Studio trial’n’error software. Where is it?

I’ve been searching the internet for a studio setup test drive type of software that gives you the possibility to try different soft boxes, light sources, temperatures, backgrounds, lenses but nothing to be found. Is this an area that has been over looked or is it me that just don’t know how to find it?

I’m taking something simple to use, easy to setup and that isn’t branded but covers most things that you can do in a studio and with some common used shapes, bodies, things as test objects.

This way you could by using the computer find the look you’re after without the need of 3D Studio Max or Alias – and without a model. Of course there should be some standard setups included that you can play with. mmm..

Does this exist already or is there any good programmer out there that wanna do this with me?

About Carl Rytterfalk

Welcome to my blog! I'm Carl Rytterfalk, a swedish photographer who loves everything that is interesting in the world of photography. In 2002 I fell in love with the three layered Foveon sensor and has since then been an addicted user of Sigma cameras. Though I use Canon and Nikon as well. :)
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10 Responses to Studio trial’n’error software. Where is it?

  1. Pingback: University Update - UN Studio - Studio trial’n'error software. Where is it?

  2. spalbird says:

    Ha, you have only make a model of your favourite model Linn and don’t have to care about a studio anymore – you can just create what you want. Then just render it and use the perfect photographic lens for a perfect picture :) Maxwellrender is a good companion for your new mac mod but it comes at a price, huh!

  3. I downloaded demo and I didn’t find much to do – do you have to build your environment in another 3D application? No, this is NOT what I’m looking for. :) I want something that anyone can master fast – specialized for Studio. ;)

    Yeah, trash linn and use a 3D model. ha! :D

  4. Clive says:

    Hey, Carl.

    Well, there is some software, but it is likely not appropriate, and it is expensive. For designing stage sets.

    I think Richarre was right to suggest Maxwell, out of all the possibilities with 3d. I use 3d for special illustrations, and it can do lighting, but the results are far from realistic. Maxwell can do pretty realistic, but again it is expensive (similar to the stage lighting software), and yes, you do have to build the scene content and your illuminators first in a 3d modeler.

    I think what you are asking for is possible, but with more development on the software side of things – an evolution. At present there would be nothing easy about it, and 3d work is a terrific time taker.

    What seems better would be a book or media on sophisticated light design. I found one of each; not saying they are the best or anything, just what I found.

    Links below, and regards,
    Clive

    review of lighting videos: http://internationalpress.com/index.php?file=deancollins

    lighting book
    http://www.studiodepot.com/store/index.cgi?cmd=view_item&parent=1002-1346&id=2924

    MOV of some lighting variations in Maxwell. Note Maxwell has interesting feature to do these variations all _after_ the render, so you can try things in real time. Very unusual for 3d softwarel to say the least! Video will suggest why Maxwell was recommended.

    http://www.maxwellrender.com/img/gallery/videos/technical/multilight/yusuke.mov

    Some Mac theatre lighting software. Vectorworks Spotlight is pretty fancy (and expensive) but I wonder if Maxwell plus Prof Google Sketchup which works with it would be better. Still, a _lot_ of time no doubt to use this stuff, and attempt to get it any where near showing you what’s real. That’s why I am interested in the prof. DVD to learn how to do good lighting from a photographer’s view.

    http://www.theatremac.com/lighting.html

    Here’s just the software pointer in a great list of lighting sources. It’s where I found TheatreMac above:

    http://www.alia.com.au/links/index.html#software

    Ok, and maybe some of it is useful.

    Cheers, Carl,
    Clive

  5. yeah, thanks Clive! Great stuff! I will actually try to get one of these books or maybe two. I went to a local big book shop and they just had very boring books. It felt like the authors had some secrets about his technique that he didn’t wanna show too much of. bha. You know – showing nice pictures and just telling how with words.

    But still there is one software missing. :)

  6. Clive says:

    Yeah, I know (about that software). But think I can tell you that it would involve just the best components out of 3d today, so would be expensive. And it would need someone really capable to do it too. You are talking about the finer points of handling light…after all. That’s why I see it as a future thing. You could talk with the Vectorworks Spotlight people now, but also consider, that it takes the right personalities to do the real work. Maxwell, that is a great start, and in fact Vectorworks has hooked up a different renderer already.

    But now for this moment. I looked, and that first book I had picked out isn’t a great one for your purpose, I think. Though I thought it might have been for being close to cinema-video industry.

    How did I find this out? I looked through the window of the very useful Amazon ‘Look inside’ which is available now for many books. And I found that ‘Professional Lighting Handbook’ is indeed close to the cinema/video production industry. But unfortunately it is mostly about equipment itself – a little too close to the manufacturing part of that industry. So it doesn’t have much on actually using the lights. Case closed there, but you can look at the table of contents and some actual excerpts on Amazon for verification. Just click on the picture of the book.

    What else is there? Well, there seem to be some things. I’ll give a list of links for books. What I found felt a bit intriguing, and will again give links so you can look that over.

    I like your idea to have more than one source. Very sound. Or very ‘visual’ ;). Good man.

    Here then the links:

    ‘Painting with Light’ – update of a famous book by a famous cinematographer. Too bad not some book like it from Ingmar Bergman’s crew; maybe there is also, perhaps in Swedish (!). But this book looks interesting to me. The history in it too. Good comments to read from Amazon customers, and you can ‘Look inside’.

    http://www.amazon.com/Painting-Light-John-Alton/dp/0520089499

    Now here is a somewhat more modern book, and when I look into it, there’s a great deal of conversation about practical things – always starting from reasoning about what you may be trying to accomplish. Again, the comments on it seem good, and if you click through some ‘Surprise me’ entries in the ‘Look inside’, you can get an idea or flavour. You get to read generally 3 pages or so from an entry point. I have a sense this book could be useful.

    http://www.amazon.com/Lighting-Film-Third-Gerald-Millerson/dp/024051582X

    And what about this one, which I found from recommendation on the weblog below? Again, Look Inside on Amazon lets one see this is a quite contemporary approach, with attitude, and with a lot on techniques of softboxes…looks like it can be pretty good.

    http://www.amazon.com/Light-Science-Introduction-Photographic-Lighting/dp/0240808193

    This one. It seemed to generate widely varying comment. May be worth looking into – you can decide. It may be a kind of ‘pretty pictures’ book. From a useful angle? Language may be a factor, so read some of the Surprise Me.

    http://www.amazon.com/Basic-Studio-Lighting-Photographers-Professional/dp/0817435506

    What can you get for free? Well, there are some things that might be interesting, and probably I just found a few. Here’s one, for example, a website about lighting, and its ‘tut’ page (3d people are great for tutorials, as there’s lots to learn, and call them ‘tuts’):

    http://www.studiolighting.net/studio-lighting-tutorials/

    Here’s a lighting weblog, which seems to have quite a lot of things, including again tutorials.

    http://strobist.blogspot.com/

    Ok, I give it up – it’s you who have to do the searching. I have just been providing a ‘quick look capable language service’.

    Cheers, Carl,
    Clive

  7. Clive says:

    I should never write these thoughtful replies, can see.

  8. Gone for two days. I’m just back from a wedding shoot, We had a great time and ended up with 750 photos to choose from. Clive! I’m so happy with your post! And I’m sure that a lot others are interested too! Thanks! (There are currently around a thousand visitors every day to this blog, unique IP’s. :) and they click something like 25 000 times each day together)

    I’ve digging and reading all of it! Today a photographer came here with a Ranger FX two flash setup (a portable unit) and I played with it for a little while (not very successful with it) and I know that having some knowledge in how to really get the most of them (it) would be very very useful!

    Now we’re talking outdoor photography and I’m thinking about if it’s worth the gain (better colors, maybe better sharpness and less blown outs) – against more “free” style shooting and less poses. Me myself and I really dislike posing and I’m fighting myself over this. If I’m to become full-time pro (which is where I’m getting at right now) then controlled environments are possibly the way to go – but at the same time I feel I loose what I do best. So what’s left of me?! Still, I’ll be able to lots more stuff like portraits indoor and product photography so Still it will come in handy.

  9. Clive says:

    Carl – apologies for an impatient moment. And you certainly photographed an important wedding on this trip ;). You know what I think of the images elsewhere: terrific for this pair.

    You are asking hard questions, about this lighting issue I think, and right ones. It’s like another layer, or two or three, on photographic experience.

    I think we are all mindful of your abilities with your present methods. It occurs to me to go slow on seeing where artificial lighting additions will fit.

    Maybe that is done by splitting to several depths of layering. Have you thought about trying that Lightsphere Cloud? It would act I think as a simple diffuser outdoors, but indoors the demos seem to show it’s a much better solution than ‘bounce’, and can be very soft.

    I was going to say inexpensive also, but of course you have to have a suitable flash unit to use with the lightsphere.

    For a ‘kit’ at some point, if you can afford the Swiss prices the Elinchrome Ranger etc. stuff appears very good. Perhaps all lighting systems nowadays are as flexible (also=complicated), and I am guessing this gets you into radio wirelesss control etc.., and a matching level of light meter soon enough (Sekonic 758?). Not cheap or simple to choose about, but I am guessing the portability, outdoors use, etc. appeals to you and your styles, plus the ability to set up ‘studio’ indoors wherever you want. When you oare are ready for that. And at that time, maybe another friend has room at the end of his new office building or garage ;).

    Anyway, I think it’s a bit of a deep question with you and your abilities. Would go slow, and yet preparing is very good way to do it. Maybe you can read some of the books/see some videos? Let it sink in slowly, and see what you want to do. I don’t know also how much a perception of demand from customers, or lighting abilities for product shots etc. comes into your first thinking.

    As all art, following your good senses of ‘scenting’ will be good. Great to feed those senses too, with information, and some time to reflect. Maybe after some learning materials, some rental, for a project? Can you do that?

    Just thoughts, and now I have to work on my own ;).

    Cheers to both,
    Clive

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