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  1. #1
    Holly's Avatar
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    Help! Need to light a 70s portrait style shot, with authenticity!

    Hey guys
    Can any of you slightly more mature folk than I (who have lived through and shot photographs through the 70s) tell me what lighting was used in studios back in the day?
    I'm trying to recreate something that has a feel like the picture I've hopefully attached successfully to this post. I want to use elinchrom flash heads and I may only have 3 of them, max, due to limitations of my studio at uni.
    I'm going on the assumption that technology was different in say 1978 than it is now, and that that will totally affect my look, so I was hoping that you guys would have some real life experience with lighting in studios from that era so I can then try to apply that to my modern studio setup.
    Please share!
    Cheers
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 70sSecretary.jpg  

  2. #2

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    I sure can't help on this, but look at all those different shadows. There's front lighting on the phone and pen, the phone looks like it's got light from front and left side, top lighting on the hands maybe from two different angles.
    Taking a SWAG it may be hot lights.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  3. #3

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    Hi,

    Costuming, color palette, and props will be the things to focus on. A variety of lighting has been used for most of the history of artificial light photography.
    2F/2F

    "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)

  4. #4
    michaelbsc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Costuming, color palette, and props will be the things to focus on. A variety of lighting has been used for most of the history of artificial light photography.
    Agreed. For the lighting just look at any of the portrait lighting books or websites. Well lit scenes haven't changed much.

    If you really want a good tutorial I like Gowland's books. While they're mostly aimed at cheesecake and nude shots the man was a genius at knowing how to pose and light the scene, and those lessons are universal.

    Gowland's "How to Use Multiple Flash (For Portraits and Figures)" is on Amazon right now for $13.

    MB
    Michael Batchelor
    Industrial Informatics, Inc.
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  5. #5
    lxdude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holly View Post
    Hey guys
    Can any of you slightly more mature folk than I (who have lived through and shot photographs through the 70s) tell me what lighting was used in studios back in the day?
    I doubt we're more mature, but we are older!
    I do use a digital device in my photographic pursuits when necessary.
    When someone rags on me for using film, I use a middle digit, upraised.

  6. #6
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Looks like a big light front-left-high, fairly harsh (see lack of penumbra around Loans & phone shadows) and a fill light from front-right with maybe 1 stop difference between them. There might also have been some top/rear/hair light - see the shadow of her right arm falling forward.

    I think (as per 2F) that costume and colour choice is more important. Also note that the image has very poor dynamic range: you can see that the film's red layer at least has blown out on her vest, the shadows are terribly blocked up and there's no detail in her shirt. I'm not sure how you'd achieve that with modern analogue materials (digital fakery with curves would be easy) but an overexposed, highly saturated chrome would get you most of the way there but it would have insufficient muddiness. Maybe some badly-printed Ektar, I dunno.

  7. #7
    Holly's Avatar
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    guuhh..what's hot lights?
    I agree about the costuming, but what I'm aiming for is the light. Can there be two lights, one over each shoulder,
    producing her hand shadows? and then a bigger light with softbox at front left? I don't see how there could be light
    coming from behind and above, getting her hands to make shadows like that, without it highlighting her head, though.
    I'm also wondering how much of this aesthetic comes from just AGE, as in: the image was shot and printed pre-digital,
    so it would've been scanned from possibly a faded aged print in the first place, which makes the lighting harder to
    figure out.

  8. #8
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holly View Post
    I don't see how there could be light
    coming from behind and above, getting her hands to make shadows like that, without it highlighting her head, though.
    The photographer might have used a black "flag" to block light from reaching the upper zone of her head. The side light does fall on the lower hair - near the shoulder - giving it an "accent".

    I suppose the photographer wanted to simulate an office environment with light coming from the sides and avoid the portrait cliché of the accent light on to upper head.

    In any case I agree that light disposition alone is not going to convey much "vintage" atmosphere.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
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  9. #9
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    hot lights = tungsten continuous lights, not flash.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Holly View Post
    I agree about the costuming, but what I'm aiming for is the light.
    There is no one light that was specific to the 1970's. Light back then is exactly like light is today, and always has been. Now, if you are trying to exactly duplicate the light in one particular photo or series, that is another question. But the idea that there is a "'70's lighting" in general is off the mark. The photo doesn't look "'70's" because of the light. It looks that way because of the clothing, hair, colors used, props, etc.

    The lighting in the picture is pretty simple. Looks like two lights to me, or one and a fill card. The main is on our left, and the fill on our right. The quality of light from each individual source is not harsh, but the overall ratio is not 1:1. Shadows are clearly visible and defined, but not extremely dark in tone. It's poorly lit, and/or poorly reproduced IMHO. I would go for something better.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 04-15-2011 at 03:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "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)

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