Types of Film Lighting

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Lighting for film was revolutionized by the flash tube, which illuminated at a speed of 22-thousandths of a second and allowed photographers to shoot in low-light situations. Discover the different types of flash lighting with information from a professional photographer in this free video on photography techniques.

Part of the Video Series: Photography History & Techniques
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Video Transcript

Types of lighting. Well, you know the big breakthrough away from constant lighting generally incandescent kinds of light that they were using for film, photographers used all of those until William Edgerton invented the I believe he was at MIT invented the strobe, the flash tube and that did a couple of things. First of all it made it you know they had flash bulbs before that and before that there was flash powder, a way to make a very strong light very quickly and made it mobile. But the big breakthrough for all photographers, particularly studio photographers was the flash tube and that allowed you you know, a flash tube fires at about a twenty thousandth of a second, so if you shoot in the dark that becomes your shutter speed. So your shutter opens, you set off the flash, 22 thousandth of a second, 20 thousandth of a second that is your shutter speed. So that's how Edgerton and you'll remember his pictures the bullet going through the apple, those kinds of things. That's how he did those. The water drop, another famous picture where it makes the crown. He was able to do that with the flash tube and now they're to the point where it used to be you had a big box, you had a big condenser and a lot of equipment, but now monoliths, you know the whole light, everything you need you put it at the top of the stand, you use a pocket wizard radio to set the thing off and you put the transmitter on your camera and you can be anywhere. So you just set your camera off and all the lights go off and everything is lit and you just need to make a decision about whether or not you like the light and where to place the lights, that's tough. It used to be daylight in Tungsten and the difficulty was that the light that a Tungsten light puts out or an incandescent light has much more of the red spectrum so it caused film that was balanced for daylight to appear really red and some of that's o'kay. Some warming is nice and there are different filters that you use to warm but too much of it makes it look like it was taken with the wrong film so they had a special Tungsten film and I think we used that most with Kodachrome and Ektachrome. The daylight film has a tendency to be if you use the Tungsten film outdoors it's way too blue because it's balanced to add blue to the red and make it look normal so that if you're using daylight film inside you could filter it with a blue filter if you are using it outside you could filter it with a red filter to bring it down. With the digital what you're working with is a color balance and you can pick that out. You can pick automatic. You can pick florescent, that was always a problem with the older transparency films was you had to figure out what that florescent light color was and filter for it so that skin tones and those things were right and digital you can just pick it. You can pick florescent, you can pick automatic, you can pick incandescent, you can pick flash, you can pick daylight, you can pick shade, you can pick open shade. I mean you know, you just hit white balance and check it out. The other thing is in Photoshop you can find white. In fact if you put a target in it, with a target that has a medium gray has a white and has black you can go into adjustments and actually adjust the rim so that you can say o'kay this is white and this is black and this is gray and so it takes out any color cast, any difficulty that way and gives you perfect color balance and then if you want it a little warmer you can push the slider over a little bit and make it a little warmer. It's pretty nice. Digital is pretty nice.


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