Exploring Light, Discovering Style: A Lighting Tutorial
Part 13, Lesson 11: Pre-Light, Then Refine
By Bruce Dorn | July 06, 2011
Concept: "Rough-in" a general lighting scheme, then fine-tune for emerging opportunities.
Tools: Studio Strobes+Chinese Lantern+Scrim+Reflector
Action: This is a complex-looking solution which is really quite simple and extremely versatile. By lighting for the space, rather than to a specific pose, I was able to quickly bang-out everything from full-length gown shots to close-up details.
With this illustration, I'm introducing another "cinematic" light-shaper, the classic Chinese Lantern. Based upon the rice-paper originals, the ruggedly-constructed contemporary version is a great choice for fast interior rigging. As a larger and less specular version of the classic bare-bulb fixture, the Chinese Lantern offers omnidirectional illumination but is much softer in character. By broadcasting light in all directions, this simple light-shaper turns every surface in the room into a potential bounce source.
The Lantern also manages to sculpt handsome highlights and behaves much the same as a Medium Softbox when similarly positioned. Think of the Chinese Lantern as a Softbox with automatic ambient fill.
The proximity and finish of the walls and ceilings surrounding the Lantern's placement will have an effect on both the intensity and color quality of the reflected fill light, so be sure to consider all the implications. Don't obsess, simply consider.
The bulk of the natural light we encounter has been colored by environmental bounce and most of the time it simply feels "right."
Every photon of what the "available light only" shooter employs is the result of this same random reflection and tint; we're just seizing the initiative and punching up the intensity with a controllable instrument of a "known" color balance. Simply keep an eye on what's occurring and don't let the atmospheric effect drift too far from your intent.
In this example, I've rigged the Lantern on a studio strobe which is boomed and keyed from camera left. An unbleached muslin reflector adds a bit of warm fill to the shadow side of the face.
Quick and simple tweaks to the position of the Chinese Lantern created a variety of compositional opportunities. Just swing the boom and see what happens. Think of it as available light on steroids...
Canon 1DS MKII - F8 @ 1/125 ISO 400
Canon 70-200 mm F2.8 IS Zoom
Bron Studio Strobes
Chimera Chinese Lantern
Westcott 72" x 72" Scrim Jim
Pocket Wizard Transmitter and Receivers
Bruce Dorn Select Muslin Reflector
Matthews Gobo Arms with Magic Finger
Get articles like this in your inbox: Sign Up