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How to get this effect with lights


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#1 Sean Curt

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 01:18 AM

Hello, recently I saw a photo http://www.cssportfo...amples/Ryan.jpg
and I wanted to create this same effect, or atleast get an idea for what I could do to imitate that affect.

So I recently read a "Do It Yourself article" at http://www.shutterta...hting/index.php which talked about getting a certain type of lighting effect using Tinted Halogen Tungsten lamps, which I attempted to do using the 500 watt lamp light that comes with the flood light only, and only because I could not find a store that sells them (tinted Halogen Tungsten lights anywhere) in the US or even online I wasnt successful finding. BUT I went ahead and took photos anyway and this was the effect I got which I wasnt happy with at all so that prompted me to get some help, http://www.cssportfo...amples/test.jpg

Hoping that someone knows how.

My question is can anyone give some advice on how I can approached this task under a small budget, I dont have 1000 dollars to spend on a light kit, but what could I do using lights to improvise until I can pay for something so high priced or maybe Im missing the whole picture and its not high prices to get lights for that type of setup.

Can someone help me out with

Edited by Sean Curt, 03 August 2006 - 01:19 AM.

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#2 Sean Curt

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 02:01 PM

*BUMP*
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 03:17 PM

*BUMP*


Hi Sean,

First of all I don't know what "BUMP" means but if you could be more specific about what exactly is the
effect that you like, unless I'm missing something obvious, a lot of people could help you here.

It looks to me like the woman has a hard light like a Fresnel that's been diffused on her face but you
ceratinly could get a nice glow with a Chinese lantern (Barbizon Lighting in Woburn, Massachusetts has all
sizes and bulbs; for $30.00 you could get a 24" one and then use it to read by when you're done with the
shoot.) It also likes like there's a light coming in from the side that is just tinting her hair and giving a kick
to the man's right temple -easy enough to do-you could maybe borrow a light from your local cable access
station or even use a photoflood bulb with a homemade flag or a bunch of blackwrap to control the spill.

There's also a reflection -easier to get than get rid of usually- of what is apparently a light in one of the
man's sunglass lenses. Do you want that?
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#4 Jason Debus

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 03:18 PM

The light out of those home depot halogens are very hard compared to the soft light used in your example. Perhaps you could put together something like this in a DIY scenario:

Lightbanks

There's a DP that makes these in LA using florescents but I forget the name, but they're pretty inexpensive. Their basically a big tent with different sized grids placed on the front for diffusion to soften the light.

Also the lens you used is kind of wide, it would look more flattering with a longer lens.
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#5 Michael Collier

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 03:19 PM

You can't expect pro-level lighting on your first try. I think the problem was you were listening to the wrong people. The article starts out by saying basicly 'I don't know much about lighting but...' Lighting seems deciptivly simple, because we are always surrounded by it. Great lighting is usually a reverse-engeneer process. You know what want it to look like and you work backwards to achieve that look.

You already have picked your look. So first you have to define what it is about the image you like. First thing that stands out is the soft modeling light used as a key. Its not too far off the axis of the camera lens and is not very high (probably less than 4-5 feet above the lens axis), but high enough to give a little shadow to the eyesockets of the girl. Also its slightly to the right of the lens, I will explain why this is important later. Also note how soft it is. Softness is a factor of the size of the emitter. If you have a small bulb then bounce it off a large bounce (something white, not refletive usually gives the softest light)

Then there is the backlight. On this picture it is quite subtle so don't overdo it. Both backlights seem to be soft so you will need diffusion to soften the lights. There are 2 backlights, one to provide an edgelight on the lefthand side, one to provide a little bit of contrast on the broad (righthand) side of the face. These two lights may or may not have been flagged to keep the light off the sholders and only hit the face.

One you notice the basics you then have to look closer. Look at the slight contrast between the edge light and the keylight. On the left-hand side of the face, it is slightly shadowed compared to the center of face. Contrast and shadows are important because if you look at the example, you have a very good idea of the shape of their faces (or the parts the photog wanted to highlight). In your pic the light is too flat to get anykind of face-modeling at all. I know you have a nose a mouth and two eyes, but trying to see any kind of shape of the face or eye structer or nose shape is nearly impossible.

Heres what you did wrong. You placed one light (looks almost undiffused, but at least not even because you have a hotpoint in the center and the light falls off on the corners) very close to the lens axis. There is no shadow to define what I am looking at. Your shot is also overexposed (probably the camera responding to light levels being too high, and the sharp fall off of the light) also your much too close to a white wall to light effectivley at all. You need to get away from your background, light it seperatley so the scene is balanced and doesnt look like a giant flash-light lit the scene. You have a lot to learn, putting lights up won't guarantee a good image, there is no formula to learn. Variations in goals, facial structers, environment, natural light etc. that you need a comprehensive understanding of how lights work. That is the only way to effectivly work backwards.

As for lights, its more about getting the quality and quantity of light you need. Pro lights are good at controlling light and very easy to work with. They also have provisions for various accessories you probably can't afford. The lights you have are very difficult to control, but they are possible with some creativity. If you are shooting with a digital camera you can white-ballance to those lights, however if you can find some photo-balanced lights you would have more accurate colors when working with filters. by all means you can't just point the lights at the subject and shoot, you need to choose what areas of the frame gets light and what doesnt.

most important, don't take an article that starts out saying 'I don't know much about light' as your photography bible. There are plenty of very good books about light on this website and LOTS of practice is needed. If you want to be a good photog you will need to be dedicated. If you just want one picture of yourself for an album cover or a myspace site then you would be better off hiring a pro photographer who has a portfolio you like.
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:11 PM

Hello, recently I saw a photo [url=http://www.cssportfolio.com/samples/Ryan.jpg]

Look at the man's sunglasses, there's larger reflection in the upper right hand corner of his right lens - a dead giveaway that there's somesort of a large diffused source keying him. A good guess for location given the principle that the angle of incidence (of light) to a mirror equals the angle of reflection would be that the light is centered above the camera. African-Americans tend to have a sheen to their skin, if you look above both model's lips you'll see a brighter area, also their foreheads. Interestingly, his nose butterfly shadow is to the photo's left and her's to the right, both with fairly hard shadows. There may be a couple of smaller keylights, possibly fresnels, lighting each models face individually. The softlight is what is lighting their faces overall and the fresnels (?) lighting each one's face.

I agree absolutely with Michael's comments about edge light, back lights, etc.

So you see that a simple looking photo like "Ryan" could have been shot with as much as eight or ten different light fixtures, each taking care of a particular esthetic need in the photo. Practice, practice, practice - and build up a kit of different lights. DIY is okay but you'll need to really think about what you want each fixture to be capable of. Go to a good art museum and study the Masters, if you can understand where all the light was coming from in them, how it was reflecting, etc. you're well on your way to mastering lighting.
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#7 Brian Wells

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:17 PM

To me, that looks like a traditional silver umbrella as the main light. Or, it could be a fresnel bounced into a large silver pop-up reflector. Or, a Photoflex Octodome or Briese light for all I know! Whatever it is, it's round. Because it's high in contrast, I tend to think it's something silver (umbrella or reflector), not a softbox. In any case, anything silver and round should get you in the ballpark. There are, of course, a couple of diffused backlights as Michael already mentioned. The backdrop is white seamless paper and is probably lit with a small heavily diffused fresnel or Dedolight. Just have to experiment to see what you can what you come with. This should help illustrate some of the techniques of studio portraiture:

http://www.photoflex...hion/index.html
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#8 Sean Curt

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 04:56 PM

Gosh!....thanks I like the reponses Im getting for this poste cause Im in deed need of a helpful start when it comes to lighting. Yea..I know that I'd have to read books but for the mean time I'd like to try out a few things before hand, and finding out what was "MOST" likely used gives me a better starting point, to experiment.


Good lookin out for the info

Edited by Sean Curt, 03 August 2006 - 04:57 PM.

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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 05:38 PM

Gosh


Another hint - if you have (or can afford an inexpensive) digital still camera you can learn a lot by experimentation with it and some lights. A digital has about the same latitude as reversal film, so if you compose and light something that looks good on a digital camera, it'll look good on a reversal film like Ektachrome. Negative film has a lot more latitude, if you were to set up lighting that looked good on your digital (and therefore reversal film) it'll look blah on negative film, your highlights won't be bright and you won't have deep blacks. You would then adjust by taking light out of your shadows and adding light to your highlights. You'll notice the pros on this Forum talking about negative fill, they use something like a frame with black cloth in it to stop light from spilling into shadow areas, etc.
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#10 Bryan Darling

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 05:53 PM

Looks as though they are using beauty dishes around the strobes.
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#11 Josh Bass

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 05:55 PM

How do you guys know the background isn't totally phony? The whole picture is heavily photoshopped, so the talent could have been shot against anything, and cut out later. I'm not sayin' for sure that they were, but it could be.
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#12 Sing Lo

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 06:02 PM

It looks like the key is a large Octa softbox at 2 o'clock. There are weak kicker lights on both light and right---in my opinion the kickers are not strong enough for the guy and girl---overall a bit too flat. The spectator highlights on the sides can be made much stronger on African skins. In still photography, the kickers can be strip softboxes or strobe heads fitted with reflector + grids. The background can be just lit by a background reflector on strobe head behind the talents mounted low pointing up to creat fall-off. In still photography terms, there is nothing really special or exciting about the lighting set-up of this photo.
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#13 Grainy

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 06:20 PM

Another hint - if you have (or can afford an inexpensive) digital still camera you can learn a lot by experimentation with it and some lights. A digital has about the same latitude as reversal film, so if you compose and light something that looks good on a digital camera, it'll look good on a reversal film like Ektachrome. Negative film has a lot more latitude, if you were to set up lighting that looked good on your digital (and therefore reversal film) it'll look blah on negative film, your highlights won't be bright and you won't have deep blacks. You would then adjust by taking light out of your shadows and adding light to your highlights. You'll notice the pros on this Forum talking about negative fill, they use something like a frame with black cloth in it to stop light from spilling into shadow areas, etc.


Hal - is there a way to set up a digital still to reflect negative film by adjusting iso, shutter speed, or the like?
thanks!
G
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#14 Hal Smith

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:48 PM

Hal - is there a way to set up a digital still to reflect negative film by adjusting iso, shutter speed, or the like?
thanks!
G

Good question but the answer, sadly, is no. The great difference between the two is latitude, the ratio between the absolute minimum light the media can record while simultaneously recording bright light.

Digital has about 6-7 stops of latitude, negative film's latitude can reach 13 stops. The staight line portion of Kodak's 5218 film sensitivity curve is about 10 stops and the film's rated total measurable latitude is 13 stops, a light ratio of 8,190 to 1. Compared to film, a video camera with a 7 stop range can handle a maximum ratio of 128 to 1. Kodak Ektachrome 5285 color reversal film has a latitude of 8 stops for a light handling ratio of 256 to 1.

Different video cameras have different latitudes, the expensive professional ones being better that a consumer miniDV, etc. To my knowledge the digital still cameras are about the same as video cameras.
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#15 Grainy

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Posted 08 August 2006 - 08:33 PM

Good question but the answer, sadly, is no. The great difference between the two is latitude, the ratio between the absolute minimum light the media can record while simultaneously recording bright light.

Digital has about 6-7 stops of latitude, negative film's latitude can reach 13 stops. The staight line portion of Kodak's 5218 film sensitivity curve is about 10 stops and the film's rated total measurable latitude is 13 stops, a light ratio of 8,190 to 1. Compared to film, a video camera with a 7 stop range can handle a maximum ratio of 128 to 1. Kodak Ektachrome 5285 color reversal film has a latitude of 8 stops for a light handling ratio of 256 to 1.

Different video cameras have different latitudes, the expensive professional ones being better that a consumer miniDV, etc. To my knowledge the digital still cameras are about the same as video cameras.


Okay, good to know. I've been using the digital to suss out urban night locations for b/w filming to see if how close to minimum acceptability available light is, but I guess come shoot time there's still no real shorcut for a light meter.
thanks!
G
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#16 Bob Hayes

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Posted 09 August 2006 - 11:47 AM

It looks like the original is lit with a large umbrella at 2:00. This is a very standard lighting scenario.

In your example by placing your talent right up against a white wall it is very difficult to get the elegant separation of the first example. Your lights will just over light the back ground. This is especially true with African American talent. Also you have pointed your shop lights right at the talent directly. This is what is giving the hard shadows. And it looks like you have over exposed the shot a bit. Here are some ideas. First move your talent as far from the back ground as you can. Second you need bounce your light above the camera. You may just be able to point your lights on the white ceiling above the camera. If not you need a white card on a stand high and near the camera and you need to get you lights up high and close to the card. A ladder maybe?
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#17 Robert Aldrich

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Posted 10 August 2006 - 01:20 AM

My question is can anyone give some advice on how I can approached this task under a small budget, I dont have 1000 dollars to spend on a light kit, but what could I do using lights to improvise until I can pay for something so high priced or maybe Im missing the whole picture and its not high prices to get lights for that type of setup.

Can someone help me out with


Many years ago, I was fooling around with a simple black/white video camera hooked to a monitor. I took a subject, and aimed the camera at all different angles around his face, and at one moment, I hit upon an extremely pleasing angle that showed all the character in his face and more, and was completely blown away! And this was with simple overhead flourescent lighting!

So if you don't have any lights at all, just keep moving the camera around (hopefully with real-time feedback) and get it at that one point that shows the character lines in the subject's face and image composition that really makes the image pop! The more lights, the merrier, and understanding what they are doing, and how to place them helps, but you can start with what you have and go from there is what I'm saying.
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