Art and Photography

Potrait lighting recommendations

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 6, 2008
1123 posts
368 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!
10 replies
Deal Fanatic
Mar 17, 2004
5290 posts
696 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 Addict
Jul 13, 2009
4838 posts
2961 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
1879 posts
1196 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
1123 posts
368 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
1879 posts
1196 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
1123 posts
368 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
1123 posts
368 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 Guru
Jun 15, 2012
14969 posts
9342 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
1879 posts
1196 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.

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