Originally Posted by noseoil
Absolutely! You can also see subject movement sometimes, especially the bottom of a beaded dress moving slightly. Exposures were commonly in the range 1/10 to 1/2 second, despite the extremely powerful lighting used.
From examining literally thousands of classic Hollywood images at the Kobal Collection in London, (the source for pics for the book), I can assure you that many of the pics look better in repro than as originals. I am reasonably confident that many used the exact opposite of the current overexpose/underdevelop creed and exposed for the highlights and then developed generously, even at times unto gamma infinity as recommended by Mortensen.
In other words, it ain't just underexposure that blocks the shadows; it's also high contrast.
Thanks for all the reply. Roger it is nice to see you posting here. I got your book and find it a great source of inspiration.
Today I look through the book by Mark Vieira on Hurrell's Hollywood Portraits....I found the answers!!! Hurrell liked to use lower wattage fresnels 500W or even 200W becuase they produce much less heat and blown out highlights. There was one exception when he placed a 1kw fresnel two feet away from Bette Davies in one photo. I think this is only possible becuase she looked down and maybe posed for a very short time. I would imagine she could get 2nd degree burn on her face if this lasted more than 10 minutes. I had black foams cookies/cutters placed 1 meter in front of the 1Kw Arri and it started to melt within minutes! I made the mistake of assumming a 1kW spot was not too much for portrait photography. Now I use an Elinchrom and a Bowen fresnels as keys instead of the Arri.
From the photos of Hurell's lighting settings, those boom lights seem to be very light weight maybe fresnels less than 6" in daimeter.
The fresnels used in the old days are not quite the same as the modern ones. Modern fresnels have smaller bulbs/filaments and more compact lens. I used to own a vintage 500w fresnel, its bulb and filaments are hugh. In order to accomodate the large bulb, the lens must be larger. Therefore, the fresnels seen in archive photos look quite large but they might not be installed with poweful bulbs.
Also, I believe soft lights (a rectangular white scoop reflector with linear tungsten bulb plus silk diffusion scrim on the front ) or sky pan (like the modern beauty dish) were often used as key in movies/still in 1930-40s to light female stars as characterised by a large catch light in their eyes. It would be less torture to look directly to the lights.
The very same look can be achieved with much lower wattage. Larger f-stops, slower shutter speeds and todays faster films make this very feasible.
I frequently demonstrate making portraits with bulbs from 5 to 50 watts for my students. These can also have the same Hollywood look if the lights are correctly arranged.
Another variable that makes replication difficult is the loss of the films used then. I suspect Kodak has come a long way in formulating the antihalation dyes used with its films, and that some of the "glow" of those photos comes from halation in the highlights.
In this thread:
Christopher Nisperos said he used all Dedolights. I love my dedolights. They are very small and the light can be controlled very precisely. But they are very expensive and the hardest type of spotlight. I never thought of using dedo as key light on female face without diffusion unless she got faultless skin.
BTW, the people in Studio Harcourt seem to use Desisti and Mole fresnels. Their works are amazing. They seem to like use double soft fills--two fresnels bouncing off two reflectors on both sides of the camera axis.
If you're having trouble with the heat from a 1K Fresnel, think about the 10K units they had to use on Technicolor films for key lights...
Think about one of those for about every 10 square feet of the set for the approximately effective ASA of 3 that three-strip Tech demanded; not to mention the 5 and 10K Mole Richardson "sky pans" they used to light the cycloramas behind the sets or the 5K soft-box Moles for the fill...
Think of 130 to 140 F degrees as a "normal" temperature for a stage floor on a Technicolor set.
You begin to understand that the old gaffer phrase to turn off the stage lights, "save the lights" REALLY meant "hey, let's keep from killing the actors".
Before that, in the Silent Era, the stages were illuminated by Cooper Hewitt Mercury Vapor lights that were rich in UV and would burn the retina because the pupil would dilate wide under the deep purple light and allow the retina to cook during a scene.
Another manufacturer was the Kleig Brothers; ever heard of Kleig eye? That came from the carbon dust that filtered down from the carbon arcs used for back lighting and would cause an inflammation of the eye...
Yes, actors did endure a lot for the "glamor"...
hi sanders --
Originally Posted by Sanders McNew
i read/heard somewhere that hurrell used old/ very expired film which helped with his look as well :)
I've read that Hurrell purchased film in very large quantities and used it for a long time until it ran out. Some of that had to be fairly old by the time he got to it, but I don't think he aged the film intentionally.
hey Kino (any relation to Kino Flo? :O)) ),
I heard of Kleig Eye...it is an inflammation of cornea or a small burnt hole in the retina caused by looking at very intense light source... I suffered " Kleig eye" myself from observing the Sun Eclipse in London years ago with insufficiently strong sun protection filter! My trouble is I have to shoot in an incredibly small space while the Technicolor film set guys shot in a studio had the ceiling height and size of a small aircraft hanger. Carbon arc went out of fashion quickly, it was quite possible that actors/actress worked in much better conditions with popularity and advancement of tungsten spots from 1940s.
Tungsten bulb converts electrical power into about 70% radiation in the infra red wavelength and the rest into visible light spectrum. It is not energy efficient (except Dedo). HMI light is the opposite, converting most energy into visible light spectrum similar to sun light. I used to own an old Strand 575W HMI fresnel running on magnet ballast (which weighted a ton). It is much less hot and brighter than a 1KW quartz junior. But its light flickers and rich in UV. You can get kleig eye by staring at the HMI light directly. I didn't like to use old HMI light because you have to handle it with great care or it could kill you during a strike if there is a short with the EHT, so I got rid of it in the end. Obviously the modern HMI fresnels running on electronic ballasts are great but very few people can afford one.
No, no relation, but I have done a fair amount of DP work...
Originally Posted by singlo
Sorry, wasn't trying to make light (ugh!) of your problem, just clumsily responded with some trivia...
I've heard Kleig-eye attributed to both carbon dust and over exposure to UV from the arc; you are probably right, more like welder's eyes...
Carbon arcs went out when sound came in; you couldn't have the strike and the hum/splatter of a big arc during a quiet scene. This lead to a push to use incandescent lights which, in turn, caused an eruption of various "studio styles" that came about in the early years of talkies as cinematographers reacted and tried to deal with the loss of blue-rich light sources the filmstocks preferred.
Yes, panchromatic was available, but was still red-weak, which is (as you say) the bias toward which radiated energy emitted from early incandescent luminaries, so they had an urgent problem on their hands that had to be dealt with post-haste.
Auteur theorists will no doubt rise in revolt, but I think like the Novelle Vague owed its revolutionary styles of production to a basic technical break-through in lightweight location equipment, so to did Hollwood Studio "styles" emerge in their fight to regain enough illumination to continue their film factory output.
No doubt a few bright individuals made good use of this technical problem to craft a creative response and continue it as a signature, but I highly doubt the various "styles" would have been so pronounced had there been no technical crisis.
Man did I wander off topic, sorry!