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Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-11-2007, 04:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I’ve got a question to put up for discussion. I like to look at the lighting setups for studio work here and other sites. It seems to me that the rules I learned about lighting, as far back as the 70’s, no longer apply.

To get to my point, I see work here that seems acceptable to everyone, except me, and I guess it is because there are no longer any rules. To give an example, a light that comes in and hits the model at her side…meaning tummy area only, for no reason, seems to me to be poor lighting. Another is white seamless paper lighted so bright it would be around 300 in levels, if they went that high. My third peeve is very flat images that look like they were straight out of the camera, and at factory settings.

To be honest I have more peeves but I don’t want to turn this into a rant. Should I, or others of similar persuasion, just let it go or mention this “stuff”? -Jim

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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-11-2007, 04:29 PM   #2 (permalink)
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There are still rules, but the rules are different for different usages. If you are shooting for magazine 1, then they may want a particular type of lighting to fit their style, but customer 2 may want something totally different. The flat look is often a deliberate choice, just as is the perfectly white background. The use of accent lights to put a spot of light on some part of the model's body is quite popular for certain publications. Playboy for example goes in for lots of accent lighting. But all of it boils down to pure subjectivity. Some will like one style, some another, and some -- none of the above.

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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?) 


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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-11-2007, 07:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I was told by one clothing catalog to make the background as white as I could. So that is what he got. All the pages in his catalog are white with models in swimsuits. That is what he wants and that is what he got..
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-13-2007, 10:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Ah the purist outlook. I know what you mean Bonner and it doesn't just apply
to lighting. I was taught that the purpose of correct lighting is to replicate our sun's effect, that to view shadows/lighting created by two or more suns would be unnatural and unacceptable. As to flattering posing - well, best not go off on a rant. Look at some of the work of "pro" studios today and you have to wonder how they stay in business. I guess we just go with the flow and fall back to the first rule of rules - all rules are made to be broken. Sticking to the hard rules would too often effect my pocketbook in a degratory manner. Better wrong than broke but I will retain the knowledge of correct lighting for practical purposes.
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-13-2007, 11:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I have a VERY innocent quick question: Is the image you posted supposed to be an example of proper lighting? Just curious as to the purpose of the example you posted.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-14-2007, 11:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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it's not so much that the rules have changed but that the medium has changed. back in the day, when shooting film, adhering to some rules that gave you a better shot at capturing good images was safer since you didn't get instant feedback (unless shooting polaroids first) in terms of what your lighting was doing. It was riskier to take risks. You didn't see the results until sometime after the shoot. Today, you see what you're getting instantaneously and, because of that, I think many shooters break the rules due to the luxury of being able to see the results of those rule violations immediately after clicking the shutter. This encourages shooters to do things with lighting and other stuff that they might have been less willing to do when shooting film. I'm not saying that this ability to safely break the rules always results in rule-breaking images that are unique yet still good. That depends on the aesthetics of the shooter. In fact, there's more crap being passed off as good work than ever before. But sometimes this safety factor, when it comes to breaking rules, results in truly outstanding images that we might not have seen back in the day.
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-14-2007, 12:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyd View Post
it's not so much that the rules have changed but that the medium has changed. back in the day, when shooting film, adhering to some rules that gave you a better shot at capturing good images was safer since you didn't get instant feedback (unless shooting polaroids first) in terms of what your lighting was doing. It was riskier to take risks. You didn't see the results until sometime after the shoot. Today, you see what you're getting instantaneously and, because of that, I think many shooters break the rules due to the luxury of being able to see the results of those rule violations immediately after clicking the shutter. This encourages shooters to do things with lighting and other stuff that they might have been less willing to do when shooting film. I'm not saying that this ability to safely break the rules always results in rule-breaking images that are unique yet still good. That depends on the aesthetics of the shooter. In fact, there's more crap being passed off as good work than ever before. But sometimes this safety factor, when it comes to breaking rules, results in truly outstanding images that we might not have seen back in the day.
I'm lost?

"I have a VERY innocent quick question: Is the image you posted supposed to be an example of proper lighting? Just curious as to the purpose of the example you posted.

Thanks in advance." (DaveB)

Dave, I don't consider any of my studio lighting to be up to the standards of my college portrait photography teachers (and many of you), but most models I work with just want to look good. Piper was a TFP session. No purpose, other than it does not have the 3 peeves mentioned. Also, it is a lighting setup demonstrated to me by Robert Sanders, the prior weekend in Santa Barbara, at a lighting workshop...in case anybody cares.
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-14-2007, 01:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonner View Post
I'm lost?
I'm just saying that the instant feedback factor plus the reduced costs (film, processing, etc) of experimenting has resulted in more experimentation--good and bad--by more shooters. Leastwise, that's what I think I'm saying.
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-14-2007, 01:37 PM   #9 (permalink)
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You are right...I agree!

Another point to consider, we are seeing more work by many more photographers with the web/digital. Fifteen years ago most portrait and glamour work I saw was in magazines/print or at camera club competitions. That in its self, limited the access of what I saw to the very best!
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Re: Studio Lighting Rules (are there any?)
Old 09-15-2007, 12:59 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonner View Post
Fifteen years ago most portrait and glamour work I saw was in magazines/print or at camera club competitions. That in its self, limited the access of what I saw to the very best!
Hmmm, you must have been reading different magazines than I was...
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