How to get cinematic lighting without electricity

Nov 7, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to get cinematic lighting without electricity

Nov 7, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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cinematic_location_lights

Most of my shoots, whether for stills or video, are out on location. Often, those locations are out in the middle of nowhere. So, I rely on portable battery powered everything, including lights. This means we don’t always get the power we’re able to in the studio with mains powered lights, but it doesn’t mean we’re out of options.

In this video from DSLRguide, filmmaker Simon Cade talks us through some different setups using portable battery powered lights. He shows us how to simulate both moonlight and sunlight, as well as complementing and overcoming issues with practical lights. He also shows a great way to build a good flaming torch to either light a shot or be the subject of it.

YouTube video

Perhaps having flaming torches at your location isn’t always the wisest of ideas, but it’s still an option.

The first scenario sees Simon lighting a camping scene, building up in stages. First, the environment lights to offer some subtle distant light to the background to prevent it fading to blackness. Then practical lights inside the tent, along with some LCD panel assistance.

tent_at_night

The second scenario is a daytime shot starting around 3:12. In a recent challenge set by Matt Workman of Cinematography Database, Simon was tasked with building a lighting setup devised by Matt.

Watching Matt’s original challenge to hear his thought process on the setups is interesting. Also seeing just how closely the 3D simulations compare to the real thing. 3D CG software has become a great tool for previsualising scenes and testing lighting setups.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D66udS3rVoA

How would you have lit the room? Would you have some something similar to Matt? Or did you have other ideas? How about the night scene? What would you have done differently? Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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