Lighting issues

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by kkamin, Nov 24, 2009.

  1. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    [​IMG]
    I was trying to light mother and child with fashion type lighting.

    They were standing on a white paper sweep being lit by a softbox--I wrapped two edges of the softbox with cinefoil to minimize the spill on the wall of the sweep. To light the sweep, I had a light shooting through a honeycomb grid.

    Anyways, I think their eyes are too dark. The lighting is kind of a butterfly type lighting. I'd rather have is more Rembrandt, but I was afraid to angle the light more towards their face, with fear of spilling light on the paper and bringing up its tone (I like the dark grey)

    1. How can I improve the lighting so that the eyes get more light but I can keep the high contrast look?

    2. Do you think I need a hair light or a kicker or is the background spot good enough to provide separation? I've had problems with hair lights; since for dark haired subjects they generally are 1-2 stops brighter than the key, the spill from it strikes the white studio and is strong enough to fill the entire room slightly, bringing up the tone on the paper. Any ideas on how to combat that? Grey paper? Black cloth to catch any direct spill on the other side of the subjects?

    3. Please give me any other feedback.

    Thanks,

    Kkamin
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You hit on one very,very solid idea for working in smaller shooting area, and that is *gray* background paper. I prefer to work on gray paper; it takes gels reasonably well; it can easily be lighted with two lights to make it white,yet it does not tend to blow back light to the subject and cause "wrap" as Zack Arias calls blowback, and it's easy to get a nice graduated effect on a gray backdrop by firing a reflector or a reflector + grid at gray paper. I actually like BLACK paper a lot because I have old, loud-popping 2400-watt second packs and I only have 25 feet to shoot in most of the time. I can light black UP to gray quite easily, and can easily visually see where the corners start to go dark very easily.

    In a small,confined shooting area, gray is a great background color. Especially if you want to have a darker background like you have, one that is slightly muted and 'calm'.

    I would agree that their eyes are too dark. The main light I think is too high, and is "raining down" light on them, causing an under-eye shadow on the woman, and the entire area below her arm has dropped off into inky blackness.

    As far as worrying about aiming the light more at them and bringing up the tone on the paper--the easiest thing to do is to move the subjects REALLY close to the light, to take advantage of the Inverse Square Laws's really rapid fall-off in light intensity. If you would close the gap between the subjects and the softbox, they would be brighter. Then, if you would move the softbox and the subjects together back, and farther away from the background, you would greatly increase the amount of light fall off between the subjcets and the background, and MUCH less light would hit the background, thus keeping the background dramatic and gray. You could then use the gridded light to make the background lighting like you did in this shot.

    As far as a hair light being 1 to 2 stops brighter than the key light--I don't think that's needed to go that much over--I often use only 1/4 as much light as my mainlight for hairlight, but I prefer an 11.5 inch reflector with a 20 degree grid and a snap-on white mylar diffuser and 2-way barn doors, which keeps ALL the hairlight off the background,and puts all the light moving forward, toward the subjects. Not sure what you use as a hair light--that could make your power needs different from mine.

    If you had a softbox with an eggcrate grid and a recessed front, a lot of your problems would be made easier to deal with. That would make the spill light from the softbox so much less, that you could just aim it at them,and not worry that it would flood the backdrop with so much light. But,once again, if you'd been working on a gray backdrop, 90 percent of your worries about too much light would have been eliminated away. Making white "drop off" to gray is much tougher than starting out with black or gray paper in small shooting area. [why is there never enough space?]

    if you have a 40 foot deep studio, the white background wouldn't be a problem--you could make it drop off to medium or dark gray like you had, and had the softbox you own positioned anyway you wanted. Those are my thoughts about it. Your concerns are well-noted and I can see why you made the choices you did.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2009
  3. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the feedback, Derrel. I learned a lot, and your idea of moving the softbox closer to the subjects is great.

    As for the hair light, so you are lighting it 2 stops under? It seems like the convention is to user a strong light for the hair light. Can you explain. I personally don't like strong hair lights and think really bright ones look kind of canned, if you know what I mean.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Glad I could help. There's a strange phenomenon with hair lights that I read about years ago from a professional lighting expert. He mentioned that as a hair light was moved from the side of a subject and around toward the back of the subject,and then to a rather steep angle in relation to the camera-to-subject line, that the intensity of the hairlight would grow, disproportionately in relation to the power output of the hairlight. He went so far as to say that one could not event trust the light meter--that in this specific situation, the light meter readings would be "wrong". As weird as that sounds, he was right. I think partly what happens is that the steeply-angled hairlight can cause a sort of specular reflection on the hair, which is very,very "hot", and so the meter's reading is not really reliable because at a steep angle of incidence, hair is super-shiny and reflective.

    What I meant to say is that in terms of watt-seconds, using the Speedotron system's 11.5 inch 50 degree reflector, fitted with a 20 or 35 degree honeycomb grid, and then a mylar snap-on diffuser, and barndoors, that 100 watt-seconds is *ample* hair lighting when using a main light of 400 watt-seconds. That big parabolic reflector is extremely efficient, and builds a much higher guide number than a smaller, 7 inch reflector, thus enabling me to use a very low power setting to achieve hair lighting or separation lighting. Given the way hair lighting from the back produces a hotter-than-normal effect with my type of hairlight, it does not need to be at +1 stop to be effective. The light itself is slightly crisper than umbrella or softbox lighting, so I run the hairlight at typically 2 stops down, in watt-seconds output, from the main light which is a softbox or umbrella usually.
     
  5. kkamin

    kkamin TPF Noob!

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    Thanks, Derrel. I'm gonna do some tests. You've given me a good foundation to start from.
     

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