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Bouncing light vs. difusion

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rick pearl
Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 27, 2008 at 10:03:22 pm

I have been looking into different ways to light different shooting scenarios and I keeping reading about bouncing lights off of walls in different directions to soften it. My question is why not just diffuse the light with a softbox, scrim or net instead of bouncing the light?

Thanks.


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john sharaf
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 27, 2008 at 10:42:54 pm

Rick,

You are correct in favoring a softbox or lite panel (scrim) vs. bouncing light in most situations as it's a much better way to control the illumination and minimize the "spill" light into places you don't want it.

I'll often bounce light to enhance the "ambient" lighting in day interiors or for fill when the key is very strong (like the sun coming through a window).

JS





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Rick Wise
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 28, 2008 at 12:08:11 am

Rick, a couple of comments: Scrims and nets do not soften light, they reduce its intensity. Diffusion both reduces intensity and softens. The main reason to use diffusion, of course, is to soften it.

Bouncing light is very often a good solution to a softer look. However, bouncing off walls rarely works very well as the walls usually have a color, which then becomes part of the bounced light. On the other hand, sheets of foamcore, or beadborad, or white cardboard all can serve to bounce light. My favorite way to shoot interviews is to key with as large a soft key as possible (more on that below) and take a sheet of 4 x 4 foamcore and bounce some of the key back on the fill side. A very small second light takes care of a back-hair light. Then the background usually needs treatment with lights and or flags and scrims. Note that you may need to slow down the light on a white or bright shirt with a net.

The big soft key: a 1200 HMI Par or Fresnel, or a 2K Tungsten; in front, clipped to the barndoors, opal diffusion; then a 6 x 6 or 8 x 8 frame about 3-5 feet in front of that, with 1/2 gridcloth; the frame is placed as close to the subject as possible without getting into the shot or way. Alternatively, the light goes through a Chimera ("softbox"), and then is further softened by additional diffusion placed a few feet in front as described above. In other words, double-diffuse it, with space between the diffusions.

If you are trying to increase general ambient light, sometimes you can tape sheets of 4 x 8 foamcore to the ceiling, or in a corner, and bounce light into them. Sometimes you have a white room and can bounce light off the walls and/or ceiling. You can also place foamcore on the floor and bounce light off that, simulating the look that slanting sunlight makes when it bounces off the floor. If the sunlight is slanting in, you can increase its effect with the foamcore.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 28, 2008 at 4:37:17 am

[Rick Wise] "sometimes you can tape sheets of 4 x 8 foamcore to the ceiling, or in a corner, and bounce light into them."

...a similar technique which brings up my favorite grip tool, the Quaker clamp (also known as the duckbill clamp)....



...which make it easy to hold up a 4x4 bounce on a tall C-stand, up to about a 45° angle. This, blasted with a 1200w HMI, is my favorite keylight in medium/largish rooms that have lots of windows.

You can buy them from Matthews for about $80... or you can make your own with about $10 worth of parts from the hardware store (weld a 5/8" post and a couple of sheet metal jaws onto a pair of ViceGrips). We have some homemade ones as well as the "store bought" variety, and they work equally well.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Dennis Size
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 29, 2008 at 4:44:42 am

Sometimes one just doesn't have the room to direct a softlight source at the subject being interviewed, and bouncing the light is the only solution. I recently had to light a few skyboxes at the Pepsico Center in Denver for the Democratic National Convention in which the ceiling height was 6'-6". I had 3 major network anchors to light ---- being shot LIVE by 3 cameras crammed into a space that was only 9'-0" wide. With that height and width, and a dozen people getting in the way, there's no room left to place fixtures and stands.
Ingenuity being the mother of invention (with no money or time as an incentive), I bought a few boxes of simple aluminum foil and adhered it to the ceiling and walls. I placed my stands and lighting fixtures (a mix of Kino Flo Divas, Arri 300's and 650's) behind the cameramen and their big "brownies" and bounced the light off the walls and ceiling over their heads. The end result was a nice, successful, soft wrap of light shooting around and over the cameras that seemed to bathe the anchors in a lovely wash of north light.
DS

P.S. There's a reason some people call me the "McGyver of Lighting"



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Todd Terry
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 29, 2008 at 5:11:11 am

Clever, Dennis....

Were you able to squeeze any backlighting for the talent in there? Or need it?


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Suszko
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 29, 2008 at 5:49:04 pm

Your aluminum foil solution reminds me that one of my favorite tools for a small room is a Bogen or Matthews auto-pole, which will span between two walls up high near the ceiling and lets you create a ceiling "grid" wherever you need it, and eliminate floor stands. Darned useful and pretty flexible.


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Dennis Size
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Oct 1, 2008 at 4:06:58 am

What about when your ceiling height is 6'-6" in a tiny space with 3 cameras .....and 3 anchors standing up talking to cameras?

DS



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Dennis Size
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Oct 1, 2008 at 4:10:09 am

I actually clamped grip arms out from the sky box balcony above our suites, and hung 150w fresnels on them as backlight onto our anchors.

DS



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Richard Herd
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Sep 29, 2008 at 5:48:23 pm

[Dennis Size] "I bought a few boxes of simple aluminum foil and adhered it to the ceiling and walls."

When you say that I envision a tin room. What percent of the walls were covered by aluminum foil, 100%, 50%?

Thanks!



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Dennis Size
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Oct 1, 2008 at 4:13:32 am

About 3 or 4 feet is all that was required .....literally the space above the cameras (which were almost touching the ceiling).
One only needs to position the bounce material over the amount of surface area covered by the beam of light you're bouncing off of.



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Bob Cole
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Oct 1, 2008 at 11:46:55 pm

[Dennis Size] "the cameramen and their big "brownies""

I love Dennis's posts -- really informative and ingenious.

So I hate to admit, but what's a "brownie?"

And if you say, "delicious," you're not funny.

Bob c



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Dennis Size
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Oct 2, 2008 at 2:45:18 am

Wow am I that old? Perhaps it's time to change that "youthful" photo of me from the 50's that has adorned the mast of the COW LIGHTING DESIGN FORUM for the past decade.
Sorry to create any confusion, I -- and many of our colleagues -- have used the term "BROWNIE" as a humorously pejorative reference for video cameras for so many years I just assumed everyone knew what I was talking about.
Brownie was the name of a long-running and extremely popular series of simple and inexpensive cameras introduced in 1900 by Kodak. It's use lasted into the 60's (.... and I think I may still have one in my mom's attic!).
The Brownie popularized low-cost photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot. The first Brownie was a very basic cardboard box camera with a simple meniscus lens that took 2¼-inch square pictures on 117 rollfilm. With its simple controls -- and initial price of $1 -- it made photography accessible to everyone.
Every technology we use to communicate with pictures - photojournalism, motion pictures, television, satelite imagery, the internet --can trace it's ancestry back to that little black box.

Thank you for appreciating the little pearls of wisdom I toss into the FORUM every now and then. Most people confuse my facetious and satirical approach as the ranting of a loony old fart.

DS



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Bob Cole
Re: Bouncing light vs. difusion
on Oct 2, 2008 at 3:46:49 am

[Dennis Size] "Brownie was the name of a long-running and extremely popular series of simple and inexpensive cameras"

Now I feel stupid! My first camera was an Instamatic but I remember the Brownie. Loved that Instamatic. Which wasn't "instant" at all, of course.

What a great way to refer to video cameras. Very funny. Thanks.

Bob



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