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Jonathan Bryant

Show a Fresnel Key Light

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I don't exactly take photos of my set-ups based on the type of unit for the key, and I don't often use a hard key light anyway. I'm not sure half the time you would see a difference between a fresnel keyed close-up versus some other type of hard source light if the light was far enough away.

 

But if you want to see faces lit directly by fresnels, look at any typical 1940's Hollywood movie.

 

Here is an example of a photographer working in the style of George Hurrell, who used tungsten fresnels for portrait lighting:

 

http://www.thestarlightstudio.com/portpage.htm

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So hardly anyone uses a undiffused Fresnel as a keylight these days? What situations would you use a Fresnel as a key light? What is the most popular way of lighting low key scenes?

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The only consistenly hard-lit movie I ever shot was "D.E.B.S.", which was meant to have a candy-colored glamour look. Here are two frames (the movie was shot in HD), lit with either a 650w or 1K fresnel key:

 

debs1.jpg

 

debs2.jpg

 

Generally you use a hard fresnel for a key light when you are simulating a hard source -- direct sunlight, a spotlight, a distant light, hard moonlight, etc. (unless, as in the case with "D.E.B.S." you are throwing realism out the window). Just think of all the light sources in real life that produce sharp shadows. That's probably when you'd use a direct fresnel.

 

So if I wanted a window pattern on a wall from moonlight, I would use a fresnel probably (although I sometimes pull-out the fresnel to get a sharper pattern.) If I wanted someone framed by the cut-out pattern of a doorway shadow, as if the light were spilling in from the next room into a dark room, I'd use a fresnel, etc.

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I don't exactly take photos of my set-ups based on the type of unit for the key, and I don't often use a hard key light anyway. I'm not sure half the time you would see a difference between a fresnel keyed close-up versus some other type of hard source light if the light was far enough away.

 

But if you want to see faces lit directly by fresnels, look at any typical 1940's Hollywood movie.

 

Here is an example of a photographer working in the style of George Hurrell, who used tungsten fresnels for portrait lighting:

 

http://www.thestarlightstudio.com/portpage.htm

 

Thank you David,

 

I watched an interview of this guy some time ago but I couldn't remember his name. I am always intrigued by artist keeping old techniques alive.

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David,

 

Ive been doin this for some time but have never quite understood as to why pulling out the fresnel lens help in achieve a more harder and crisper shadow.

 

Thanks

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Since there is only a small reflector at the back of a fresnel lamp, when you pull the fresnel, you are mostly getting light from the lamp filament, which is fairly small (unless you go to the really big frensel lamps) so it's a sharp source... but dimmer than if you used the fresnel.

 

With an open-face lamp, there is a big reflector at the back-end of the lamp and the bulb is often a strip, so you don't get as clean & sharp a shadow unless the lamp is farther away.

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Since there is only a small reflector at the back of a fresnel lamp, when you pull the fresnel, you are mostly getting light from the lamp filament, which is fairly small (unless you go to the really big frensel lamps) so it's a sharp source... but dimmer than if you used the fresnel.

 

 

David Im sorry I didnt quite follow. If Im right the task of a fresnel is to converge the light, then wont removing it only scatter the light even though its a smaller source.

 

but dimmer than if you used the fresnel... Didnt get a hang of this either!

 

Thanks

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I'll take a stab at this.

 

 

In this wide shot, I used two undiffused fresnels. The key light is a 300w fresnel gelled 1/4 CTB, and the background light is a 1k gelled with primary red. The other light sources are two dimmed PH211 75w practical bulbs (one is out of frame).

 

 

In this medium wide shot, I used a 650w fresnel gelled with spring yellow. The background light is a practical bulb which I can't take credit for.

 

 

In this close-up, the key is a 1k fresnel bounced into a mirror with water from a shower head running over it to create a rain pattern effect. The backlight is a 650w fresnel.

 

Don't know if this is what you were thinking of, or whether you simply wanted to see a direct key from a fresnel. I think that's used less often.

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here's a frame. not one i'm extremely proud with but it shows a 650w raw fresnel key. it's emulating a street light that's in the wide shot, and yes i realize that it might be more a cross light than a key in your book. fill is another 650, filtered half blue iirc and bounced off a styrofoam sheet.

 

/matt

post-1832-1167396115.jpg

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If you mean diffusion on the fresnel lamp, there wouldn't be much point of me showing the example if I had used diffusion on the lamp -- it could have been any lamp then, open-faced, ellipsoidal, PAR, etc. If you mean diffusion on the camera lens, I may have used a 1/2 Tiffen Soft-FX on the tightest close-ups for that scene, but generally, no, the whole movie was shot clean.

 

The lamp was probably six feet away or so from the talent, I don't know. Depends on if I had a scrim in it.

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