In this video, we learn the history of lighting education in Photography.
Tags:The Basics of Lighting in Photography,history of photography,lighting education in photography,lighting in photography,photography tips,software cinema
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Male: While the craft of photography itself is nearly 200 years old, lighting education within professional photography is considerably younger, even shorter of the number of years when a handful of dedicated photographic educators made their mark on our industry. Starting in the 80’s, a very special photographer Dean Collins had an important impact on professional photography. For over 20 years, he was one of the few working photographers who influenced the way in the entire generations so it’s profession.
Dean Collins taught us not only to see the light but to move it, bend it, and most importantly control it no matter where or when we were creating images. He was a brilliant educator and often referred to as the finest presenter in the industry with the combination of work and the ability to reduce complicated concepts to workable solutions. He was the Dean of photographic education.
Sadly, the world lost Dean Collins to a battle with cancer in 2005 but his legacy will live on forever.
The digital revolution is here. Image makers today and both that still in video industries are working with less time and smaller budgets than ever before. In the belief that there is a need to create an industry of knowledgeable, effective visual communicators, Software Cinema, a leader in photographic education is updating Dean Collins original landmark video, three-dimensional contrasts.
To explain in detail Dean’s comprehensive framework for light control, photographer Tim Mantoani and videographer Bill Holhsevnikoff have accepted the challenge of blending today’s technologies with Collins photographic concepts. Both former students and co-creators with Collins since the 1980’s, this man have utilized Collins theories and techniques throughout their successful careers.
Tim Mantoani: I remember very clearly the first time I met Dean, I was a student at Brook Institute and I had signed up to do an internship with them. And the first day I came into the studio, he was doing a wedding gown catalog and he lit everything with hard lights. And I remembered just being blown away because everything I’ve learned in school was big soft light and the idea of using five hard light on one person to shoot a wedding dress was just beyond me but it really opened up my eyes how to show form, texture, and to really make pictures not just take pictures. And after I did my internship, I was there for seven weeks. I went back to Brooks and I remember that my life as a photographer changed after that internship.
I learned more not on the seventh-week period than I could have ever anywhere else. And to this day I use the fundamentals that I learned working with Dean every time I get on set and I pick up the camera.
Bill Holhsevnikoff: I remember the day I met Dean I walked into his studio in San Diego and he was just wrapping up a workshop with the bunch of National Geographic photographers and I was incredibly impressed that there was a bunch of National Geographic guys there. And then I thought, “Well, who’s the guy teaching because he must really know a lot.” And I got sucked into Dean’s world immediately and I knew really very little about controlling and manipulating light. And as soon as I started to learn his ways of manipulating highlights and shadows on things, I started to see differently and my brain start to see the way that the camera sees and it changed the way I work and it actually changed the direction of my life. And to this day, every time I go on set I think about Dean and I think about all the things I've learned and I put them to work every single day I'm on set.
Male: To begin, let's examine what it is that makes an object appear three-dimensional. Artist of all types routinely create shape, form, texture, and depth in their imagery. But what exactly are the controls that we subconsciously examine when we’re looking an image are the flat piece of paper of talented artist can draw a circle, make the circle of dot, and then make the two-dimensional dot into a three-dimensional ball.
By producing a shade darker than the tone of the ball and by placing the darker shade in the proper area on the dot, shape and form are revealed. If the artist dated to create shine, a different tool would be utilized to produce a shade brighter than the tone of the ball. And by placing the lighter tone in the proper area, surface texture is revealed on the ball.
And if we wanted to make the shiny ball less shiny simply controlling the edge of the highlight can make the ball appear shiny or textured. But what if the dot were black or pure white? How then would we reveal form and texture on the flat piece of paper or a television screen? To understand this with many other questions, let us first acquire a nomenclature, some terminology that will allow us to better understand those elements that make up a three-dimensional image.
Dean Collins theory of three-dimensional contrast is simple. It’s the idea that a three-dimensional object with a single tone illuminated by a single light source will reveal three separate densities, the diffused value, the shadow, and the specular highlight.
The diffused value or true tone of the object can be seen as the consistent and objective value while the shadow and the specular highlights are more subjective values.
Using this object with a single density illuminated by a single light source, let's review and define the three separate densities that Dean Collins introduced. The first theory is called the diffused value. Diffused means to disperse and the diffused value is the area of an object that disperses or diffuses light evenly. The diffused value is the true tone or natural brightness of an object. And then it’s that by which we determine a proper objective exposure on the film or any digital medium. We set our exposure to reproduce the true tone of this ball.
The secondary of control is the shadow. The term shadow is derived from the word shade. And as one might expect, the shadow is the area of an object which receives no light from the primary source of illumination. The shadow area is always lower in brightness than the diffused value and deciding upon the density of the shadow area is a subjective decision.
The third area of control is called specular highlight. The specular highlight is a mirrored image of a light source on an object. It is the brightest point of illumination on an object and it is always brighter than the diffused value. Like the shadow, the size and intensity of the specular highlight is the subjective decision.
Providing names for the three densities of an object is just the beginning of the understanding of light control.
Bill Holhsevnikoff: When I met Dean, I would just kind of started working in the video industry and nobody really understood lighting other than the guys that were shooting a major motion pictures. And so I think what was happening is that Dean was putting this information out in a publication format called fine lights. And people were starting to take this information and apply it to film and video but no one had ever taken it there, no one had ever thought to apply that same information to all of the different mediums.
So, when I met him I start of thinking, “Gosh, I bet this information can work in video” I mean really had never gone there before and I started taking Dean’s information or applying it to video and that sent me on a whole different tuck because I realized all of these is physics, all of it applies to any kind of light no matter where you're working, what you're recording on, it’s the same, it’s physics and it’s principles to light and once you get it you, can work in any medium.
Tim Mantoani: As we move from shooting film to shooting digital a lot of people say, “You know, why do I need to know this? You know, like I fix it in Photoshop.” Well, there's only so much you can fix in Photoshop, if it’s junk in it’s typically junk out. So, the more you know upfront it is going to save you time and post production and ultimately save your money.
Since I learned on transparency film or everything have to be dead on accurate and you really had to know the stuff, I feel that gives me a huge advantage moving forward as more and more people are coming out of photography school or being self taught that really don’t know this because the ability to understand this upfront really allows you to make the picture you want at time and not have to go in and try to massage everything into the final image that you want, which in some cases works but in a lot of cases, it may look good on the monitor but when you go to press, it looks like junk.