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Bradley Stearn

How to achieve this look with Sodium vapour lights?

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I was just reading a blog post by Shane Hurlbut, and he discusses using High Pressure Sodium lighting.

 

Blog post can be seen here.

 

image171.pngimage191.png

 

My questions are, how do you achieve the green colour temperature that sodium lights give off? If I was to shoot with tungsten lighting sources, what gels would give me this kind of colour temperature? What kelvin would you shoot at to achieve the green lighting, whilst maintaining tungsten skin tones?

 

I look forward to reading the replies. I am a big fan of the background colours in the posted shots, so would be great to hear how you all would achieve this look!

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Sodium lights are yellow, I assume the lights you're talking about are some type of mercury light. They tend not to have much on the red end, so a CTO blue with some + green may do the job

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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If you read his blog, you'll see he's a big fan of practicals. If you want a sodium look, forget the gels, use fixtures with HPS bulbs. Same for Mercury Vapor.

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You have creative license to create that yellow sodium color or that cyan mercury vapor color with gels, unless you have to do a close match to an actual source.

 

There is a tangerine-orange gel called Urban Vapor that some people use, and there is a more greenish-brown version called Industrial Vapor. Or you can use yellow and green gels for that look. Just keep in mind that you get more saturation with gels on tungsten lamps because they are full spectrum sources, so you may find yourself pulling a little saturation out in post to make them feel more like a partial spectrum source.

 

For mercury vapor, I use Cyan gel often (blue + green) -- for metal halides, you can be closer to daylight with less green than mercury vapor.

 

Here I used a Cyan 60 gel on a tungsten par can for the overhead spot on the phone booth, but in the background I put a real mercury vapor fixture on the trailer:

assassination16.jpg

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Thanks for the amazing reply David! I never said thank you when you initially posted this a while back.

 

I'm doing a shoot next week where I want to mix Sodium and Mercury vapour colours, just like you have in your posted image. I'm going to try out Lee Filters Urban Sodium and Steel Green for this mixture. What is your experience in using these gels with both tungsten and HMI? I'm going to be using some tungsten fresnels and dedos, along with a couple of 200w pocket HMI par lights. I'll do some tests of my own before the shoot as well. Would you suggest placing some CTO 1/4 or 1/2 onto the HMIs with the steel green, just match it more to the warmth of the urban sodium?

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Sort of depends on what the white balance of your camera will be, but in general, yes, you'd probably want to gel your HMI's to tungsten-balance as a starting point for the deep yellow-orange-green sodium look. Personally I'd use gelled tungsten lamps for the sodium effect and gelled HMI's for the cyan mercury vapor effect.

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Here is an extremely low res ungraded still that the director sent me over facebook.

I tested a few lee sodium gels - high sodium, 1/2 mustard/yellow and urban sodium - my favourite out of those three was the urban sodium on a tungsten light. I ended up using that for my key lights in this wide shot, which was a bounced 650w fresnel for the artists key, and a 2kw through some metal fencing for the crowd.

 

I still haven't found a mercury solution that I like. I tried lee steel green, but it just didn't give me a gritty enough colour in my opinion. I ended up using a 250w HMI par with 1/2 CTO and 1/2 +green for the mercury vapour look. I placed this lamp pointing towards the back wall.

 

Would be good to hear your opinions on this shot David.

 

post-52914-0-53418500-1442962813_thumb.jpg

Edited by Bradley Stearn

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I used the Lee Urban Sodium (652) on my last short as well. They work nicely. I actually like the muted tones in that shot. Looks very subtle.

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I bought a couple 150W sodium vapor lights from Home Depot and rigged them up to mount in a knuckle and be wall powered with a switch. They work terrifically. I've heard they're supposed to be equivalent to a 450W tungsten, but by my judgement it's closer to a 650. Having used 400W sodium vapors in the past I'd of course love to have that sort of output, but the 150's work great for something like that second shot in the first post.

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