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Help with strobe lighting

Hi again,

Okay, i have now received my remote rf triggers and i have 1 Yongnuo TT560 flash unit (still to buy another soon) and have successfully gotten some really nice photos of models doing things when paired with my softboxes (and the flash mounted remotely towards back of the room). Luckily it was family members because i must set-up, take some trial shots, manually adjust this Yongnuo flash for power output to get it where i want it. This wastes a lot of time!!!
I am planning to start shooting people shots using models and strobe lighting, starting with family members and occasional third parties and need to be more efficient on this, and i know it has to come out of the camera right to make it for stock.

(and there is no support on these Yongnuo units for E-TTL flash by the way but they are only fifty bucks and go as dim or bright as you'd ever want or need)

I know that i should not have to perform trial and error before every shoot to get things "just right" for stock photos. Am i going to have to buy a light meter or something ? Any input is greatly appreciated because i'd like to get rolling on this as soon as possible. I have notes from LisaFX and Alvera from long ago on isolating people on white background and basic light setup, but i am assuming things are done differently for a family sitting at a dinner table or on a couch ??? THANKS for any help ! :)
Canon T2i and 5D classic, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, Canon 70-200 F2.8 L IS...
Edited: 02/17/2013, 15:00:03 PM
First off you need to go and read the Strobist 101 blog. You might want to invest in a reflector as well if you currently only have one light/flash unit.

Syl Arena wrote "Speedlighters handbook". Get it as soon as you can. Other than that get the closest ornaments, dolls, teddies and things...experiment with distance of softboxes, angles and power. That way you will learn quickly what each effect has.

Good luck!!
f3.5-5.6 Sigma 17-50 f2.8 Canon 24-70L f2.8 Canon 70-200L f4 43...
Posted: 02/18/2013, 00:00:34 AM
Hi mudplucker, when I was doing studio work, a flashmeter was a must. I used a Polaris. Dont know whether they are still made, it was reasonably priced and very accurate.
170-500 Sigma zoom. Horseman 45HD field camera, various lenses, 6x9 a...
Edited: 02/18/2013, 07:59:32 AM
I have managed without the added expense of a light meter, and I shoot manual, no TTL. I found this book helpful when I first started experimenting with off camera flash and softboxes. It includes video with the text, and the photographers use radio triggers and strobes.

Currently my primary camera is a Fuji XT-1.
Edited: 02/18/2013, 20:55:16 PM
Can you use strobes without a light meter. Yes

Do you want to learn how to use strobes (without TTL) without a light meter.... only if you have a lot of time for trial and error. Getting a light meter and a gray card will help your learn the proper settings so much quicker
Posted: 02/18/2013, 11:36:00 AM
There's a good YouTube vid that Syl Arena did on B & H's channel It's applicable for any brand of flash despite its title.
Canon 7D Canon 70-200 F4 IS Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC
Posted: 02/18/2013, 15:51:10 PM
That was an AWESOME video that Syl Arena did. I just spent 2 and one half hours watching two videos that B&H has on their channel. It really explained a lot as far as working with manual flash, starting points and making adjustments. Kinda makes the "sunny 16" rule i learned back in the film days useful again. I think i will be on the look out for a reasonable light meter on Ebay ???? What do these go for and are they all the same ?
Canon T2i and 5D classic, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, Canon 70-200 F2.8 L IS...
Posted: 02/18/2013, 22:42:32 PM
rather spend a little more on a good some research and google light meter reviews. that way you will be able to make an informed decision.
f3.5-5.6 Sigma 17-50 f2.8 Canon 24-70L f2.8 Canon 70-200L f4 43...
Posted: 02/19/2013, 00:45:59 AM
I used 2 Yongnuo flashes with totally manual "knob"s. I mean there were no buttons, there was only a knob that controls the power. What is more, there were no 1/2 1/4 1/8 signs around it. You are totally blind...and some of the shots uploaded here are taken using those flashes. The trial-error process is not too long, because you will already use your eye to find the good looking light ratio.

Since you have only one flash at the moment, my humble suggestion is to invest on softboxes (cheap one) and to build your own reflectors (A1 sized, pure white reflector will be enough for a starting point).

I have to confess that (let aside using one of them) I have never ever seen a light meter in real life LOL what a shame for me
f2.8 - Nikkor 50mm f1.4 - Nikkor 50mm f1.8 - Tamron 90mm f2....
Posted: 02/19/2013, 01:54:34 AM
I wouldn't be too sure that even experienced photographers don't use some trial and error unless they're in a studio with constant conditions. You can see this in ThatNikonGuy's YouTube videos - he does three 'live' photoshoots that demonstrate this. Most tutorials only only show the perfect shot they got which can undermine a beginners confidence.
Canon 7D Canon 70-200 F4 IS Tamron 24-70 F2.8 VC
Posted: 02/19/2013, 05:49:53 AM