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Thread: Theater Lights

  1. #1
    olleorama's Avatar
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    Theater Lights

    Have a friend who is a light guy at a theater. The old kind, with actors on a stage, not a movie theater.. They apparently are getting rid of some old tungsten lights in favour. Are they good enough for a home studio? I will need to gel them to use them with daylight balanced film, right? Do I need to gel them for use with b&W?

    Are bulbs expensive and hard to get?

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    Tungsten theatre lights should be about 3200K and work fine for film photography.

    The bulbs could be pricey or not, depending on the type. For daylight balanced color film with 3200K lights you’d need an 80A filter on your LENS.

    These are the blue cooling filters needed for matching various tungsten light sources to 5500K daylight color film.

    http://www.hoyafilter.com/products/hoya/cf-02.html

    The X(1) green is used for portraits on panchromatic B&W film under tungsten light.

    http://www.hoyafilter.com/products/hoya/cf-09.html

    You should determine the color temperature of the lights before buying filters.

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    olleorama's Avatar
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    Hmm, I think I would prefer gelling the lights, so I can mix in daylight too.

    Cheapest way to check colour temp would be with a digital camera and a grey card I guess? Or are there more alternatives to digi cam and colour meter? The latter seems to be very expensive.

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    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    Do you know the make of the light fixtures?

    "HPL" lamps for the fixtures used on the stage where I work cost approx. $15 to $20 each, depending on quantity. We buy them in case quantities so our price is naturally near the bottom of the scale.

    You can buy gel filters to color correct tungsten lights for daylight film: http://rosco.com/us/products/stillphoto.cfm

    I don't know... Can you still buy tungsten balanced film?

    The main problems you are going to have are heat and power consumption.
    Stage lights get REALLY hot! Hot enough to start a fire or burn skin if you aren't careful!
    Second, a 575 watt lamp will consume 4.79 amps of electricity. (Assuming 120 VAC.) You will need to make sure that you use 12 AWG extension cords, at minimum, and that your breakers and house wiring is up to the task or else you risk starting an electrical fire. Do not burn more than four lamps on a single 20 amp circuit. (Assuming 575 watt lamps.) If you use larger lamps than 575 watts, you will have to use fewer lamps per circuit.

    As long as you have a good place to put these fixtures where you can bolt them down securely so they don't fall over or come into contact with anything flammable and you are mindful of the electrical load these babies are going to put on your house wiring, go ahead and use them.

    Wanna' see something fun? Fire up three or four of these suckers then go outside and look at your electric meter. It will be spinning like a top!
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

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    A bunch of them work really well as a substitute furnace in winter too.
    Bob

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    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    I'm with Randy, on the points he raises. Theatrical luminaires are also frequently Big and Heavy. The newer lighting instruments, which use 575w lamps and dichrioc reflectors usually, are unlikely candidates to be tossed; they are relatively new. They superceded an older straight tungsten technology that used 1000W lamps, that were always expensive.

    The only theatrical luminare that I can see being useful in the average studio is a fresnel focusing area light.
    Strand made huge numbers of a quite nice small 6" glass lens version, called a Pattern/Patent 123. It took a 500W (or 750W if you don't want the bulb to live long) lamp, and it was suited for smaller throws.

    Take care with old theatrical luminaires; the older techology wiring insulation on the in some times 60 year old wire is very likely to crumble the first time it is flexed, and will need to be replaced. Burned sockets, where the spring steel material has been heated so many times to have lost thier spring is another common failing of old theatrical luminaires.

    If anyone is looking for 6" elipsoidal zooms, that were made in USA by Times Square Lighting in the early 80's built of modern capules 1000W sources, well I am involved in a theatrical community theatre group looking to sell up to I think 14 of them at $80CAN each, FOB Toronto.
    my real name, imagine that.

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    olleorama's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Worker 11811 View Post
    Do you know the make of the light fixtures?

    "HPL" lamps for the fixtures used on the stage where I work cost approx. $15 to $20 each, depending on quantity. We buy them in case quantities so our price is naturally near the bottom of the scale.

    You can buy gel filters to color correct tungsten lights for daylight film: http://rosco.com/us/products/stillphoto.cfm

    I don't know... Can you still buy tungsten balanced film?

    The main problems you are going to have are heat and power consumption.
    Stage lights get REALLY hot! Hot enough to start a fire or burn skin if you aren't careful!
    Second, a 575 watt lamp will consume 4.79 amps of electricity. (Assuming 120 VAC.) You will need to make sure that you use 12 AWG extension cords, at minimum, and that your breakers and house wiring is up to the task or else you risk starting an electrical fire. Do not burn more than four lamps on a single 20 amp circuit. (Assuming 575 watt lamps.) If you use larger lamps than 575 watts, you will have to use fewer lamps per circuit.

    As long as you have a good place to put these fixtures where you can bolt them down securely so they don't fall over or come into contact with anything flammable and you are mindful of the electrical load these babies are going to put on your house wiring, go ahead and use them.

    Wanna' see something fun? Fire up three or four of these suckers then go outside and look at your electric meter. It will be spinning like a top!
    I'm in Europe so we have 240 V, that would effectively half the amp load, wouldn't it? Still a lot I guess. I will try and see. The only thing that deters me is the gelling and how close to daylight it will be, and the limitations in light modifiers. I guess a softbox is out of the question?

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    olleorama's Avatar
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    Wow! The strand 123 is a design master piece! I want one for my living room!

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    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olleorama View Post
    I'm in Europe so we have 240 V, that would effectively half the amp load, wouldn't it? Still a lot I guess. I will try and see. The only thing that deters me is the gelling and how close to daylight it will be, and the limitations in light modifiers. I guess a softbox is out of the question?
    You are correct. Current and voltage work as a simple proportion: Volts * Amps = Watts.
    Doubling the voltage will halve the current.

    Regardless, keep an eye out to be sure that you are not overloading your circuits and use 12 AWG (3.3mm^2) wire or larger.

    You can get correction filters for tungsten to daylight conversion. Rosco Cinelux gels will do the job. Find them at the link I gave above.

    You can also buy "frost" gels to go in front of the lamp to soften the beam. Many makes of lights have adjustable "beam spread" and "focus" controls to alter the width of the beam and the softness/hardness of the light.

    As Mike says, try to get fresnel lights or "scoop" lights instead of spots or "Lekos." They'll be more like the kind of lights you are used to using in the studio. There's nothing wrong with having Lekos/spots if you can get them. You'll just have to move them farther away from the subject if you want even light.

    Lekos will, however, provide some really dramatic lighting effects if you are willing to experiment!
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

  10. #10
    olleorama's Avatar
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    Just looked into this some more. Fresnels seems to be the way. But another thought. The 80A filter factor would render my ASA 100 films to be shot at EI 25! That's horribly slow! I can forget shooting models basically (since I'm mostly shooting MF and would want some DOF). I would be limited to very static postures, like in old movie pics. I guess gels on the light would have the same effect, by lowering the effective light intensity?

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