looking for sharp dark shadows (continuous lighting)


TPF Noob!
Sep 12, 2010
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Romania - Bucharest
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Hi all !

Hope nobody minds that i am stating this thread not in order to take photos but for drawing.

I recently started giving drawing lessons at my house and i don't like the current lighting because the shadows aren't dark enough due to the fact that i don't get very strong lighting from my ceiling lamp. The thing is i don't want extra powerful bulbs on my ceiling lamp that will burn all week, therefore i am looking to put another source of light for these drawing sessions - a fixed one or maybe on a stand to be able to move it around.

SO... i am looking for a light source that will give me high contrast (dark shadows) and well defined shadow contours.
I guess i need a small and powerful light source that i can place pretty far from the subject. I also need it to be able to run 5 hours straight, without heating up the room and preferably without a noisy fan attached to it.

I made some tests with one of these (lamp with 35W flourescent bulb). It gave a more powerful light (darker shadows, could be better though) but fluffy contours.

Bare in mind that i also don't want 2 sets of separate shades, but i also need to provide light on the drawing boards of the students, so either i have 1 source of light that does enough for both the subject to be drawn as well for the drawing boards of the students, or i have one light for the subject and some kind of diffuse light for the drawing boards.

I also don't mind having multiple light sources that are close one to the other so i get multiple shadows that overlap 80-90%, but again, i want the contours to be sharp.

Any ideas?

Thanks a lot for your time!
You are on the right track, in that a smaller and/or farther away light source can give you a harder light, which means more defined shadow edges.

As for the darkness of your shadows, that has to do with your lighting ratio. The ratio between the lit side and the dark side of your model/subject. You don't neccesarily have to make your light source any brighter...if you can limit the amount of ambient or fill light, that is illuminating the shadow side. For example, if you are in a room with reflective walls, your main light will likely bounce around and get back to the shadow side. You might be able to control this by constraining the main light with something...barn doors, snoots & grids are things I'd use for my studio lights....you could get or make something similar for whatever light you are using.

Another thing you can do, is to use 'subtractive lighting'. Basically, if you put up a light absorbing (non reflective) surface on the shadow side, you can get darker shadows. A dark cloth material would work, black velvet would be ideal.
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thanks guys for your input, and sorry for the delayed answer. i'll take your advice into consideration

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