A&P I need to do some extensive reading about lighting technique.

Discussion in 'Lifestyle' started by CornUponCob, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. CornUponCob

    CornUponCob New Member

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    I was at the pool today playing around with my new circular polarizing filter when a photographer, 3 models and 4 others came in to do some swimsuit shots (in January???). He had a simple umbrella diffused strobe (battery powered) with him and a 24-70 and 70-200 on a 1DMKII. Watching him work made me realise that about the only element of photography that I still know relatively little about is setting up my own artificial lighting.

    It of course does not help that I don't have any external lighting equipment. When I was at B&H I picked up their catalogue on lighting which has ~850 pages in it, so it's quite a good source to tell me WHAT equipment is out there. What I'm mostly interested in is learning lighting technique. Of course I'm a big believer in learn by doing, but without access to equipment, I feel that I need to learn first to determine what I might need / want to buy.

    I already have a 580EX and plan on building a diffuser for it. I've already found multiple tutorials on that. I also plan on building a lightbox just to play around. I simply need direction... a book... an extensive online source, or other... something similar to what this guy is talking about, he seems to know his stuff. This is a post of his taken from dpreview.



    The below is just a quote, ignore it if you want
    "I used direct flash with one and two strobes for many years before using a diffuser. It taught me that the direction of the light is far more important than how soft the shadows are. My introduction to flash photography was a bit unusual. Back in 1972 I saw and answered an ad in the paper for a photographic apprentice placed by Monte Zucker and got the job. He got his reputation by making window-lit formals which had the look of a classic painting and two strobes at receptions, making nearly every photo look like was lit in a studio. It's not an exaggeration to say he revolutionized wedding photography, but ironically yesterday's rebel is what today's revolutionaries rail against. My first job was off-camera light tender. Monte used the simple distance/ratio method for setting lights. He taught me how to line up the off camera light for short lighting, aiming the light by eye - if you put the light between you and the subject's face and move it until you see a perfect oblique view there will be a nice short lighting pattern on the face when viewed full-face or from the other side obliquely.

    A short lighting pattern on a dark background like a magnet on steel. It puts light in both eyes and cheekbones creating stark contrast which draws the viewer of the photo directly to the eyes of the person in the photo. Creating and holding eye contact in a photo is one of the keys to making a photo visually effective. A photo where you must get past brighter distractions to find the eyes, or are pulled in many different directions after finding the face and making eye contact is far less effective.

    Using two lights allows complete creative control of the lighting and rendering of the scene. The photographer can control the placement of the attention grabbing highlight and the where the distracting nose shadow falls with the placement of the off-camera light. He can control the detail in the shadows and thus the overall contrast and visual impact of the lighting pattern with the relative power of of the key and fill. Most importantly by using off axis light for the highlights the background can be controlled and kept dark, allowing distracting details to fade into fall-off of the fill.

    That get us back to positioning and diffusing the light. Let's start with a single flash.

    Went you have a flash in the hot-shoe and use the camera in portrait mode the flash head ends up level with the lens and to the right. That casts harsh shadows sideways to the right creating a halo shadow behind the head, and casts the shadow from the nose sideways into the far eye and cheekbone where it becomes a big distraction. Simply tilting the flash head up and adding a diffuser such as the foamy or Flip-it doesn't significantly change the direction of the light. It simply makes the poorly placed shadows less distinct by diffusing the direct light and spilling some light off the ceiling to provide additional fill.

    Bouncing light off the ceiling to fill a room with soft light, but the quality of that light is similar to the light outdoors on an overcast day. All things in the photo will get illuminated evenly and the lighting will provide the viewer no clue to what is important in the photo. The angle of the light down from the ceiling varies, and if too steep (when close to the subject) the brows will shade it and the eye sockets will be dark voids.

    Devices like StoFen and Lumiquest 80/20 split the light, bouncing 80% of it off the ceiling as the "key" light and projecting 20% forward as fill. By the time the 80% of the light actually reaches the face its about the same brightness as the frontal component, resulting in a 2:1 H:S ratio. But like regular bounce the direction of the "key" light is less than ideal in many situations. Without a ceiling to bounce the "key" light off of they are not much more effective than direct flash.

    A camera bracket raises the flash, changing the direction of the light. How much should it be raised? Enough to place the shadows somewhere they will not distract. Experience has shown that raising the flash head 12-18" directly above the lens is ideal for single flash, throwing the body shadow down out of sight of the camera and hiding the nose shadow under it, with the added benefit of hiding the nostrils in shadow. The downward direction of the light creates flattering modeling of the cheeks and other facial features eliminating the flat look look.

    So whatever method you decide works best for you to diffuse the light of a solo flash, that light will flatter the subject more if it is mounted on a bracket which places it 12 or more inches above the lens.

    The goal of my DIY designs was efficiency and control of the direction of the light. Because I usually use two lights I wasn't concerned with providing a spill-off-the-ceiling component and in fact used a bowl shape to prevent it. That's why its different than a Lumiquest or a simple bounce card and more similar to how a softbox controls light. My newer Hex-box prototype has the same goals.

    Mike's variation is more like the bounce / direct Lumiquest design, but with the ratios reversed; directing 80% forward and bouncing the rest around for ambient fill. The beauty and cleverness of his design was the materials which allow the creation of a foldable diffuser in a few minutes for a few dollars with no more than a pair of scissors. Anyone who can't find 30 min to make one and spends $50 on a commercial alternative has more money than sense IMHO.

    CG"
     
  2. joy division

    joy division New Member

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    lighting is......a huge part.
     
  3. ( * )( * )

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  4. CornUponCob

    CornUponCob New Member

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    Setting up artificial lighting is important...

    Unless you shoot primarily sports, landscape, and events (where you can't set up your own lights).

    I'm very good at working with available light... since that's all I've been doing. I'm not horrible at using my 580ex mounted on my camera (then again, there's not that much to it).

    What I'm wanting to learn is more about appropriate ways to light a scene. There are plenty of ways to make a portrait look nice, but what's really the BEST way to do it.
     
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  7. CornUponCob

    CornUponCob New Member

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    it is. :bowdown:
     
  9. ( * )( * )

    ( * )( * ) OT Supporter

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    so is dave black :bowdown:
     
  10. CornUponCob

    CornUponCob New Member

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    I was actually just looking at his site..... The shot at the very bottom of this page
    http://www.daveblackphotography.com/workshop/01-2007.htm

    I just shot that building 3 weeks ago (from a similar angle, it's in my NY pictures thread from the 29th or 30th). He talks about painting with a 2 million candle power spotlight.... I have a 10 million one sitting in my garage. I've painted trees a mile across a lake with it.
     
  11. ( * )( * )

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    :cool: got any pics of the light painted trees?

     
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  13. CornUponCob

    CornUponCob New Member

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    Yeah I went back and found them. June 15th 2005, shot with the stellar 75-300 I had at the time. They're OOF. Trees are probably only 3/4ths of a mile away.

    I guess I lead you to believe that I had created some nice shots with this technique, nope... not yet... but I am familiar with it and do have the equipment to do it heh.

    I'm really enjoying the strobist website.
     
  14. joy division

    joy division New Member

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    I hate dave black :o
     
  15. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Lighting is an art that you are always refining. I teach a class every semester to first year film students on how to light a scene with simple lighting gear. The one thing I stress over and over is to keep things simple. Adding more lights only adds more shadows that you have to deal with. However, lighting is all about highlight and shadow control. You can use things like white foamcore to fill the shadows instead of using another light.

    Here's a quick way to learn what light direction does. Get a friend, a subject, a flashlight and a darkish room. Have your friend shine the light on your subject while walking the light around the subject while you observe.
     
  16. joy division

    joy division New Member

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    Most of the people I look up to in photography use as many lights as possible.


    But they have nothing to do with film.


    Except sam who started in film...15 lights on one subject...one of my fav portraits. Aren't you the one who went to brooks in '72 or something?
     
  17. mojito

    mojito New Member

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    Marc Hauser, one light portrait master. Brooks grad, was the assistant to Irvin Penn, one of the best ever.
     
  18. mojito

    mojito New Member

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  19. joy division

    joy division New Member

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    Penns capote > *
     
  20. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    Yes. I graduated from Brooks in '71. I use quite a few lights in my work but I try to teach beginners to start with one or two lights and work up from there.

    This photo I shot of my daughter uses five lights but you'd never know it.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. NJGuy

    NJGuy "Fuckmefuckmefuckmefuckmef uckmefuckmefuckmefuckm OT Supporter

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    Would you hate me if I said I dont like that lighting?
    Dont cus im a super amature.

    But the background seems way bright and I dont like the shadows on her cheek / side of the face. Too much glare on her face.


    PS.. great links...BTW
     
  22. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    No hate. The thing about photography is that everyone has different tastes. This picture is simply an example of one style of lighting.
     
  23. mojito

    mojito New Member

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    natural light ftw.
     
  24. Jcolman

    Jcolman OT Supporter

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    But mother nature doesn't always cooperate when you want her to.
     
  25. Tedrzz

    Tedrzz New Member

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    thats true with all mothers.:bigthumb:
     

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