Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/09/28

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Subject: [Leica] Studio Flash help needed...
From: mark at (Mark Rabiner)
Date: Tue Sep 28 01:47:12 2004

On 9/27/04 11:37 PM, "Richard F. Man" <> typed:

> I know most of you frown of using flash, but here goes anyway:
> I have been playing with 2 Profoto flash for a while. Both of them have an
> umbrella attachment. How do I avoid getting two bright reflections off
> objects, e.g.
> <>h
> ttp://
> ...wphoto.php?photo=249&sort=3&cat=505
> Would using a softbox on one of them help?
> Thanks

Use one less light. You are using two. You only need one.
In real life there is one sun in the sky. One moon at night.
One light in your eye. One shadow below.
In science fiction there may be any number of aforementioned.
Hence the double shadows to either side of ERB's John Carter as he stands on
the night Martian landscape. (two moons)
And those two reflections off his shield.
(the moons are real, John Carter is the Science fiction part)

Having a light on each side of the camera as you are doing is how you light
a map. Or do other copy work. Precisely at 45 degree angles if you are going
to be perfect about it.
It's not the way you light people.

Use one main light.
Just like God.
Have it high up.
And use a boom even to have it high up straight above the camera.

Use your other light to light up the backdrop. Put it between your subject
and the backdrop.
This will lighten or completely erase the shadow your main light is casting
off your subject onto the backdrop. In case it is not to your liking.
But if your main light is right above the camera then that shadow will be
minimal. It's behind the subject where the camera cant see it.

A further away light become in effect a smaller light.
In effect a smaller umbrella. But requires much more watt seconds or lumens
depending on how you look at it.
Its more efficient to keep it close.
And keep it smaller.

The smaller the light the smaller the reflection but the harder the edge on
the shadows. This is harder to work with as with defined shadows you really
have to make sure they look good. They will make things sharper. And the
color more saturated.
And it is what people are up for seeing now. It's the style or trend now to
use harder light. People are sick of soft lights with almost non existent
"Idiot lights" is how I refer in to large umbrellas or soft boxes used
close. Especially in a configuration in which one is on each side of the
I'm not trying to be too obnoxious or hard on you I know you are just as you
say starting out and fooling around.

I'm even against using a second light turned down in brightness so it's a
......fill light.
That's two light sources again as far as I am concerned.
And not natural.
Overly complicated .
And unattractive.

Horst P Horst always used one light.
He taught Francesco Scuvullo who did the same.

Avedon and Penn pretty much go along with this.

But you will see all kinds of stupid lighting in the magazines.

Look at the catch lights in the eyes and try to gage how large and far away
the light sources are. And where they are. And if they are umbrellas, soft
boxes or large reflectors.

Large reflectors are where its at right now I think.

Large as not really large but not small.
The typical reflector your get with your heads are about 12 inches.
A large reflector such as the Opalites for Balcar.
Those are around 18 inches in diameter.
They are harder than soft boxes or white umbrellas.
But not hard.
Semi defused" Balcar calls them.

But small white umbrellas will do you fine.

As in ONE small white umbrella.
Right over the camera.

Like in on camera flash.
But not "on".

It's like Hollywood just saw some German Expressionist films and has gone

"Hey CB I've discovered a new thing"


"We'll make millions!"

Mary Pickford made her cameraman black tape the small main light on to the
That way she knew she'd not get into any trouble with shadows.
Playing 14 year olds at the age of 50.

As her audience demanded as was the style of the times. The 20's.

Later came Lillian Gish and Brooke Shields.

If that was now she'd win an Academy award for that just like the guy who
invented the Steadicam did and Kodak did for Tmax film.

They must have had duck tape those days.

They needed to tape up their ducks.

Mark Rabiner
Portland Oregon

Replies: Reply from phong at (Phong) ([Leica] Studio Flash help needed...)
Reply from richard-lists at (Richard F. Man) ([Leica] Studio Flash help needed...)
In reply to: Message from richard-lists at (Richard F. Man) ([Leica] Studio Flash help needed...)