Lighting night scenes...

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TSSPro

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(This is a x-post from the Exposure forum, but it seems to fit better here...hope I can get some of your input.)


Think Crewdson or Erwin Olaf. Cinematic and probably more complex than it needs to be...

I'm planning to photograph a night street scene - around blue hour so I have some separation from the building edges - of three characters in front of a mid-20th C theatre and marquee. There is one street lamp, lots of light bulbs under the marquee, and an abundance of neon leading up the building. The three principals are a ticket taker, and a disheartened couple who split up on movie night...

The last time that I made a photograph like this it involved a cumulative 7k w/s of strobes and still wanted more. I don't have those kinds of resources anymore. So my conundrum is with lighting a night scene with enough light that I can shoot it at f/16-ish with a preference of iso 100 (that way the street lamps that I can't control will be less likely to blow out the highlights). I want this to be in color, so color temp is a concern. I've been considering some less expensive LED flood lamps that are advertised to be 5000 or 6500K and 10000lumen output each.

I'm thinking that 20000 lumens of flood light (20-25ft from subj) to raise the overall lighting of the scene and the few strobes that I have left to add highlights and shaping light to my 3 principle characters for directional light and highlights.

So the questions:

1- How can I estimate how much light will be needed to light a street night scene with the estimates of lumens from the flood lamps? Would they need to be converted to lux then into EV? (Is there an online calculator for that...please say yes...)

2- Any recommendations for LED work lights? Previous experience working with them and your feedback would be much appreciated. Can I run an inline rheostat/dimmer to a standard LED worklamp?

3- Anyone in N. Colorado that can assist with this shoot in the future?! (Never hurts to ask.)

As a reference to the lighting style that I am aiming for, I've included my previous venture into cinematic lighting below. (Shot on a rented Cambo 4x5 w/ a 150mm Rodenstock -- I think-- on Kodak Ektar 100. Exposure was about 2 seconds at f/11. This left a few places soft, like the words on the mailbox. I want avoid this in this next attempt. The optical print was great and I have a 30x40 framed that is quite the conversation starter for anyone who visits my family's home...sadly, that ability went the way of the dodo once I left grad school...)

screen-shot-2018-11-28-at-2-15-58-pm-png.212017
 
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If I were doing this, I would collect some data with a light meter at the scene with ambient or existing scene lighting during the blue hour. i.e. street lamps, marquis, neon, etc.

Then find a way to measure with the light meter the LED work light output. You could borrow the work lights, play with them at Home Depot, or buy one.

A trial exposure or two will also build the data set. Then you are ready for the pièce de résistance.
 

M Carter

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LED work lights may give you color-temp fits. My most powerful LED is an Aputure Lightstorm, and it would be fairly useless in this scenario, yet it's far more powerful than a work light.

If you're near a city with a well-stocked rental house, I'd rent some Speedo packs and heads (the 2400WS packs seem to still be in rental inventories, big workhorses... I still have 2 of 'em though they rarely see much use), or a couple 575 or 1.2K HMIs. Most 1.2's will work with 120v power and don't need a dryer drop or big generator.
 
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TSSPro

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LED work lights may give you color-temp fits. My most powerful LED is an Aputure Lightstorm, and it would be fairly useless in this scenario, yet it's far more powerful than a work light.

If you're near a city with a well-stocked rental house, I'd rent some Speedo packs and heads (the 2400WS packs seem to still be in rental inventories, big workhorses... I still have 2 of 'em though they rarely see much use), or a couple 575 or 1.2K HMIs. Most 1.2's will work with 120v power and don't need a dryer drop or big generator.
I've got a rental house down in denver that is going out of business this year with some 4800 packs and heads still available. They're reasonable and I'm considering them instead of the DIY route. When I did this last I had two 2400 packs for fill and 1kws camera right and left for shaping.
 

jim10219

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Either you'll want the lights to look like the setting sun, or you'll want the lights to look like the street lights. If it's the dying sunlight you're trying to match, then you'll need colored gels no matter what light source you pick. If it's street lamps you're trying to match, then you may get lucky and find LED street lamps there. But low pressure sodium vapor are probably the most common, and that's gonna require some heavy filtering to match, if that's your intent. Most professional studio lighting solutions are matched to daylight, which isn't likely going to match the available light at the scene.

You may or may not be able to run a rheostat to control the LED's. It depends on the LED's themselves. And usually, you won't get a whole lot of variation or control if that does work because they operate at such lower voltages than standard lights. They do make rheostats specifically for LED bulbs, but again, that depends on the LED's you're using and how they're being powered. A professional lighting system will likely come with it's own variable power control, so you won't have to worry about how to set that up. If nothing else, ND gels will work.
 
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TSSPro

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Either you'll want the lights to look like the setting sun, or you'll want the lights to look like the street lights. If it's the dying sunlight you're trying to match, then you'll need colored gels no matter what light source you pick. If it's street lamps you're trying to match, then you may get lucky and find LED street lamps there. But low pressure sodium vapor are probably the most common, and that's gonna require some heavy filtering to match, if that's your intent. Most professional studio lighting solutions are matched to daylight, which isn't likely going to match the available light at the scene.

You may or may not be able to run a rheostat to control the LED's. It depends on the LED's themselves. And usually, you won't get a whole lot of variation or control if that does work because they operate at such lower voltages than standard lights. They do make rheostats specifically for LED bulbs, but again, that depends on the LED's you're using and how they're being powered. A professional lighting system will likely come with it's own variable power control, so you won't have to worry about how to set that up. If nothing else, ND gels will work.


Thanks for the input. I'm shooting for a daylight/neutral bias to the color of the light. The street lamps will be what they will be, but they wont glare a huge color bias on the principal subj and area because they will be overpowered by the scene lighting. They will have the most impact on the fringes of the scene where darker/shadowy areas aren't being hit by the scene lighting. I think that would provide a kind of balance to the realism/artifice of the cinematic style lighting.
 
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