Dan Winters

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by David Hall, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    In the brand new issue of PDN, there is a very interesting feature on Dan Winters and his use of light on a remote photo shoot with Anne Heche. He describes how he set up the lights to NOT point at the subject, using instead the spread and flare of the lights. Very interesting.

    dgh
     
  2. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Actually Anne wanted the lights to point out so her space brothers from Mooz 27 could find her and take her to her celestial home.....
     
  3. bmac

    bmac Member

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    I haven't read the article yet, but is he talking about Feathering the light? Many people do it, although, I'm sue it was just because the lights had to face the spaceship she flew in on...
     
  4. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Spaceship???

    Oh, just wait until you see the photograph of her. It looks like she's offering herself to the spaceship.

    But seriously, yes, "feathering" is what he vaguely described. What's it mean?

    dgh
     
  5. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Heche is famous for two thinigs - 1) Switching teams. 2) Having some sort of strange breakdown where she thought she was from another planet.
     
  6. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Feather is the act of aiming the lights slightly off subject in order to light the subject with the softest light the light can produce. The center of the light beam is the most intense and contrasty, the outer limits (hehe) of the light beam is the "sweet light". It is nothing new, been done for years.
     
  7. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I also haven't seen the pictures but there is a technique of firing your lights off into reflectors or fomecore on each side of the subject to create a directionless flat lightsource and very muted catch lights. This is often done in high key lighting setups.

    Feathering your lights is a techique to create a wrap around lighting pattern on the face. If your light is at about a 45 degree angle from the subject, instead of pointing the light directly at them you point to the far side of the face. They will receive slightly less light on the highlight side of the face and since the shadow side is father away the most intense part of the light will strike there. This creates a more wrap around and some say a more pleasing light.

    This also works for photographing more than one person. For instance if you were doing head and shouders portraits of two people. You feather or aim the center of your light at the person farther away, then there would be a more equal lighting on both faces.

    Michael McBlane
     
  8. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Aha...

    Very informative. I often photograph two people together, but with a single light up and to the right. So in my case I should aim it hard to the left, so the further person is in more direct light and the nearer person is in the feathered light?

    Silly question...do I still use umbrella or softbox when doing it this way?

    dgh
     
  9. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Hmmmmmm....

    Let me see if I got this right. You take your light and place it at a 45 degree angle to the subject. You make sure the most intense part of the beam hits the FAR side of the face, while the softer parts of it hit the near side?

    Does this work with one light setups or do you need some fill?
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Reply to Robert and David

    In feathering the light, yes, you have the person the farthest away get the center of the beam and the person closest get the slightly less, feathered light. Therefore on the negative since the person that is father away from the light they will get approximately the same amount of light as the person closer who is getting the feathered light.

    With a one light set up, which is perfectly fine for most portraits, you are better off to use a reflector on the shadow side to bounce back a bit of light. But feathering still creates a softer wrap around lighting effect. Also the feathering will aid in having light strike the reflector which will inturn bounce it back to the shadow side. The distance from the subject that you place the reflector is quite visible with your modelling lights on. So you can control whether you are getting a 3 to 1 or a 5 to 1 lighting ratio.

    When discussing light we talk about QUANTITY of light and QUALITY of light. The quantity of light is the amount of light striking the subject. The quality of light is the kind of light striking the subject.

    You can have a meter reading of say F8 on a subject using a six inch reflector on your light and also F8 on the subject using an umbrella or softbox on your light. They both have the same quantity of light but a very different quality of light. Feathering the light works for both.

    Since I'm prattling on about lighting, a lot of people don't know that the closer the light is to the subject the softer it is. ( check the catchlights) Another quality of light issue. As for an umbrella vs a softbox both have close to the same quality of light but a softbox is more controllable and easier to feather. As well when feathering an umbrella you have to be careful not to flare your lens.

    If you are new to lighting get a book on it and you can easily see how to light a face for a flattering effect. The use of a "broad light", "short light", "butterfly light", "split light", "3/4 light", can have a huge effect on the results of your portraits and all you really need is a light, softbox, and a reflector to do this. These lighting techniques can make long faces look shorter, broad faces look narrower etc and help you produce great portraits.

    Hope this helps,

    Michael McBlane
     
  11. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Wow, Michael,

    THANK YOU. That was great. What one book would you recommend above all others?

    dgh
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    David:

    I haven't looked at books for a while on this but I remember Kodak's Portrait book with the little girl on the cover leaning on her hands was not too bad. I'll have a look around at a couple of books stores and get back to you. You need books that show different setups and diagram their lighting. Then you get a model that will sit patiently while you tinker around. It's not a good idea to get someone new as they will make you nervous. You just need a face that you can take your time and watch the lighting patterns on their face.

    To give you an idea when I was first training in portraiture, and I took many different seminars and courses in this from many different instructors
    (Winona School of Professional Photography, West Coast School, etc) the best advice I got was the following.

    Facial Evaluation- Sit the subject on a stool, sitting up straight, feet flat on the floor, facing straight ahead. With no lighting on them you evaluate their face to determine things like, where their hair is parted, because if you shot them from one angle and you shoot into a hair part, you are making their face longer. If they have a round face you probably want it longer so that is a good way to shoot them. If they have a long face already, you want the part more away from the camera. You them get them to turn their body 45 degrees and turn their head back and you evaluate, then you get them to turn the other way 45 degrees and turn their head back and you evaluate that. Nobody's face is perfectly symetrical and you check the distance from the corner of their eye to the corner of their mouth, and if the difference is noticeable you pick the side that doesn't accentuate this. So evaluate. Then you pick the side you like best.

    Lighting Setup- Now you have them on the side you want, you choose whether to broad or short light them, meaning, if they are turned to their right with their face towards camera, and you place the light on their left side ( camera right) you are creating a broad light. This will broaden the face because the light is illuminating their face from their left ear to right cheekbone. If you place the light on their left side you have a short light and will keep their face more narrow because the light is illuminating from their right cheekbone essentially to their left cheekbone and leaving their left cheekbone to their left ear in a more shadowed light.

    In all cases you need a fill on the shadow side to lower the contrast and when using negatives, meter more for the shadow side.

    This evaluation will give you time to talk to them and help make them at ease rather than immediately pulling out the camera and firing away. As well it will give you a starting point and these simple decisions can have a great effect on the flattering effect of the portrait.

    Remember lighting a face is like making love to it. It need to be soft and sensuous,(usually) so you light it like you're using a feather not a sledge hammer.

    Hope this helps

    Michael McBlane
     
  13. DKT

    DKT Member

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    I read the article last week & my impression was that he was talking about using hardlights, and skimming the light across the sbject from the edge of the light--where it's more even & contrasty on a non-fresnel type/open face reflector. We light like this with speedotrons in our studio when we shoot objects, the way the speedo blackline reflectors are made, the light is much more crisp on the edge of the beam--not from the center where the tube is. It's pretty much like that for every hardlight that doesn't use a fresnel. The shadows are always more defined from the edge. I shoot alot of furniture this way--skimming the lights across the set with the head almost pointed at the camera using the edge to hit the piece, and then fill from the front, or use more hardlights either gridded down or flagged out to keep the light just hitting the subject....

    just read the article, maybe I got it wrong, but it made sense to me...I didn't get the impression he was talking about any classical portrait style.


    BTW--the photo of Anne Heche, he talks about using two hardlights if I remember correctly, one hitting her about ten feet off to the right, and the other as sort of a kicker from low on the ground in the front, but not hitting the pavement.

    A good book though, is Ross Lowell's "Matters of Light & Depth".

    KT
     
  14. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Michael,

    Once again...thank you for the information. I can't wait to test this. I have lit people for years with either a softbox to one side at about 20 degrees off the camera, or an umbrella up and to the right or left, about 30 degrees off the camera but pretty far away from the subject, thinking that the further it is, the softer the light is.

    Could I email you a photograph or two of what I've done for your critique and suggestions? I am becoming more and more interested in portraiture and, honestly, I'm just eating up what you are sharing here.

    dgh

    PS What's the difference in light from a softbox versus an umbrella?
     
  15. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    David:

    I live in Northern California and if you are close by I'd be happy to show you. If not email me at blansky@aol.com and I'll critique whatever you like. The catch lights in the eyes will tell you a lot about the lights and where they are placed. The closer the light the less defined it is in the catchlight. It's like the difference between the effect of the harsh sunlight, which is pinpoint and a cloudy day which is diffused light.

    Way back, when someone came up with the idea to diffuse the light they came up with using an umbrella. It was and still is a great light. However the light tends to head off in too many directions. So someone came up with the softbox to control it better. Both have a great quality of light but the softbox enables you to control the light direction better and to feather the light. It can keep the light from striking the lens and as well keep it off the background, if that is what you want.

    A classic setup is to put the umbrella behind the camera as a fill light. Then use the softbox as your mainlight up close at about a 45 degree angle. Set the umbrella at F5.6 and the mainlight at F8 and you have a 3:1 lighting ratio. When using negs set the camera at F5.6 and shoot away. Move the mainlight for different lighting patterns. Keep the light so the catchlights are at about 10 o'clock or 2 o'clock in the eyes. A nice soft effect is to have the light so there is a nice triangle of highlight just below the closest eye.(this is caused by the nose blocking the light). Anyway play around with light and you'll see it.

    Later,

    Michael McBlane