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Photon Management
Shine an ever-loving light on you.

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Old April 2nd, 2005, 07:51 AM   #16
Major Player
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Brighton, England
Posts: 225
There was a mention earlier of someone wanting advice on learning lighting in general.

Here's my advice: Try Rhett's setup, which is pretty much a basic 3-point lighting system.

Have your volunteer sit (with a camera on and pointed at them and, preferably, hooked up to a monitor), then, starting with no lights on (in a totally blacked-out room, if possible), turn on each light in turn - on it's own - and get an idea of what it is doing. Move them about a bit and see what happens as you change the angle (vertical and horizontal) relative to the subject-camera angle.

Now you are starting to build up a picture in your head as to what the different lights do in this basic setup.

As an approach to start lighting from scratch (i.e. with no pre-defined lighting plan) a good friend and mentor of mine suggested this comparison, which I found *very* useful.

Imitate drawing (after all, we're painting with light here!). When you draw, you start with a white bg. First you draw the outline of the object, then you shade it to give texture and a 3D nature.

So start with a totally black room. Then add your kicker (this is the light mentioned by Rhett at 10.00/11.00 o'clock, although they can be wider or directly behind, high or low placement - just remember you need to keep the light out of the lens using either angles or flagging). Now you have a white outline around your subject. Second part - shade the face. This is done with the key light (at 4.00 o'clock or so in Rhett's example), and creates the shadows that give you 3D detail on your 2D image. The closer the light is to a right angle with the camera-subject line the heavier the modeling, the more stylised and the less light will be visible on the dark side of the face - experiment!! Finally, add your fill to bring *some* level of detail into the shadowed areas of the face. Tastes differ with fill, and as someone else mentioned, the less fill the more dramatic the shot, as a rule of thumb. On video I would rarely suggest using no fill (in fact I never would, as I think you're far better off crushing to black in post, but that's a different story...), but tons will give you a flat, uninteresting shot and poses the potential of distracting double-shadows around the eyes and nose.

Ideally (and this is where controllable lighting such as fresnels comes in very handy), you should still have *zero* light on your bg, and you can now light this seperately. Remember the basics you've learnt - more angle to the lighting will give more dramatic and textured results, but may look too heavy if you overdo it. For the kind of "dark but visible" bg you are talking about here, a gobo is the key - get some matt black foam card (great tip Rhett - that stuff's super useful and very very cheap), cut some interesting irregular shapes in it and attach it to a stand in front of the background light. Now move it around and see what happens/when you like the effect - experience, as ever, is the key. So start playing! One final tip on lighting backgrounds (again from Mike the friend/mentor in question!), is to pick out one or two things that you want to see in the background (or areas you'd like lit, etc) and light for them flagging and goboing the light (to dampen it and break it up) everywhere else...

Good luck - it's not as hard as it seems once you get stuck in!!!
Dominic Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 9th, 2005, 03:59 PM   #17
Hellgate Pictures, Inc.
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 124
Visit my website. I have a number of articles on lighting headshots under "instruction":
Walter Graff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 10th, 2005, 03:46 PM   #18
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Northridge Ca
Posts: 734
Bryan, I notice you are using the JTL kit, and I thought you might like to take a look at a brief tutorial I posted where I used the same kit. Hopefully it will give you some ideas. Let me know if you have any questions.


Wayne Orr, SOC

If it was easy, they'd get a relative to do it.
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