I need lighting advice!
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Old 01-23-2007   #1
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Default I need lighting advice!

Never tried posting in here so lets see how well this gets noticed. I setup a new area in my studio off in one of the corners I don't use for anything else. The area is 13'x16' and in it I placed a 10'x10' beach with a 6' tall reed wall that wraps around the corner and down both walls. What I am trying to achieve is a natural looking beach scene but what I am getting, in my mind, is a flat lit studio prop looking scene. Below is a sample photo taken in the scene and a rough setup of the lighting and general area in a diagram below it. I would like lighting suggestions to help me achieve the most natural and real look possible, if it is possible at all. At my disposal are the items listed below...

2 - Norman ML600R Monolights
4 - Novatron Heads and a 1500w PS
2 - 40" Shoot Through Umbrellas
2 - 30" Silver Bounce Umbrella
1 - 54"x72" Softbox
1 - 9"x35" Stripbox
1 - 15"x55" Stripbox

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Old 01-23-2007   #2
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

Setup
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Old 01-23-2007   #3
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

Okay, this may sound obvious but you need to emulate the light of the sun, which means a big old light source placed up high. Also, keep this in mind: the light of the beach is damned flat and boring. So you'd have to use reflectors and such in the same way that you have to at the beach in order to achieve anything interesting. Also I don't see anything wrong with your picture there, except that your model is wearing too much.


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Old 01-23-2007   #4
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

Okay, let me have a go. I see you are shooting through your umbrella and softbox. In that small space you would get flat lighting. What I think you are after is simulated beach lighting. To do that we need to simulate a beach, including the sun. After we get the primary light source situated we can add reflectors or fills to lighten shadows somewhat.

To do this we need to establish a fake north orientation. This allows you to place your main light more realistically. It should be your strongest light source and would lose the softbox (and umbrella).

I would lose the umbrella and put a grid on the light where the softbox was. Maybe a 40 degree grid to restrict light. On the light with the umbrella I would use barn doors instead to have control over light direction and turn it down real low. You don't want to throw conflicting shadows nor do you want it to lighten the scene too much.

You will need reflectors to direct light in to shadows. The desire is to get a strong shadow, like the sun, but to keep the shadows light enough to reveal detail.

I've not lit a scene like this before. So others may post different solutions. Just be sure to keep an eye on ALL shadows from ALL light sources and eliminate any cross shadows (conflicting shadows) you find.

Take care,
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Old 01-23-2007   #5
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

Dan,
You are the man; crazy even. It must be nice having extra unused space like that. Keep working you'll get it I'm sure.
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Old 01-24-2007   #6
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

Hi Dan
I would agree with Tonyk that the main issue is that your main light is too soft. The sun acts like a point light source and creates strong shadows so I think you need to get rid of the brolly and go with a small reflector. Set the light high to simulate the position of the sun in the sky.

The large softbox to the front, I dont think needs to be changed. I would try to consider it as a reflector being used outdoors rather than a normal studio fill, so I might reduce its power to give less fill.

I tried an exercise some time ago where I wanted to simulate beach sunlight in the studio and was fairly happy with the result.

The model was lit with a single 45cm diameter standard reflector from high above and slightly to left of shot. A 4ft x 3ft. softbox was used as fill from just left of camera.

The background cloth was also separately lit with another softbox.

The key element I think is to go for harder lighting.

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Old 01-24-2007   #7
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

In my old camera room in my old studio, I had a large mural of a beach scene on the wall (I think it was of a beach in Maui.) Anyway, I discovered the only way to light it to make it look "real" was this way. I had two A/C strobes mounted to the ceiling about three feet in front of the mural wall and aimed at a 45 to 60 degree angle back so the light struck the area where the ceiling and back wall meet. The light then washed down onto the mural and out onto the sand on the floor. This overhead light mimiced the natural overhead skylight (but NOT sunlight.) I then used a fairly hard main light to mimic diffused sunshine (like it is later on in the afternoon at the beach) and a reflector so my fill light would not create reflections on the mural. The subject had to be about 5 or 6 feet in front of the mural (which was 10 feet tall by 16 feet wide if I remember correctly) so the shadow from the main would not fall on the mural which meant lots of sand on the floor. I would pile the sand up on the mural where it met the flloor so they would blend better. (Wish I would have had Photoshop back then to blend it!!!) I now use my high key area for swimsuits. I place sea shells on the floor and a big beach umbrella behind the subject. It looks like white sand with a south facing white sky behind the subject.

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Old 01-24-2007   #8
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

Wow, thanks all, never saw any of the reply notices until just now. I will give these a try and bring back my results ASAP!!
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Old 01-30-2007   #9
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

just taking a guess but wouldnt you also want to change the color temp of the light to get that golden glow? either with a gel or w/b.
the only other thing would be to get the sand to look like the beach instead of a sandbox. not sure what you would do tho.
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Old 01-30-2007   #10
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Default Re: I need lighting advice!

The sand thing is easier actually, that day it was still wet from being in the bags, now it is all dry and consistant. All I need to do is take a fan to it to smooth it and poof more beach feel I also want to get some long grasses to plant and a couple pieces of drift wood.


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