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Lighting Advice/Suggestions

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Old 02-28-2009, 04:35 AM
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AFrazier AFrazier is offline
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Lighting Advice/Suggestions

I am planning a shoot for this coming week, and I would like a little input from some experienced photographers on how to pull off the lighting to get the best possible results.

The Shot -

Jack the Ripper.
It will be a sexy girl (aspiring model), scantily clad in something suitably sexy, holding a butcher knife or similar. Some shots will have a "victim" posing with her.
In my local downtown area, we have old fashioned street lights that look very similar to early 19th century street lights, except that they are no longer of the gas variety. They emit a green-colored light (which is part of what inspired the shot).
I intend to use a smoke/fog machine to create an eerie ambiance in the background.

The Lighting -

The way I figured the lighting, I was going to let the street light provide a mild, green colored hair light of sorts.
From behind the model(s), I was going to use two soft boxes (or maybe low-powered hot lights) at 45 degrees, 1:1, to back light the scene. The intent is to make the fog glow, and hopefully create a rim light if they are strong enough to cut through the fog while simultaneously NOT blowing out the highlights in the fog's whites (which is a concern with the necessary exposure on the facial shadows).
For the front, I am toying with either 2:1 lighting at 45 degree for a natural lighting setup, or a 90 degree key opposite the street light for hard shadows with a reflector to bring the details back into their faces.

The Concern -

I want to retain the greenish color of the lighting from the street light. I am concerned that the other lights will wash out that color.
I also want the scene to be very 19th centuryish, with hard shadows, an eerie mood, and a touch of mystery.
However, I don't necessarily want green people, I don't want the details in the shadows lost, and I don't want it to look like a tacky portrait.

I am able, of course, to meter the lighting and set the right exposure. That's not really a problem. I can also set the temperature and use filters to compensate for significant color casts.
But if I set the color, will that also ruin the green light? If I average the meter readings in this sort of high contrast image, will it cause me to lose something important?


I'm sure I can figure this out in a pinch, but since you are all here and willing to help, I thought maybe I'd post the question and see what suggestions some other photographers might offer to achieve the results I'm after.
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Old 02-28-2009, 05:27 AM
HuBBa HuBBa is offline
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

well mixing in the green cast would probably mean that you either need to use very long exposure in which case the exposure balance with the flashes may be tricky as other lights will interfer. The simple solution is to use another flash aimed from roughly where the green light is and gel it (ie. color gel filter) for the green cast.

Sounds lika a very nice scene be sure to show us pictures afterwards =)
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Old 02-28-2009, 05:32 AM
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

Hmmmm, I'll have to measure one of the street lights and see if I have a boom tall enough. I want the street light itself to be part of the image to sort of set the scene, if you catch my drift. But a gel would work to get a quick flash instead of trying to use its low light ambiance. I might even use a spot.
Great ideas. Thanks. I'll go do some measuring.

I intend to post the pics when they're done. Just check back here. I expect to have them shot and processed within a week if all the costume issues go smoothly.
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Old 02-28-2009, 05:59 AM
HuBBa HuBBa is offline
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

well remember that it will only cast a green glow on the model, so it doesnt have to be in the exact spot of the original lamp. Just the rough direction.
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Old 02-28-2009, 06:09 AM
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

Fair enough. I had actually thought about that after I responded to you. It is important, however, that the light appears to come from the lamp itself. So, as you say, the rough direction.
That will still potentially put the spot in the frame, which is the concern. You're still right, though. I just have to fiddle until I get it the way it needs to be.

What if I dropped my fill to a 4:1 ratio with the key and lined two soft boxes one on top of the other? The lower fill could be clean light, and the upper could be gelled. The stacked effect would bring the ratio back up while providing a mild green fill to the upper half of the frame. I could just scrim the upper gelled box to keep it from mixing at the lower end. The natural ambiance of the street light itself would do the rest naturally.

?
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Old 02-28-2009, 07:20 AM
HuBBa HuBBa is offline
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

yeah that could work. Though why softboxes? is it for the shadows you want it? This sounds (without having scene the street) like you may need some distance from the subject to hide the lights, so maybe something like a magnum reflector or similar would be easier and not loose so much light power.

Stacking lights however should work fine. A fully gelled lirght might be a bit to strong in the color and this way it would even the tones out a bit.
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Old 02-28-2009, 08:07 AM
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

It will be a tight shot. I don't intend to include too much of the street. Some of the shots will be full length. Most of them will be torso shots from mid thigh. The street light will be included as a natural prop to stage the scene.
The soft boxes are because the lights will be close (due to available power sources), and I want to avoid hard shadows. Deep shadows are fine, but I want them soft. I had thought briefly about a spot, but I dismissed it for the same reason.

I can try it with a reflector, too. I agree with you. I thought about that. I'm just not sure if it will be enough. Let me think on the arrangement and see if I can make that work.

I appreciate all your input.
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Old 03-03-2009, 04:46 AM
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

Great concept and hope I am not too late... I biggest suggestion is to photograph the BG with the green lights separately at many angles without the model but with the smoke. This will at least allow you to stitch one or more photos together just in case the BG didn’t turn out like you wanted in the photo shoot.

As for lighting the subjects, I think a green rim light or cast wouldn’t be bad for some of the pictures. It would help merge the BG with FG. Split lighting would be good here as the theme is evil, maybe even butterfly lighting (Like this house picture). Lastly, try some under exposure shots just a stop or two.

Hope it helps, good luck,
-Keven

PS: can’t wait to see the results. If you don’t mind maybe we could work on one...
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:30 AM
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

lol

I thought of that (I had intended to do exactly that "just in case"). However, I would like to pull off the shot without having to doctor it if I can.

You aren't too late. Unfortunately for me, it's been snowing here in SC. The model will be rather scantily clad, so it's been too cold to do it the last few days.
It's supposed to warm up near the 70s by the weekend, so hopefully I can get down to business shortly.
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Old 03-04-2009, 02:50 AM
HuBBa HuBBa is offline
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Re: Lighting Advice/Suggestions

No no no Alex. It is never too cold, you just wear thicker jackets and mittens :P:P:P

(note.. you.. not the model

Jokes aside, shooting a background plate without the model and then bringing in the model is a good idea if you need it. You will need to use a tripod though so you dont move the camera between the shots.
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