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With the introduction of the new LiteIgloo shooting enclosure products, Photoflex is also introducing a new LiteIgloo Kit to our line of complete studio solutions.

The First Studio Product Kit includes a Medium LiteIgloo, two new First Studio FirstStar quartz reflector lights with the Starlite Swivels, two Photoflex 2205 LiteStands, and two FirstStar 250-watt lamps. This gives you an extremely high quality portable studio you can set up anywhere you can find a plug. The Medium LiteIgloo measures 19.75 inches cubed, so it is ideal for most products the approximate size of a shoe box.

In this lesson we will take you through the basic set up of the LiteIgloo, the FirstStar lights and the 2205 LiteStands. Then we will get you started on how to use the kit showing you several set ups and results illustrating how easy it is to create professional quality images in very little time.

We will show how to make your settings on the Olympus E1 for shooting in your studio with this Product Kit.



(Click on any image below for an enlarged view.)

Topics Covered:

  • Prepping your set
  • Setting up the LiteIgloo
  • Installing the white sweep
  • Setting up the 2205 LiteStands
  • Setting up the FirstStar reflector lights
  • Making camera settings on the Olympus E1
    • Setting the exposure mode on the Olympus E1
    • Setting the white balance on the Olympus E1
    • Setting the resolution on the Olympus E1
    • Setting the ISO on the Olympus E1
  • Shooting the LiteIgloo Kit
  • Shooting for background knockouts
  • Lesson review

Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Prepping Your Set

To get started, find a surface or a table top to set up LiteIgloo. We set up a desktop in our studio and we will shoot from the narrow end so we can get the lights as close as we want (figure 1).



Figure 1

 

Setting up the LiteIgloo

The LiteIgloo comes folded in its own carry bag. A great advantage of the LiteIgloo over some other shooting enclosures on the market is that it is collapsible making storage and transporting very convenient.

Unzip the carry bag holding the LiteIgloo, then grip all the compressed rings of the product and remove it from the bag (figures 2 and 3).

 

 

For those of you that own or have used any of our LiteDiscs, the next step is easy. For those of you that have not be prepared.

The LiteIgloo will want to spring open from its folded state. Carefully with your free hand grip on of the edges of the LiteIgloo and let go of the compressed rings and the product will pop open into a flat rectangle with rounded corners (figures 4 and 5).

 

 

Find the open end of the rectangle and lift one of the sides to form a right angle (figures 6 and 7).

 

 

Next, grab the corner that is tucked in to the joint of the LiteIgloo and pull it out until the product pops into shape (figures 8 and 9).

 

Now flip over the LiteIgloo so that the opening doors face forward. The doors open from side to side so the opening should be vertical (figure 10).



Figure 10

To open up the access doors grip one of the sides and gently pull the Velcro tabs apart (figure 11).



Figure 11

To keep the doors out of your way while your working inside the LiteIgloo we included Velcro tabs on the side of the product. Once you have the door entirely open, turn the LiteIgloo and attach the Velcro tab on the corner of the door to the tab on the side of the product (figure 12).



Figure 12

 

Installing the White Sweep

Another great feature of the LiteIgloo is that it comes with a white background sweep that fits in the enclosure and is secured with Velcro tabs. Since the white sweep section included with the product has been folded, it may need to be ironed or steamed. Be sure to use the lowest setting on your iron to prevent melting the nylon fabric.

Once you have prepped the sweep, attach the Velcro tabs on the corners to the tabs at the top of the back panel inside the LiteIgloo. The sweep gives you a horizon-less background you can place your subjects on (figures 13 and 14).

 

 

Now we can place the camera and frame up our shot. We chose this old set of chrome spurs to help illustrate the benefits of the LiteIgloo for shooting highly reflective objects.

Once you have set your camera in place, reverse the steps we illustrated for opening the doors to seal the doors around the lens of your camera. Because we made the LiteIgloo with separate doors there is no restrictions to the placement of the camera.


Setting up the LiteStands

Before we set up our lights, we need to set up the LiteStands. This is very easy to do.

 

The first step is to loosen the knob on the leg collar (figure 15).



Figure 15

Pull the legs out away from the main tube of the stand and slide the leg collar down (figure 16).



Figure 16

Slide the leg collar into position spreading the legs out to stabilize the stand (figure 17).



Figure 17

Tighten the knob on the leg collar securing the legs in place (figure 18).



Figure 18

To raise and lower the stand, loosen the knob below the section you want to move (figure 19).



Figure 19

Pull the section up to the desired height (figure 20).



Figure 20

To secure the column section in place, re-tighten the knob (figure 21).



Figure 21

 

Setting up the FirstStar Reflector Lights

To assemble the FirstStar reflector lights, place the reflector and cord assembly face down on a surface, then slide the swivel assembly onto the yoke on the reflector (figures 22 and 23).

 

Secure the swivel to the reflector with the thumbscrew on the swivel assembly (figure 24).



Figure 24

 

Now attach the swivel and reflector light to the LiteStand by inserting the receiver on the swivel to the stud on the top of the LiteStand. Then secure the light to the stand with the thumbscrew on the receiver (figures 25 and 26).

 

Next we need to install the lamp into the light. Make sure the light is NOT plugged in. Since the lamp is in a glass envelope you can touch it with no worries, screw the lamp into the socket making sure it is seated all the way in (figure 27).



Figure 27

Operating the FirstStar lights is very simple. First plug the lights into a standard household wall outlet and switch on the unit (figure 28).

To position the light simply twist the grip handle about 1/8 a turn to the left and you can freely move the light anywhere, side to side and up and down. Then to lock the light down twist 1/8 turn to the right and the light position holds securely (figure 29).



Figure 28



Figure 29


 

Making Camera Settings on the Olympus E1

With our LiteIgloo shooting enclosure and FirstStar lights ready, we can set up our camera, the Olympus E1 digital SLR. We secured the E1 camera to our tripod.

Setting the Exposure Mode on the Olympus E1
The E-1 has several different shooting modes: Program (automatic), Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual mode.

If you want to adjust both the aperture and shutter speed settings manually, you must turn the Mode dial to M and adjust your settings using the Main and Sub dials.

To make things as simple as possible and focus on the lighting in the lesson, we will set the camera to the Program (automatic) exposure mode.

 



Figure 30

To switch to Program mode, simply turn the Mode dial to P (figure 30).

 

Setting the White Balance on the Olympus E1

The E-1 offers a variety of White Balance (WB) settings so that you can render natural-looking colors in your photographs.

You can leave it on AUTO and let the camera interpret the correct color temperature for any given situation. The camera is quite adept at determining the appropriate color temperature in most situations. However, there will be times when you will want to either choose a Preset WB setting or create a Custom WB setting.

Preset White Balance
There are many different Preset White Balance settings from which you can choose that will Color Balance such situations as sunny days, cloudy days, shade in daylight and many different artificial lighting conditions. You can experiment with different color tones by selecting different Preset WB settings. The color temperatures (measured in degrees Kelvin) available for Preset WB are as follows: 3000K, 3300K, 3600K, 3900K, 4000K, 4300K, 4500K, 4800K, 5500K, 6500K, 6600K and 7500K. It is even possible to make fine tunings to the Presets in the WB Compensation menu, where you can adjust the color temperature in 50K increments.

There are times when the Presets do not quite match the color temperature of a given light source.

For example, the Photoflex FirstStar Lamp used in the First Studio Product Kit is a photographic light source that is designed to have the color temperature of a true Tungsten light: 3200 degrees Kelvin. Yet the closest Presets in the E-1 are 3000K and 3300K degrees Kelvin. While 100 or 200 degrees may not seem like a lot, it can noticeably throw off your Color Balance. In situations like these, it's better to create a Custom WB setting.

Here, we set the white balance to a preset for tungsten lighting.

 

In order to select this White Balance preset, first press and hold down the small WB button on the top of the camera and then jog the Main Dial until 3300 appears in the control panel (figure 31).

Now your camera is calibrated for the color temperature of 3300º Kelvin, very near a normal tungsten setting. To fine-tune the white balance setting to match the 3200º Kelvin color temperature of the FirstStar lamp, you can use the custom white balance setting on the E-1.



Figure 31

 

Setting the Resolution on the Olympus E1

The E-1 offers a variety of Record mode settings that ascend in both image size and quality. They are:

  • SQ / Standard Quality - a JPEG setting ideal for web quality images, the only mode in which the number of pixels and the level of compression can be adjusted.
  • SHQ / Super High Quality - the least compressed JPEG format, great for both web and print, write time to card is faster than in TIFF or RAW formats.
  • TIFF / Tagged Image File Format - this format is designed expressly for print, applies no compression, but images take more time to write to card and file sizes can be quite large.
  • RAW / Olympus Raw Format (.orf) - because there is no compression applied to an image in this format, Image Quality is optimal and sometimes noticeably better than with the TIFF format, the write time to the card is slightly faster and file size is somewhat smaller than with the TIFF format, but files can only be displayed as images with the Olympus e-Capture software or in Adobe Photoshop with specific plug-in software (available at www.olympus.com).

 



Figure 32

To select the Resolution, press the Resolution button on top of the camera and spin the Main dial until you see the Resolution setting you want appear in the control panel (figure 32).

We used the SHQ setting for our photo session.

 

Setting the ISO on the Olympus E1

The term ISO (what used to be known as ASA) is used to measure the speed of photographic film. The higher the ISO rating the faster the film is, and fast film affords better exposures in low light situations. The offshoot is that the faster the film gets, the more the grain size increases.

We have found that higher ISO numbers in digital cameras result in increased noise rather than larger “grain”.

 



Figure 33

The shipping default ISO setting in the E-1 is set to -A- (Auto), which will allow the camera to make an interpreted setting depending on the availability of light from ISO 100 to 400 (figure 33).



Figure 34

We recommend setting the ISO to 100 (its lowest) for most situations, as this renders the best image quality. To adjust this setting, simply hold down the ISO button and turn the Main dial until the desired ISO setting is displayed (figure 34).

 

A Look at Lighting Scenarios

Once the camera was set and our subject was framed up, we set to work on the lighting.

 

For our first set up we placed the lights at 90 degrees from the LiteIgloo. Each light was centered, one on the right side panel and the other on the left and about 30 inches away (figure 35). In the following results comparison (figure 36) the right image is with only the right light on, the center image has both lights on and the left image is the left light only. We will follow this format as we go through the balance of this lesson.



Figure 35



Figure 36


 

In this first set of results we see sort of a flat image; it’s hard to see separation between the two spurs. And because the lights are illuminating the background as much as the subject, we are loosing the edges of the spurs against the background. For this subject this is not the best choice for lighting.

 

For the next set up, we moved both lights to 45 degrees from the front to the right and left, and we raised them up about 3 inches. We checked our focus and fired off the series of results shots (figures 37 and 38).



Figure 37



Figure 38


 

For this set of results we start to see the subject much better. The light from the left is striking the right spur at an incident angle, reflecting a clean highlight. The light from the right is defining the edges of the wheel on the spurs. This works well and shows a good representation of the subject.

 

In our next set up, we moved the light on the left to the back of the set so that it focused on the back left corner of the LiteIgloo. We did not move the light on the right side. Again we checked our focus and shot the next set of results (figures 39 and 40).



Figure 39



Figure 40


 

The results from this setup show the light from the left is mainly lighting the background and adding some highlights to the top edges of the spurs. It is also helping to separate the subject from the background. Again the light from the right is adding highlights to the edges of the spurs. Together they work well showing the product well without the contrast of the hot incident reflection.

 

For the next setup, we moved the right light back to focus on the back right corner of the LiteIgloo, matching the angle of the light on the left side. We checked focus and shot our results images (figures 41 and 42).



Figure 41



Figure 42


 

In this result set we are using the front surfaces of the LiteIgloo as the fill for the shot since all the light is coming from the back. This setup gives us a clean background with good separation of the product and more dimension to the shot because we are picking up some grounding shadows under the spurs.

 

For the last setup we moved the left light back to front at a 45-degree angle. But this time we lowered the light so that it was level with the bottom edge of the LiteIgloo. We then tipped the light up about 15 to 20 degrees. For the right light, we left it in the same position, but we raised it up to about 5 feet and tipped it down to focus on the top back edge of the LiteIgloo (figures 43 and 44).



Figure 43



Figure 44


 

In our final results, we have arrived at the best solution for this subject. The light from the left is giving us much the same highlight we had in our second setup, yet with added control. By lowering the light down we have created a fall off of light on the spurs giving them more shape. And raising the back right light we have created a clean background with the bonus of creating a highlight on the top edge of both spurs adding to the depth and dimension of the subject.

 

 

Shooting for Background Knockouts

Included with the First Studio Product Kit is a chromakey blue sweep. When used in conjunction with specialized masking programs, subjects shot on the chromakey sweep can be easily extracted from the background and placed in other images or into a photomontage.

 

You install the chromakey sweep as you would the white sweep, again you may need to steam or press the sweep to remove the creases incurred in shipping.

Once we had the sweep prepped, we placed it in the LiteIgloo and set our new subject on the surface (figure 45).



Figure 45

For our first setup, we placed the lights at 90 degrees from the right and left with the lights centered on the side panels of the LiteIgloo. We checked our exposure, focused, and shot our results set (figures 46 and 47).



Figure 46



Figure 47


 

Our result set shows how each light creates an edge on either side of the bottle and give the subject a sense of shape.

 

For our next setup, we moved the left light to the right side of the set and placed it so that it focused the light on the top and right panel. We moved the right light forward so that it focused on the front of the right panel. Again we checked our focus and shot a set of results (figures 48 and 49).



Figure 48



Figure 49


 

Here we see that with both the lights on the right side of the set, the shape of the bottle is better; it feels much more round. And we have carried the highlight all the way down the right side of the subject.

 

 

In figures 50 and 51 we show a couple examples of what can be done with the subject once you have applied a masking program.

 

 

Lesson Review

To review our steps we will repeat the set shots and the final image for each set up with both lights on.

Both lights at 90 degrees with the light focused on the right and left side panels (figures 52 and 53).

 

 

Both lights at 45 degrees from the front with the light raised a few inches and focused on the right and left corners (figures 54 and 55).

 

 

The left light moved to the back focusing on the back left corner, and the right light remains in the same position (figures 56 and 57).

 

 

Both lights moved to the back of the LiteIgloo focused on the right and left corners (figures 58 and 59).

 

 

The left light moved to the front left corner, lowered and tipped up to allow the light fall off a little across the LiteIgloo. The right light lifted up to about 5 feet and tipped down to focus on the backside of the top panel (figures 60 and 61).

 

 

For our shot of the wine bottle, both lights at 90 degrees focused on the right and left panels of the LiteIgloo (figures 62 and 63).

 

 

Left light moved to the right, focused on the right and top panels, and the left light moved forward focused on the front of the right panel (figures 64 and 65).

 

 

As you can see taking great shots can be a snap when you can control the environment. The LiteIgloo gives you that control.

Set up and tear down take no time at all, we set up the First Studio Product Kit including the enclosure, the stands, the lights, and the camera in about five minutes. We spent about five minutes ironing the sweep and arranging the spurs. Then we spent about fifteen minutes shooting and arranging the lights for our examples and another ten minutes downloading and evaluating the shots we took. Then we packed up all the gear and were ready to go. The entire process took about 40 minutes.

So whether you have one or two shots to do, or you want to shoot a catalog or images for your web site, the First Studio Product Kit by Photoflex offers all the stuff you need and takes up very little space.

 


Equipment Used:
You can click on the blue links below for more info.

Recommended Links

  • To learn more about Photoflex equipment, go to www.photoflex.com
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