How to light like a Caravaggio painting
Posted 21 January 2005 - 05:47 AM
I did some research on him and it seems he was fond of a single source of light and lots of rich colors against dark shaddows and dark backgrounds. Here's a site with lots of pics and some info about him:
Here's a picture from there that I think really illustrates some of these points:
So, my thought was to light with a dominant but soft key (his light was always soft) and surround the scene as need (but sparingly) with very gentle fill.
So, I was wondering if this sounds like a good approach and if there were any recommendations towards acheiving this goal. We will be shooting on super 16, though I don't have any particular stock in mind currently.
Thanks ahead of time for any thoughts or help!
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Posted 21 January 2005 - 06:33 AM
Caravaggio is my favorite painter.
The only logical light sources of this time were sunlight and candlelight. Thus your look should reflect this.
Use warm gel on your lights (like CTS). He used a single source through a window. The light was generally fairly hard, but seemed to reach everything that he needed lit.
The key to recreating this look is in the darkness. These paintings used light sparingly.
Also, look at the work of Rembrandt as he is a Caravaggisti, and paints in his style.
Many of the Baroque painters have a look similar to what you are talking about.
Posted 21 January 2005 - 11:36 AM
I don't think of a Caravaggio as soft or grainy, so I'd use a slow-speed stock.
Posted 21 January 2005 - 11:51 AM
Definitely try to do some film tests to figure out how you want to expose the negative so you can print down or adjust in telecine for really deep blacks.
Posted 21 January 2005 - 04:01 PM
Posted 21 January 2005 - 06:33 PM
Posted 22 January 2005 - 05:25 PM
Everyone tends to think hardlight is this artifice only cliche of two extreme tones, which is a shame and probably the reason why there's way too much crummy, samey looking softlight everywhere these days.
Viva hard light!
Posted 22 January 2005 - 06:46 PM
The problem is I'm still pretty green. I've got a decent amount of book knowledge, but not enough field experience and know very little about film. Also, I need to be finished with production by the end of March, so testing is going to be hard. I'm used to the help others with their projects and get them to help on yours, but for this and with this time frame, I may just have to find a way and pay an experienced crew. Hopefully it won't be much more than a term in film school, and it doesn't look like I'll ever get the chance to go there, so what the hell.
So basically the plan is to get some 35mm stills using some of the suggestions here and pass those results along to the experts (the crew). There are going to be some tricky things to deal with, such as the scene outside in bright sunlight. Also, the wardrobe is going to be pretty much modern day, but the script is an adaptation of a famous essay made the 1700's-thus the need for the old world look to bring things together. But, I won't have the period clothes to sell the look.
So thanks again for all the advice and support. Wish me luck!
Posted 23 January 2005 - 12:04 AM
Storaro is certainly a follower of Caravaggio, where the single-source look goes beyond naturalism into theatricalism.
Posted 23 January 2005 - 01:53 AM
Posted 23 January 2005 - 06:39 AM
My freshman year a friend and I recreated the very painting that Tim put up in his post.
While not wholly succesful (the lens is wrong, the camera needs to be closer to the subject, the table is too big and askew and countless other things), I did learn a valuable lesson; and that is the power that you can get with makeup... I couldn't get the shadows right since the physicallity of our model was no where near that of Caravaggio's model, so I ran out of the building and grabbed as much dirt as I could pull out of the little lawn and applyed it softly to create the shadows I wanted (wasn't totally right either, but I learned from it).
I remember only using one big soft source (heavily cut), but looking back at the image, I must have used some fill becasue you can see you specular reflection on the apples (no peaches available).
This was on video, so we white balanced to a slight lavander to get the yellow tone. Unfortunately I have never seen a Caravaggio in real life, so I never know what its truly like, the image I saw was much more golden that the one Tim put up (which seems more green).
But regarding the blacks, the aging process seems to have affected many old paintings (at least as I've perceived them in books) and I don't really see them as having true black, and in fact more of a veiling similar to underexposure... this is obviously contradicting what some of you guys have said; it's just my opinion, and by no means is it backed by the experience that the other members of the forum have.
Just thought I'd share, if it's of any help.
Edited by felipe, 23 January 2005 - 06:46 AM.
Posted 23 January 2005 - 11:09 AM
Anyway, it's an eye-opener.
To me the genius of Storaro's work on AN was the imposition of a 'classical' western vision onto Third World Asian landscape. So we have to ask, is there a kind of hubris in that ? - and can that be explored ?
(otherwise I have some reservations about Apocalypse Now, but re Storaro, no, it's fascinating)
i.e. maybe it's not just How Caravaggio, but Why Caravaggio...
random thoughts while snowbound
Posted 23 January 2005 - 12:23 PM