One light at a time
Last night I was testing out my new tungsten fresnel. The next phase of my filmmaking education is understanding and manipulating light. The last two years has been all about learning the camera settings, shooting, and composition. In no way have I mastered those elements but I’m at a place where it’s starting to come easier and I’ve gained a fair amount of confidence. I’m still shooting on an A7s but I’m in no rush to put myself in debt for a $20,000 camera. I know that time will come. For now I’ll continue to push the limits of these mirrorless and dslr cameras. I know if I can make amazing images with those than once I get an Alexa in my hands it’s game over. So the next year or two will be all about light: so far I’ve only shot almost exclusively with natural lighting. I’ve certainly learned a lot from working in poorly lit conditions, about how to use available light to my advantage, but most of it has just been shooting my camera and hoping for the best. What separates the men from the boys is knowing how to create different environments intentionally by molding, diffusing, reflecting, blocking, and absorbing different types of artificial and natural lights. So I went out and did some research and decided to by myself a basic Mole-Tweenie 650w tungsten light. I Also picked up a kupo c stand and an additional light stand, along with a $9 shower curtain for diffusion. I decided to start small because quite honestly the world of lighting options and grip gear is overwhelming. There’s a number of different types of light including fluorescent, hmi, LED etc. the tweenie is not only affordable but it’s tried and true classic used on many of sets for decades. I got mine used on eBay for about 225 along with barn doors. They do get extremely hot but I figure right away I won’t be doing overly intensive projects with it anywyas. Maybe do a couple interview documentary style shorts and some random lifestyle shooting of my wife and baby. I wanted to start with one light because i want to take my time as I build my kit. From what I’ve learned, good cinematography is just as much about removing light as it is about adding light. I really dig strong shadows and moody exposure so I’m not bothered by the limitations of using one light. Hell, up until now I’ve had nothing! My plan is to simply start doing some basic lighting set ups and than add additional lights as needed. This is certainly enough for my one man band projects at the moment. I really wasn’t trying too hard to make anything with the frames above and just wanted to see what the image looked like with the tungsten light. I was quite surprised at how much improved my A7s image was and the flexibility in gives in post. I used film convert to do a quick super amature grade and I was impressed with how much creative control I had over the color and look of the image. It really is all about good light and composition. There are so many new cameras coming out which are all amazing in their own right but it can be a trap for young filmmakers to think that buying a new camera with slightly better specs is going to make their films better. Ive seen stuff shot on the red that looks like garbage and stuff shot on a 7D that looks immaculate so … there ya go. I’m just trying to find the right tools for the stories I want to tell. Definitely looking forward to taking this next step in my journey as a cinematographer.