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Thread: Fluoro lighting as a continuous source

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    Fluoro lighting as a continuous source

    First real post here, sorry if it's the wrong spot (lighting?).

    I'm working my way up to (good) portrait photos, and I'm up to getting my lighting right. I use Sony, and have two off-camera flashes, umbrellas, stands, and a small reflector. Two flashes is still somewhat limiting (one for background, one for key - certainly not nothing, but I want to do this really well) so after some reading I remembered that I have two large fluoro light banks (two tubes each, like you'd find on your office ceiling) sitting around in the shed.

    1. Is it possible to use these as a source - in a giant softbox of some sort perhaps to mimic a strip light? i.e. would the power from mains be enough to be usable?

    2. If so, is it possible to get decent tubes in Australia? The only 'white' ones I've found so far have a CRI > 80, which although getting there, isn't the 90-95 that I may want. I can corrective gel my flashes, but should I be looking for better (and likely more expensive) tubes to begin with?

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    If the fluros are the only light source, if you adjust your white balance correctly, you just might be abe to pull off a shot. The light won't be very powerful so you might have to shoot wide open with undesirable settings. There's a reason why people dont use them though.

    Good portraits dont come from how many lights you have. World famous potraits to this day have been done with just one light.

    Why not use mirrors to turn one light source into two. Dont waste one light on your background. Use your reflector. I think you have more options to explore before wasting money on more gear
    Brodie Butler (Perth, WA)
    Photographer / Filmmaker / Retoucher
    Canon & Elinchrom user

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    Thanks for the reply. A few questions and responses though;

    Quote Originally Posted by Brodie View Post
    If the fluros are the only light source, if you adjust your white balance correctly, you just might be abe to pull off a shot. The light won't be very powerful so you might have to shoot wide open with undesirable settings. There's a reason why people dont use them though.
    As mentioned, I have a couple of flashes also, so I wouldn't be relying on them 100%. Certainly the power will be lower, but is it enough to use as a fill around, say f/8?

    My understanding however was that *some* people *do* use them as part of a setup. Certainly not relying on them, but I don't want to give up because it's not popular.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brodie View Post
    Good portraits dont come from how many lights you have. World famous potraits to this day have been done with just one light.
    Apologies if I've hit a nerve - I've no doubt that great things *can* and *have* been done with a single source, but I'm looking for variety and an additional option. The people who used a single source didn't have rim-lighting with a snooted background.

    Famously good things have been done with pinhole cameras - doesn't mean I'm selling up my DSLR.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brodie View Post
    Why not use mirrors to turn one light source into two. Dont waste one light on your background. Use your reflector. I think you have more options to explore before wasting money on more gear
    I'm curious to know what you mean by wasting a light on the background. My intention was that if I needed a background light it would be either as a snooted fall-off effect or flooded for a bright shadowless background. I can't get this with a reflected key light, can I? I am hoping that if I have two fluoro banks pointed at a background I can have it well lit, freeing up a flash for other uses. Or a soft fill strip-light.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be relying on mixed lighting for the shoot.

    There's nothing wrong with using fluoros as the main light source(using digital) as (Brodie mentioned) you'd use the WB adjustment settings in camera to get a good colour balance in your lighting, using either a grey card or white reference point.

    The problem with using fluoro lights and then adding to it with a flash of some kind is that the colours of each light source may be out of kilter(I think flouro is more red.. or maybe blue.. but it depends on the type and brand of fluoro light itself).

    I have a few different sources of CFL's now in my house and there's nothing wrong with using any of them as a light source as long as WB settings are taken into account. I personally don't like incandescent globes any longer.. even though they have a high CRI number and are well suited for more balanced light, and the reality is, that it really only affects film photography, because you don't have many easy options for balancing light perfectly(film gels over the light sources) and more importantly viewing your images.

    I have various brands of CFL globes in various rooms, and if I shoot with AWB in one room and then in another(with a different globe) the WB is markedly different. If I set a specific WB in camera in one room and use that in another again, they look totally different again. The point with low CRI lighting is that you need to take into account the difference in the colours of light being produced and set WB accordingly. Colours should still come out looking ok in the final image.
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    Question was: "is it possible to get decent tubes in Australia?"

    Depending on what you classify as decent, but if you are asking are there tubes available with ratings higher than 'office fluro light' the answer is yes.

    Fish keepers use tubes of many different ratings on aquariums; all of mine are at least 5500k (Daylight white) and go upto 18000k (Power Glo).
    Hope this helps.

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    Thanks, arthurking83, Blueywa. So, if I can get hold of some nice white (as in easily compensated for by using gels on my flash heads and appropriate WB) tubes, how about my first question - are these powerful enough to supplement flashes?

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    I wouldnt be using fluro tubes at all, as the lighting is harder to focus onto particular areas and you would need a LOT of it to make it feasible

    what u want are LED light panels, a lot of fashion and wedding photographers such as myself have been using them to great success, small, light, and very bright and can be directional and controlled easily

    check out a few of my last threads I have posted, all shot with LED lighting

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    Thanks, JM Tran, but that doesn't really address my question - I *have* fluoro banks (2 banks of 2 tubes) and I would like to know if I can use them in a softbox. I am not sure what you mean by 'harder to focus onto particular areas' in reference to using, say a softbox.

    When I need small, light, bright, and directional - I'll have a look at your solution. Or I'll stick with just my flashes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShootFirstAskLater View Post
    Thanks, JM Tran, but that doesn't really address my question - I *have* fluoro banks (2 banks of 2 tubes) and I would like to know if I can use them in a softbox. I am not sure what you mean by 'harder to focus onto particular areas' in reference to using, say a softbox.

    When I need small, light, bright, and directional - I'll have a look at your solution. Or I'll stick with just my flashes.

    If you want to stick them inside a softbox, the light becomes more diffused and weaker meaning that it will lose its effectiveness rather quickly. As a test turn those lights on and put a thin white bed sheet or something over it to give u an idea of how it will be inside a softbox

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    Thanks. It's looking like the only way I'll find out is by biting the bullet and doing the experiment, so yeah - I'll work on building a softbox for one and measuring the light output.

    Cheers all.

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    G'day SFAL

    I see nothing wrong with your idea, but like most of us with new ideas, you will need to experiment and find what suits your situation best

    As to using fluoros ... I have seen a US mob selling a tripod mounted, 36" square softbox lighting setup using 4x 'new-style' fluoros - their advert shows the double-twist little ones many of us have at home and claiming [I cannot verify] that 4x 20w lights = an 500watt old style light

    Dunno whether this helps ...
    Regards, Phil
    Of all the stuff in a busy photographers kitbag, the ability to see photographically is the most important
    google me at Travelling School of Photography
    images.: flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

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    I have some multi tube units which I use on my marine aquariums.
    They are not ordinary fluro tubes but a type known as 'High Output T5' (They are low heat, high light output).
    The ones I have are 36" (3ft) and 48"(4ft) - the 36" started around $40 each.
    Good luck

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    4 bank Flourolight.gif

    found these on flea bay ...

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