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The Quality of Light - how to use the available light or create more of it!
2000 watts blonde light

Quality of light [a work in progess] - Page 3
- How to use the available light, or to make more of it!

By: Thorsten Overgaard

<-- Continued from page 2


Blonde Lights (Floodlights)

  Blonde light
2000 watts blonde light

A "blonde light" is a bigger version of the classic 800 watts "redhead." Power rating can be 1000 to 2000 watts, although the term generally refers to a 2000 watts open-face unit. These are powerful light, useful as key floodlights for lighting large areas (the term 'blonde' is often used loosely, there's no rigid definition).

I was on my way to shoot Danish singer-songwriter Morten Lucas when he called that the live "beach party" job he should be playing in the afternoon had been cancelled due to rain. So we would meet in his apartment instead. I had a 2000 watts blonde floodlight lying in the back of the car for a later shoot, so I thought it could be fun to set it up in his apartment. Why not?

So I ran a couple of times to his third floor apartment with gear and got the light set up in his livingroom (of which I forgot to take a picture). We decided to go outside as well to do some natural light shots as well, but on the way I stumbled over his sons room that had a small disco ball in the ceiling. So we set up the light for a shot there as well.

2kw blonde floodlight
This is how the setup looks like in the hallway facing into his sons room.

Here's one of the shots we did in the sons room. The light is coming from above and behind me.

Morten Lucas
Here's one from the livingroom where the blonde light is placed just 150-200 cm from his face (to the left of the photographer; you can see the angle from the shadow of his head on the wall) and there's a natural white wall behind him. There's a 100 cm silver reflector lying on the sofa between him and the blonde light (you can see the reflection of it in his eyes) that softens the shadow a little under his chin. It's shot with a Leica R9/DMR and 35-70mm Laica Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8 @ f/2.8. White balance was set to 3200 kelvin and adjusted slightly in Photoshop.

Morten Lucas
Here's another from the living room, this one with the Leica 80mm Summilux-R f/1.4 @ f/2.8. What I really like about this light is the diffuser in front of it, sending in beams of light. This allows you to create different focus by mobing the person a bit, and you have shadows, and basically what looks like light from several light sources. The front gate of the blonde light which can be adjusted, can be used to stop some of the light so you don't blind the subject, but also open one side so as to send a light beam down on a reflector or a white wall. Lots of possibilities in one light.

All of the above are straight from the camera so as to show the actual light. They all have a great deal of the sparkling light in the eyes and highlighted details (such as hair lines, texture in shirts, etc) that I will usually create or anhance with dudge/burn in Photoshop. But these are straight out of the camera.

The real assignment
Now, what I really had gotten the blonde floodlight for, was to set up a "sunbeam" at an event in Copenhagen. I had imagined a large room with lots of people and kind of long tables. So I would make a 'sunbeam' along one of the tables and the wall and shoot whoever got into the beam - or get people into the sunbeam and arrange them for a photo.

In reality the room was a (huge) entrance with fewer tables. So I started out with placing the blonde light on the first floow, pointing down and lighting up about half the area.

The blonde light on first floor pointing down. It can be adjusted to flood or spot; and I have it midway so as to create an effect of the diffuser in front of it. The diffuser is a metal plate with cut-outs and painted black, which creates an effect of light coming through leaves or something. I also had silk to put in front, as well as different blue filters. I unly used a piece of filk attached below the diffuser so as to spread some soft light overall. As you can see, the existing light is very warm even compared to the 3200 kelvin of the blonde light. So I'm glad I didn't bring an daylight ARRI Sun 12 as originally planned!

One of the shots made on the gound floor with the flood light coming in from the first floor (unadjusted). You can tell which light comes from where as the strong light on the blue shirt and the displays are from the blonde light (made with Leica Digilux 2 at 100 ISO, 1/15 second exposure, set to tungsten light in the white balance).

A view from the entrance with the floow light on top creating a dramatic light. We must remember that effect for another occasion! (Leica Digilux 2 at 100 ISO, f/2.0, 1/8 second).

Also did this portrait the morning after. Same setup with the Blonde Light and diffuser in front, 3200 Kelvin. Does look like there were more than one light, or some reflectors, doesn't it? Well, it's just one lamp.
© 2009 Thorsten Overgaard/Getty Images.


Continues on page 4 about reflectors and wedding photography-->

Continues on page 4

    Cambridge in Colour White Balance tutorial article
    FilmGEAR rental in Copenhagen, Denmark
A set with a 2000 watts blonde light and a diffuser in front.

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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten Overgaard is a Danish feature writer and photographer who contribute stories and unique branding to magazines, newspapers and companies through exclusive and positive stories and photos. He currently photographs for WireImage, Redferns, Getty Images and Associated Press.

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