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Old 07-25-2013   #1
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Default Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

What does 3:1 mean? I think this discussion should be limited to portraits using only one light and a reflector to keep it simple as possible. I read an older Dean Collins piece about ratios and he stated that the correct nomenclature should be written as 1:3 instead of 3:1. The 3:1 indicates highlight/shadow (h:s) in this version. In his version he stated that the 1 represents the constant. His constant was the diffused value - meaning the correct exposure of the skin tones. The 3 in the ratio represents the shadow side of the face. Here it shows that the shadow receives 1/3 less light than the diffused highlight side. Keeping it simple then: if the diffused value reading is f/8 then the shadow side should read f/4.8 (using 1/2 stops). Using this method makes it easy to separate the highlight, constant, shadow by using this: (h:1:s). We could use this, if say for example, we added a hair light and made it brighter than the diffused value of the face. I like Dean's method and I don't know if he ever changed his mind about it - does anyone here know? I hope I did not make any mistakes but sometimes my tingers gettes 'n da way.

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Old 07-25-2013   #2
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

3:1 has two meanings.. Hopefully the author says some clues so we can know which he uses, but also, just looking at his pictures tells us, with a bit of experience.

Theoretically, it should mean the ratio of the light intensity on the subject. This is very difficult to measure, impossible with an incident meter. A reflected spot meter could do it, if it could handle flash. This nomenclature originated back in the days of incandescent lights.

More likely, today with flash, it is used as the metered intensity of the lights, actually a power ratio (but at the subjects location). We can easily do that, and usually do.

A 2:1 metered power ratio (main and fill, about the lights) computes out as 3:1 lighting on the subject.

Read up about the details, but it is because the fill hits both sides of face (adding), and main hits one side, so to speak.
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Old 07-25-2013   #3
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

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Originally Posted by WayneF View Post
3:1 has two meanings.. Hopefully the author says some clues so we can know which he uses, but also, just looking at his pictures tells us, with a bit of experience.

Theoretically, it should mean the ratio of the light intensity on the subject. This is very difficult to measure, impossible with an incident meter. A reflected spot meter could do it, if it could handle flash.

More likely, it is used as the metered intensity of the lights, actually a power ratio. We can easily do that, and ususally do.

A 2:1 metered power ratio (main and fill) computes out as 3:1 on the subject.

Read up about the details, but it is because the fill hits both sides of face (adding), and main hits one side.
Like Wayne, I've always measured a 3:1 ratio on the subject as a 2:1 metered power ratio (main and Fill)

My spot meter does meter reflected and incident light with either continuous light or flash so I could measure the actual tones on the face when using flash.
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Old 07-25-2013   #4
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

Wayne and Brooks thanks for adding to the thread. I agree with you both completely - we know there are two ways to talk about lighting ratios in general. I made it simple using only one light to keep the discussion more about the nomenclature than about which method. We know that if you understand the power/lighting ratio then you simply add 1 to the variable to get the brightness ratio - assuming as you both did that we use a fill light. For this discussion I wanted to get ideas on the written ratio instead. Most of the authors still use the 3:1 method to express the lighting.
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Old 07-25-2013   #5
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

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Originally Posted by chickpiper View Post
Wayne and Brooks thanks for adding to the thread. I agree with you both completely - we know there are two ways to talk about lighting ratios in general. I made it simple using only one light to keep the discussion more about the nomenclature than about which method. We know that if you understand the power/lighting ratio then you simply add 1 to the variable to get the brightness ratio - assuming as you both did that we use a fill light. For this discussion I wanted to get ideas on the written ratio instead. Most of the authors still use the 3:1 method to express the lighting.

I was not sure I understood your first post. Seems to me if you meter the power ratio, there is no consideration given to reversing the numbers.

And FWIW, seems to me more later authors specify power ratio. There is really no choice with an incident meter.

But you don't just add 1, it is more complicated.
See Lighting Ratios and Incident Metering Demystified
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Old 07-25-2013   #6
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

Wayne I will have to ask you a question so we can move on. Lets say that our main is metered at f/11. We have a fill metered at f/8. What is the power ratio and what is the lighting ratio? Also, where should the fill be located to consider the difference?
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Old 07-25-2013   #7
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

It's so nice to have Dean Collins mentioned here - he was a huge influence until his untimely passing. To me the most important concepts to comprehend are the understanding of the Diffused Value and the way everything else in the shot relates to it. I never use ratios or waste time trying to establish any given ratio. If the diffused is F8 and the fill is F5.6 I know what to expect relative to the Diffused Value (true tone of the subject).

Dean had a process and the presentation skills to teach it that can't be equaled by todays "gurus". Be it establishing a "look", Chromazones or special effects the math is simple and the logic of Dean's approach is impeccable.
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Old 07-25-2013   #8
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

So true Gary. You have a nice site by the way.
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Old 07-25-2013   #9
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

Thanks for the kind words. It's all Collins - one way or another!
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Old 07-25-2013   #10
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Default Re: Dean Collins and the ratio/oitar

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Originally Posted by chickpiper View Post
Wayne I will have to ask you a question so we can move on. Lets say that our main is metered at f/11. We have a fill metered at f/8. What is the power ratio and what is the lighting ratio? Also, where should the fill be located to consider the difference?
I would call it one stop, or 2:1 power ratio. The technical subject lighting ratio would compute 3:1. (I am not debating 3:1 or 1:3, I have never heard that concern).

Fill: Most any dumb thing we can think of to try probably already has a name. Many things are done.

But the common notion is that fill should be near the camera lens axis, to illuminate the same shadows that the lens sees, without making a new set of shadows of its own. Directly behind and above the camera is popular.
If in front of camera, it has to be back by the camera, for the camera to see around it.

My notions are here: 45 degree Portrait Lighting Setup


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