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Old Hollywood projection lamp for still portraits


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#1 Bob Estremera

Bob Estremera

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 08:54 AM

I'm a still photographer specializing black and white work. Shot digitally, then converted.

I've been researching William Mortensen's lighting techniques as he describes in 'Pictorial Lighting' and trying to get a handle on the quality of the lighting he illustrates.
If you don't know the name, he was doing stills in the pictorial style under Demille and others of the time. Garbo, etc.

He describes using a 500 watt 'projection lamp' in a 6 1/2" bowl reflector as his primary light source.
To a modern still photographer, this bulb is enormous. Appears to be about 3 1/2 - 4"" tall and about 2 1/2 - 3" wide.

He goes on to say that he uses the light 'raw' without any diffusion elements at all and that diffusers are used to soften contrasty lighting that creates harsh shadows.
That surprises me because with the limited knowledge I have of 'bulb' lighting, they are all pretty harsh without diffusing somehow.
Maybe the 'projector thing' is the difference.

Clearly his lighting IS NOT harsh. The modeling it creates on the face is soft and yields beautiful gradations of grayscale.

Anybody have insight into modern available continuous light that will substitute and deliver the same kind directional but soft light without modifying?

No need to exceed 500watts or so.

Thanks all, Bob
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