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.
Not a compliment or an insult. Just an honest reaction, which is the basis/point of any worthwhile critique IMO. I phrased it the way I did for a reason, hoping you would see how a viewer reacts to the work, and possibly explain your idea more.
By brash, I just meant that it is bright and bold; it calls attention to itself as being "lit," while the examples from the '70's you shared are more evenly lit, and have lighting that is less specifically noticeable to most viewers.
The look is more from a combination of the colour film of the time along with hot lights (really really hot lights like melt your skin hot lights). For lighting keep the softening to a minimum. They did use scrims and such with hotlights but they didint as often use the 20 ft octabanks found in todays fashion studios. beyond that balance the colour a little on the warm side (kodak film is better for this) and watch the contrast.
a trick i was shown was to "read the eyes" subject with darker eyes are better for these obvious reasons. looks like two, possibly three light-points. i think its a classic 3-pnt set up with combo of reflectors possibly a few "kickers" on her back to give proportional highlights. imho all continuous lighting (and possibly a diffused overhead flash for general fill)
if the image a mag repro the color info would be off kinda like how given her a more sunbaked appearance. heres a magnification I made of her left eye, i think there may be three distinct light points two areas A & B are pronounced which gives you a clue that it may not be using a diffusion screen on those particular lights at least.
hope this helps...
Regarding the last two images you posted: in the second image, if you look at the area under the subject's right arm, there are two distinct shadows, sharp-edged and of different densities. In the first image, this effect would have shown up where the shadow of her leg falls on the bookcase, but there you have a simple umbra/penumbra with a fairly broad edge. I suspect that this comes from your use of a softbox, where the brightness is pretty even across its width. A lamp in an aluminum reflector acts like a bright, hard light in the center, surrounded by a softer light with a very broad pattern (usually 60-90 degrees, sometimes more). The broad light gives the overall fill that keeps the shadows from going very dark, and the bright lamp in the center creates the multiple shadow lines.
Back then, it was widely understood (correctly or otherwise) that color film did not have the exposure latitude of B/W, so lighting ratios were kept very low by modern standards. Also, may of the "signature" photos were intended for reproduction, where it is easy to compensate for low contrast, but impossible to restore dead shadows or burned-out highlights. It was definitely true that film speeds were typically lower than we are used to today (High Speed Ektachrome, tungsten balanced was all of 125 ASA), so there was a strong tendency to keep the lights in fairly close and this also meant that there wasn't likely to be a large lighting ratio.
If you are good with a light meter and not too concerned with color fidelity, you can combine flash and continuous light---it would be best to light the background with a flood if you only have two working flashes, to preserve the multiple shadow edges that make up so much of "that 70s look".
If your softboxes have removable front diffusers, you might try lighting the picture with bare bulbs surrounded by the softbox shells. I tried this once, and was surprised at how much the lighting resembled the old Smith-Victor reflectors.
Finally, if your intent is to place something modern into a characteristically 70s picture, you will have to either exaggerate the image characteristics or reduce the initial impact of the modern elements (or both). The young ladies in the vintage examples have hair, clothing, and posture that is faithful to the era; make these modern, and I suspect that most viewers will have a hard time reading the picture as anything but a recent creation. If you can locate the book The Psychology of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman, you will find a very readable discussion of why human perception works this way.
Well, as it happens I found a copy of Norman's book, and discovered that it is the wrong one. The perception model that I had in mind is called "template matching" and is mentioned only in passing in the book I mentioned.
I haven't been able to find a better reference, but the essence of the model is that the human senses (vision, in particular) can deliver more information to the brain than can be easily processed in real time. If something in the current "scene" comes close enough to matching a previously-experienced image, the brain essentially decides that the two correspond, and ceases to evaluate further input from the current scene. In effect, the remembered "template" is substituted for the present scene. Not all cognitive psychologists agree with this theory, but it does handily account for a lot of phenomena, such as the notoriously unreliable eyewitness testimony, the effectiveness of camouflage, and many magician's tricks.
What this has to do with reproducing "vintage" pictures is that the initial impression has to be strong enough for it to be identified as something that it is not (i.e., an actual vintage image). If this can be accomplished, it will be somewhat difficult for the average untrained observer to concentrate on whatever discrepancies are actually present. (The class of "trained observers" in this context includes laboratory scientists, crime scene investigators, some artists, and........photographers!)
If I can find the reference that I had in mind, I'll post it; if anyone else knows of a good one, I'd be interested in hearing of it.
Old thread but...
Originally Posted by Holly
Holly, what your picture is missing but the vintage one has is the rim light. It's not as obvious because the picture is not as shadowy, but you see highlights in the hair, shoulder and cheek, all on model's right side. I'd use a small head fitted with a 30 or 40-degree grid for this, but aluminium reflector with barn door would also work. If the light is too specular, you can always use light tough frost gel. Color fade, color crossover, outfit, hair styling, makeup, etc. have already been mentioned.
I'd say that the first image is a 3-light setup.
One hard light, camera left, fill on camera axis, one hair light, which is responsible for the shadows below her hands.
Looks like they are all balanced pretty equally.
Could be some reflectors going on as well on camera right, hard to tell.
In the 1970s the typical studio lighting was flash with umbrellas and —the latest craze at that moment : Peter Gowland's version of the umbrella, the "Reflectasol" system (I know first hand: I sold tons of them at Denevi's, the pro camera shop at which I worked).
However, to re-create the look in the sample photo you've attached, try using *bare photofloods —or *bare flash-heads— in their reflectors (*"bare" = no softbox or umbrellas).