Lighting Design Forum
Advice for lighting masks hanging in a hallway for a video
Advice for lighting masks hanging in a hallway for a video
by Cristopher Stauffer on Sep 28, 2015 at 9:36:39 pm

I'm looking for advice for lighting technique for the following scenario. I know an individual who has a collection of rare masquerade masks hanging in their hallway. I'd like to shoot video of them - however it is in a pretty old home with narrow hallways and crappy lighting. Basically, I'm trying to find the best kind of lighting giving that:

A. the masks are hanging on the wall in a hallway and can't be removed
B. The hallway is maybe 3 feet wide
C. I need to travel to this location so something that is marginally portable
D. There is limited power supply because I don't want to blow the breakers in this old house
E. The masks are very intricate proper lighting will really show off the detail

Any advice?

Re: Advice for lighting masks hanging in a hallway for a video
by Rick Wise on Sep 28, 2015 at 11:20:27 pm

This old house has a fuse box or circuit box. What are the amps on each circuit? 15 or 20? Find out!

Those masks are probably somewhat fragile so heat is an issue. Generally, though not always, I prefer to light masks with a hard Fresnel key and some judicious fill. If you have to show a long shot of the entire hallway, then you are going to be very cramped indeed. In that case, a couple of lights bounced into the ceiling is about all you can do, plus maybe some raking light from down the hall if you can frame it out. If you can just isolate each mask, then some small LED Fresnel unit on a C-stand arm that you can move around to the most dramatic lighting angle will be best, plus some bounce material such as foamcore, beadboard, even space blanket. bring some options and grip gear to hold in place.

You may want to play with another small unit that has some relevant color. In any case, bring a selection of gels, including browns, greens, reds, etc.

Camera angles will be cramped. Hopefully none of the masks is very large.

Rick Wise
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Advice for lighting masks hanging in a hallway for a video
by Mark Suszko on Sep 29, 2015 at 1:54:25 pm

This may be a good application for a ring light around the lens, but you will want to balance the soft light against hard light that brings out detail. I might bounce a light off the ceiling/wall behind the camera for a general soft light, then use a small, battery-powered LED spot for a keylight. Try with and without a bounce card for fill, or use a black bounce card for "negative fill" to one side. None of those options require much if any AC power.

This is an easy setup to mock-up and test in your own studio/home before you go to the location. Try a couple things, see what you like.