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Re: Lighting with Digital
Old 10-30-2004, 02:05 AM   #21 (permalink)
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ok JP, here's what I'm thinking--and bear in mind I'm just thinking and hypothesizing here--but I'm thinking that setting the camera to reduce contrast is only working when the camera is deciding the exposure. and what it's doing is averaging the exposure between the highlights and the shadows to reduce contrast. but i'm also thinking that when you hand meter and shoot in manual mode, the contrast reduction is doing nothing. but i could be wrong.
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Re: Lighting with Digital
Old 10-31-2004, 11:16 AM   #22 (permalink)
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One thing you have to remember when it comes to lighting for any purpose/format is that it is not ONLY the type of lighting you have (and the sort of quality that it inherently gives) but also what you do with it. Which type of modifier? How large? How close/far away from the subject? Angle to the lens axis? How many sources (including mixing with available/daylight) and how do you ratio them? All this plays a significant aspect in the final "look," when all put together, far more significant that simply the choice of "tunsten-quartz" or "off-camera strobe" or "flourescent" (an excellent and overlooked source in many ways, by the way, though with limitations), "HMI" or whatever. Really the two biggest factors affecting the look and feel of the final image are the type of modifier you use on your sources and WHERE YOU PLACE THEM! These two factors really dwarf all other considerations. In other words, there really is no cookie-cutter, buy-it-and-use-it and what-you-see-in-the-demo-pictures-is-what-you-get sort of solution. No way to get around learning to light if you want to shoot studio style photography. And it's a good thing, too, because this is one of the biggest single areas in which you can bring your own feel and control and sensibility and style to the imagery.

In general, I will say this in regards to digital specifically. You typically want to avoid a lighting set-up that results in too much specularity, because specular highlights (and anything near the shoulder of the range) is a notorious weakness of the digital format. Digital generally does just fine in the shadows and excels in rendering midtones, but highlights are a weakness, particularly very bright, specular highlights. Occasionally an image is helped by a small amount of specularity for tonal balance, but these highlights generally look truly horrible in digital capture, and you don't want a lighting setup that emphasizes specularity. In other words, silver reflectors and the like are not usually your best bet.


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