The lovely and talented Eve Hazelton, DP of the Underwater Realm, kindly offered to write a blog about lighting for me from her perspective. Not only has she written the post but done a great accompanying video! It’s really useful information and entertaining too! Thank you so much Eve!
Although it’s labelled as DSLR Lighting techniques this applies to all cameras, it’s just she is using a DSLR!
If you want to support her and one of the most interesting kick-starter projects I have seen then please do. I signed up. I think it’s simply brilliant! I hope she will let me get involved someone…I make good tea!!
DSLR LIGHTING TECHNIQUES FROM @EVEHAZELTON
Ok – let’s recap the major points there shall we?
First off – don’t just point a light at your subject and hope that’s enough. You are painting with light here, be a little more subtle! There are a number of problems with this shot – but first off we are going to tackle the lack of contrast between myself and the background…
We do this by moving the key closer (that’s the primary subject light source). Moving a light close to something makes it brighter (duh!) but this effect is accentuated the closer you get to the light – it’s called the inverse square law. If you move your subject twice as close to your light, it actually gets four times brighter!
What that means in practice is that as we move the light closer to me, reducing the exposure to compensate, the background actually gets much darker. There is now much more contrast between me and the wall behind me!
The next big problem is the nasty hard shadows (look at the earrings). Hard shadows suck for things like this. They are created by small lights (or big lights a looong way away, like the sun) so the way to combat them is to make your light source BIGGER.
Much better! The shadows are much less harsh and the eyelight is much, much bigger! You can achieve this with a softbox, a silkscreen, frosted gel – or even just by bouncing your light off a large white surface.
So if you only have one light, this a pretty good place to leave it. But let’s see what else we can do…
The next thing we are going to tackle is background separation. My hair is quite dark, so is the background, Let’s fire up a hairlight to draw some bright lines around my outline and pick out some shine on my hair. This is a small light just above and behind my head. I like this to be a little cooler (in this case 4500K) but that is really personal taste.
Nice – now we are talking! Let’s add one more light to finish off the subject (me! this is a first…)
The downside of using such a big soft light as your key can be that you lose some modelling on the face, and it can wind up feeling a little flat. I like to counteract that using a 3/4 back light.
A 3/4 backlight is just like a full backlight, except that instead of being directly behind your subject it is slightly off to one side. This catches one side of the face (usually the off side, as opposed to the key side) and highlights the bone structure, adding a bit more three-dimensionality and modelling to the face.
You can get a little creative here – adjust the height and angle of the light to flatter your subject. I like to keep the light hard (far away) and very controlled (set to ‘spot’ if you can) and use flags or barndoors to make sure this light doesn’t mess with the rest of your scene.
So there it is – subject lighting done!
If that’s all you have time for – or you have run out of lights – you can leave it there. We are now going to go in and paint some strokes into that dark background to pick out some selective detail.
I always try to find the things that give the room it’s character – in this case it’s film memorabilia, primary colours and the fact that we are in a basement.
You can see here we have thrown a blueish light behind me to pick out that ‘king kong’ title. If we had used a tungsten balanced light we would run the risk of losing some of that separation we have worked so hard to get, but the blue complements the warm skin tone of the foreground and looks lovely! A couple of small lights to bring up the reds in the middle ground and the basement stairs in the upper left and we are done! A nice six-light setup!
…to plans to build your own battery operated, waterproof LED lights! There is loads of great stuff on offer for every level of indie filmmaker – check it out!! Be like Philip and make a donation to make these films happen!
Thanks again Eve, you can follow her (not literally as that is creepy!) on twitter here!