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Photography lighting advice please

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Hi guys,

I need to give my metal art web page a facelift www.freestylemetalart.com by producing improved images of my metal art work. I have purchased a Nikon D5300 DSLR to do this. I was into basic photography 20+ years ago and am keen to kick it off again but am aware that it will take some time to get to know the camera. I have questions relating to lighting, if anyone would have the time to provide feedback regarding the following questions I would appreciate it.


Q1. Cheap lighting systems from ebay such as soft box's, are these sufficient?


Q2. Do some lights stay on all the time or do they all come on when a photo is taken (Ie like a flash)?


Q3. Feedback on what the appropriate lighting I might require would also be appreciated. You can see what I am trying to achieve by clicking on the link above to my web page, this will take you to my home page where you will find a slide show running with the photos that I have taken so far.






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Oh boy - this is a big question. :)


I think many of the photos you have already aren't bad at all. The one with the back end of a dog could go.


For outdoors you may not need lighting at all. You are possibly going to run into an issue with the reflective nature of your metal work. Any lights you shine on the subject are going to reflect off it.


Q1. A softbox isn't a light; it's a lighting modifier. You probably knew that. Cheap modifiers can be OK. Maybe not as robust as better quality ones. I use an umbrella box which is kind of a half way house between an umbrella and a softbox. A bigger lighting modifier gives you a softer light, as does having the light nearer the subject.


Q2. You can get continuous lights. The cheaper ones don't have a lot of power though, and can get hot - so I've heard. Or you can get studio flashes - e.g. Alien Bees or Elinchrome (sp?) which are more expensive. Or you may be able to use a flash gun off camera and stick that in a softbox, or similar. That's the set up I use. See http://strobist.blogspot.co.uk/


Q3. You probably want some direction to your light - not just flat on. But how dramatic / harsh you want it is up to you. I'd probably go for softish light myself. Some shadows to look 3-D - but not too harsh.

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Hi Glen,


Firstly, the lighting you find on eBay will be sufficient but you get what you pay for. If you you're looking for something a little more reliable, etc. then I would advise shopping at a retailer such as Calumet (you might find this expensive though). Additionally, Jane is correct in saying that a soft-box will modify the light and there are other forms of light modifying additions to your flash that can be bought, each have their own merits.


Secondly, how the lights/strobes/flashes will function is very much dependant on the type of lighting kit you buy. Again, Jane is correct in saying that continuous lighting can be purchased, however it does run hot and it's not a lighting set up that is typically used in photography (more for the stage and videography), continuous lighting has a different quality to it as it produces a warmer hue than typical photographic lighting. If you buy speed-flashes/flash guns then the flash will only fire when the shutter is depressed and if you buy studio lights then there is a function called model lighting which illuminates whatever you're shooting and the flash will fire fully when the you trigger the shutter.


Thirdly, if you are adamant on purchasing a lighting set up then I would suggest studio lights or purchasing a few speed lights, something light a starter kit would probably do you proud (http://www.fotosense.co.uk/interfit-int352-ex150-mkiii-2-head-studio-kit.html). You might find difficulties with flare or blown out areas on your images if you are photographing metal but this can be avoided using certain techniques. Ultimately I would suggest using natural light as it may work better for you when photographing metal due to the quality of light and it differing from studio lighting. Considering you're from Australia I doubt that you'll have the same concerns with the weather like I have here in the UK so I would suggest finding a nice local location where the light looks good and use that to your advantage.


Hope this helps but if you need more advice just give me a shout.

Edited by beeonsay

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