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Lighting indoors using available sources


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#1 Mustafa Karasu

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:33 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm currently working on a short and my director wants natural, soft key lighting. We'll be shooting in a regular sized one bedroom apartment with mainly pastel colors. I'd like to use the light sources already available to me in the apartment ie. floor lamps, corner lamps, night lamps etc. without using any other lights. I believe this would help me to achieve that natural look. I read somewhere that it could be done by changing the bulbs to higher wattage, if I remember correctly.

I'd like to ask for your opinions about this. What would be the things that I should look out for? Or are there any tricks I may utilize?

Thanks.
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:46 AM

Yeah; you can change out bulbs. But recall, the softness of the lighting is caused by the size of the source relative to the subject being illuminated. As such, unless your talent is right up next to a lamp, the lighting will get progressively harder. Also; you'll run into trouble with those practicals burning out/being to bright. Might be ok for you, might look rather horrible.
Your best bet is to utilize what's in the room as motivation for your lighting but key with a large source to get the look the director wants-- and try to keep it flagged off of the walls to maintain some contrast. I'd also recommend putting your practicals on dimmers and/or carrying a good deal of bulb wattage to swap out if they become a problem. Also look to see if you can get your hands on some streaks and tips. It's a spry on hair-spray you can squirt onto the bulbs to darker the side facing camera in order to help keep the white blobs of doom away. Also useful to hit the side of china-balls with.
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#3 Guy Holt

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:21 PM

I agree with Adrian. Don’t try to light your talent with only practical’s because they will blow out – the hot spot in your scene has to look natural. Not only is supplemental lighting required to light your talent, but you must also treat the practicals to make them look realistic. I find that practical lamps never look convincing unless one treats the lampshade as well as boost the bulb wattage. That is because if you stop down to keep the shade from burning out, the output of the practical, on the table it sits on or the wall its on, looks rather anemic. I find you get a more realistic look if you boost the wattage of the bulb and line the inside of the shade with ND gel. It is a delicate balance to obtain.

You can obtain this delicate balance without a monitor, by using the old school method with incident and spot meters and a selection of practical bulbs including PH 211, 212, and 213 bulbs. Years ago Walter Lassaley, BSC, instructed me to balance practical’s such that an incident reading of the direct output one foot away from the bulb is one stop over exposure. I have found that rule of thumb gives a realistic output to the practical - the light emitted downward onto the table top and upward onto the wall or ceiling is realistic. After establishing the practical’s output using an incident meter, you then use a spot meter to determine how dense an ND gel is needed to line the inside of the shade so that the shade does not become too hot.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, New England Studios, Lighting and Grip Rental & Sales in Boston
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#4 Mustafa Karasu

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:34 PM

Ok I see. Lots to learn! Thank you so much for the help.
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#5 Torben Greve

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:29 AM

This may not be anyones right way of doing it.... but the following screenshot from a short I did last week used motivated light from the simple set design.
I hung 3 wall lamps in the room in strategic places and then used them as motivation for putting up fresnels and spots.

The table lamp in front of her gives her a fair amount of light even though it's only 15w. The wall lamps were also 15w.
Behind me and the camera I had placed 650w fresnel bouncing into some Westcott ultrabounce and then flagged down as needed.

To her left, I used diffused 100w pin spots to carry the wall lamps to her as rim light.

Apart from that, the light is from the practicals.

All wall lamps were 15w, the table lamp in the back room was a 25w and the globe hanging in htere was a 15w.

You can do a lot with practicals, but for my own work I would help them come along a bit.

One tip... While it would have been fun to have more lights, it would have been even more fun having more stands and flags! Grip is underestimated!

Posted Image

Snap of opposite view....:

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#6 Chris Mirden

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 04:43 PM

I remember hearing somewhere along the line that to achieve a truly natural lighting look you need a lot of artificial lighting equipment :wacko:

Edited by Chris Mirden, 01 February 2013 - 04:43 PM.

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