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Thread: Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

  1. #1

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    I am looking at Harold Feinstein's book "One Hundred Flowers" and I am puzzled b y the lighting technique he has used for his shots. Actually the words that best describes the way his pictures look would be "painted with light". The flowers were set flat on a black background, probably a muslim, and are delicately light ed in a very selective manner. The light seems to come perpendicularly to the le ns, from all around the subject, but with a very small angle. This allows a very shallow lighting, and only the first one or two centimeters of the flowers are lit and the rest fades and disappears in black. There are absolutely no cast sha dows, so the lighting must have come from all directions. Seems to me a flat, di rective ring of light around the subject. Not the kind of lighting that comes fr om annular ring flash or optic fiber lighting. Anyone knows this technique?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Posts
    76

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    A few years ago in the commercial world here in NYC, there was a lighting technique called "hose lighting." This involved using a fiber optic "hose" that would allow one to paint light on still lifes to emphasis or open given areas selectively. This was often used in conjunction with diffusion so that the object the light was directed on would glow, while the rest of the image was lighted with conventional stobe lighting and looked normally sharp.

    It seems to me that the photographs you mention were done with some variation of this form of lighting.

    In essense, one would leave the shutter open while traversing the circumference of the object with the light. This full circle of light would appear pretty much shadowless since the light would fill as well as provide primary light as it completed the circle.

  3. #3

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Ted, it could have been that technique, but a close look at the images shows tha t it is not. I own myself a HoseMaster and the kind of lighting obtained is different. Feinstein has probabl y built his own device do achieve that effect. The hose painting effect is not that shallow. To give you a n idea, you take a circular fluorescent tube, put it flat around the subject, mask the light with a ring of cardboard inside the tube, then you adjust the tube and cardboard height so that the light only reaches the tips of the flowers. It may be that he used something completely different, but that's how it looks like. Some of hi s shots are really interesting.

  4. #4

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Hi Paul,

    When Harold and I taught that class at the Annenberg School (Uof P) we used to race each other to get there, since we had Candice Bergen and Mary Ellem Mark both in attendance we both told all, but somehow you missed that class. I have not seen the book but have seen some of the prints and noticed the great job he did. I think I know the answer, but I'm not tellin'. Here is a hint: Think, lighting jewelry and the law of inverse squares. I have been trying to get hold of Harold since I found out last month that we share the same book publisher. My editor said she will pass him my number. I will ask him when I speak to him.

    Fred

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    138

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Hi Paul,

    I haven't seen the photos, but from your description "There are absolutely no cast shadows" & "The light seems to come perpendicularly to the lens, from all around the subject, but with a very small angle." - could he have used a type of ringlight and perhaps used some sort of snoot to control the light fall-off? - "This allows a very shallow lighting, and only the first one or two centimeters of the flowers are lit and the rest fades and disappears in black."

    Do you know of some examples of his work on the net, which would give a better idea of the lighting technique?

    regards

  6. #6

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Peter,

    No need to look, it will confirm your suspicions. All you will do is refine your guess to possible specifics.

    Fred

  7. #7

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Wow, this is turning into a play guess. Fred, I suppose that you want me to thin k that he has used a very weak source of light at very close distance from the subject? I had thought of this, but the lighting seems very regular on the whole surface of the shot, which is sometimes three feet across. Perhaps a plate of acryl glass conducing the light and passed over the flowers during the pause? Peter I just m ade a search on the web and found that page that displays some of the images contained in the book. Great pi cs.

    http://www.art.com/asp/display_artist.asp?CrID=3807

  8. #8

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Of course! A lighting sword! That's probably it.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2001
    Posts
    138

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    Paul,

    Having looked at the link, I am still going for the ringlight with either barndoors or snoot type control of spill, or perhaps a softbox with similar spi ll control with barndoors/black card, etc.

    I've achieved similar lighting with soft natural light, carefully placed white reflectors and matt black cards on the sides of the subject to produce the light falloff effect.

    They're my guesses anyway. I'm prepared to be corrected.

    Let's know if you find out the technique Harold used.

    Kind regards

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 1998
    Posts
    1,974

    Feinstein's lighting technique for flower photography

    here are my guesses (made after looking at a couple of images) a very gentle fill light fom around the lens like a very large and diffused ringlight or shoot through diffuser plus other lights small and snooted and carefully gobo'd (a gobo is a device used to selectively block light. It is placed between the light source and the subject and can be made cheaply out of black cards, Rosco Cinefoil (AKA Blackwrap) or stretched black Duvateen.)

    As an experiment you might try cutting a hole in a large white card to shoot through and bouncing your main lights off of the card and closely balancing this "fill" light with the more directional light used to accent the forms and details you choose to.

    Balcar used to make a rigid metal boxlight that could either be used as a standard 16" x20" light It came with a diffuser and grid. It also had an optional port in the back of the light that you could open and using the attachement that came with it, shoot through to get a very diffuse ringlight/ virtually invisible and shadowless fill light effect. This light modifier can be used with any light with a 7" diameter reflector. Alas! This modifier has not been made in over twenty years but they occassionally show up on Ebay for +/- $200 USD. But it is great for photographing things like jewelry, watches, and flowers and people. The light produced does not look like the stereotypical hard ringlight.

    Mola now makes a similar device but it is larger, more expensive, and the light produced is not quite as indirect.


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