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Lighting to accentuate facial detail, lines and contrast


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#1 Brian Rose

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 09:04 PM

I'm doing some camera tests in a few days, shooting black and white 16mm neg. I'm testing different lighting setups for some planned interviews. I don't want to light for aesthetics. I don't want the typical three point lighting or anything that is beautiful in a traditional sense. Instead, I want something that brings out the lines and features of the face. This is for a documentary about a sad subject, about the disappearance of a young man, and I want to emphasize the impact on the parents. I want an effect akin to "The Passion of Joan of Arc," in that I bring out the facial flaws, or heighten them rather than obscure. I want to show their pain. Attached below is a pretty extreme example, but I'd love to come up with a lighting scheme along these lines...

From a technical point of view, what lighting strategies would achieve this end? Harsh, undiffused light? Employing a higher angle, frontal light to exaggerate the shadows? Any advice would be great!

 

homeless-black-and-white-portraits-lee-j


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 10:32 PM

Raking light (side, cross, back, edge, etc.) produces shadows and thus texture, the more frontal the light is, the more the shadows are filled in, which is why beauty lighting for women is often very frontal.

 

The photo above is a softer variation of what is called "core lighting" -- the textbook version involves two 3/4 back-edge key lights coming over each shoulder, side-lighting the face but leaving a dark band down the center.

 

A famous example is Arnold Newman's portrait of Alfred Krupp:

http://corporate.get...n-us&gi=2&pg=11

 

 

John Seitz, ASC used this technique a lot, though diffused and more glamorous, in many of his silent movies, particularly "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."


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#3 Brian Rose

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 10:52 PM

Wow David, I'm flattered you took the time for such a response.  This is tremendously helpful!  I'll study those examples you gave, and definitely incorporate them into the tests.

 

Thanks!

 

BR


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