An alien walks into a diner…..hmmmmm. Doesn’t quite have the ring of “A man walks into a bar,” but it did give us a good notion to do some lighting around. We worked at the YouTube studios in NYC which has this diner set, geared up with LEDs and all manner of built in lighting controls. Mix in some SB-5000 Speedlights, and there was fun to be had, for sure.
When I say “we,” this was definitely a team effort. I partnered with fellow photog Daniel Norton, Adorama’s resident lighting guru, and philosopher of the photons. Between the two of us, we played with the quality, color and direction of light all day long. Mixing and matching, we put bits and pieces of lighting here and there, all designed to complete the set, and light up the characters at hand. Best thing about it, the whole day’s on video, right here.
And they were characters, indeed. Our alien was the esteemed actor Nik Pjeternikaj, veteran of stage and screen. He was transformed into an interstellar visitor, by the extraordinary Liz Pisano. Serving him, albeit cautiously, is Jacqueline Guillen, a NY based artist, musician and actress. We had special effects tutoring and guidance from shooter Seth Miranda, who works with the special effects community on a regular basis.
The essence of the lighting plan was restraint, and control. As we say in the video, this was no place for a big light source. The whole gist of the effort was to light this, but not that. Specific, in other words. A light for Nik, and then another for Jackie. Both lights are managed to control their spread and flagged to manage flash hits in the windows of the diner, and they hove right at the edge of the frame. A light apiece for under the tables. Carefully managed the dial-up, dial-down LEDs on the set. All day long, it was a game of inches, and ratios, using f-stop, shutter speed, power and color of light, as well as direction and spread. It was like attending to a chemistry experiment. We went, cautiously, from first scene, below, to a rough of our final, look, which is the second pic.
The lighting for our two principals was tried and true. Lastolite all the way. The mains were an Ezybox hot shoe softbox and a prototype of a new version of a small, collapsible camera bag type of Speedlight shaper. They were governed by grids, gaffer tape and flags.
In fact, all the lights on the set had some sort of attachment, like a grid, some tape or some type of gel. For the real skinny on how the whole day came together, head over to Adorama TV on YouTube.