First attempt at using my new Einstein monolight

Started May 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
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VirtualMirage
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First attempt at using my new Einstein monolight
May 23, 2012

So I thought about posting in my original thread here:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1025&thread=41341454

But I figured since that was more about shopping around and acquiring the equipment, I should probably start a new thread of me actually being able to use said equipment.

Just as a recap, I wanted to start venturing into using a more "studio-like" setup and wanted to start learning how to use monolights, multiple lights, reflectors, and backdrops. After much time was spent researching what I wanted and could afford, I bit the bullet and made my purchase.

Below are two pictures (and two 100% crops) from my first "session", using my wife and daughter as models.

Wife and daughter:

100% crop of daughter's eyes:

Wife:

100% crop of wife's eyes:

The setup consisted of one Einstein E640 with a 64" White PLM used as a shoot through (a black spill kill fabric was attached), one Sony HVL-F56AM flash to light the backdrop with an optical slave adapter attached, a white 8' x 16' backdrop, and a 43" silver reflector. The E640 was set about 45 degrees left of the subject and was set as high as my ceiling would allow. The reflector was about 45 degrees right of the subject but set where the center was about eye level. The Sony flash was sitting on the floor behind the subject with a diffuser attached pointing towards the background. The lighting was measured and adjusted using a Sekonic L-358.

All pictures were taken on my Sony SLT-A77 in RAW at ISO 50 with a shutter speed of 1/250 (max flash sync speed) and an f-stop of 8. The lens used was a Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM. Post processing was done in Lightroom 4. Color and white balance was adjusted using a Datacolor SpyderCheckr color chart.

Lessons learned:

  • Set the speed light to Hold after configuring it. Otherwise it will go to sleep after about 2 minutes of no use, leaving for a gray background that has to be fixed in post process. Since I was used to using it on camera, I never had it fall asleep on me before.

  • Invest in a very short light stand so the speed light doesn't need to be propped using a mini bean bag.

  • A fussy baby at the beginning of a shoot makes for a short, difficult shoot. With the wife bouncing our daughter up and down to calm her down, it was difficult to keep her posed the way I wanted and to keep the composition that was intended. At least the it wasn't the setup and flashes that made our daughter fussy, it didn't seem to bother her. She was just fussy to begin with.

  • I need to work on figuring out how to get more out of my reflector. I felt I wasn't getting enough light bounced off of it. It may have been due to its distance from the subject or from it's angle across from the opposing light. This is something I need to learn.

  • If I want to use my speed light as a hair light, then I need to invest in a light stand attachment that will allow me to angle the flash downwards towards the subject. I didn't think of this until when I was setting up my stands.

  • Take a picture of the setup before you start take pictures of the subject. That way I can have a recording of my layout. I was planning on doing this, but the wife was rushing me so I forgot until I was taking down everything. Doh!

  • Keep a tape roller on hand at all times!

  • Keep a sharp eye out for stray hairs.

There are probably a few more items I can add to this list, but this is what comes to mind first.

Any advise or pointers that can help me improve my skills is welcomed.

Thanks!
--
Paul

 VirtualMirage's gear list:VirtualMirage's gear list
Sony RX100 Sony SLT-A77 Sony a77 II Sony 50mm F1.4 Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm f/2.8 DX +24 more
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