Portrait Lighting Question

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mark, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    I honestly can't tell you if this in the right place. If it is not in the right place, can it be moved to the right forum?

    I am a teacher and I want to shoot protraits of my students hilighting what they feel are their best assets. I have the vision of what I want to do and the link below is to a guy that comes close to what I have in mind.
    http://www.renabranstengallery.com/Bey.html

    He works a lot with polaroids and has done a lot of really amazing work with the polaroid 20x24

    My problem is I do not know how to light the subjects.

    Can someone help me get a handle on this?
     
  2. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I started a thread I think in the lounge thanking Micheal McBlaine. Blanskey. He put in a good summation of how to do lighting for portrait.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's a very simple natural look, like window light, but there's no way to get the amount of window light one would need to make those images on 20x24" Polaroid at the subject distances he's using, so I'd say he's using a large softbox as the main light, and maybe a reflector for fill. Nothing too complicated.

    If you're using a smaller format and maybe not shooting quite so close, you could do it with light from a large window and maybe a sheet of foamcore for fill, if you don't want to invest in a softbox and strobe.
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  5. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks Aggie.
    I read what michael wrote, even printed it out for further study, but was wondering if Bey was doing something special to get that close and that selective. Plus I was hoping Michael would enlighten me.

    David
    It was the natural looking light I wanted. I have strobe options, plus a really big window in my room to work with so I might be able to do it.
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Window and a reflector card, then should probably do it, depending of course on format, subject distance, and choice of film.

    The principles are the same with natural light as with studio light, but you can't move the sun, so you have to observe the light and see when it's best for the look you are after (direct? bright but indirect? overcast?), and then you need to orient the subject for the effect you want. The geometry is the same as with artificial light, but the sun is now the key light, and your reflector is the fill.
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Like David said a lot can be done with natural light and some reflectores. Per is the expert on natural lighting with reflectors. He can change the mood just by switching from silver or white to a gold reflector. Then there are things you can do with a small reflector as compatred with a large one. If you make it to Zion even for that first weekend, I know Per will be demonstrating it completely again. LOL, I am a visual person who understands better when I see it demo'ed.
     
  8. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    With the kind of lens to subject distances that they are using with the 20X24 polaroids it takes stopping the lens down probably as far as possible in order to gain some depth of field. I'll bet that they are up in the 2000 watt second range or higher to expose the material. And at that the heads are probably in almost on top of the subject. Probably very confined area for the subject to occupy. The light to subject distance will prove beneficial since the light source will become effectively larger as the light to subject distance decreases. Less specularity will be the result.
     
  9. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Portrait lighting is all about ratios between main light, fill light, hair light and background light if that is employed. Beyond that it is a matter of light position to effect where the main to fill demarcation occurs.
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    As David said, this looks like window light with a reflector or a softbox with reflector.

    The whole portrait lighting from what I learned thirty years ago was essentially Rembrandt lighting. This is using a north window light ( because it is never direct light) and a reflector of some sort. (fomecore works fine) The whole softbox thing evolved from that to duplicate the look.

    To do the same type of lighting as your example you need a camera with a lens that has the ability to move in this close and window light with a reflector. Thats it. If not then a softbox real close and a reflector.

    Sometimes when I shot on location or weddings, the person had shear drapes in their home that gave the same type of light as a softbox. Obviously then you don't need a north window just as long as there isn't direct sun coming though.

    I would just take your camera, position the person in front of the light source and move them around until you got what you liked. If you are using a window/softbox, then you can see the light pattern and when you get what you like, add the reflector to control the contrast.

    It is a very simple form of lighting.

    Michael McBlane
     
  11. mark

    mark Member

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    Thanks folks. Assuming I survive the next two weeks I will be giving this a try.