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Old April 5th, 2016, 05:25 AM   #1
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Bouncing light off celings

Hello,

I have started reading this more and more often. Just recently a friend of mine suggested bouncing one of my Aputure Amarans off the ceiling for an interview in an ugly room with no windows.

I'm quite curious as to how this would look exactly. Does anyone have any experience with this, do they have any advice, and can they show me any examples of them doing this?

Thanks!
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Old April 5th, 2016, 06:09 AM   #2
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

Assuming a white ceiling, it'll look like soft top light. how well it works depends on how close the subject is to the bounce and their position. Unfortunately, it won't do anything to improve an ugly room, which usually involves a bit of art direction, clever lighting and not showing much of the room.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 06:09 AM   #3
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

Hi there
Used to do it all the time with flash when I worked as a photographer on a paper... even used to use a window..most of light went through but enough came back to give a nice natural look. Was great with black and white.. but less useful with colour.

Ceilings can work too depending on how high they are... video lights are all too often not very powerful and when you take into account inverse squared rules, you soon find light dropping off too quickly... A wall can work just as well....

The main caveat to this is the surface... as I said above will bethe colour as it is reflected back as colour cast. A white ceiling or wall can be fine... but if they are any other colour I'd avoid it.
For video I've preferred a Chimera or other soft box, or an LED panel as a fill light. You can get small powerful enough unit these days...
cheers
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Old April 5th, 2016, 06:30 AM   #4
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathan Buck View Post
Hello,

I have started reading this more and more often. Just recently a friend of mine suggested bouncing one of my Aputure Amarans off the ceiling for an interview in an ugly room with no windows.

I'm quite curious as to how this would look exactly. Does anyone have any experience with this, do they have any advice, and can they show me any examples of them doing this?

Thanks!
Don't fall for that lazy bad advice. Interview lighting is about much more than just simple illumination to get an exposure. Although bouncing light off a ceiling can sometimes be an acceptable technique to bring up the overall ambient level of light in a dark room it is never a substitute for actually lighting the subject properly. A soft light coming from overhead, with no other lighting on the person's face, is never going to look good on the subject. Never. How is that one light on the ceiling going to give you the feeling of a key, fill, backlight, or kicker? You've been given terrible advice. Do a favor for the people that have that you are going to shoot and the people that have to watch the video later and don't cut corners.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 10:38 AM   #5
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

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Originally Posted by Gareth Watkins View Post
Hi there
Used to do it all the time with flash when I worked as a photographer on a paper... even used to use a window..most of light went through but enough came back to give a nice natural look. Was great with black and white.. but less useful with colour.

Ceilings can work too depending on how high they are... video lights are all too often not very powerful and when you take into account inverse squared rules, you soon find light dropping off too quickly... A wall can work just as well....

The main caveat to this is the surface... as I said above will bethe colour as it is reflected back as colour cast. A white ceiling or wall can be fine... but if they are any other colour I'd avoid it.
For video I've preferred a Chimera or other soft box, or an LED panel as a fill light. You can get small powerful enough unit these days...
cheers
Gareth
Thank you all. The ceiling is a murky tiled one that have tinged yellow with age. Probably best to avoid in this situation then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Jensen View Post
Don't fall for that lazy bad advice. Interview lighting is about much more than just simple illumination to get an exposure. Although bouncing light off a ceiling can sometimes be an acceptable technique to bring up the overall ambient level of light in a dark room it is never a substitute for actually lighting the subject properly. A soft light coming from overhead, with no other lighting on the person's face, is never going to look good on the subject. Never. How is that one light on the ceiling going to give you the feeling of a key, fill, backlight, or kicker? You've been given terrible advice. Do a favor for the people that have that you are going to shoot and the people that have to watch the video later and don't cut corners.
Exactly as I thought. I should add, the one light off the ceiling was purely to add ambient light and not as a substitute for proper interview lighting. That said, I only have three lights - one Rotolight Neo and two Apurture Amarans. The neo will be acting as key, with one of the Amarans as fill. I guess I'll use the other light to act as a high back light to give them some definition and hide the room as much as possible. Wonder if it's worth turning out the lights in the room entirely and working in a fully controlled environment.

Thanks for your advice.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 04:01 PM   #6
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

A white artexed ceiling is a great feature to find in a room. for years, our travelling light kit was Redhead based, so it would be one for the key, another with a big sheet of spun or diffuser for the soft light and the other for hard or soft backlight. Loads of times the soft really wasn't soft enough because it had to be too far away from the subject, and it was always possible to use a nice white ceiling to widen the soft light source.

No idea where this idea gets tagged as lazy. Lost count of the number of interviews or PTCs we did like this in horrible locations. The ceiling is not a be all and end all - but with limited kit, it really is a nice soft source, if you have enough light to throw at it (because it's a bit wasteful).

Angle wise - it's rarely a problem unless the room is really small. I really don't think it's lazy at all, because the quantity of kit is the same, you're just using a large white surfaces as a reflector. I've still got somewhere an Ianiro tubular soft light. I used to use these in the studio, but 2.5K was a bit much. I used to use this quite often and bounce the things off our white cyc - this was an even bigger soft source, but hugely wasteful of light - but in the studio it didn't really matter.

I'd rather do this than have to use the tiny so called soft lights that are around nowadays.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 09:20 PM   #7
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

I tagged it as lazy because the original post made it sound like it would be the only source of lighting. In that context, it is very lazy way to light an interview with virtually no chance of looking good. If however, bouncing light off the ceiling is just part of a larger lighting scheme with other sources, then the lazy tag may not apply.
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Old April 5th, 2016, 10:22 PM   #8
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

Bouncing light off the ceiling is a trick in your toolkit. It should probably not be the #1 trick in your toolkit, but sometimes it works wonders. If you handed me a Tota and told me the CEO would be here in 2 minutes for his interview, I would immediately point the tota at the ceiling and get the tripod setup.
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Old April 6th, 2016, 02:15 AM   #9
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

I'll play a little devil's advocate here. The key factor for why this wasn't a great idea was that Nathan described the room as ugly. A ceiling bounce will pick up the illumination overall so this is why it's a bad idea in this situation. However: in some circumstances, it can actually be a great thing. After many years of shunning it, I actually went through a little "ceiling bounce renaissance" a year or two ago under certain circumstances. Couple of examples below:


(light on the students is overhead fluorescents, some turned off for modeling--the light on the stage is a single ceiling bounce, about 8 feet in front of the stage).


(Once "Obama" starts shaking hands, everything is lit with a series of carefully placed ceiling bounces, all from floor stands behind camera)

Of course, those aren't interviews. But...given a big enough space where the light could fall off into the background, I could see a scenario where a ceiling bounce could actually be a great look. This would be for a particular style of interview, to be sure. Not a classic TV style talking head that is in the broadcast mold, this would be more naturalistic, maybe a little raw.

For something that is often thought of as "brute force" lighting, there are actually quite a few variables you can play with. A head pointing straight up at the ceiling creates a round source, but if you tip it forward, it will become oval. And if you walk it off to the side and then aim it perpendicular to the subject, it again becomes an oval but this time rotated as a wide source rather than a tall source (something like the difference between a 4ft 2bank Kino in vertical vs horizontal orientation). And finally, the proximity to the subject determines the toppiness of the source--the further away from subject, the more that toplight will start to resemble a soft key source on a floor stand.

An example of the side-raking ceiling bounce is in this one:

The existing fluorescents in the room were an oddball type and we saw out the windows, so I needed to relight the room with a daylight source. I needed plenty of room for the cameras to move around, and if I started putting sources that far back they would end up causing camera shadows for the close stuff. The M40 placed in the back of the room raked across the ceiling, making a wide soft source as detailed above that covered the entire width of the room. And to keep it from looking too sourcey, I added a series of JoLekos (Leko lenses with HMI backs) that were tightly focused onto a long swatch of ultrabounce clipped to a header on the wall behind the actors, which wrapped the light from the other side It was a bit of an experiment, but it eliminated the evenness of a classroom environment without any complicated rigging (see diagram below)

Sorry if this is divergent from the interview discussion. Really all I'm trying to do is provide a point of view that suggests that "ceiling bounce" isn't a dirty phrase, or inherently lazy. As Mike says, it's a trick in the toolkit (or a tool in the trick kit?)
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Old April 7th, 2016, 01:59 AM   #10
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

My reply was based on a news situation, (my back ground) where you just don't get time or opportunity to light properly.
Bounced flash worked well in these situations for stills... (handshake meetings, round table shots etc...) and I worked along side news crews that had a lighting guy with a large tungsten light, that he would often use handheld and bounce it off a wall or ceiling to illuminate the scene...

Most daily news situations indoors are anything but ideal lighting situations... so you do the best to get an acceptable shot, and bounced light can do that... its better than the deer in the headlight look!!

Would I prefer a nicely set up set with fill lights and kickers.. you bet... !!!

cheers
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Old April 16th, 2016, 12:10 AM   #11
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Re: Bouncing light off celings

I am in the "it must be an arrow in your quiver camp". One of my primary uses for bouncing off of a ceiling or wall is to soften or eliminate shadows on a wall after I have lit the subject the way I want to. It can be a great source for getting rid of unwanted background shadows on a wall when you want your look to resemble natural room light after you have pumped it up the way you want it to be.

Kind Regards,

Steve

Edit: Charles, while watching your Key & Peele clips I started laughing so much I forgot to study them for their intended purpose of lighting samples. So I watched them again and still laughed!
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