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Lighting a Face for Close-up


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#1 Craig Knowles

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 01:55 AM

Does anyone know of a detailed resource for learning how to light a face for close-ups? I have Malkiewicz's "Film Lighting", which is great, but I was looking for something more specific (and possibly on-line).

I am familiar with the fundamentals of 3-point lighting, but what I'm looking for is something based on stops. For instance, "here's a picture of a 3-stop difference between the key and the fill", "Here's the same photo, but with a 4-stop difference in key and fill", or "here's a rim light, and here's a rim light 2-stops brighter."

Please forgive me. I am trying to learn more about the art of lighting, and although I know I should just do some test shots to arrive at the look I want, I am too cheap/lazy to rent the lights and dimmers right now!

I'm trying to design a certain look on paper without having to test. I also know the look will depend in large part on the film stock, etc., but I just want an overview.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:06 AM

How two or three stops under for fill looks varies far too much by shooting format, post timing, and display format -- especially in reprinted material in a book. You really need to do you own tests. In fact, it's basically the test I do before beginning any feature (and no, I haven't saved any of my tests...)

As far as back/edge lights, after a few stops when they go "white", the hot edge doesn't look any different if three stops over or seven stops over, once it goes white. What changes is the amount of halation that a diffusion filter might cause around the edge, and the amount of ambient bounce-back from the backlight into the scene, filling in the shadows. And most of us set backlights by eye anyway, at least I do. I only measure key and fill, and sometimes I set the fill by eye too.

You can test when an image will go black just by shooting a face in front light with your camera (can be natural light) and then underexposing by one, then two, then three, etc. stops until the face goes black. At least that would tell you something about the format you are shooting.
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#3 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:08 AM

Does anyone know of a detailed resource for learning how to light a face for close-ups? I have Malkiewicz's "Film Lighting", which is great, but I was looking for something more specific (and possibly on-line).

I am familiar with the fundamentals of 3-point lighting, but what I'm looking for is something based on stops. For instance, "here's a picture of a 3-stop difference between the key and the fill", "Here's the same photo, but with a 4-stop difference in key and fill", or "here's a rim light, and here's a rim light 2-stops brighter."

Please forgive me. I am trying to learn more about the art of lighting, and although I know I should just do some test shots to arrive at the look I want, I am too cheap/lazy to rent the lights and dimmers right now!

I'm trying to design a certain look on paper without having to test. I also know the look will depend in large part on the film stock, etc., but I just want an overview.


key + fill : fill alone = lighting ratio
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#4 Craig Knowles

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Posted 30 January 2006 - 02:23 AM

How two or three stops under for fill looks varies far too much by shooting format, post timing, and display format


Thanks, David. You make perfect sense. *sigh*...Alright, alright! I'll do the tests! :)

I often find myself seraching for the absolute "rules" and the absolute truths about things, but as time goes by, I realize that most rules in the realm of cinematography are personal, specific to the individual, and come from personal experience.
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New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

Visual Products

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The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc