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I don't have Fresnels. Am I screwed?


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#1 Rich Hibner

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 11:44 AM

I've been building my light kit little by little and realize A LOT of stuff is shot using fresnels. I can't afford fresnels, so where does that leave me? Am I still able to get by not having fresnels as my arsenal?
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#2 John Sprung

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 12:18 PM

Just hang some diffusion on your open face lights, the net effect is the same as fresnels with diffusion. Check Craig's list and eBay, find some old fresnels. They pretty much last forever, there's hardly anything that can't be fixed on them.




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#3 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 01:34 PM

The only main advantage to fresnels is that you can focus the beam, that is, spot it, a little more precisely. That and the fact that the glass protects the subject in case of violent lamp failure. Diffusion is likely used either way on an open face or a fresnel but I'd avoid clipping it to the doors in either case unless you're desperate and have no empty frames to fill. Below is an example of a HMI fresnel but going through a 4x4 of 216. You could easily do this with your open face light and get the same effect. The only thing you can't do as well with an open face is get a long beam of light in a smoke filled room.

I'd invest in some empty frames and try to get some diffusion in different grades. It's always best to spend the money on the grip stuff first and then upgrade your lights. Grip equipment will give you the control you need to make any light whether artificial or available work the way you need it.
Posted Image

Edited by Michael LaVoie, 28 July 2009 - 01:38 PM.

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#4 Rich Hibner

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 09:21 PM

The only main advantage to fresnels is that you can focus the beam, that is, spot it, a little more precisely. That and the fact that the glass protects the subject in case of violent lamp failure. Diffusion is likely used either way on an open face or a fresnel but I'd avoid clipping it to the doors in either case unless you're desperate and have no empty frames to fill. Below is an example of a HMI fresnel but going through a 4x4 of 216. You could easily do this with your open face light and get the same effect. The only thing you can't do as well with an open face is get a long beam of light in a smoke filled room.

I'd invest in some empty frames and try to get some diffusion in different grades. It's always best to spend the money on the grip stuff first and then upgrade your lights. Grip equipment will give you the control you need to make any light whether artificial or available work the way you need it.
Posted Image



thanks, all informative information. what kind of diffusion is that? i was thinking of buying white sheets or tracing paper. but paper catches on fire according to smokey the bear.
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#5 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 10:25 PM

This is the link to find the diffusion:
Lee Filters

If you're on a tight budget, you can also use clear frosted shower curtain which comes in 6x6 cuts and can be doubled or tripled and is really cheap and easy to find. The key is to have it far away from the light and then heat becomes less of an issue. The only thing is making a frame for it out of pipe from Home Depot or some other means. You can also stretch it between two stands and use spring clamps. NEVER use tracing paper. Unless you're using it on a flourescent fixture and even then, be careful.

I'd start out with the 4x4 flag frames like the one pictured and fill them with cuts from 4x4 rolls of gel or shower curtain. Ideally, when you get the money, you can invest in Matthews cloths which come in 6x6 and larger sizes. You'll find all types and grades but it's best to go with silent materials. The advantage to cloths is that can also be used outdoors. 216 and other types of diffusion gels from Lee and Rosco are noisy when the wind blows on them. In the case of the pic, we were inside so it was less of an issue. 2 things to remember with diffusion are that 1. The farther away it is from the light source, the softer the light becomes. 2. Once the light strikes the diffusion, the diffusion becomes your "source" so be prepared to use large sheets of black foam core or flags to control it and flag it off areas you don't want lit. It's not as if you can use blackwrap as a sider when you're dealing with 6x6 frames or even a 4x4. You effectively need 6foot barndoor of somekind and if you don't have 4x4 floppys which are giant black flags that fold out into 8x4 flags, get yourself some black foamboard or choroplast which is usually sold in 8x4 foot sheets. You can also use Duvatine which is a black fabric commonly used to make flags. It's flame retardant and opaque so it blocks light. "Commando" is a similar cloth but considered much denser and heavier and more reliable for blacking out sunlight.

If this all sounds odd, to get an idea of how this stuff is used, just start watching the behind the scenes special features on any DVD and you'll notice that on most movie sets the cast and crew are surrounded by either large white fabric or boards or large black fabric or boards. They're everywhere on every set. It all comes down to that. You're either adding light or taking it away and it's those large fabrics in front of the lights and the black stretched fabrics on the sides that help you do that effectively.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 12:41 AM

I think it's a hindrance to any type of hard lighting. You're not always going to be passing light through diff. Fresnels have a pretty even field for this. Other types of lamps are all over the place in the way of field evenness.
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 03:29 AM

I think it's a hindrance to any type of hard lighting. You're not always going to be passing light through diff. Fresnels have a pretty even field for this. Other types of lamps are all over the place in the way of field evenness.


You generally need to use the open faced lights flooded to reduce this effect. The big down side is less control using the barn doors, so you tend to need more flags.
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#8 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 06:40 AM

Even in the occasions where you're less likely to use diffusion such as when you're using your lights on the backgrounds, I often find myself using some amount of Hampshire frost or something just to take some of the harshness off the light. In reality it's rare to see light that hasn't passed through some kind of diffusion whether it's the glass of a lightbulb or the enclosure of a streetlamp. Even a car headlight has a plastic shell. Fresnels have that sort of built in diffusion already with the lens whereas an openface floodlight is unnaturally harsh. It might work on a building but I wouldn't use it on people.
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 07:59 AM

Also I'd say pick up the book "Film Lighting" ( http://www.amazon.co...M...2192&sr=8-2 ) to help understand a bit more the different types of fixtures.
Generally open-face lights aren't used directly, as mentioned, but they can be. A lot of times I'll use an open-face and just bang it off of a ceiling for a bit of ambiance in a room which I'll later modulate. Also, if you can't afford gel (though I'd say grab a roll of 216, it's about $100 and you can reuse the parts you've cut off for awhile) you might get by with dryer sheets on smaller lamps. A little trick I learned in film school.
I also agree that an open-face is almost always a little bit too harsh for faces so putting it through some form of diffusion material, or bouncing it into a piece of foam-core/white wall/ceiling is always useful. Unless you want that harsher look.
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#10 David Rakoczy

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 09:33 AM

Great referral Adrian.. I like that!

btw... 1000h is a great diffuser for your Lamps... cheap and readily available. Super for covering windows and much more...! The 6ft rolls are best.
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 09:49 AM

I'm just following in your footsteps David ;)

And yes ++ on the 1000H Used it a lot in times past to "make" windows in these studio sets we had for aerobics videos /cooking shows when i was very first starting out.
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#12 Bruce Greene

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Posted 29 July 2009 - 08:20 PM

I've been building my light kit little by little and realize A LOT of stuff is shot using fresnels. I can't afford fresnels, so where does that leave me? Am I still able to get by not having fresnels as my arsenal?


Rich,

I think it all depends on what kind of projects you are photographing.

I shoot mostly narrative projects and find I need some fresnel lamps on every shoot. The reason is that control of the light is sometimes/often more important than soft, face flattering light. This is especially true for back lights and wide shots where it's a challenge to keep lighting equipment out of the frame while still creating a "mood".

If I were shooting mostly interviews, I might not miss the fresnels so much...
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#13 Rich Hibner

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 01:14 AM

appreciate all the replies. cutting and pasting all the stuff i'll need later on.
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