting, starting from basic terms - key light, fill-in light, background light etc.

Gimp is a decent free alternative to Photoshop, can read RAW files.
Deal Fanatic
Jul 13, 2009
5078 posts
3324 upvotes
itemsale2003 wrote: Yes, but I when you can shoot RAW and fix everything in lightroom does it matter whether the light was not great in the first place. Also, what are the free alternatives to Lightroom please?
Lights.

Are you PC or Mac?

Although the world of software and computational photography greatly increased, learning with lights also helps you shoot without lights, and shooting with less editing. Yes software you can add lighting but it doesn't seem right/feel right 100%.......to another photographer. Any other joe or jane can't tell.

Lightroom is mainly for workflow management with powerful editing/batch editing. I was always Apple Aperture until they discontinued it.
Deal Expert
Jun 15, 2012
15427 posts
10069 upvotes
Southern Ontario
itemsale2003 wrote: Yes, but I when you can shoot RAW and fix everything in lightroom does it matter whether the light was not great in the first place. Also, what are the free alternatives to Lightroom please?
It matters a lot because the same highlights/shadows and difference in lighting across the image is either time consuming to fix, create, or not possible. Get it right in camera using proper lighting and it's a lot less work editing especially across a batch of photos you need to correct. Also there's much more pleasure in touching up and improving an image vs thinking you are spending time "fixing" it so it even looks passable.
Deal Addict
Aug 12, 2004
4505 posts
2165 upvotes
Calgary
Lightroom is not a replacement for good light. Good light is good light, bad light is bad light no matter your workflow or 'fixing' it in LR.

A reflector + 1 speedlight (with umbrella or softbox) is enough for a decent basic portrait on a budget. Umbrella is cheaper then a softbox. You need to be able to trigger it though, A Godox V860II with transmitter would be my suggestion (200-250$ range with transmitter), a cheap enough flash, with everything you need for future proofing and li-ion battery . Cheaper manual strobes you can get away with but they are more trouble then they are worth (you still need something to trigger optical flash). Manual 'dumb' flashes are fine as secondary flashes which will trigger off your main flash. You can get a dumb flash for 50-60$

You can also just get a ring led light. Passable portraits and as its continuous what you see is what you get. 160-180$. Quality of light is harder / harsh and works better for people with good skin, just be aware.

https://www.amazon.ca/Neewer-Upgraded-V ... 804&sr=8-8
Member
Jan 15, 2006
465 posts
76 upvotes
If you have a window that you can use, it works wonders as a soft light source, otherwise expect to spend quite a bit of money for off-camera light setup.

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