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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by samcomet View Post
    The smell of melting foam isn't the best for sensitive noses but we used to use polystyrene ages ago which released cyanide gas when melted/burnt!!!! Although legend has it that cyanide "smells" like almonds you will forgive me if I never try to sample THAT one!!!!

    When we had large areas of broad light that needed to be broken up I usually headed down to the local camping/army surplus shop near whatever studio we were shooting and buy a cheap "off-the-rack" camouflage net and stretch it on whatever frame would suit it's size and use that to get a more natural looking shadow too. Keeping in mind that a kookie look, if it remained sharp, would start to look obvious ...... as you move whatever light modifier towards the source and away from the set, the softer the shadow will look; subtlety being the operative word here although things like signs painted on windows, venetian blinds, window frames, "bad man" standing in the corner, creepy door opening slowly etc. etc. always look good with a hard shadow. Sometimes the shadows can tell the story – Hopper (the painter), Martin Lewis (etchings); also look up "chiaroscuro" in Wikipedia and check out the "Photography/Cinematography" section.

    One last thought is what we use on stage – the profile spot. One can add gobo's to them to create patterns of light and shade on a surface ... the lamps can also be de-focussed to take the edge off them (http://www.rosco.com/gobos/). Cheers! Sam
    And I thought I knew a thing or two about light... Worlds are opening up, thanks guys! Edward Hopper sure made some inspiring works, can look at those pictures of paintings for hours trying to figure out ways to reproduce those atmospheres. Looking at his paintings it becomes obvious how important the interaction between light and color is (just like in Road to perdition) and it's almost always pretty hard light he uses. (with 'softer' colors.) Wouldn't a movie that is like a continuous Hopper painting be great? (Can't you force your director/camera team on a next project Sam)

    There isn't much I can tell you guys on light but I sure as hell learn a lot here on APUG! Will be watching some of those movies from the chiaroscuro wiki article the next evenings. And maybe visit some of the museums here in Amsterdam, no Hopper but plenty of great light examples.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Quinten; 01-21-2013 at 06:08 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: english

  2. #22

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    Could we revisit the original question?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quinten View Post
    Just bought 2, very old but fine working, 2000W Strand-quartzcolor castor Fresnels and some things puzzle me.
    1) The beam of a 650W Arri gives much harder shadows than the beam of the Strand. (Both focussed in spot) Is this just the size of the fresnel, 122mm versus 250mm or is the lens in the Arri simply better?

    I figured the Strand would give a bigger parallel beam because of the bigger diameter lens, if you like the fresnel type of light this should give even better results. For example Arri made an ST version of their T series with a bigger diameter lens. But is this more of the good per se?
    Quinten
    I've been using Arri 650, 300s and Some Mole Midgets, and I love them. But would a larger fresnel lens like the ST2 look better (or more 'hollywood') somehow?

    From the Arri ST2 video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7cxSUMcJOs
    "a larger lens provides a much larger beam field, and that can be a big advantage on location or in the studio." - what does that really mean?

    Thanks!
    Dallas

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedancefloor View Post
    Could we revisit the original question?



    I've been using Arri 650, 300s and Some Mole Midgets, and I love them. But would a larger fresnel lens like the ST2 look better (or more 'hollywood') somehow?

    From the Arri ST2 video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7cxSUMcJOs
    "a larger lens provides a much larger beam field, and that can be a big advantage on location or in the studio." - what does that really mean?

    Thanks!
    Dallas

    Dallas,

    The size of a fresnel lens is designed to be relative to the size of the filament inside the globe, inside the lamp housing. The Arri ST2 has a larger lens (compared to the 300's and 650's) because of the size of the 2K lamp inside. The housing and reflector have to be sufficiently larger to cope with the size of the globe and then the lens has to be larger to "fit" the size of the housing and to take advantage of the total output of the lamp and to be able to focus ALL of the light emanating from both the lamp and reflector.

    The quote from the vid means that, photometrically, the beam size, in full flood, thrown by this unit, has a greater diameter and hence more coverage than a smaller unit with a smaller lens and globe wattage. At full spot the beam will obviously have greater output as well, as compared to the smaller fixtures.

    In my humble experience "most" lamps of the same wattage will have the same sized lens with the exception of the "Baby" range of fixtures produced by Arri, Mole, Ianaro etc. etc. The "Baby's" were produced to allow for smaller units to be used on location rather than lugging around huge studio units of the same wattage. Photometrically the smaller lenses made for weaker outputs by comparison to their "adult" brethren of the same wattage range.

    As for your term "more 'hollywood'" I would need your definition or at least a visual reference to be able to make a definitive comment. Needless to say that Hollywood lighting has developed over the years as the technology of film making has progressed (film speed, lighting fixtures, aesthetic enhancements etc., etc.). Cinematographers have always strived to change the goal posts in lighting in an effort to develop a style uniquely there own. To paraphrase Sir Issac Newton, I believe, todays cinematographers are standing upon the shoulders of the giants who came before them.

    Forgive me from rambling on a bit but i do hope that I may have shed a bit of light on your subject...........for now,

    Cheers!
    Sam

  4. #24

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    Thanks Sam!
    So the size of the fresnel lens has more to do with the output than the quality? In the book 'hollywood portraits' by Christopher Nisperos and Roger Hicks he says that the old photogs would use a fresnel
    slightly defocused from full spot and then feathered off a bit. So they'd be using the penumbra, would a larger lens have a more useful penumbra?

  5. #25
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    I got into fresnels, open faced lights and various scrims in the film area, shooting fashion and wanted to differentiate myself, started reading American Cinematographer (before this internet thing came along). (Funny how that worked out, I shoot a lot of video with those same lights…)

    I've found big differences in lens quality - I started with theatrical fresnels and I still buy up used units, some get modified into ballasted lights or flash heads, etc. Mainly the shape of the light (say, testing it on a flat wall) and with really poor lenses, there's some diffraction or something going on where you can get a color halo.

    I've seen guys take a 10 or 12" fresnel, mod it to get a more reasonable globe up into the center of the reflector (an old 4K Mole may have a globe that's 4" high, sticking, say, a 575 HPL in it means swapping out the lamp base and raising the new socket up higher). Put this very close to the model's face with a dimmer and it's a really lovely look - fresnels are much like any light in the distance-vs.-softness equation. A model with great skin, you can put 6" fresnel pretty close to with no fabrics at all.

    Fresnels are also about the most inefficient fixture made - you pay for that pretty look with some lumens, so when you need to project a shadow, get a hard beam, or do some bounce, an open faced light is often much better, or for harder light, Source Four pars (575 watt with different lenses) are just insanely efficient lights, and they and their knockoffs (Altman, MTB, etc) are all over the place used, often 50 bucks or so.

    Google Roger Deakins - Coen bros. regular cinematographer - he has a forum where he answers lighting questions, often from his phone on a movie set. Amazing guy, he has no secrets, just tons of ideas. On the Red User forum, David Mullen (another master, "house of sand & fog", etc) has hundred-page threads where he does the same thing. Amazing how many beautiful scenes have been lit with a bedsheet and an open-faced redhead. (Deakins in particular mentions sending grips into JCPenney stores for more sheets).

    You can do a lot with a sack of fabric - get some wide ripstop nylon, 3 yards or so pieces, and some black duvytene. Put up two stands, run a length of conduit between 'em, hang your fabrics - you can make a 10' x 10' "softbox" for big, soft light, or use the black fabric and just make a tall 1' strip of diffusion with black on either side, that can be a beautiful look as well. I tend to use the fresnels for hair light (I prefer "cheekbone" light, that rim of highlight that defines the side of a face vs. just the hair or shoulder). They really excel at that.

    These kind of flags are also beyond handy - in solids, diffusions, and black meshes:


    I used a black mesh flag in this shot, to tone down the white of the guy's shirt and the brightness of his hands, which was distracting (when we started we did some no-jacket shots and it was just too off kilter) - basically you're casting a shadow that's not 100% dense:

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails flag.jpg   madmiles.jpg  

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by thedancefloor View Post
    Thanks Sam!So the size of the fresnel lens has more to do with the output than the quality? In the book 'hollywood portraits' by Christopher Nisperos and Roger Hicks he says that the old photogs would use a fresnelslightly defocused from full spot and then feathered off a bit. So they'd be using the penumbra, would a larger lens have a more useful penumbra?
    G'day Dallas & M. Carter,

    In short I would have to answer "yes" to your question. If you hold your arm out with your thumb extended towards the sun on a cloudless day the size of the sun would not be larger than the size of your thumb (depending on latitude and season and time of day). N.B. don't look at the sun directly as you can burn your retina by focussing the U.V. Glancing down you would see a very crisp shadow on the ground. If you did the same thing on an overcast day you would be lucky to see any discernible shadow. In the first case the sun is the source of light and in the second the entire cloudy sky becomes the source.

    The same holds true for fresnels. If you look at the lens you will see concentric rings of angled glass held together by troughs of glass. Each ring and trough becomes the source. Look at a turn indicator or warning flasher on an automobile and you will see ripples and bumps that refract the light and the whole of the plastic cover becomes the source and glows evenly. If they did not have these refractive elements built into the lens you would simply see a red or yellow filament flashing on the car.The fresnel lens in this case becomes a larger source of light than simply the filament in the globe.

    Thinking about the sun/cloud analogy above, the larger the source of light the softer the light becomes, and hence somewhat more attractive.Going back to the sun analogy; the sun is way further away from the earth than clouds. Another given in lighting is that the further away the source is the apparent size of the source is diminished creating a harder light. Hence the idea of placing a model closer to the fresnel lens for cosmetic reasons, as cited in your book. The closer one is to a relatively larger source increases the wrap-around factor with light spreading around a face, for instance, and into otherwise un-cosmetic shadows.

    Your mention of umbra and penumbra comes from the nature of the lamp body itself. There are in fact two sources of light hitting the back of the lens - one from the filament and one from the reflector. In an ideal world both of these would line up exactly but we don't live in an ideal world. Many profile spots in theatre have a reflector adjustment to try and align these two sources and mechanically they appear to be moderately successful; as my learned friend M. Carter suggests in his post in this thread. This misalignment is also partly to blame for chromatic aberration as M. Carter discusses in his post. In my humble opinion, though, the use of the umbra or penumbra would not make a useful difference in the outcome aesthetics of the setup - but this is certainly my own opinion and do not mean to second guess your book.

    On a further note, M. Carter discusses the usefulness of fabrics which I can highly recommend. I have spent hours in fabric shops overcoming my initial hesitancy at plowing thru women's dress fabrics for that certain type of embroidery or fabric to hang in front of a source to make it look more interesting (see my previous post in this thread about camouflage nets). I also am adept at discussing nylon stockings and denier counts for use in front or behind the elements of my lens as well as using them mounted in a hole on a black card when burning in blacks under my enlarger to "spread" the blacks a bit. But that's another topic I suppose. At any rate I hope that I have not confused this issue but maybe have shed a bit of light on it.

    Cheers for now,

    Sam

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by samcomet View Post
    G'day Dallas & M. Carter,

    On a further note, M. Carter discusses the usefulness of fabrics which I can highly recommend. I have spent hours in fabric shops overcoming my initial hesitancy at plowing thru women's dress fabrics for that certain type of embroidery or fabric to hang in front of a source to make it look more interesting (see my previous post in this thread about camouflage nets). I also am adept at discussing nylon stockings and denier counts for use in front or behind the elements of my lens as well as using them mounted in a hole on a black card when burning in blacks under my enlarger to "spread" the blacks a bit. But that's another topic I suppose. At any rate I hope that I have not confused this issue but maybe have shed a bit of light on it.

    Cheers for now,

    Sam
    As a new visitor here I'm not sure what the local policy is on drifting off topic. My experience is similar, diffusion whether added to the light or to the lens is of enormous importance. Samuelson's in London used to have full boxes of nets and David Samuelson once wrote an email explaining how the different ones came about, I'm stuffed if I can find it! All cinematographers have ideas for beauty, one person I know swears by a sweaty palmprint on the front of a master prime, Jack Cardiff had his "Special box of glass" with "DO NOT CLEAN" written on the top, another has a 105mm "Mystery" lens which has fungus inside that looks like a spider (I suspect it was a Takumar but when it had the back half hacked off to make it PL mount the front ring was re ground). For a while rear nets were massively out of fashion, not for aesthetic reasons but because the spinning mirror came so close to the rear element, if the net fell off the bill for repairs was terrifying, now they are back, as is Mitchell diff.

    The textiles are similar .. I've seen electricians spraying fire retardant mixture onto 1960's children's bed clothes, flags (as in a Union Jack not a FLAG) and all manner of nets and voiles.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpentecost View Post
    As a new visitor here I'm not sure what the local policy is on drifting off topic. My experience is similar, diffusion whether added to the light or to the lens is of enormous importance. Samuelson's in London used to have full boxes of nets and David Samuelson once wrote an email explaining how the different ones came about, I'm stuffed if I can find it! All cinematographers have ideas for beauty, one person I know swears by a sweaty palmprint on the front of a master prime, Jack Cardiff had his "Special box of glass" with "DO NOT CLEAN" written on the top, another has a 105mm "Mystery" lens which has fungus inside that looks like a spider (I suspect it was a Takumar but when it had the back half hacked off to make it PL mount the front ring was re ground). For a while rear nets were massively out of fashion, not for aesthetic reasons but because the spinning mirror came so close to the rear element, if the net fell off the bill for repairs was terrifying, now they are back, as is Mitchell diff.

    The textiles are similar .. I've seen electricians spraying fire retardant mixture onto 1960's children's bed clothes, flags (as in a Union Jack not a FLAG) and all manner of nets and voiles.
    G'day Jpentecost,

    Likewise what I am about to post will be somewhat off topic and my apologies to those who are subscribed to this thread ................ I worked with Dougie Milsom on The Bounty - he was main unit op and I was a best boy. He was sent out to shoot 2nd unit and I was sent to watch his back lighting-wise into the depths of the Tahitian jungles. Years later I read an interview with him in Amer. Cinematographer in which he spoke of trying to obtain a certain "look" for part of the film he was shooting by pre-processing the anti-halation layer off the raw neg and then exposing the film as per normal to get the "hazy/ring halos" around hot spots. He went on to say that the completion guarantors would not insure a reshoot so he he to "test' the theory before they would allow him to do this. In the end it looked great and that small part of the film was shot that way. That got me thinking about my stills. I knew that the basic Mitchell mechanism in Pana-whatevers were stainless; and I knew that stills film did not have this anti-halation layer; I went out and bought a used second SLR, same make and model as the one I was shooting with at the time. I took out the pressure plate and took it to my nearby foundry to have it chromed and inserted it into my usual camera. The results were terrific especially the night shots in B & W. Obviously in this day and age the same effects could probably be returned in Photoshop, but I prefer film.

    Anyway I just mention this by way "doing unusual things to get a distinctive look" that is a small part of this thread. Again apologies for OT-ness of this post.

    As an aside my favourite bit of cloth "dingle" was a 4 foot sq. black netting dress material with flowers and petals somehow knitted onto it which made a dandy kookie in front of a fresnel ..............

    Cheers all,
    Sam

  9. #29
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    You don't need to have a pressure plate chromed - get a roll of HVAC tape. (It's used for taping ducts but isn't that fabric "duct tape" - it's thin silver foil, about 2" wide) and cover the plate. You can always remove it with alcohol.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by M Carter View Post
    You don't need to have a pressure plate chromed - get a roll of HVAC tape. (It's used for taping ducts but isn't that fabric "duct tape" - it's thin silver foil, about 2" wide) and cover the plate. You can always remove it with alcohol.
    I couldn't argue with success if this works but I would be afraid of foil scratching the neg base. Best of luck.
    cheers,
    Sam

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