Monday, June 24, 2013

Studio Lighting Workshop - camera setup instructions.

I recently finished leading a three day photographic studio lighting workshop.  It was kindly hosted by WICE, a leading Paris-based anglophone ex-pat community organization and held in their offices near metro stop la motte piquet grenelle.

To archive the course materials for future reference, and all that, I am posting some of relevant items here.

The following are the camera setup and use instructions used in a photographic studio lighting environment.  These apply when using flash equipment that is not tied to a camera's Through The Lens (TTL) exposure system.

Configuring the camera for use in a studio with flash units -

  1. Select 100 as your ISO

    Note: If your camera can't go that low, set the ISO to 200, or it's lowest ISO value.

  2. Select “Flash” as your White Balance

    Note: AWB (automatic white balance) will not work well in the studio environment. If “Flash” is not available, set the camera's Kelvin temperature to 5000K to 5500K.

  3. Select “Single Shot”, or whatever setting your camera uses to take one photograph at a time (disable multiple shutter releases which you might use for sports or bird photography).

  4. Slip the RF trigger into your camera's hot-shoe and turn on the RF Trigger

    Note: If your camera does not have a hot shoe, but has a PC connector, slip the flash trigger cord into both the nearest flash unit and then into your camera's PC connector. Further, some DSLRs come with wireless triggers built in, and can trigger that camera company's flash units, so it's worth understanding the level of integration that is possible between your camera and the flash system.

  5. Familiarize yourself with how to select your camera's AF point.

    Note: When making a photograph you will
    1. Select the AF point closest to the subject's eye
    2. Move the AF point over the eye
    3. Press the camera's shutter release half way down to hold the eye's focus
    4. Reframe the shot with the camera's shutter release still half pressed (so you don't loose focus on the eye)
    5. Then completely press the shutter release
      Calculating the Exposure ~ Quick and Easy

      If you are using a fully “wired” Through The Lens (TTL) system of flash(es), the following need not apply (though it remains a useful aid to understanding). However, many studio flash systems do not fully integrated into your cameras TTL exposure system. When this is the case, the following will help.

    6. Select “Manual” mode on your camera after following the instructions for “Configuring the camera for use with studio flash units”.
    7. Set the camera's shutter speed to 1/160th of a second

      Note: Some cameras/flash/trigger systems can accommodate shutter speeds up to 1/250th of a second

    8. Set the camera's aperture to either f/8 (see goal number three below) or f/11 (the preferred aperture)

      Note: In practice, goal number one is to ensure that the head of the subject is fully in focus (ie: that you have sufficient depth of field to ensure a critically sharp image). Goal number two is to ensure the intensity of light from the flash unit(s) override the background illumination. Goal number three is to select the aperture that eliminates chromatic aberrations that is many times found in inexpensive lenses (when used wide open apertures or stopped down to f/11 thru f/22).

    9. Make an exposure and look at the histogram of the image.
    10. Look at the right edge (“top end”) of the histogram curve which shows where the brightest part of the scene is on the exposure scale. The top end of the scale should just to the left of (just inside) the right edge of the histogram graph.

      If the top end of the scale touches the right edge of the histogram graph, turn the flash unit(s) intensity down (decrease the light output) and return to step number 4.

      If the top end of the scale is well to the left of the right edge of the histogram graph, turn the flash unit(s) intensity up (increase the light output) and return to step number 4.

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