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Oil Lighting using Lamps


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#1 Isadora Fitzgerald

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 10:55 AM

Hi

I am student DOP lighting an interior scene on a 1940's style shoot using double wicked candles and oil lamps - film stock Kodak 500T and I was wondering if any one has experience doing this?

My main question is about Oil quality - we have procured a Jiffy Lamp which has a brass base and I believe it uses paraffin, is there a better oil I should be using for light intensity?

Perhaps It doesn't make a difference but I would be interested in any feedback...

Izzy
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#2 timHealy

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Posted 15 June 2008 - 11:27 AM

Seldom is a lamp like this used for more than set dressing. It usually takes a small bulb behind the lamp hidden from camera or a light carefully placed outside of frame to carry and exposure across your shot.

Best

Tim
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#3 Matt Read

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Posted 18 June 2008 - 03:30 PM

If you are set on only using oil lamps to light, I would recommend not shooting film and instead using the Sony EX-1. I worked on a short film recently where we lit almost entirely with oil lamps. The EX-1 has excellent low light capabilities. We never had to reinforce the oil lamps. Sometimes we added a bit of fill with a china ball. Our oil lamps used kerosene.

If you want to work with film though, you will probably need to reinforce your oil lamps. China balls with photoflood lamps inside are great. If actors will be walking around and carrying the oil lamps, a china ball on a stick provides great reinforcement. You could also try to rig a bulb inside the oil lamp. Obviously this means you could not burn or even have oil in the lamp. They did this in the birth scene in "Children of Men" and the train robbery in "The Assassination of Jesse James." Putting a bulb in the lamp would mean you'd either have a cord coming from the lamp that you would have to hide or attach the bulb to a battery. It might be simpler to find a modern battery operated camping lantern and dress it to look like it's from the 1940s. If the lamp is wall mounted or will be stationary, I'd definitely recommend putting a bulb in it and forgoing the oil all together.
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#4 John Hoffler

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 08:57 AM

to add to Matt's post,

the shots in "Assassination" where the lights were rigged also had a a piece of foil separating it from an actual small flame, for the close up shots. But if you are using it at a distance then that wouldn't be necessary.
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#5 Bob Hayes

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 09:23 AM

If you are using oil in lamps you should use "smokeless lamp oil". You can get it at many designer home stores. It comes in large containers but it is definitely more expensive. The regular oil will quickly create a noxious smoke on your set. Much of it has bug repellent in it adding to the irritation.
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#6 Lindsay Mann

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 02:48 PM

I'm assuming you're s16. Shooting 7218 (500T) will give you plenty of stop in low light situations. Don't be afraid to push it a full stop. I doubt the EX-1 is better than 7218 in low light.

I've heard of lanterns that use a combination of oil lantern or triple wick candle in front of a battery powered light. But on Assassination of Jesse James they were cabled fixtures so they could be attached to a flicker dimmer. Or so says Deakins.
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 03:06 PM

My main question is about Oil quality - we have procured a Jiffy Lamp which has a brass base and I believe it uses paraffin, is there a better oil I should be using for light intensity?

Any flame will produce the same kind of light, be it a candle, gas light, or kerosene lamp. The yellow flame happens when you burn the hydrogen off the outside of hydrocarbon molecules, thus heating the carbon to incandescence. The spectrum is Planckian, just like an incandescent electric light, only dimmed to about 1800 Kelvin. The carbon doesn't get burned, it becomes soot. (Adding more air to the mix will burn the carbon before it becomes incandescent, giving you the dim blue flame of a gas stove.) For brighter light and higher color temperature, look at Coleman camping lamps. They burn hotter than a yellow flame, and add a "mantle" which is heated to incandescence.



-- J.S.
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#8 Colin Rich

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 06:36 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Vision3 has a bit more latitude towards underexposure than Vision2, so 7219 may be your best bet. I've used 7219 and consistently got good exposures at 2-3 stops under.
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#9 timHealy

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Posted 20 June 2008 - 12:06 PM

Any flame will produce the same kind of light, be it a candle, gas light, or kerosene lamp. The yellow flame happens when you burn the hydrogen off the outside of hydrocarbon molecules, thus heating the carbon to incandescence. The spectrum is Planckian, just like an incandescent electric light, only dimmed to about 1800 Kelvin. The carbon doesn't get burned, it becomes soot. (Adding more air to the mix will burn the carbon before it becomes incandescent, giving you the dim blue flame of a gas stove.) For brighter light and higher color temperature, look at Coleman camping lamps. They burn hotter than a yellow flame, and add a "mantle" which is heated to incandescence.



-- J.S.


Is this right??

I seem to recall the gaffer and Dp doing tests on one of my first jobs and a lamp they were testing and some sort of greenish tone to it. I don't recall what the fuel was but it wasn't acceptable to them at the time.

Best

Tim
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