Creating natural light look with strobes

Started Apr 8, 2013 | Questions
kphoto1
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Creating natural light look with strobes
Apr 8, 2013

Hello,

I am struggling a little to create still lifes that look as though they have been lit by natural light. I do not have a window in the studio and must use strobes to create this look:

http://media-cache-ec2.pinterest.com/736x/3a/ad/27/3aad274c866d487e85e5be1ab83b3d40.jpg

I often shoot large web images of small things on tables and need them to look very natural and window lit and am struggling to make them look real due to what could be a mixture of lighting and photoshop.

Can anyone help?

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Kent Johnson
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 8, 2013

What have you tried so far? How did it look?

I would set up a large white surface on one side of the studio and simply bounce a couple of strobes into it. Position them to get the shadow pattern you want. Done.

Kent

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Barrie Davis
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 8, 2013

kphoto1 wrote:

Hello,

I am struggling a little to create still lifes that look as though they have been lit by natural light. I do not have a window in the studio and must use strobes to create this look:

http://media-cache-ec2.pinterest.com/736x/3a/ad/27/3aad274c866d487e85e5be1ab83b3d40.jpg

I often shoot large web images of small things on tables and need them to look very natural and window lit and am struggling to make them look real due to what could be a mixture of lighting and photoshop.

First off, I don't think your example picture looks particularly natural as window light... it is too lacking in directionality... too evenly lit, and therefore a bit flat.... too much "fill" lighting.

This is consistant with the reflections, which indicate more than one lightsource was used. This means, if light from a window was involved, it wasn't the only light... (or the only window?)

To simulate window light you must decide what size of window, and what kind of light is coming through it. Then select a light modifier or reflector panel that does the same job...

... for instance...

... a softbox of size 3 or 4 feet square is typically used to recreate window lighting for both still life and portraiture because that is a typical window size. Smaller sizes can be used for smaller subjects... just use them closer. As stated white a reflector of the same size could work just as well, with lights bounced of it instead...

If the subject is specularly reflective, the illusion of an actual window can be enhanced by splitting the front area of softbox diffuser or reflector into simulated "panes of glass" with sticky tape crossing it, and allowing the dark spacers to show in reflected highlights in the subject.

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kb2zuz
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 8, 2013

You want at least one (or more) large (36x48") softboxes. Position the main softbox to the side, if you have more softboxes put one or two on either side of the camera and or slightly above On the opposite side you'll want large white flats (basically 3' wide by 8' tall walls on wheels) to give more fill... how close you bring the flats will adjust the amount of fill

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hirejn
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 8, 2013

First, Photoshop is not a substitute for correct light. Soft boxes are used to simulate window light. Set your camera to the flash white balance, or take a picture of a photographic white card in the same light as you would shoot the scene, and then use that as a reference for correct white balance in post, if you're shooting RAW.

Bouncing a strobe into a large white foam board is an option, but not the same as a soft box. Ideally you'd shoot in manual mode so you have complete control over exposure. Meter for the side nearest the light and let it fall off. This is how window light works. Play with light falloff. Add a white board on the side opposite the light for fill if necessary.

There's no one correct solution. The correct solution is the one that gives you the look you want.

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Phil
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 8, 2013

I often try to convince photographers it's not the size of the light it is the size of the light as seen by the subject.

Natural light through a window is reproducible in artificial lighting but start with a sketch of the real lighting you want to reproduce. You can then position your lights anywhere along that diminishing cone of light.

If it's a 20-30 foot wall of windows flooding a white room you have a lot of work to do.

No only do you need a very wide uniform light but to may need multiple while reflectors as well.

And be mindful of LED lighting. An array of LEDs produces lighting more similar in nature to a soft-box with a grid than a soft-box alone.

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hotdog321
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 9, 2013

I agree with the others. Emulating window light is possible by using a large light source in close to the subject: softbox, umbrella or white board. The key is the apparent size of the light from the subject's viewpoint.

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john g
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 9, 2013

kphoto1 wrote:

Hello,

I am struggling a little to create still lifes that look as though they have been lit by natural light. I do not have a window in the studio and must use strobes to create this look:

http://media-cache-ec2.pinterest.com/736x/3a/ad/27/3aad274c866d487e85e5be1ab83b3d40.jpg

I often shoot large web images of small things on tables and need them to look very natural and window lit and am struggling to make them look real due to what could be a mixture of lighting and photoshop.

Can anyone help?

To duplicate that look, I would suggest a couple of 36" shoot through umbrellas. They are quick to set up and can produce a soft overall light with a minimum of shadowing.

Good luck!

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Darrell Spreen
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A similar question in another thread
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 9, 2013

Quite a few helpful comments in this thread:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/50857893

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Darrell

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Clueless Wanderer
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Re: Creating natural light look with strobes
In reply to kphoto1, Apr 18, 2013

If the strobe is your main light, The bigger the diffuser the better. Light the subject with -1 stop of flash power. If the strobe is on fill duty, -2 stops of strobe power

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