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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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Old November 12th, 2009, 12:23 AM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Lightbulb Lighting a Whole Orchestra! Oh, Yes perhaps the concert Hall Too!

The Colburn School Conservatory Orchestra, under the direction of Yehuda Gilad the Music Director recently performed at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Orange County, California.

Here's a taste, merely a crop of a jpg.



© Asher Kelman: The Colburn Conservatory Orchestra, Director Yehuda Gilad Do not copy or edit

We used a 50mm 1.2L on a Canon 5DII with electronic flash. I'll be adding more about the lighting setup.

More pictures will be added to showcase this outstanding orchestra and their program. So please bookmark this. Expect substantial updates so come back again.

If you are in Los Angeles, make sure you go to one of the weekly performances. At the price of $60 a ticket it would be a great bargain, given the acoustic quality of the performance halls and the high standards of the musicians and faculty. However, there's no charge for almost all performances at the School so, for sure, this is the best deal in town!

Asher
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Old November 12th, 2009, 04:14 AM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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Hi Asher

looks like a cross light - is that intended?
For sure, its no that easy to have good light in big spaces....
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Old November 12th, 2009, 03:01 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fontana View Post
Hi Asher

looks like a cross light - is that intended?
For sure, its no that easy to have good light in big spaces....
Hi Michael,

You being an expert in architectural photography are not going to miss a thing. The challenge with photographing orchestras is that light comes from above and although the audience sees everything fine, the female violinists' hands, for example are blown out to vanishing. Only by under-exposing what the camera thinks of good by a clear 1.5 stops or thereabouts, does one protect highlight features of the face and allow folk to have hands and arms.

Still that's not sufficient to render musicians faces well. Light from above throws several streaking shadows below every facial feature and those with eye glasses have a segmented face.

The solution until today was to under-expose and then recover the highlights from a RAW file. After that, every shadow has to be selected and reversed. For a key soloist, it's O.K. to spend an hours or so, but it's no good for an entire orchestra.

So here I used lights at a great distance. The idea is that the inverse square law makes light fall of gradually at a great distance from the source. So I placed the lights aproximately 120 ft (40 meters) from the center of the stage. I used 3 Profoto 7BII battery packs each, 11,00 Watt seconds with a Profoto Magnum light fitting. This is something like a giant deep food mixing bowl and is effcient for throwing the light forward.

The lights were placed on the second story balcony, so about 35ft to 40 ft above the stage. Each light was assumed to cover about 40% of the stage. The lateral two lights were place closer to the ends of the balcony opposite about to ft (~3 meter) from each side of the stage. The stage is about 65 ft wide and 47 ft deep from the seating plans.

I was able to shoot at ISO 200, f11 which is the smallest aperture I've likely used in the past 5 years! However, I thought even in the face of some diffraction, I wanted focus in the whole depth of field. Actually, at f4.0 it would have been pretty good too!

So that's how I fell in love with the Profoto battery packs. I didn't like leaving a deposit of $19,200 but next time I'll have an insurance certificate, instead.

So the next time, I could use some lights to get rid of shadows on the wall. I may just excise the b.g. anyway since concert halls make all sorts of rules about exploiting the design!


Asher
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Old November 12th, 2009, 03:06 PM
Mike Shimwell Mike Shimwell is offline
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Looks good Asher, much better controlled light and gives more pleasing colour.

You'll be mostly OK at f11 on the 5D2 - just a little softening. 1100ws makes my 430 and 580EX's look pretty puny!

Mike
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Old November 12th, 2009, 03:48 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Originally Posted by Mike Shimwell View Post
Looks good Asher, much better controlled light and gives more pleasing colour.

You'll be mostly OK at f11 on the 5D2 - just a little softening. 1100ws makes my 430 and 580EX's look pretty puny!

Mike
Thanks, Mike,

It's a great feeling to go with good lighting and to have worked out beforehand everything as for the actual shoot 9 minutes was all was left! Still, posing the shots in rehearsal is the way to go as one can at least check everyone for position and poste. Still, we have to swap out sets of eyes as out of 115 people, a few have their eyes shut at some point. However, that a slight clothing adjustments are now a simple matter. It's very satisfying to have a file that can be likely printed at 10x 20 with great detail in each person and little need for person by person adjustments and corrections as before.

The total light was 3x1,100 Watt Seconds, ie 3,300 Watt Seconds!

Asher
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Old November 12th, 2009, 04:42 PM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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wow, Asher 3.3 kwS for the entire hall, only? Thats not that much.... ok, that's why you you had to use direct light.

Any chance to have more powerfull flashes (without softboxes, or even with hard, small reflectors beeing fired to the ceiling, and beeing reflected down softly to the orchestra? The light beam should be directed that way, that it comes down in about half of the orchestra, thats the main light. You could play with adding one - just one - front flash with softbox (or even indirect, to soft...) exactly on top of the cam - for avoiding silly shadows - for the faces and the instruments; it will accentuate the boring main light. You need these two sources to be balanced carefully, but you can work it out before the orchestra arrives.

That might resolve some of the problems you face, but might need light > 10 kwS, which is not that much in a average studio - all in all I'm having about 20kwS here.

I'm aware that whithout knowing the situation exactly, it's easy to give some hints; it might be worth a consideration, though.

Then, there's the problem of a big contrast required for the black clothes, while the white collar would prefer a low contrast. What about asking the orchestra to stop moving for a bracket shot - I don' know if that is possible, though.

If these proposal don't work, here's a simple way to avoid the cross-shadows :
shoot the hall whithout the orchestra and then with it, so you could paint easely away the cross-shadows at the wall in PS.
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Old November 12th, 2009, 11:08 PM
Kathy Rappaport Kathy Rappaport is offline
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Asher,

Lovely! I see that you have fallen in love with the Profoto light - me too. I'd love to have a 7B or even the Acute set with pack and heads. The Compact momolight series is pretty decent but you do need plugs.
Could you have used some small lights on the background that would be hidden from view to take out the shadows?

That deposit is huge! Where'd you rent the lights from Samy's or Calumet?
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Old November 12th, 2009, 11:23 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fontana View Post
wow, Asher 3.3 kwS for the entire hall, only? Thats not that much.... ok, that's why you you had to use direct light.
One of the major issues with concert halls is that they are difficult to deal with as a matter of principal

1. Their architecture is a work of art! They seem to act as if the architecture is so valuable that being included in the picture allows folk to exploit them. So there's a very protective attitude about the rights to the architectural design and may demand veto power on how each picture is used.

2. Time to take pictures is highly restricted. The don't easily give leeway for experimenting.

3. If you change your mind, tough luck. Likely as not accommodation will not be feasable.

4. They are sure that your AC power supply breaks fire regulations, cords are too long and even with gaffer tape, folk may trip and sue them

So, to make things easier, I decided to go with battery flash and run no cables, just one light per pack.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fontana View Post
Any chance to have more powerfull flashes (without softboxes, or even with hard, small reflectors beeing fired to the ceiling, and beeing reflected down softly to the orchestra? The light beam should be directed that way, that it comes down in about half of the orchestra, thats the main light. You could play with adding one - just one - front flash with softbox (or even indirect, to soft...) exactly on top of the cam - for avoiding silly shadows - for the faces and the instruments; it will accentuate the boring main light. You need these two sources to be balanced carefully, but you can work it out before the orchestra arrives.
I may try that in the next location by working in advance to meet with the folks there. AC-powered packs with much higher power would allow use of a banks giant softboxes or several octadomes. The Ceilings in the next concert hall in December, I believe are yellow, but I'll go and check. UGH!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fontana View Post
Then, there's the problem of a big contrast required for the black clothes, while the white collar would prefer a low contrast. What about asking the orchestra to stop moving for a bracket shot - I don' know if that is possible, though.
They won't stay still, not 115 people! I though of using a Fuji DSLR as they have a several stop advantage in Dynamic range. but two things are needed: DR and enough pixels to define each face well. The 5DII does well. I haven't printed the files yet and that will let me know whether I should try LF film!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Fontana View Post
If these proposal don't work, here's a simple way to avoid the cross-shadows :
shoot the hall whithout the orchestra and then with it, so you could paint easely away the cross-shadows at the wall in PS.
Mike,

The hall is always an issue since they fuss about architectural rights. So I might consider removing all traces of the hall for many of the shots! Still, I will also try to make a perfect picture in a fantastic architectural setting and for that, it's worthwhile getting the permission.

Imaging the hall separately is often an absolute necessity. There is very little room around the musicians and no time to set up lights behind and to either side of them as would be required to illuminate them from close up and have no shadows. Ashley Morrison, a photographer from the Ireland and the U.K., did a superb picture in a Cathedral with rows of top level prelates and princes of the Church and even though he lit the priests with a wonderful arrangement of lights in the most ideal fashion, the rest of the church as done separately as you suggest. I'll try to find a larger picture with the priests and the rest of the interior of the cathedral, I just have to hunt, but you probably get the idea.

Asher
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Old November 13th, 2009, 03:13 AM
Michael Fontana Michael Fontana is offline
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One of the major issues with concert halls is that they are difficult to deal with as a matter of principal

Yes Asher
you will never ever forget the birthday of the caretaker's wife - won't you?
Joke aside, it' s a part of the job, not to be able to set up properly, or missing the good moments is a important issue; I' ve been already speding more time on getting them into the boat than shots and editing together - which is silly, but it's a mad man's world:

if you lose good light, because the caretaker isn't arround, and later needs to have a cuppa first....

So you absolutly need your bosses to back up and resolve these questions.
Difficult tasks need concentration in the moment on the subject itself - all other questions have to be cleared ahead.

For my museum's assignements, I made pretty early sure, that I got the key for entering whenever I want - well, the caretakers don't like to be disturbed during the weekend. Having the key allows to know the site inside out - in every possible light situation, as sometimes, when passing by, I just went to have a look.
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