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Thread: Lighting big shiny things

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    Lighting big shiny things

    This was shot with two hard lights (D1000s) through double polarizers. Lights moved to four positions, blended. 80mm f7.1, DF camera with IQ back. Engine is about the size of a Fiat Topolino. My usual aircraft fixation.

    Various problems, including that there is never enough light (I wanted f11) and adding more heads tends to make the reflections unmanageable. Soft/bounce lighting puts gray into the paint.

    Can anyone give me views on how to light something this large and this specular?

    Peter
    Last edited by cunim; 22nd December 2012 at 09:26.

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    Administrator Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Lighting big shiny things

    It depends on what you are trying to do.
    Usually sheet-metal specular surfaces benefit from large light sources or reflectors with smaller light sources added to emphasize specific areas. A large softbox might work well for you with several images taken and blended. Light from overhead usually looks a bit more natural unless you are going after that spotlight from the tower at night kind of look.
    I once shot a polished metal plane using a large white van as a reflector to bounce light on the metalwork.
    Essentially you might consider the soft light as fill and the hard light for local emphasis.
    When you say that softboxes tend to grey-down the paint, do you mean that large reflections on the paint are an issue?
    I would treat this as essentially four subjects.
    the prop, the engine inside the cowling, the red paint, and the rest of the sheet-metal.
    Each wants a bit different lighting.
    -bob

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    Re: Lighting big shiny things

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    It depends on what you are trying to do.
    Usually sheet-metal specular surfaces benefit from large light sources or reflectors with smaller light sources added to emphasize specific areas. A large softbox might work well for you with several images taken and blended. Light from overhead usually looks a bit more natural unless you are going after that spotlight from the tower at night kind of look.
    I once shot a polished metal plane using a large white van as a reflector to bounce light on the metalwork.
    Essentially you might consider the soft light as fill and the hard light for local emphasis.
    When you say that softboxes tend to grey-down the paint, do you mean that large reflections on the paint are an issue?
    I would treat this as essentially four subjects.
    the prop, the engine inside the cowling, the red paint, and the rest of the sheet-metal.
    Each wants a bit different lighting.
    -bob
    Thanks, Bob. Your suggestions give me a few things to try.

    Re the angle, this is a large tail dragger so the upward tilt is natural perspective and some bottom lighting helps accentuate it. What I am trying to do is to float the paint and the engine in low key monochrome metal.

    Yes, when I use reflectors to light the metal, they tend to locate into areas as light gray blocks because they are small relative to the subject. However, the hangar ceiling (30' up) is white, and long exposures on LF film can use that to light aluminum fairly well. Sadly, I find it is too dim with digital and my relatively small lights. I'll rent some bigger lights and try the ceiling.

    I was being lazy by lighting too much at once. I will try to just reflect for the metal, then use the polarized directs for the paint, engine and prop. Isolate and then combine.

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