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Basic 3-Point Lighting Question

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kat hayes
Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 4, 2008 at 12:29:44 am

I am trying to light myself using a key and a reflector for a fill and a back hair light.

To start, I focussed just on the key and fill so I tried both an Arri 650 and a 1000 at different times with and without diffusion paper (not sure of the weight of the paper) and a Photoflex Litedisc. I varied the angle of the reflector in every possible way and height I could to try to get the right effect.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/42096-REG/Photoflex_DL_1542ZZ_42_Refl...

to act as the fill. I had the key at a 45 degree angle and varied its distance from 7 ft to around 4ft from myself and could not get the light to reflect off of the reflector very well unless it was inches from my face. I used the gold side and it was much more effective with reflecting the light, though it was too harsh.

1. Can anyone provide any advice on what I might be doing wrong?
2. Is this reflector not good for this purpose for some reason?

Thanks for any info.



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Todd Terry
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 4, 2008 at 3:17:10 pm

The problem is not the reflector, the problem is the key.

Your 650 or 1K (even with the "diffusion paper") used directly like that is going to be a very very hard light source and going to create some fairly harsh (some would say dramatic) results. Sometimes that's what you're going for, but for a beauty setup, more likely not.

You need to increase the size of your key... that is, you need to enlarge the surface of the area of the lighting, not the intensity. This can be done with a softbox, an umbrella, silk or some other diffusion material in a frame some distance in front of the instrument, or rather than using it directly bouncing it into something (a bounce card, foamcore, beadboard, or another reflector).

The bigger the surface area of the key, the softer the results will be. Right now with an unaltered 1K blasting at the talent the light source is pretty much as small as it can be. You want it bigger, not smaller. Even a piece of frosted shower curtain material can act as a good diffuser (just don't get it too close to the light).

The reflector you have should work fine on the other side... just keep in mind that the gold side is going to lower the color temperature of the reflected light and result in a warmer fill. You'd probably want to use the white side (or a silver reflector) unless your goal is to purposely warm up that side.

Hope this helps....


T2

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






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kat hayes
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 5, 2008 at 7:00:19 pm

I understand the idea that the light I am using from the key is too harsh and needs to be softened somehow, though are you suggesting that the reason that I am not getting good results with the fill reflector is also because the light is too harsh and this could be corrected by making the surface area of the key larger with something like a softbox? I was under the impression that without a softbox the light would be more directional and would shoot all the light at the reflector, where as if I use a softbox it would be spread over a larger area and would not result in as much directional light on the fill reflector.

Thank you for your help.



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Rick Wise
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 5, 2008 at 8:05:07 pm

Please take a good look at what your key light is doing. If it is aimed at the subject, it cannot effectively also be aimed at the bounce-fill. Therefore, the bounce-fill can do little.

If, on the other hand, you fly a reasonably large sheet of diffusion ( 3' x 3' or 4' x 4') three to four feet in front of your key, you will discover a couple of things: the light on the subject is much softer and more pleasant to the eye, the spread of light will mean that considerably more light will reach your bounce-fill, the balance between key and fill will become relatively easy to control -- move the fill closer or further away to adjust its intensity.

If you key is a 1K, you can probably afford to place opal on its barn doors, adding to the softening effect. By "afford" I mean you will still have enough intensity to get a decent picture.

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


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kat hayes
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 5, 2008 at 9:09:33 pm

Hi Rick,

I tried both aiming the key at the subject as well as aiming it more toward the fill reflector to see if that would bounce it back on the other side of the subject. No luck with either method.

1. What type of diffusion do you recommend flying in front of the key?

2. What is the difference between flying the diffusion in front of the key and using a softbox on the key?

Thank you.





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Rick Wise
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 5, 2008 at 9:43:43 pm

I like rather thick diffusion, such as 1/2 grid.

A softbox, or chimera, works just fine, especially if it is large. However, for an even more effective diffusion, use the softbox, and then fly in front of that some light diffusion. What you want to end up with is a large lighting surface -- the surface of the diffusion closest to the subject -- relatively close to the subject.

Since you seem to be still confused by all this, if you have a way to take some digital images of your setup and post them on a web, maybe we can be of more help.

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


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kat hayes
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 12:02:33 am

I will set the lights up and post a pic later. I also adjusted the flooding vs. spot dial on the back of the key, and although it seemed to change the light from more directional to more dispersed, it did not seem to make much difference with the fill.

1.) In general, how do you decide whether to flood the light or spot it? With the softbox or going through gels placed in front of the light, how should the light be set to flood or spot?

2.) I have access to a Sekonic Studio Deluxe III L-398A. I have no idea how to use it or what its capabilities are, though will this assist me with what I am trying to do?


Thanks



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Rick Wise
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 12:54:20 am

1) when you are putting your key through diffusion, you almost always want to flood it. When you spot it, you are putting out a narrow cone of hot light. When you flood it, you are sending out a much broader swatch of light. Ideally, you flood the light, then place the diffusion at a distance that the light fills the diffusion. You will actually get more intensity of light this way, than if you spot it in. With a softbox, again, flood it. If you bounce the light off a piece of foamcore, again, rotate towards flood until you fill the foamcore with the light.

2)The light meter you mention is a classic, analog meter. I doubt it will help you at this point. Once you get the look you want, you could, out of curiosity and or scientific enterprise, measure your key vs. your fill light. But you have no real need to do so. If you were shooting film, you'd need this or some other meter. I presume you are shooting video, and for that there is rarely a need. (I do occasionally use a meter on video shoots when I want to make sure, without needing to have a camera up, that I am correctly balancing all the lights.)

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


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kat hayes
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 5:08:34 am

1) I will be shooting both DV and DVC PROHD. Just curious, don't the same principles of lighting apply to film, DV and HD? Why do you use a meter with film but not the other formats?

2) What type/size/style softbox from the BH page listed below would you recommend for use with my Arri 650 or 1000?
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=search&A=search&Q=&ci=0&s...

Thanks for answering all my questions.



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Rick Wise
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 5:08:52 pm

1) Yes, the same principles apply to all formats. However, with video, you can set and adjust exposure by paying attention to zebras and your monitor(s). If you are unclear of how to use zebras, do a search on this forum for your answer.

2)Assuming you have the space for it, I would get the largest softbox that will fit on your 1K. Make sure the speedring (which is what the softbox fits into, and which then slips into the barn-door holder on your light) works for your light. If necessary, phone B&H to make sure.

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


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Richard Herd
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 6:55:15 pm

I use my lekonic constantly when shooting DVCPRO HD on my panny ag-hvx200 because I find that the problem is contrast ratio and not necessarily "intensity" of the light source. In other words, the relationship between a 2.8 and 4 is the same relationship as an 8 and 11, so I use my lightmeter meticulously to achieve the exact contrast ratio the shot demands.

Nothing like a good experiment though: Set the 1K and meter it, set your camera aperture accordingly. Set the 650 until you achieve a corresponding contrast ratio. Shoot it, color correct, export to a deliverable, and see what you get.



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kat hayes
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 9:13:20 pm

Given the same type of lighting setup I described earlier, but instead using Kinos, would I also want to place gels several feet in front of the Kino fixtures, or is the light from the Kinos soft enough already and capable of bouncing off the reflector without the gels?



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Bob Cole
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 10:12:59 pm

You're on the right track.

re: lack of adequate fill. With a flat surface like the Photoflex a slight variation in the angle of the reflector can make a big difference. Sit in the chair where your interviewee will be, and look over at the reflector. If you see a bright spot in the middle of the reflector, it's aimed at you. If not, it's reflecting the key somewhere else. It is easy for the reflector to get nudged off angle. Also, the brighter the key, the further away it can be, which helps your relatively-closer reflector contribute more. If your key is right on top of the subject your reflector will have to be practically touching the shady side to contribute much.

That reflector can move pretty easily and go off-axis. Alternatively, you may want to try an eye-light (e.g. a low-wattage fresnel, with diffusion) at or near the camera as your fill. To "dial it in" for different faces or degrees of "drama," you could put a small dimmer on that eye-light. Just look out for multiple shadows on the face. And, whether your fill source is a reflector or another light, don't "fill" those shadows entirely; let the key be your best friend. Otherwise you'll get that wonderful "passport photo" look.



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Rick Wise
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 10:31:50 pm

If you key with a large enough Kino, you can probably still use a reflector for the fill side. You may find it easier to use a second, smaller Kino, instead.

Kinos are basically "soft" lights; to make one even softer you can place diffusion on the barn doors; to make it even softer than that, fly the diffusion out in front.

To focus a reflector, hold a small mirror in the center of it, and move the reflector around until the mirror hits the area you want lit.

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


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Rick Wise
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 6, 2008 at 10:32:52 pm

If you key with a large enough Kino, you can probably still use a reflector for the fill side. You may find it easier to use a second, smaller Kino, instead.

Kinos are basically "soft" lights; to make one even softer you can place diffusion on the barn doors; to make it even softer than that, fly the diffusion out in front.

To focus a reflector, hold a small mirror in the center of it, and move the reflector around until the mirror hits the area you want lit.

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


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Richard Herd
Re: Basic 3-Point Lighting Question
on Oct 7, 2008 at 6:42:41 pm

Just thought of another connotation of "soft" in photography--not sure if this is what you're after, but "soft" can mean soft focus, like the soft-focus close up shots in movies like "Casablanca." For such a look, filters on the lens provide the most efficient and repeatable method.

In my opinion, the ag-hvx200 can use a good dose of filtering, btw. (Personally, I find the sharp focus to be an overly sharp image picking up pock marks, laugh lines, and other so-called flaws in the skin that film-grain appears to hide. Not having any blurring filters, I end up applying a blur node via an additive node in Apple Color, where the other branch of the additive node is run of the mill color correction.)



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