Low ceiling Top down challenge

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Currantos Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
Low ceiling Top down challenge

Hi.

I really would like to accomplish that "top down" look, similar to a lot of beauty/butterfly and even fitness light that sculpts down the sides of the face/body but have low ceiling challenges.

Anyone has any recommendations? Are there flat lights? The light plus softbox take up a significant space. In an 8 ft apartment studio to have a top light 4ft softbox the model has to be pretty much seated on a low stool, so full body not possible.

Anyone has any tips or tricks or anything? Trying to learn here. Thank you

tugwilson Veteran Member • Posts: 3,044
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

Currantos wrote:

Hi.

I really would like to accomplish that "top down" look, similar to a lot of beauty/butterfly and even fitness light that sculpts down the sides of the face/body but have low ceiling challenges.

Anyone has any recommendations? Are there flat lights? The light plus softbox take up a significant space. In an 8 ft apartment studio to have a top light 4ft softbox the model has to be pretty much seated on a low stool, so full body not possible.

Anyone has any tips or tricks or anything? Trying to learn here. Thank you

Strip softboxes are quite shallow.

If you are really pushed for space the StobiStrip is a good solution.

If the ceiling is white you can just bounce the light of it, of course.

Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 7,443
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

How about making a 60x60 cm frame of 1.5x10 cm wood, the frame and lid clad with aluminium foil on the inside, and a bottom of white translucent plexiglass, then feed it with two speedlights or two Godox AD200pros through holes in the frame? Or you could make it larger and use more speedlights.

Either bolt it to the ceiling or hang it from a crossbar between two light stands.

Come to think of it, I might have a go at it myself.

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Richard Katris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,583
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

check out this:

https://www.adorama.com/us1239031.html

Godox LF308BI Variable Color LED Video Light with Flash Sync E

I have no idea how much power it has or anything about recycling...but looks possible....

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Richard Katris aka Chanan

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Richard Katris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,583
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

as Klaus said....but use old Sunpak 433D units....about $15 each on eBay add optical slave eyes for $10 or less  run on AAs all day at 1/16 power with almost instant recycle and no cords.  I have used these for years and can shoot 500+ shots per set of NIMH batteries.

Richard Katris aka Chanan

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Klaus dk
Klaus dk Veteran Member • Posts: 7,443
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

Richard Katris wrote:

as Klaus said....but use old Sunpak 433D units....about $15 each on eBay add optical slave eyes for $10 or less run on AAs all day at 1/16 power with almost instant recycle and no cords. I have used these for years and can shoot 500+ shots per set of NIMH batteries.

Richard Katris aka Chanan

Except for remote control. Godox speedlights can be power controlled from an on camera transmitter. When the light is placed just under the ceiling and above the model, a power change will be a major inconvenience and break the flow of the shoot.

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Richard Katris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,583
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

true on lack of remote control.....but if low ceiling he may just want it up there all the time....  and adjust his other key and fill lights to get the effect he wants from the upper one, and shift the box side to side back and forth as needed.  At the price of the non TTL godox radio units....it may be a wash.

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Richard Katris aka Chanan

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Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins Regular Member • Posts: 416
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge
2

tugwilson wrote:

Currantos wrote:

Hi.

I really would like to accomplish that "top down" look, similar to a lot of beauty/butterfly and even fitness light that sculpts down the sides of the face/body but have low ceiling challenges.

Anyone has any recommendations? Are there flat lights? The light plus softbox take up a significant space. In an 8 ft apartment studio to have a top light 4ft softbox the model has to be pretty much seated on a low stool, so full body not possible.

Anyone has any tips or tricks or anything? Trying to learn here. Thank you

Strip softboxes are quite shallow.

If you are really pushed for space the StobiStrip is a good solution.

If the ceiling is white you can just bounce the light of it, of course.

Bouncing off a white ceiling works well, or stick a reflector up there and bounce off that. Or use an umbrella or umbrella-softbox that can be pushed right up against the ceiling to gain a couple of feet of effective height compared to a normal front-firing softbox.

OP Currantos Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
Thank you

Great suggestions, some of them more 'tinkery' than others. Would prefer 'set it and forget it' type thing rather than the play with it all day with some of them kinda would end up.

Leaning toward making a flat softbox myself, lining it with foil or something similar reflective and just making a side hole and shooting a strobe into the side hole hoping it will disperse enough and not have a horrid hot spot. Might be possible, attaching to ceiling should be easy for a wood frame.

I have seen tutorials online where people made their own custom softboxes due to the unique nature of their project, either subject or space that they were photographing and it's basically a wood frame which is within my technologic reach.

Don't think LED panels are up to the job if I want a flash look, light intensity is not high enough routinely with constant light from what I understand to get best images.

I tried shooting at the ceiling and hoping for bounce but end up with world's flattest most boring lighting that just can't be used for anything serious and contrast is just too low. It would have to be a white ceiling with black walls/floors and right now I don't have access to a black studio like that. Working in a small all white space.

Thanks for everyone's words of wisdom. Learning all the time.

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins Regular Member • Posts: 416
Re: Thank you

Currantos wrote:

Great suggestions, some of them more 'tinkery' than others. Would prefer 'set it and forget it' type thing rather than the play with it all day with some of them kinda would end up.

Leaning toward making a flat softbox myself, lining it with foil or something similar reflective and just making a side hole and shooting a strobe into the side hole hoping it will disperse enough and not have a horrid hot spot. Might be possible, attaching to ceiling should be easy for a wood frame.

I have seen tutorials online where people made their own custom softboxes due to the unique nature of their project, either subject or space that they were photographing and it's basically a wood frame which is within my technologic reach.

Don't think LED panels are up to the job if I want a flash look, light intensity is not high enough routinely with constant light from what I understand to get best images.

I tried shooting at the ceiling and hoping for bounce but end up with world's flattest most boring lighting that just can't be used for anything serious and contrast is just too low. It would have to be a white ceiling with black walls/floors and right now I don't have access to a black studio like that. Working in a small all white space.

Thanks for everyone's words of wisdom. Learning all the time.

Your DIY idea doesn't sound great...

But try an umbrella first (or umbrella-softbox). For harder light, go for a smallish silver umbrella. Very cheap.

Richard Katris Veteran Member • Posts: 4,583
Re: Thank you

on the DIY box.....if you use the pull out panel on many strobes, and have it on the bottom it should push most of the light upwards to fill the box w/less hot spot. With regard to the LED panel I pointed you to....it is both continuous light LED, and works as a strobe with the Godox system (programable like their flashes) at according to the data 3X the amount of light as a strobe, that it gives out in continuous form...problem is they really don't give a good idea of how much light that is......sounds interesting but replacing batteries in a single light or two located at an edge to your box, sounds easier than dealing with a back mounted battery on a unit flush to the ceiling...unless you had it on a boom and could reposition it easily.....which you probably will not be able to do with the wood box.. wish they gave a better idea of how much light it puts out....tempted to get it myself at the $69 asking price.

https://www.adorama.com/us1239031.html

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Richard Katris aka Chanan

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Joe Wisenheimer
Joe Wisenheimer New Member • Posts: 17
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

Currantos wrote:

Hi.

I really would like to accomplish that "top down" look, similar to a lot of beauty/butterfly and even fitness light that sculpts down the sides of the face/body but have low ceiling challenges.

Anyone has any recommendations? Are there flat lights? The light plus softbox take up a significant space. In an 8 ft apartment studio to have a top light 4ft softbox the model has to be pretty much seated on a low stool, so full body not possible.

Anyone has any tips or tricks or anything? Trying to learn here. Thank you

Bale of Straw

Chaise Lounge

Definitely that top down look!  Under 8 ft too!

Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Regular Member • Posts: 364
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

Currantos wrote:

Hi.

I really would like to accomplish that "top down" look, similar to a lot of beauty/butterfly and even fitness light that sculpts down the sides of the face/body but have low ceiling challenges.

Anyone has any recommendations? Are there flat lights? The light plus softbox take up a significant space. In an 8 ft apartment studio to have a top light 4ft softbox the model has to be pretty much seated on a low stool, so full body not possible.

Anyone has any tips or tricks or anything? Trying to learn here. Thank you

You do not mention how low your ceiling is and if is a solid or dropped type of structure. where a light source can be recessed above the ceiling tiles.

Here is the main issue. If the ceiling is very low you may not have sufficient vertical rise to accommodate any kind of proper facial lighting so the first thing to do before investing in any equipment is a little test experiment: Take any directional unmodified light source like a simple reflector/flood or whatever you can find and find out if you have enough height to get the facial light form you are looking for. A direct light source is more telling. If you do not have enough clearance there's any panel, soft-box or any defused system that will work because it going to be larger than a single lamp. I don't think that one foot or less is going to make a difference if the is insufficient space. Uou will need more latitude or wiggle room to accommodate folks of different heights and different facial strictures- a totally fixed light will not work well.

The good news is if there is enough workable space you may be able to get a very low profile modifier from plumltd.com - they have a line of Wafer modifiers that are extremely low profile. The photographer/inventor is Gary Register- Google him and his company.

I know from experience that shooting portraits in confined spaces can be difficult not only with low ceilings but also with insufficient space around the subject to place main and kicker lights, reflectors and allowing for enough distance for the background. When working on location and shooting weddings I have had to use existing mirrors to redirect light in small apartments and dressing rooms- it ain't lots of good fun but it can be improvised. If you are setting up a more or less permanent shooting area, you might want to consider another part of your home. If you have to seat people very low to the floor, you may end up with awkward or uncomfortable poses.

I hope this helps- good luck!

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Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

OP Currantos Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
hahah

Thank you, good thought, best of non-athletes I supposed. Looking for fierce athletic gymnastic type feeling to the image. High contrast sculpted physical type light

OP Currantos Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

Thank you great points

8ft standard ceiling apartment

Standing poses only, athletes and gymnasts and dancers don't want anything sitting or on the floor, they want to show off the body and rightly so. It's mostly physique, no portraits. The portrait of the dancer is their body/poses/extension. For true portraits they can sit on a really low stool, I did that, works fine for the face only look.

This is more full body

I know, 8ft with a 6 ft model is basically bordering on unrealistic.

Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Regular Member • Posts: 364
Re: Low ceiling Top down challenge

Currantos wrote:

Thank you great points

8ft standard ceiling apartment

Standing poses only, athletes and gymnasts and dancers don't want anything sitting or on the floor, they want to show off the body and rightly so. It's mostly physique, no portraits. The portrait of the dancer is their body/poses/extension. For true portraits they can sit on a really low stool, I did that, works fine for the face only look.

This is more full body

I know, 8ft with a 6 ft model is basically bordering on unrealistic.

Another idea I can run by you- don't worry about overhead lighting As for full body shits that extenuate the physique and musculature, lighting from the side at 35, 45, 90 and 135 degrees from the camera/subject axis will work well. I use that method for dancers. athletes, body builders, etc.

A typical lighting would be an off-camera light in a soft-box or umbrella, a bounced off the ceiling in back of the camera or a large white umbrella for fill. If you want to light or glamorize the hair, a small direct but diffused light source on a boom arm or mounted on the ceiling can work at 2 feet from the subject. The so-called hair light can come in from behind the subject.

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Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

OP Currantos Senior Member • Posts: 1,328
Yes, thank you

yes, something like that, my other option is a very small hard light, no modifier on top, that gives the character, then fill from low/normal angle.

That is easier that softbox up top.

No space for hair, and many athletes are bald/shaved so it would be a detriment, hate when the light hits a sweaty oily bald head and becomes all white

appreciate the suggestions, main point is to shoot way off axis it seems

Joe Wisenheimer
Joe Wisenheimer New Member • Posts: 17
Re: hahah

Currantos wrote:

Thank you, good thought, best of non-athletes I supposed. Looking for fierce athletic gymnastic type feeling to the image. High contrast sculpted physical type light

So hard and directional light. Grids, barn doors or flags, stripboxes.  Grids on speedlights,  grids on standard 7" reflectors.

If they're not moving, get a few Mole Richardson Mini's on ebay.   Hard light, flood to spot, easy to shape and flag with barn doors.  Like this

elliotn Senior Member • Posts: 2,312
Re: Thank you

Currantos wrote:

I tried shooting at the ceiling and hoping for bounce but end up with world's flattest most boring lighting that just can't be used for anything serious and contrast is just too low. It would have to be a white ceiling with black walls/floors and right now I don't have access to a black studio like that. Working in a small all white space.

You need to use tight grids on your lights to create a small spot on the ceiling. And then black polyboards around your model to reduce fill.

Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Regular Member • Posts: 364
Re: Yes, thank you

Currantos wrote:

yes, something like that, my other option is a very small hard light, no modifier on top, that gives the character, then fill from low/normal angle.

That is easier that softbox up top.

No space for hair, and many athletes are bald/shaved so it would be a detriment, hate when the light hits a sweaty oily bald head and becomes all white

appreciate the suggestions, main point is to shoot way off axis it seems

The attached diagram shows some of the MAIN light positions.

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Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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