Backdrop/Lighting equipment and set up

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Mary Elizabeth Youngs
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Backdrop/Lighting equipment and set up

Postby Mary Elizabeth Youngs on Tue May 26, 2015 11:11 pm

Hi I'm trying to start up my own photography business. I've mostly been taking just ring shots for two years and now wish to ad backdrop photos as an option as well. Just wondering what are the best lights to use brand and set up type? How many lights should I use? Where can I purchase the extra large backdrops? Thank you!

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Barb Young
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Re: Backdrop/Lighting equipment and set up

Postby Barb Young on Wed May 27, 2015 8:49 am

Mary this is the "open" forum and not used much. You would be better off posting this in the General Members' Forum, probably the Tech section. If you scroll down the Board Index, you will come to the General Members section. No one I know uses lighting with ribbon shots, or lighting around horses much at all, nor would I take a horse of mine near any lighting. Asking for trouble! Learn to use your natural light. Build your own background and keep it simple, or find a good spot at the show that will work. Remember: "keep it simple."
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Alexander Batten-Phelps
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Re: Backdrop/Lighting equipment and set up

Postby Alexander Batten-Phelps on Wed May 27, 2015 2:17 pm

Flash with horses is a bit of a grey area which is to say some photographers will never ever do it and others will.

Horses are flight animals which means if they get spooked they lashout and run and they've a lot of power when they do that which means often people try to reduce the potential scary things; and big flashes, umbrellas, softboxes and backdrops are all new things which could spook a horse.

In general from what I've read though it is perfectly possible to do if you so choose to but there are a few things to keep in mind:

1) You want a setup that isn't going to flap around. This means good tripods, strong setups and generally no wind. Assistants are very helpful in controlling the light setup but so long as the weather is calm it shouldn't be a problem.

2) You'd ideally want the lighting setup as much as possible without the horse there, ergo all your test shots done as much as possible without the horse. An external light meter would be handy so you can simulate the angle and position of the horses body relative to the lights with the meter to check the light that's falling on the location to aid in balancing your lights.

3) You bring the horse to the lights not the lights to the horse; that way you can let them approach at their speed rather than try to hold them in place whilst setting up around them.

4) Radio. Ideally you want radio control so that you don't have cables everywhere. Infra red and flash activated systems can work but can also be nightmares (infra red needs a direct line of sight - whilst flash triggered systems can be iffy in strong light); radio is the most reliable.

5) On the subject of cables and noise you might want to look at either speedlite flash units which will offer less power, but are lighter and battery operated. Or you can look at the battery powered studio flash units (there's a good few brands making mini-lights which are very small and portable but offer lots of power like the larger studio flash units).

Depends a little on your idea of a setup and what you want to go for; but the less cables the better; remember even if you tape the cable down with duct-tape to the floor if the horse catches a rising part or a tripod leg it might well pull the whole rest along with it.

6) You might get more luck asking around some portrait photographers; certainly they can give good advice on lighting setups and how to approach lighting and how much you might want to get. Further many are more likely to use lighting for horses on a once-off event so they might have some direct experience as well.

Note much of this (such as lighting modifiers) still applies to even if you're using natural light since you can use reflectors to redirect light (but again ahve to take all the same precautions)

I can't suggest brands of studio flash units (I don't use any); but power for price you'll get more from studio flash units (and the mini ones with batteries). Speedlites are the most mobile but offer the least power; you can double or even use 4 at once behind a sofbox or other modifier (I think there's even an 8 speedlite unit somewhere) but the cost for that is a lot more than a single studio light. The bonus is that you don't have to invest in heavy batteries/mains power lines/generators to run mobile and outside.
Canon also have some radio equipped flash units now; their 600 range of speedlites have built-in radio so if you are a Canon shooter you can use those as opposed to speedlites and radio triggers. That said Yongo speedlite flash units and 3rd party radio triggers (Catcus make a range and there are some others) would be cheaper - if sometimes less reliable (Yongo does well - the cheaper radios work well from some brands but not others).

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