Second, I suspect the photo you posted was taken from a magazine. That's how most people experience commercial photos. The offset printing process matters a lot too. Not before the 80s were CMYK separations routinely made via laser scanning. Finding someone today who can/wants to do analog CMYK is next to impossible, so your best bet would be to simulate the result.
Agreed. Too often faded, shifted 60s-70s print media are seen as a "look" to shoot for now. The style of these shots is one thing, but deteriorated ink/paper just isn't that attractive.
I've been looking at old Sam Haskins stuff recently from the 60s and 70s, especially his b&w work, for project lighting clues. Jonathan Leder's Jacques magazine is a retro "gents" magazine shot only on film with interesting results:
Soft boxes only came on the scene in the 80's. Umbrellas were considered amateur gear. You want spun aluminum reflectors (and not that big - look how sharp the shadows are) for the main and fill lights and a focusing spot for the hair light, if you are going to use one. The classic setup was 3 lights: main, fill and background. Lights were positioned rather high. Studio lighting was flash - big Norman power packs and heads.
Also, back in those days you could use light banks (e.g. 4 x 8 bulbs) to have multi-directional light without a softbox.
Using film since before it was hip.
"One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal
, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11
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I'm pretty sure that the lighting in the first picture was done with aluminum reflectors, but I'll allow that they may have contained photofloods (plain for tungsten-balanced film, or blue (another extinct species) for daylight film).
The second picture was probably a single light high and to camera right (look at the small, round catchlight in the eye) with reflector fill from the left and a background light located behind the model's legs and skirt (see how much light from the background is hitting the underside of her arm?). The clothing and pose look late-60s to me, when the swinging London fashions had made it into the mainstream, but before the '70s flower-girl styles. If I interpret the filename correctly, this was from the UK Vogue, which is consistent with the painstaking effort that went into it: notice the geometry created on her left leg by the precisely draped skirt, which just short of falling away, and the way she is stabilizing the hair so that the highlight is just perfect and it is separated from the background without the use of a hair light. Not only was the studio crew quite competent, the model really knew her stuff as well. If you manage to emulate this picture, I'd love to see the result!
Even in their original, non-faded color, I suspect that these pictures may have been a bit on the warm side. They date from an era when fluorescent lights were rapidly displacing incandescents, but the fluorescents of the time were mostly rather cold in tone, and some were a ghastly greenish blue. Probably in reaction to this, "natural" light was expected to be warm, and cold light was sort of "artificial".
The natural aging of C41 process prints takes them into the caramel end of the palette, which you will have to take into consideration if you are trying to emulate a vintage print, as opposed to its original appearance.
It just occurred to me that describing the lights as "spun aluminum Smith-Victor photoflood reflectors" would not necessarily bring an image to mind for you, so here is one, shamelessly lifted from the Smith-Victor website. It is a 14 inch, but the 12 inch versions were much more common.
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If this was shot in the 70's in London then it is highly likely it was shot with Cecil strobe, a 5000 magna flash pack and either a fish fryer rectangular soft box with 404 grade perspex or a single C head with a round light diffused with perspex, the background was lit with a 5ft strip light on the floor and pointed up , sometimes with a edge of dog toothing to soften the graduationt,he first shot looks like it was lit with something like a 2Kphotoflood with loads of fill and a flagged back light
Greybeard, you're right again, I had no idea what spun aluminium meant, only that it would be a metal
reflector of some sort. Thanks for the visual! What I've been doing is square softboxes one to the right of cam,
at about 6ft height and one lower left of cam at slightly less output and angled up. I was using three lights but
the third one broke so I had to adjust my lights to crappy 2-light system. Which complicates things.
But maybe people can look at these two things and tell me what's missing from mine? (mine obviously
is the red top one, and I was only able to use the two lights, so yeah the backdrop isn't lit. )
What is your idea for the shots? The content seems really awkward and random to me without having any background or context. The lighting seems kind of brash too, especially when compared to your reference material, but, again, maybe part of the idea?
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
The studio that I worked for in the seventies were still using tungsten lighting. A bank of four 500watt bulbs in a continuous white reflector, plus three other spun aluminium reflectors with 500 watt bulbs in each. The bank gave an overall wash, with the others employed as a main light, extra fill and as a back light. The lighting was good, but bloody hot in summer!
The studio soon switched to flash with umbrellas, then to a combination of softboxes with umbrellas. The back light was another flash with a snoot.
Continuous lighting seems to making something of a comeback, with halogen lights giving plenty of light without too much heat. If you were setting up a studio, the continuous lights would give to look you are after, plus they are much easier to control as you can see exactly what you are getting.
Bear in mind that if you are using film, you will need to use one with a muted palette, such as Fuji NPH and Kodak Portra to give that 70's look.
2F, I'm glad you said awkward and random, you might not have meant that as a compliment but
it works for me. These are works based on my failure to recollect from memory properly, I won't spend
ages babbling on conceptually but I am trying to intentionally make the past visually clash with the
present if you like. This is a very nutshell explanation, but the lighting is meant to be as 'old' or 70s as
possible while it still being obviously shot contemporarily. So it's not meant to be a total reproduction of
a 70s shot as such. Hope that makes sense.
What do you mean by brash though?
Tony, so would you know of any sites/links that talk more about 70s tungsten lighting? I have access to
other tungsten/continuous lights at uni, but haven't ventured into them yet because I figure they are
probably just another unnecessary set of things to learn when I am already fairly close to what I want
with normal flash heads anyway. But if it's worth it, I might give continuous a go.