I try not to do this, but in the above pic, I’ve got the “natural light” coming from two directions. The sun does not do this. It does not meander, or wander. The sun is pretty straightforward, like a chest pass in basketball. Occasionally it will hit a few surfaces and get tricksy, but straight up hard sunlight doesn’t turn corners and come through two opposing windows in the same building, at the same time.
But the above scene, part of a #filmnoir series we are doing on our Instagram site was too much fun to not play with. The two windows were ideally situated (when does that ever happen?) and all I had to do was blast a bit of raw light through both. Below is window one.
The crucial thing is to take the sun out of the picture, and then replace it with light that is more to your liking and is under your control. A Lastolite 6×6 with blackout material does the job nicely. Underneath lives three SB-5000 units, all radio controlled, supported by a Lastolite Ratcheting Tri-flash. The Speedlights have their domes on, as I just wanted a big blow of light through that window into the tub area, a quality of light that wouldn’t be overly hard-edged, and create some openness in the shadows. (FYI, the new SB-5000 radio TTL flashes rock. This is impossible with line of sight, and the exposure controls you have now at the camera mean you don’t have to keep running outside.)
Window two, though, is one light, no dome, zoomed to 200mm. This one had to re-create the hard lines of the blinds on the man in the shadows, who is now revealed for the first time. One light, one set of shadows. Our guy (bad guy, good guy? stay tuned!) had to keep the highlight slash across his eyes. Ryan Aiken did a great job projecting potential menace, as those film noir characters tend to do.
No need for a total blackout here, as we are operating on the shadow side of the building.
The scene inside. Right by me at camera is another flash, bouncing weakly off the ceiling, just opening the shadows in the room a touch. A fill like this is really like a light in a room of your house you might have on a dimmer. Just play with it, and dial in the right amount of fill.
For the technically minded: gear used here is a Nikon D5, with a 24-70 VR f2.8 zoom. Exposure is 1/60th of a second @ F11, ISO 640. The big stands outside are all Avenger C-stands, with one being a Manfrotto stacker. No light shapers were used, just the shape of the windows in the blessedly charming Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, NM.
Thanks to our actors and crew! Ryan Aiken, Laeticia Harrison-Roberts, in front of the lens. Styling by the wonderful Sam Brown. Makeup by Deborah Engelsman. Produced by Lynn DelMastro. Assistants on location were Brad Moore, and Dustin Sammon. A fun set, and a great crew.
Check out the noir series as it continues on Instagram. Who knows where evil lurks?