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Hollywood Glamour
Old 07-18-2004, 03:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have been trying to reproduce the lighting setup used in many of the Hollywood studio stills from the 30s and 40s. I think that I am getting close, but any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks
Joe





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Re: Hollywood Glamour
Old 07-18-2004, 08:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you don't already have one, you *need* a copy of this book:

Bernard of Hollywood's Guide to Pin-Up Photography

It has dozens of 40's style pinups by one of the Grand Masters of the art, Bruno Bernard. More importantly with regard to your question, it has complete lighting diagrams for every shot and a brief commentary on its technical aspects.

Now, you say you are trying to match the sort of lighting used in studio *stills.* Bernard was mostly doing shots for actress and model *portfolios.* That is, of course, a different thing. Most importantly, shots of actresses and models almost always showed "the whole girl." Part of her might be shaded, or out of view, but whatever you could see of her was illuminated at least enough to make out. In your second image, the model's left side is in darkness, and in your third, part of her face is almost totally in shadow. They're very dramatic and perhaps conform more with your vision of studio film publicity pics taken as "stills." But they don't celebrate the "whole model" the way that I see "Hollywood Glamour" style photos doing.

Even with publicity stills, back then you didn't obscure large areas of a model as a general rule, especially if it was a "name" actress. Except for maybe a few film noir-style shots, the idea was to lay out the entire subject to demonstrate her appeal to the viewer.

That being said, I'll admit that it's all my opinion and I am certainly no expert on the Golden Age. It *is* a style that appeals to me, however, and I've seen more than a few such images. So I'm comfortable raising these issues. Your photographs are certainly not bad, they just don't strike me as the sort of thing you are trying to convey.

M
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Re: Hollywood Glamour
Old 07-18-2004, 08:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree with st marc

There are great tips on how to produce what they did "back then".
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Re: Hollywood Glamour
Old 07-18-2004, 09:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Marc,

Thanks for the book link and your insight. The style that I was trying to capture is more in line with the publicity images rather than movie stills. I was trying to combine the lighting style of George Hurrell (as seen below) with a more contempory glamour setting. I will keep working the angles and exposures till I get it right.

Thanks
Joe

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Re: Hollywood Glamour
Old 07-18-2004, 09:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Long ago, in the mid seventies I had the honor of meeting George Hurrell.
He showed me alot. I was young and took notes but really didn't fully
appreciate things till later. I was more interested in retouching the
negative back then.
But I did learn about using hard lighting to sculpt the image that you
are looking for. I think there's a book on Hurrell photography that will
show you a couple of set-ups.
If you understand the set-ups,the exposure range of the film you are using,
and little light physics with your filters.
The rest is a piece of cake.

Greg.
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Re: Hollywood Glamour
Old 07-18-2004, 09:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If that's what you were aiming for, you're much closer than you are to my idea of Hollywood Glamour. However, that style doesn't work as well in color, in my opinion. I took the liberty of copying a couple of the images into Photoshop and desaturating them. (Converting them to B&W.)

After viewing them this way, it feels like you've got too much light for what you are trying to accomplish. The image below has a very hard unidirectional lighting that gives the image strength and power. Your images are sort of betweenish, if you get what I mean. It's not that they need to be darker, or not much darker, it just feels like the lighting in this sort of photo needs to be singleminded.

Also, the props are too cluttery. That's quibbling, really - there's no reason you can't *use* props, and it's not like you've got a lot of them, or they're really ornate. Obviously the violin is integral to the image below. But this sort of image is about the *person.* The props have to have to *do* with the person, or else they have to be totally nondescript so as to almost fade into the background. Desaturating them helped immensely, especially the third one, as it knocked out the contrasting colors and made the thing much more about tonality. The differences between the colors of the chairback and the clothes don't seem like much, but they're so much more complimentary in B&W that it does make quite a difference. The colored lipstick also is quite a ways out of the main spectrum and draws the eye too much, in my opinion, and that problem just goes away in B&W.

M
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