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lighting Cumberbatch Lighting Q

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Check out this image of the dr

I'm curious is there a trick to getting so much shadow on the sides of his face but still having the background well lit?
Seems tricky.


d1bb1a007592cea3372eec8014871ad0.jpg
 
For one thing, this is a composite, The image of him is an isolated layer.

Secondarily, you can shape shadows in post pretty easily. You can even do it in motion. Go into resolve, create a serial node, assign it a mask shape, drop the gamma only, feather the mask, and then you can make the shadows wherever you want.
 
the lighting confused me bc its impossible

No, not impossible in/for a static image. A careful use of longer-than-average focal lengths would allow Mr. C to be positioned sufficiently far forward of the background to allow for two different planes of lighting, with snoots and barn doors to keep spill between the two to a minimum.

And, without wishing to pick a fight with @Nate North :no: I am inclined to believe that this not a composite, but a "live" photo taken by Dan Winters in a purpose-built set.
 
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sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Thanks for the video!

Does anyone know what purpose the camera flash served? I don't know much about using a flash, just setting up lighting for film.
 
I presume you're referring to the ring-flash, mounted on/around the lens? It's primary purpose will have been to create that harsh light on the centre of BC's face, without excessively lighting the background. Can't say from what's shown in the video, but the ring flash may also be triggering other flashes (e.g. whatever lights are responsible for the reflected highlights on the lightbulbs and shiny knobs on the set).

Although it's common to think of flashes creating the kind of harsh shadows you see in family snapshots, that's really only an effect of using a single flash in a lighting arrangement - mainly because none of your family want to waste party time while you spend six hours setting up the additional lighting! But whereas a movie crew fires up a collection of megawatts and floods the set for as long as it takes to shoot the scene, a portrait photographer only needs that kind of light for a fraction of a second.

You can rig up a whole set of auxillary lights, each with their own adjustable output, and fit each one with an optical slave that fires when the main flash fires. That gives you the intensity of light needed for a high shutter speed and fast film, but only for that fraction of a second - much more comfortable for the subject to work with. In this case, it's probably more important than for an average photoshoot, as the photographer would have wanted a good depth of field to keep all that foreground and background detail in focus as well as the subject.
 
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No, not impossible in/for a static image. A careful use of longer-than-average focal lengths would allow Mr. C to be positioned sufficiently far forward of the background to allow for two different planes of lighting, with snoots and barn doors to keep spill between the two to a minimum.

And, without wishing to pick a fight with @Nate North :no: I am inclined to believe that this not a composite, but a "live" photo taken by Dan Winters in a purpose-built set.
I just assumed, because it would be a lot easier and cheaper to produce an identical effect in post. It actually looks like an HDR shot to me, which if done the way you are saying, would be a very complex flash timing rig indeed, requiring cascading calibrated flashes chain firing at high speed. You can do it though, if you've got 20 grand in setup to pay for a still.

Compositing tech is now so good that it's honestly hard to tell if you're dealing with professional work. Live or not, I still suspect some post work was done here. It's the rule vs the exception now for a number of reasons.
 
if done the way you are saying, would be a very complex flash timing rig indeed, requiring cascading calibrated flashes chain firing at high speed. You can do it though, if you've got 20 grand in setup to pay for a still.
Complex, yes, but not (necessarily) expensive. Reliable optical slaves are about 10$ a piece, reliable calibratable flashes 50$ a piece. After that, you can multiply the bangs for your bucks using mirrors and other reflective surfaces and a few dozen C-stands and other simple supports. I've done something similar myself and it quite literally needs only one single flash (e.g. the pathetic on-camera flash) to fire all the serious lumens at the same time.

On the other hand, yes, of course the image has been processed subsequently - especially in this case, as it was shot on old-style film! :bow:
 
An entirely different style of portrait, but this video shows how remote-activated flash can be used to good effect with both entry-level and higher-spec gear. You'll see that he uses the optical slave technique on the higher spec equipment rather than a radio trigger.

A couple of other significant differences compared to video photography : his long exposure is one sixth of a second - you don't get many video clips coming in at a grand total of 4 frames! :eek: And even when you're capturing a moving subject, it's obviously a heck of a lot easier to do everything yourself - even the modelling, if you're really stuck :wait: - when you don't have to cope with distractions like moving dollies and boom poles and actors going off-script! :director:


FWIW : this was one of my own experiments with "second curtain" flash, taken during a Breton dance with a particularly good group of musicians keeping the dancers well-synchronised.


Kursaal01-zps5r1tqz0y.jpg
 
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sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I presume you're referring to the ring-flash, mounted on/around the lens? It's primary purpose will have been to create that harsh light on the centre of BC's face, without excessively lighting the background. Can't say from what's shown in the video, but the ring flash may also be triggering other flashes (e.g. whatever lights are responsible for the reflected highlights on the lightbulbs and shiny knobs on the set).

Although it's common to think of flashes creating the kind of harsh shadows you see in family snapshots, that's really only an effect of using a single flash in a lighting arrangement - mainly because none of your family want to waste party time while you spend six hours setting up the additional lighting! But whereas a movie crew fires up a collection of megawatts and floods the set for as long as it takes to shoot the scene, a portrait photographer only needs that kind of light for a fraction of a second.

You can rig up a whole set of auxillary lights, each with their own adjustable output, and fit each one with an optical slave that fires when the main flash fires. That gives you the intensity of light needed for a high shutter speed and fast film, but only for that fraction of a second - much more comfortable for the subject to work with. In this case, it's probably more important than for an average photoshoot, as the photographer would have wanted a good depth of field to keep all that foreground and background detail in focus as well as the subject.

Some of his went over my head.. specifically... why can't you do this same effect with steady light instead of flash ?
 
why can't you do this same effect with steady light instead of flash
You can, but you'd need to keep the lights on for ages, burning through the bulbs, your retinas and your local fossil fuel supply!

For the most part, when you're taking a portrait, you want the sharpest possible image, so the fastest possible shutter speed and (probably) a low iso. As well as giving you a massive extra amount of light (up to 100000 lumens) for the duration of the shot, the flash has its own speed setting which can be way, way faster than the camera. My cheap Chinese Yongnuo flash can give me a 1/23000 second exposure, if I want it. For the most part, still photography is all about capturing instants - the complete opposite to the concept of video, what we used to call "moving pictures".
 
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You've captured my attention with your dismissive banter! Obviously someone with your all encompassing knowledge of film, animation, still photography, lighting, and post techniques would have some impressive demo work to display in the video section. It seems like sharing some of your undoubtedly superior results in these fields would beneficial to all involved, providing those of us with less expertise with a shining beacon of personal caliber to aspire to. I look forward to screening your contributions to the many fields that you obviously excel in.

And at @celtic, did you hear that, I guess real photographers are using more than one light. We've been screwing this up the whole time. That must be why all my portrait shots turn out as silhouettes. You learn something new everyday.
 
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