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Thread: Lights

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2012


    I'm looking to start doing a series of portraits, with some based around the lighting style of Hurrell (sp?). Currently I have a basic set of two Bowens Esprit 500 heads, a small soft box, barn doors and a snoot. Does anyone have any recommendation for other lights or accessories I may need? - I've also got 2 Strand Patt 123 fresnal flood lights, a Patt 23 spot and a Patt 23N spot (unfortunately they all require a re-wire and new bulbs).
    My thoughts are thus - buy a larger soft box to provide low level of general illumination. Replace the theatre type bulbs with balanced E27 bulbs - the low energy ones that kick out equivalent of 300w+
    The thing is I'm not sure how changing from the point source of the theatre bulbs to the more diffuse one of the energy saving ones will effect the final output of the light (i.e the effect, I know there will be a reduction of light levels as the current light fitting and bulbs kick out 500W).

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Re: Lights

    Hurrell had multiple styles that evolved over the years. First using veritos, etc.. then moving to sharp lenses and more complicated lighting. The Vieira book could be helpful to you to understand some of the various styles he used. I'm re-reading it right now. Hurrell had a spotlight on a boom which was used to often light the face or hair such as to create a hard shadow along a facial feature, such as as cheek bone or the nose or eye socket. Then other lights could be used to make the spot lighting less "hard" with some fill so the film could capture it. How the background was lit was also a compositional element, with big shadows or shapes on a stucco wall for example. His styles were dramatic and artful, but were not by-the-book. Vieira's book's cover shows that. The guy's face and eyes are obscured, but it's not a silhoutte, nor is it a traditional portrait. Later (mid-30's) portraits often used baby oil for skin highlights based on his success photographing Tarzan. Makeup was not much used as either the verito could soften adequately, or retouching was his preferred way of dealing with skin texture.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: Lights

    There was recently thread on Hurrel's style in other portion of forum. You might want to read it. But in reality if you do not take it to be "exact copy" of his work - you can do it with 1-2 flashguns and more efficiently, rather than dealing with bulky theatrical lights. Except, unlike with hot lights (or modeling lights), you will need to be able to visualize light pretty well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Nashville, TN

    Re: Lights

    Try to find a copy of Charles Abel's "Professional Portrait Lightings". It has several photos from several photographers throughout the book. Each one tells what lens was used, how it was lit, and even a diagram to help the reader recreate the scene. It usually goes for $100 and up when you can find it, but it's worth every cent.

  5. #5
    Lungeh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Santa Fe

    Re: Lights

    I concur with the books above. What is usually though of as Hurrell's "look" was based on him using the motion picture lighting that was on sight--BIG FREAKING fresnels (15" and up) and smaller lights as fill, many of them on booms and shot on large sound stages with dozens of feet of space to soften the harsh lighting as well. This is actually more like shooting in hard desert sun, using shades and reflectors. These physical factors are hard to replicate in a small studio space with strobes, the lines are too hard with strobes or too soft with softboxes or reflectors.

    I have had some success using a strong single source (even a brightly lit window) with reflectors, or with incandescent "spots" (I believe they are something like 15) in plain worklight fixtures, though adding a honeycomb is an option as well.

    The final issue is getting a model to understand the "look"--examining a few examples together should help.

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