Simplicity in the Studio
by Walter Graff

I realized that I often talk about field shoots but rarely talk about the studio. So here it goes. If I haven’t gotten my point across in my other articles, let me say it one
more time; simple is always better or getting home earlier is always good. I’ve designed numerous studio set-ups. Some studio lighting plots had 750 fixtures and others 10, but in the end it was need that determined how many and what kind. And with me, I always look for the easiest way to light something effectively. Sometimes where I might think its
an easy set-up, it requires more, and other times where I think it’s going to be harder, it turns out to be less.

How many lights do you think it might take me to light the NBA Championship trophy? While you can't see it in the photo below it took me about ten fixtures. Why so many? Because lighting a trophy like this is like lighting a car. It’s all about reflections. I started with one then needed another to make a hit of light and before you know it, four hours later it looked good enough to make it as the opening of the NBA playoffs.


I recently produced a training tape for Easy Spirit Shoes. This tape was to be distributed to 240 Belk Department Stores. The concept was simple, show the new products and demonstrate how to display them and how to sell them. I had two talent on-camera.
And we’d use a covered table for product. I rented my favorite studio which was bigger than I needed but easy to get to and easy to work in. Let me give you an idea of the set-up and the result.

Below is the plot I used for this set-up. I used a total of seven lights to light the talent and the set. First the talent needed some soft even light to cover both the table with the product and the male and female standing behind it. I used 4k soft lights with 2k of light turned on to achieve this. But placing the lights to either side of the table created a
bit of shadowing on the inside of their faces so I took a1k fresnel with light tough spun diffusion and placed it directly above the cameras right down the middle. I added a 1k back light to give their heads a bit of light. And that was it for the talent. I used two studio 2k fresnel’s to create color on the walls. I simply turned them on, found a gel color
that complimented the poster color and aimed them randomly, full flood at the area behind the talent. It made a nice uneven texture of light. Then finally, I added a 1k fresnel to the poster we hung behind them. I didn’t want the shadow to spill on the wall so I hit the poster at a very sharp angle so I could illuminate it while letting the shadow
fall far left of the back wall.

Here are the two 4k soft lights with egg crates I used for key lights
Here is the effect of the studio 2k fresnel’s on the wall. I simply made
some random washes of light which worked great.
Notice the single 1k fresnel with half tough spun (top center of picture)
which is their backlight.
Here you can just see the 1k fresnel that is aimed right down the
middle of the talent (top center of photo) and the white card below it
cuts the light from hitting the table in front of the talent.
A finsihed two-shot above and close-ups shown below

Copyright 2013 by Walter Graff. This article may be circulated and shared as long as the following reference is made: 'This article appears courtesy of Walter Graff-'

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