01. Helen Diaz looking every bit the Hollywood siren. Notice the cheek triangle of light. This occurs when the nose shadow touches the cheek shadow to enclose a triangle of light. This isn’t Rembrandt lighting. Rembrandt used a softer light source and kept the nose shadow distinct. See some examples of Rembrandt lighting here. The trick for the Hollywood look is to always shoot into the unlit side of the face unlike Rembrandt. Fujifilm X-Pro1, 35mm lens at f/1.4 for 1/125th of a second with ISO 640. The 35mm Fuji lens is super sharp where it matters wide open and is beautifully smooth in the out of focus or bokeh areas. It is an optical masterpiece.
Here is the result of my summer project. My quest to revitalise the Hollywood look started exactly 5 years ago today back in 2008 with this very popular Prophotonut post. Now I’m glad to say that everyone is at it and the Hollywood look has finally been reborn.
The look needs Fresnel lens lights for authenticity. But wow, what style! Five years ago LED Fresnel spotlights weren’t even dreamed of. Now they have largely replaced the fairly recently developed HMI units from Lupolux and Hedler. LED is the future and it’s here right now.
Here are 40 of the many Hollywood portraits from my latest sets complete with their exif data, and lighting notes. Enjoy…
Model: Helen Diaz
Make Up Artist: Claudia Lucia Spoto
Styling: Lisa Keating and Damien Lovegrove
Shot on location at Pipewell Hall
02. This has to be one of my favourite portraits of 2013. Notice how hard light narrows Helen’s face. It falls away around the sides giving a more slender look. Soft light by comparison widens faces and flattens texture. The rim lighting for this shot and the one above comes from a Lowel iD light on a Lovegrove boom arm. The boom allows me to place the stand out of the shot to the right of frame. Fujifilm X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/1.4 for 1/125th second with ISO 640. The key light is the wonderful Arri 300 Fresnel light. Corset as above by Lisa Keating.
These first few pictures of Helen were shot at my 2013 Hollywood Portraits workshop. I used several light types and essentially shared my heart and soul with my clients. Workshops like this bring together delegates from around the world and have a special buzz that’s hard to put a finger on. We all know something amazing is happening and it’s easy to get immersed it the subtleties of light positioning and camera angles. Another point of note is the catering supplied by Trudie Baker at Pipewell was fabulous.
03. Helen is once again lit with that classic two light tungsten set up of the Arri 300 key and the Lowel iD backlight on the boom arm. The bedside light gives the motivation for the back light and sets the base exposure. The vintage telephone came from Ebay. Claudia created Helen’s look with classic hair curls and well defined eyes. Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera with the 35mm lens at f/2. 1/125th second using ISO 640.
04. The gun is a Walther PPK (ex Italian police issue) Don’t ask me where it came from. The typewriter is a 1932 Remington that I bought on Ebay. This day for night scene was lit with the same Arri/ Lowel combination as the previous two pictures. It’s not often I shoot portraits with a wide lens but here I used the 14mm Fuji prime lens at f/2.8. 1/60th second at ISO 1250 to expose for the fire. My lights were dimmed accordingly. Corset by Lisa Keating.
This next set of pictures were shot a few days after the workshop with Helen above. I produced a movie of the shoot. It’s more than just a behind the scenes production. It is a fully featured how to video brimming with useful lighting tips and knowledge. I reveal my strategies and secrets of lighting as each chapter unfolds. I leave no stone unturned and I share everything I know. There are 17 chapters that run for 1 hour 45 minutes in total covering more set ups than are shown here. View the free 17 minute trailer here to get an idea of the production as a whole.
Models: Chloe-Jasmine Whichello and Jamie Roche
Make Up Artist: Claudia Lucia Spoto
Styling: Lisa Keating and Damien Lovegrove
Shot on location at Pipewell Hall
05. Fujifilm X-Pro1 18-55mm zoom lens at 18mm. 1/60th second at f/2.8 using ISO 800. I used my camera on a monopod for this shot of Jamie in the dining room. I have the RRS ball head on my Gitzo monopod and I use the RRS camera ‘L’ plate on my X-Pro1. The light was created with a Lupolux 1000 LED Fresnel spotlight using a ‘Crunch’ Scattergel™ as a key and a Lupolux LED 650 as a kick light/ back light. You can watch me make this portrait in the free trailer.
06. Jamie looking rather suave. I used a 3 light set up using a key, a background light and a kick light. We had a shortage of kindling for the fireplace. Fujifilm X-Pro1 18-55mm lens at 39mm. ISO 800, f/3.6 at 1/60th second.
07. This high key shot of Chloe-Jasmine was lit with two Lupolux LED lights. I adore broken light and used a Scattergel and a home made Venetian blind fixture to create this look. Fujifilm X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/2.5, 1/125th second at ISO 800
08. I shot the whole movie with my X-Pro1 set to monochrome but as I have the RAW files I’ve brought a few frames back to colour. Fujifilm X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/2.5, 1/125th second at ISO 800
09.This Russian market Zorki 5 was a really cool find on Ebay. Fujifilm X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/2.5, 1/125th second at ISO 800
10. The retractable lens on the Zorki reminds me of the retractable Sonnar lens on my Rollei 35s. I used the a high vantage point and a negative composition to add tension. Fujifilm X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/2.5, 1/125th second at ISO 800
11. In the cellar with Chloe-Jasmine and a pair of Lupolux LED lights. I set the two lights and connected them to these inverters as there is no mains power in the cellar at Pipewell. Fujifilm 18-55mm zoom set to 18mm at f/2.8. ISO 800 for 1/60th second. We had fun shooting in the cellar with three video camera operators shooting on Canon 5D mk2s, a production director and a sound recordist.
12. Jamie getting stuck in to shifting the barrels. I lit Jamie with two lights, a Lupolux 1000 and Scattergel™ as a key light and a Lupolux 650 as a kick light. These Lupolux LED lights are a perfect shooting kit. ISO 1250, 18-55mm lens at 18mm setting f/2.8 for 1/125th second.
13. A low key shot of Jamie with the pistol in exactly the same spot as I shot Chloe-Jasmine high key earlier. In the video I explain and show how to establish shadow depth, set the image contrast and add punch to the portraits. Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm lens at f/2.5 for 1/125th second with ISO 800
14. Jamie in the same spot as the shot above. Shooting with the camera set to manual exposure gives a consistent look throughout a set of pictures. Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm lens at f/2.5 for 1/125th second with ISO 800
15. This classic movie scene uses 7 lights including the Chandelier and the table lamp. It is the most complicated rig on the video but it’s all quite straightforward when I explain and rig each light in turn. Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 18-55mm lens at 27mm setting. f/3.2 ISO 800 at 1/30th second.
16. This shot was taken a moment after the one above. This zoom range is perfect for interior portraits. Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 18-55mm lens at the 55mm setting. f/4.0 ISO 800 and 1/30th second. I was very surprised with the ‘kit’ zoom lens performance when I first tried it. I was thinking that f/4 at the 55mm end was going to be disappointing for background bokeh. I was wrong. It’s another optical masterpiece with a creamy unfussy out of focus character.
17. Fuji X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/2.8. ISO 800, 1/125th second. I shot through the chandelier holding the camera above my head. Something that’s not easy to do with an SLR. The LCD display on the Fuji is just perfect in such situations. I lit this frame with the Arri 300 and Lowel iD light combination.
18. Set up as above. Fuji X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/2.8. ISO 800, 1/125th second.
19. Chloe-Jasmine looks amazing in this scene. I love the subtle twist in her hair and the delicate make up. Fuji X-Pro1 35mm lens at f/3.6. ISO 800, 1/125th second. Fabulous beauty lighting and wonderful optical quality at work.
20. This all together far flatter image was not lit with available light. There was far more control available than you might think. On the video I demonstrate how to take control of the light in a room. Fujifilm X-Pro1, 35mm lens at f/2.8 for 1/60th at ISO 800
21. Chloe-Jasmine looks amazing here. All settings are the same as in the picture above. I love the tonality of softly lit high key images. It’s so easy to be drawn to these and that’s why so many soft boxes are sold each year. After a while I crave the clarity of hard light though. Compare how narrow and defined Chloe-Jasmine’s face looks in shot 19 and how flattening this lighting is here. The skin texture is far more alive in shot 19 too in my opinion. That’s the beauty of hard light.
22. Carefully controlled window light was all I needed for this simple shot of Chloe-Jasmine. Fujifilm X-Pro1, 35mm lens at 1/60th second using ISO 800
23. This next sequence was lit with a Lupolux 1000 with a Scattergel™ fitted. Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the 18-55mm zoom lens at 55mm. 1/60th at f/4 using ISO 800. Those photographers that know me will understand why these exposure settings have been the most widely used in my career.
24. Info as above.
25. Info as above
26. I used one Lupolux 1000 to key and kick Chloe-Jasmine. Fujifilm X-Pro1, 18-55mm zoom at 39mm, ISO 800, 1/60th second at f/4
27. A second Lupolux 1000 with a scattergel™ was added to the set up above to light Jamie. Fujifilm X-Pro1, 18-55mm zoom at 46.3mm, ISO 800, 1/60th second at f/4
28. I panned the light around to light Jamie at the window. One light, hard light shooting is so easy and so rewarding. Put a soft box here instead and the shot would be flat and boring by comparison. Fujifilm X-Pro1 18-55mm lens at 22.3mm, f/5 at 1/60th, ISO 800
29. I then panned the light to the window to light Chloe-Jasmine and I added a second light outside the window shining back in as Chloe-Jasmine read to us Fujifilm X-Pro1 18-55mm lens at 23.3mm, f/5 at 1/60th, ISO 800
30. Fujifilm X-Pro1 with the wonderful 14mm prime lens at f/4, 1/60th second ISO 800. Jamie was in the shadow of a Lupolux 1000 on full spot and Chloe-Jasmine was lit with a Lupolux 650. It’s that magic combination again.
31. I swapped to the 35mm lens and set 1/60th at f/2.8 ISO 800 for the close ups.
32. Lighting as above. Just look at the divine shadow. Simply wonderful.
34. Fujifilm X-Pro1 18mm, f/2.8 at 1/60th, ISO 800. This simple 4 light rig plus the bed side lights will be a doddle to set up when you’ve seen the video. This lighting set up would look just as fabulous in a modern hotel or any bedroom with an en-suite bathroom. Just shut the curtains and you have an evening set up. Corset by Lisa Keating.
35. Fujifilm X-Pro1 18-55mm lens at 55mm setting. f/4 at 1/60th ISO 1250. The exposure was set by the lamp and my lights were adjusted to match. Low wattage bulbs are just so dim at times it’s worth having some tungsten bulbs in various fittings to hand if you shoot on location regularly.
36. ISO 800, 1/60th at f/4 with the 14mm lens on my Fujifilm X-Pro1. I lit these final frames with the Arri 300 and the Lowel iD light combination that I used earlier. Rigging the lights, setting the barn doors, adjusting the flood and spot and dimming to taste is the process I use to create my looks.
37. The 14mm lens puts the emphasis on the gun.
38. It’s trouble on the phone and he’s coming to get Chloe-Jasmine…
39. But it’s okay because Chloe-Jasmine is ready for him.
40. This is the title graphic created by Luke Knight our in house graphics expert. He animated it in Final Cut Pro and the animation is on the front of the trailer. Click on the picture to see the free 17 minute full HD trailer for the Hollywood Portraits Remastered production.
Do you prefer the ‘high key’ look of portraits 20 and 21 or the ‘low key’ look of portraits 1 and 2?
Do you have a few questions? Please view the trailer and feel free to comment below