Old musical instruments lighting - soft boxes or parabolics on hot lights?
today I was called as a rescue - well, looks like some excellent band playing old musical instruments (fiddles, violins, etc.) was left without the photographs of their stuff, and they are in a desperate need of some hi-quality MF slides with their instruments. They have to submit them for printing in two days (!!!), so they asked me to help them. I plan to use Fuji 64T, Mamiya C330 with 80mm lens, and two hot lights, 650W each. Okay, my question is simple - the instruments have some surface texture, and it's so important to preserve... may I use a large portrait dish reflector on a main light, and a 40cm round shoot-through litedisc on a side modelling light? I don't like the idea of a shoot-through umbrella as a main, because the light won't have this "sparkle" - and the dish gives a pleasingly soft light. Or do I really need to shoot with two well-diffused sources, like softbox and reflective umbrella? I know my questions should sound lame, but I've never done work like this in such a hurry, and I just don't know what light is more appropriate for old wood/leather/etc.
It can probably be done with either but remember that polished wood can be a shiny and reflective as a mirror. If you keep the angles of the lighting so that they don't reflect back you will probably be ok.
If not use softer lights which will reduce the specularity of the reflection.
Most of the shot will be determined by how skillfully you arrange the people and the instruments being aware of the reflective problems you can encounter.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
Violins, Violas, cellos etc all photograph well with a soft box....
also brass instruments, polished brass and silver plated instruments....one "trick" I have used is to tent them, using a white linen sheet. You can then put your strobes outside the tent from one or both sides and shoot through the tent...I like to place them on reflective surface like Mylar ( dont know the Russian equivalent) but a plastic sheet, they come in different colors..I like black for brass instruments....the edge light on violins is important to accent the shape....
I have also hung the instruments with black string and then hung a black fabrics far enough behind to go totally black and use one side light and one large white board or sheet opposite for a reflector...
oops,,,I should have read more carefully....the Musicians are also in the photos.....then what Blansky said ....
it would be nice to use North Moscow light and a bit of fill if you have a large window.....Violinists are probably not to keen taking an instrument out of the case in winter temperatures.....
one Idea is to shoot the ensemble set up....the chairs in concert position with the instruments without the musicians....makes a nice program brochure.....
Then one with the musicians casually behind....faces could even be soft focus or beyone the plane of sharp focus.....shoot a bunch.....shoot some individual imprompu portraits....sounds like a fun assignment....
For my main light source, I would use the softboxes, one as a main, and the other as a fill. Place the fill close to the camera position. I would base my exposure on the illumination of the main soft. I then would use a undiffused spots to create "kicker" highlights where they would look the best. Perhaps behind and above the subjects, carefull, don't "rim light" ears etc. Use as many "spots" as you see fit, but don't let them over power tour main light. You might choose to use some "flags" to create some neat shadows.
My thoughts on the above recommendation is to kind of simulate window light but with complete detail retained. Actually you could illuminate the scene with any one of your earlier suggestions, but I prefer a softer rendition for old music instruments etc. Good Luck!! And have fun!
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