Recreating Window Light

Discussion in 'Lighting Tutorials' started by MichaelSewell, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Real Name:
    Michael A. Sewell

    This was from a lighting course I ran a little while ago. The intention is to recreate a window light and infer a little drama.

    It's actually taken in one of our room sets at the studio, and normally you would simply see the corridor beyond the window. So, with that in mind, let's start with the window light.

    What you can see through the window is a large white Styrofoam board, or “flat”. It's used to reflect the light from a stripbox towards the window. Using the flat causes the light to be even, and means we didn't have to use the biggest softboxes of 6'x4', which would have been cumbersome in the corridor.

    The stripbox was 2m tall by 15cm wide, nicely lighting the flat, which was stood upright at a 45-degree angle to the wall. This ensured that any of the window within the framed shot would be lit by the light, and would ultimately light our model accordingly.

    The light was a 600Ws studio head, firing at 1/8th power.

    I'm not worried about the overexposure on our models fingers along the edge of the curtain. The most important factor was to ensure the models face was lit correctly.

    Frame right is a fill light, ensuring our model's left cheek didn't go to black. I used a 300Ws studio head mated to a 70x100cm softbox and placed about four feet away from her with an output of 1/16th

    If you look to our model's hair, you can see a touch of highlight, basically stopping the back of her head from disappearing into the dark room. It was another 300Ws studio head, firing at ¼ through a gridded standard reflector. It was placed on a stand at a height of around seven feet and angled down towards our model.

    I've just noticed the extra splash of light on the curtain, which clearly comes from our hair light. Bad form! As I should have noticed this, and either switched to a snoot or changed the angle of the head so it didn't hit the curtain to the same degree.

    Very simple to recreate, but do watch for errant patches of light... ahem!

    1/200th sec ISO100 f8
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2016
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  2. Repp

    Repp Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 27, 2011
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Is the light hitting the curtains over her head from the same source that's causing the window frame to be half lit? Assuming that's the softbox fill light, right and slightly above? I actually like it, as it feels like an overhead light in the room.

    Also, since it's from off camera, and slightly bounced off the styrofoam board, could you have used something like a large shoot though umbrella? Or would that make the light go bounce around even through the window?
  3. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Real Name:
    Michael A. Sewell
    Yes, although it needed some light, I feel it may be on the bright side here. If this had been a client shoot, I'd have spotted it and toned it down a little. When teaching, subtlety isn't necessarily the best aid with some students ;)

    A shoot through umbrella may possibly work, but you do risk the structure of the umbrella impacting on the image. The ribs may possibly be visible, or if the umbrella isn't large enough, the edge may allow falloff. I wanted to show a uniform light, although to be fair, my final image above was taken from a closer viewpoint than first discussed with the students, because it made a much better image from a composition point of view. The window is a tall, panoramic window; so an umbrella certainly wouldn't have helped in the original concept, but possibly in the closer shot shown here.
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