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Approaching High Key (sort of) Interiors


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Please let me know if this post is not suitable or has been discussed before.

I am trying to build a demo for high key interior lighting and I have found some stills from movies which mostly matches my requirements. However, I am not saying to light up a set/location exactly like them, neither I have the expertise nor the equipments.

These are mostly cowboy shots and to light up this wide I need to have many lights to fill the overall space along with lighting the talents. I can rent very few lights and diffusers but I have seen overhead rigs for this type of lighting(may be wrong) which is not possible for me. 

So my question is : what can be a good way of lighting an interior like this ? I might use sunlight ,let it in with some modification , but shot matching will be difficult due to movement of Sun or weather changes. 

Kindly use the drive link to view the screengrabs (apologies for poor quality)  :

Film: Her , DP: Hoyte van Hoytema

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hjOUcnF4torL4i4ppa09r79C6mEaqCL1/view?usp=drivesdk

Film : Portrait of a Lady on Fire, DP  Claire Mathon

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hacJJBcH3Q_rg3Azpej9jHUl-zbutMyR/view?usp=drivesdk

Film: Never Look Away, DP : Caleb Deschanel

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hmr6j7yyeb8CsTUEks8PJTbrhkmcVBjN/view?usp=drivesdk

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I am unable to edit the post for some reason,you may use the dropbox links as well :

Film: Her , DP: Hoyte van Hoytema

https://www.dropbox.com/s/blfx8mr9mu97i4n/Screenshot 2.png?dl=0

Film : Portrait of a Lady on Fire, DP  Claire Mathon

https://www.dropbox.com/s/n4bvxnse4lcp07j/ScreenShot 1.png?dl=0

Film: Never Look Away, DP : Caleb Deschanel

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x4pbeek5yb5xgbw/ScreenShot 3.png?dl=0

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High key photography can be approached various different ways, but your reference pics are all fairly similar in that they are fairly low in contrast and frontally lit, with a backlight or kicker to provide separation.

Try a big, soft source close to camera, and add a harder 3/4 backlight from the opposite side of camera. 

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17 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Try a big, soft source close to camera, and add a harder 3/4 backlight from the opposite side of camera. 

Thank you for the comment ,much appreciated ! One thing I noticed in all of these that the overall space is very evenly lit. Will the light feel directional when I use a single large source from one direction? 

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3 minutes ago, Saikat Chattopadhyay said:

Thank you for the comment ,much appreciated ! One thing I noticed in all of these that the overall space is very evenly lit. Will the light feel directional when I use a single large source from one direction? 

Depends how big the source is and how close it is.

Maybe run some tests?

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24 minutes ago, Stuart Brereton said:

Soft frontal light appears fairly directionless because the shadows are thrown behind the subject, but you still have to deal with the fall off from the light, so if you're trying to light a large area, you'll need multiple large sources to keep it even.

Helps too if the soft frontal light is higher than the faces so that their shadows fall lower than their heads.

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16 hours ago, Nicolas POISSON said:

There are a few pictures of the set-up of  " Portrait of a Lady on Fire" here:

https://www.red.com/news/claire-mathon-afc

Given the size of the windows, half the surface of the wall can be considered as a large source, the other half being a large reflector.

Thank you for the article, the setup seems pretty complex to me or may be I am too dumb. Still it helped me understand some of it. 

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The setup appears much more complicated than it is. she just has lots of frames of diffusion and lots of various lights bouncing into the room. A lot of that comes from adjusting the light for each specific shot. It might be easier to Just think of it is as a big soft light coming through the window. 

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1 hour ago, Phil Rhodes said:

I do like the use of mixed colour temperature in the overhead setup in that article. Mixing colour temperature in soft lights creates gorgeous graduations of colour.

I was wondering what the purpose of that was...I've seen that scene and from what I remember it doesn't feel like it has multiple color temps going on. even subtly. 

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I wrote about a TV drama called Death and Nightingales, photographed by Stephen Murphy, who used to post here. On the day I visited the set, he was doing something utterly gorgeous with muslin-wrapped windows, HMI at the top and tungsten at the bottom. It produces the most gorgeous subtle graduation of colour, so that faces don't so much have shadows as warmer and cooler areas. Reminded me why I spend so much time thinking about gamuts and gamma encodings and codecs... So we can do that sort of thing.

It'll work differently from overhead, of course. I'm reminded of something I think Max Jacoby once said - you should be able to tell what the weather is like outside, and this sort of attention to detail helps with that.

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