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Lighting Applications & Variations

This is not a general purpose lighting, but it does show a thing or two about grids and how gels can be used to color a background.  If you like the look of this setup but would prefer a slightly softer rendition, you can place a sheet of very light diffusion gel over the grid.  Make sure to use a material that minimizes beam spread. 



As you can see from this example, colored gels can be an effective means for getting different colors from a single neutral background.   For best results, the background should be as far back from the subject and main lighting as is practical.  It also helps to start with a  darker background and color it to a lighter tone.  In so doing, you minimize the relative diluting contributions of the other lights on the set.  


Grids will be covered in greater detail in other sections of this website.  Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning a few things about grids that you may want to keep in mind .  Grids come in varying degrees of coverage.  The finer  the honeycomb grid, the narrower will be the beam.  Similarly, the deeper the grid, the narrower the beam.  Grids reduce the output of the device that they cover, absorbing light that doesn't run roughly parallel to the cells of the grid.  The light that is passed by the grid is collimated (rays parallel).  Collimated light creates hard shadows, increases apparent color saturation, and can be quite useful for controlling specular reflections.   Keep in mind that the hard shadows of grid lighting accentuate skin texture.  If you use this kind of lighting with bad complexions and older subjects, retouching will likely be required.   Lastly, collimated light can noticeably increase eye color and texture, imparting a glass-marble-like appearance. 

Lighting Diagram 2.3b (side view)

Lighting Diagram 2.3a (top view)

Example Portrait 2.3

Here is a lighting setup that provides a straightforward demonstration of  the effects of beam-narrowing grids and colored gels.   The lighting consisted off a grid-covered main light and a red-gelled background light. 


The Lighting Setup

The  lighting apparatus used for this portrait is shown in diagram 2.3a (top view) and  2.3b (side view) below.  The facial lighting was provided by a monolight  fitted with its standard reflector along with a medium-fine grid clipped over the front.  This created a tight beam of light that illuminated the face, and diminished in intensity sharply below the bust line.  The main light was mounted on a boom and  positioned approximately one foot directly over the camera.  The background light, covered with two sheets of deep red gel, was positioned just behind the subject  at approximately 4 feet from the background.  The background was a dark, mottled gray muslin ( Botero #23).   The resulting image has the strong shadow edges (see under-chin shadow) and color saturation that one can expect from the semi-collimated light produced by a grid source.