Night Wide Lighting Advice

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  • #169917

      I’m shooting a short western in a couple of weeks and am looking for advice in the face of budget cuts.


      Initially, I was planning on using two molefays (9-light 650-watt par globes), but due to budget cuts, I can’t afford the generators to power them. Initially, I was going to push them through a 4×4 of ½ ctb, and a 12×12 frame of lite grid or half soft frost and balance the camera to 3200k. The Molefays were ideal because the can throw a lot of light quite far.


      My main option that works with the budget is to use two Joker2 1600-watt HMI’s to light this wide night exterior around a campfire. We’re using a practical fire as the key, and supplementing any additional light for the fire with an LED with a fire effect. My main concern is that I’ll be under-exposed or have to sacrifice my frame or desired quality of light for the wides to achieve an f/2.8, which is wide open for the lens set. I thought to shoot one joker through the trees without any diffusion to maximize the throw of exposure, edge the trees, and give shape to the background, so it isn’t just dark. For the other Joker, I would go through half soft frost to light the background closer to talent and give a soft edge on the actors. My main goal with the HMI’s is to light the area and not the talent.


      Do you think I should use both HMI’s bare of diffusion and go for harsh moonlight? Should I get one Molefay (Affordable at slight sacrifice) and use that through a 12×12 silk, or as a harsh source? Will the fire beat the HMI in intensity? Any other additional suggestions on how to approach this?


      I’d appreciate any feedback or opinions on this!

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    • #169935
      simon m

        Not Roger, and I have no experience with this kind of scene myself, but on the old forum Roger explained a fairly simple lighting setup for this scene in ‘True Grit’. I believe he used a couple of small lights to augment the fire, which were dimmed down, plus a flicker machine. Don’t know how wide you’re planning on shooting but here are a couple of stills from that scene.

        Roger Deakins

          I was using a series of bare 250 watt bulbs mounted on some circular aluminum strips that I had made up for this purpose. I would surely think that there is a simple LED alternative in this situation. For instance, I wrapped some ribbon strip around a circular tube to construct a small soft multi-directional source which would work quite well to augment a firelight source. The advantage of the quartz bulbs was that they could be dimmed down to a matching color temperature and, being more resistant to heat, they can be placed quite close in to a real fire.

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