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Need small background light

SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
edited March 2014 in home
Hi, I need to get a small background light for a makeshift studio in an office. I wondering if anyone has any recommendations. I have set up a very small 'studio' at a large business in town. They need photos taken of staff members once or twice a week and they hired me to set this up. The room we have is very small but it works. I've been shooting in it for a while but now they chose a new background, solid gray paper. And they want to have the gray graduated from dark to light as though the background were made that way. They showed me a sample photo and I learned the transition was achieved via a background light. So they want me to rig a set up that will give us the same look. The distance between subject and background paper is about a foot. Maybe two. That's all there is space for.

I'm thinking an Alien Bee 400 might work. Also, what about the Impact moonlight linked here. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/551788-REG/Impact_VSD_160_VSD160_Digital_Monolight.html

I'm leaning toward the Impact because I can get from B&H and I liked buying stuff there. Alien Bee is good product but confusing to be sure you have all necessary attachments.

Thank you.


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    edited April 2014
    Sounds to me like an Alien Bee would be overkill in such a small place?
    Any reason not to use a manual-only speedlight?
  • ZenonZenon Member
    I was just on another post about something similar. You can get a Yongnuo manual flash for about $70.
  • Thanks. Yes, I think Alien Bee would be much more than needed. I've tried a speed light as an interim and it may do the trick if I can get the flagging and positioning right and get it consistent. Thanks Z, I'll check that out.
  • SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
    edited July 2014
    My attempts to get a graduated look on the background paper via a background light have so far been unsuccessful. I am using a speedlight as I think the power is sufficient. So far the only 'success' has been to get a halo of brighter light around the subject's head. It's not what they want.

    This office set-up is just for headshots and they want a graduated look, for example where it's lighter gray at the bottom (around the person's upper arms and shoulders) and going to darker gray at top of head.

    So I realized today that the problem may be that the main light (at right) is too close to the background to get this look. The light is so close that it also lights up the background and washes out any light variation I'm getting with the speedlight. If that's so, there's no way around this as you can see, the room is so small. However, since I'm able to put a visible (unwanted) halo around person's head I might be able to get the graduated look. Or is this space just too small?
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I would say the space is too small for what you want to achieve, and the main light is adding too much light to he background.
  • Would using a Speedlight or monolight at a very low setting angled far left or right behind the background do anything?
  • Thank you Neil.

    Penn: Behind the background? I don't understand your idea. Can you elaborate? Thank you.
  • edited July 2014
    Normaly you'd have the background light, far camera left or right, behind your subject pointed at your backdrop. I'm just wondering if you put the flash or monolight behind the back drop and pointed horizontally across it, would it give you the desired result. Kinda like defusing the light somewhat. The light fall-off should go from light to dark. I'd like to know myself. I'm at work so I can't try it out. worth a shot..
  • Who knows? Worth a shot, I'll give that a try. Thanks.
  • SkipperlangeSkipperlange Member
    edited July 2014
    As you can see in this photo I am able to get light difference with a halo around subject's head. Problem is that's not what they want. But given that I'm able to get this, shouldn't I be able to get graduated look with proper placement and power? Will keep trying though I'm afraid Neil is right about the space being too small.

    P. S. I took a lot without this background light too so there were plenty without this weird light going on.
  • Put the background light, Flash or monolight at left or right side edge of backdrop or muslin, or whatever you're using...direct it horizonally from one side to the other. See if that works Skipper, Certainly won't get a halo.
  • That's a good idea. Thanks, I need to get a model and play around a bit more.
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