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Studio, Portrait, Still Life, Lighting Equipment and Technique Continuous and Strobe Lighting. (The Sun is considered continuous!) Great ideas are really ten a penny! Technique in setting up the subject is, of course, essential. However, the ability to bring out form, texture, tonality and color is where the skill in lighting provides all the keys to engraving one's ideas on the delivered picture.

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  #1  
Old September 23rd, 2010, 01:48 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Default What to do with uneven overhead inadequate stage light!

Here's an example of overhead tungsten stage light with a chamber music group, A Colburn conservatory Chamber Orchestra group just returned from Sofia, Bulgaria, where they played to enthusiastic audiences.

To the right of the stage center was a valuable, but stranded Steinway grand piano that requires technicians to move it out of the way. So we were forced to get to the left of that! Since the light is maximum in the center of the stage, it ended up really dark on the left! Here I corrected that as best I could in CS4, (after processing the image in Capture One from the RAW file). No color correction applied beyond using a shirt as a source of white.




Asher Kelman: Colburn Conservatory Chamber Music Group Celebratory Return From Sofia Bulgaria

Tungsten Light From Overhead. Notice left side drastically recovered from dark shadows


The second picture show the effect of overwhelming the stage lights with flash, albeit day light temp, not matching the tungsten stage lights.




Asher Kelman: Colburn Conservatory Chamber Music Group Celebratory Return From Sofia Bulgaria

600 Watt.Seconds Lighting, Lumedyne, temp ~5500 degree K. in addition to tungsten stage lighting.



Well, one can see that the issue of uneven exposure can be overcome with the flash. That's satisfying in itself. However, the strong shadows would need to be addressed by lighting behind the musicians too.If that was the only issue here, i'd be most happy. If one compares the two images one can see that the colors of the dresses are very different.

If the light is consistent, one would accept that, yes that's a heavy does of purple on the left, but ,hey, that's the choice the designer made! With both pictures on the same page, it's obvious that the color balance is off in one or both of the pictures. however, color was not the issue here, just the luminance gradient that needed correcting.

I simply need to photograph a set of Gretag Macbeth digital color charts at intervals across the stage and make a series of images processed these shots of the color card giving a new profile for each region of the stage. Of course, it would be easier to have the stage lit well in the first place. It seems that there's a long tradition, at least in LA, of odd lighting in music concerts. On a theatrical stage, they would never get away with it! Still, what's impressive is that as the musicians perform, the experience of the music removes the attention from lighting to listening. I'm sure that the audience has no clue that each side of of the orchestra is essentially in the dark as far as the camera is concerned.

So from here on, I may be gelling the lights and for sure i'd like a color meter!

Asher
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  #2  
Old September 23rd, 2010, 03:04 AM
Joachim Bolte Joachim Bolte is offline
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could you post an 'unprocessed' version of these pictures?
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 03:40 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joachim Bolte View Post
could you post an 'unprocessed' version of these pictures?
Joey,

Thanks for looking at the image. Here's the file just processed from RAW, made 8 BIT and saved as a jpg but please note it's the larger Adobe RGB (c1988) color space, not sRGB as needed for showing on the web. I've provided it in Adobe RGB so you can look at it with less limitation.



Asher Kelman: uncorrected file, tungsten stage light

Asher
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 06:37 AM
Joachim Bolte Joachim Bolte is offline
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I don't think the colorspace shouldn't matter that much... It's still 8bit, so there's 256 values per channel, regardless of what color any combination of those numbers will represent. Colordepth and histogram won't change.

But thanks for thinking along. I'll have a look at it when i'm at home.

Thought from the top of my head: Have you tried to modify the image as 16bit, making a lighter and a dark copy and blending those two together in PS, either as separate layers or in an HDR fashion?
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 08:05 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is offline
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Hi, Asher,

1. One tool that can be useful, in cases like this (and in fact you may already have employed it) is a gradient mask, through which various "adjustments" may be deployed. I often use such in the situation of a banquet table, shot from one end, with most of the light being from an on camera flash unit, such that the exposure varies dramatically over the "length" of the table.

2. It is clear from the "answer print" that the incident light alone is not going to cut it (if only from the standpoint of severe - and inconsistent - face shadowing).

Of course what would really be wonderful is if you could somehow deploy some flash heads around the house. On some occasions, I have done that by engaging some seat-fillers to hold them! (I suppose propeller beanies with 550EX's on them would be too nekulturniy for this house.)

In any case, certainly filtering ("gelling") the flash illumination would seem to be a must.

I recognize that this situation is very prominent in your current oeuvre, and it is certainly worthwhile to struggle to find a good, and generalizable, solution.

Best regards,

Doug
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 10:40 AM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Default Ballet

Asher: I had this same issue with a ballet recitial I shot. Fortunately for me, I just cropped each ballerina separately since that's what the parents are interested in.
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  #7  
Old September 23rd, 2010, 10:42 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joachim Bolte View Post
I don't think the colorspace shouldn't matter that much... It's still 8bit, so there's 256 values per channel, regardless of what color any combination of those numbers will represent. Colordepth and histogram won't change.

But thanks for thinking along. I'll have a look at it when i'm at home.

Thought from the top of my head: Have you tried to modify the image as 16bit, making a lighter and a dark copy and blending those two together in PS, either as separate layers or in an HDR fashion?
Naturally! That's what I always do! Here it had to be extreme!

Asher
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  #8  
Old September 23rd, 2010, 10:50 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Originally Posted by Doug Kerr View Post
Of course what would really be wonderful is if you could somehow deploy some flash heads around the house.
That's the second picture in the first post! 3 lights overwhelm the stage lights. It's essentially the Indiana Jones solution to problems. The guy in front poses a huge risk and challenges one in a set of skills that's formidable in an opening scene. A warrior has a curved sword, obviously a master of unarmed marital arts too, challenges Indy to a dual, obviously to the death. Indy has one simple solution. Bang! Th giant is shot dead.

Using that wisdom I simple made the stage light irrelevant to the lighting equation.



Asher Kelman: Colburn Conservatory Chamber Music Group Celebratory Return From Sofia Bulgaria

600 Watt.Seconds Lighting, Lumedyne, temp ~5500 degree K. in addition to tungsten stage lighting.


This solution is simply done, just needs power, but of course is useless for shots during the music performance itself. Since I have 3 sets of lights under one pocket wizard and any number of additional packs and 4 spare pocket wizards, it's now just a matter of how many lights I can control. Right now it's 3 packs as I have the bolted on one power source and tied together inside with fat cables that can take 2000 amps as opposed to the usual 7 all the way to 120 amps.

One side effect is far prettier wood, with the players reflected in the floor if I do it right!

Asher
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Last edited by Asher Kelman; September 24th, 2010 at 01:50 AM.
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Old September 23rd, 2010, 03:16 PM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Big bounce... two or three or four sizable strobes bounced off the ceiling or walls. Even lighting, shadows gone. Just like strobing a basketball court.

Nill
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Old September 24th, 2010, 02:16 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Originally Posted by Nill Toulme View Post
Big bounce... two or three or four sizable strobes bounced off the ceiling or walls. Even lighting, shadows gone. Just like strobing a basketball court.
Well, Nill,

That seems like a good idea except that the color of the ceiling is brown wood slats on a mostly empty background for another 40 or feet. There are sound absorbing curtains so the will be no light reflecting back down if one bounced light up. The height is one hall is so great that essentially one is trying to light a dark black tanker. My next stage is to increase the efficiency of the reflectors. So I have just purchased efficient telephoto making an 18 to 20 degree beam and then 3 overlapping beams from 200 ft away will cover the stage and give me 2 stops more of effective illumination at the stage. Then I will have two oblique wide angle lights in front side balconies on each side, directed to the opposite corner of the stage , pointed up to skim over the front of the orchestra and deposit more of the light in the rear.

I have to check on site, but I would guess that for 1200 Watt seconds from the back of the hall, I'd have just 100 Watt seconds on each side to deal with fall off.

Asher
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Old September 24th, 2010, 08:44 AM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Check this out:

http://robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_p...=7-10046-10396

Nill
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  #12  
Old September 24th, 2010, 10:45 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nill Toulme View Post
H Nll,

Yes, Rob writes so positively about all Paul Buff's new gear. He doesn't omit the few faults he finds, but on the whole, as each new product comes out, it's well presented and no better review could be written of anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Galbraith
Enter the PLM system. In testing before the first outdoor team photo shoot of the new season (football), we found that three AlienBees B1600 640ws lights in three PLM 64" Silver umbrellas could deliver between f/9 and f/10 at ISO 100 from roughly 40-45ft (12.2 - 13.7m) away, and do so with no more than a 1/3 stop variation in brightness across the entire width of the area that the team would occupy.


Field Level: Three AlienBees B1600 640ws monolights aimed at PLM 64" Silver umbrellas. Click photo to enlarge (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)

This was over two stops brighter than what we'd been able to squeeze out of umbrellas previously at this location, at least from ones that could also provide sufficiently smooth, even coverage to make them a better option than harsh reflectors. The trio's output was also bright enough to hit the exposure settings we needed, including in full sun. The goal was to have the big light in the sky, if it was out that day, be at most a high-angle sidelight. That works out to an aperture of f/9 or smaller at ISO 100.

Notice that Rob sets up his light at 40 feet. For this Saturday night, for example, I'm at 200 feet at least and on the balcony fully occupied by people. There's no room for parabolic reflectors unless I go back another 25-40 feet and set up behind the balcony audience. With my 8.5 inch parabolic reflectors they are no larger than a woman's head with her hair combed out, LOL!

For photographing huge formal groups as Rob photographs I use four 5" standard Lumedyne reflectors, in a line or else two 80 inch Photoflex Octadomes and get perfect exposure of 100 students at a time, my lights are about 25 feet from the front.

I like the idea of Paul Buff's lights, except that they are totally out of consideration for a theater during an actual evening with paying audience. Also at 200 feet, we'd need 200x200/40x40= 40,000/1600 which comes to 25 times more light! So that would be not be f 9.0 but rather 4-5 stops more, or about f1.4! I need at least f4.0 to f5.6 to cover the depth of 40 feet or more of a stage. Paul Buff's lights work for many purposes and worth considering, no matter what brand of light one uses inside them. I have to see if the mount for the light would get a Lumedyne light at the4 focus point. The parabolic umbrellas seem well designed and flexible with the ability to remove the black back and shoot forward or backwards. Paul buff is to be congratulated on continually upgrading his products. Rob Glabraith's use of them can only be characterized as a perfect fit and exmplary.

Still, I don't ever use monolights as I want all the controls right near me. All the switches of the Lumedyne system are next to me in one simple reliable unit. I have 3 packs bolted on one compact, but amazing power source and that can output up to 7200 Watt.Seconds. The pictures above are just for a very small boutique auditorium, not the 1600 to 2000 seat halls for the entire orchestra!

Asher
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Old September 24th, 2010, 02:15 PM
Nill Toulme Nill Toulme is offline
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Yikes... you do this with the audience already seated? I can't imagine such a thing. Can't you get in during warmups before the house is opened? Then you could probably do it with two lights on 13' stands.

When I do this I get there an hour or more before curtain, set up the lights, shoot candids onstage while they're warming up, then when they're finished with warmups get them to pose, shoot a half dozen frames bang bang bang, and they're off the stage. Pack up lights (all the while wishing for an assistant), high sign, doors open and audience starts streaming in...

(But admittedly that was so much hassle that I gave up and sold the lights, and I'm back to shooting with the stage lighting. It helps a little if you have them bring up the house lights.)

Nill

p.s. The whole point of that RG article is not Buff's lights, but his new parabolic reflectors. Go back and read it again. They might actually work with your setup (although 200' feet back you're probably practically back to a point source anyway).
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Old September 24th, 2010, 02:52 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nill Toulme View Post
Yikes... you do this with the audience already seated? I can't imagine such a thing. Can't you get in during warmups before the house is opened? Then you could probably do it with two lights on 13' stands.
Nill,

I'm set up before they audience comes in and use just 3 8 ft stands as we are 20 ft or so above the stage. There's no candids with 120 professional classical musicians playing in a professional environment. The candid, is when they are standing for the ovations! Then everyone is handsome, happy and no one has any tension, just joy & pride of achievement and bonding to the applauding house! However, it occurs in 2-10 second opportunities. If your timing is bad or you have to wait for recycling of the flash, you are out of luck!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nill Toulme View Post

p.s. The whole point of that RG article is not Buff's lights, but his new parabolic reflectors. Go back and read it again. They might actually work with your setup (although 200' feet back you're probably practically back to a point source anyway).
Nill,

I avidly read and reread Rob's reports. He's that good. (Two reservations: his oscilloscope graphs are pretty but have no axis units and so are just fun for a sense of the timing but that's it and he does not give any exact description of his wheel that he often uses.) The parabolic umbrellas might be good for certain conditions where I have authority over space, such as artistic shoots in the beautiful courtyards of the campus. In a rented performance hall, the giant umbrellas would have to be hung over the balcony so that they would not obstruct the view. I've thought of that but would need to find some U-shaped harness to do this. It might be something that a commercial cinematography grip house would know about. Using them on stands would be blocked by the management.

Asher
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Old September 24th, 2010, 03:45 PM
Rachel Foster Rachel Foster is offline
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Tough situation. I hate doing group shots period, even with decent light.
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