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Transitioning from found to manufactured lighting (2 replies and 2 comments)

Hannes
1 month ago
Hannes 1 month ago

Dear James and Roger, yesterday I listened again to Episode 9 “Learning Lighting“ of your podcast. You got so close to answering one of my lingering, fundamental questions. So now I just have to ask.

I am trying to make the step from non-professional stills (street) photography to independent cinematography in fiction shorts. To me this means that I need to transition from finding wonderful light to creating it from scratch. I am trying to understand what it is that I am seeing when I discover light, what it is that makes it special. Then as a second step I want to recreate it.

Do you have any suggestions for exercises that might help me in this endeavor? How would this be taught in film school? Is there a didactic sequence that might help me approach the issue? Or am I unnecessarily complicating things?

Thank you so much.

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I really don't know how you 'learn' to light. I started practicing lighting whilst I was at Art College, just still life shots and such. Later, at Film School, I had a larger array of tools to work with. You can look at all the references that are available but without the facilities to 'play' you will find it hard to find your own way of doing things. I bought a small Fresnel lamp online a while back and it was fairly inexpensive. Maybe, even a 200 or 400 watt Fresnel is enough to start out with.

Hannes
1 month ago

This is great advice, to just start playing. I have a couple of hard and soft light sources: An Arri 650 Fresnel, a large JemBall, a tiny Dedo Classic with projection attachment and a chimera softbox with a bunch of different materials that I collected to reflect and refract. I was hoping there was a "trick" or a method. But maybe it's just to continue to try, play and correct. Thanks Roger! And if anyone else has any ideas or pointers please do share.

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

Sounds like you are well set. Just lighting a table top still life will be very informative. I remember my first lighting exercise was a chess board. Try to see how many variations can you find with light but also with camera placement and lens choice. I learnt very early on that a large lighting challenge is the same as a chess board but larger!

Hannes
1 month ago

Fantastic, this sounds so fun.
I'll do exactly that. Thank you again.

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