February 5, 2018

Bouncing Light: One Concept You Should Always Remember When Lighting Your Scenes

This is why you shouldn't totally freak out if you don't have a beadboard or reflector to bounce your light.

Knowing how to use reflectors is almost as important as knowing how to use actual lights because they're cheap, super portable, and can add soft illumination to areas that need it without requiring any power. But knowing how to put these types of light modifiers to good use on your film set isn't the only thing you should bone up on. In fact, Ted Sim of Aputure offers up a great lesson on the concept of reflected light and how you can take advantage of it when you don't have any reflectors on hand. Check out the video below to learn more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7_5fqByRVE

The main point Sim is trying to explain is that almost all surfaces reflect light, from the walls on your set to the grass your character is standing on. This is an important concept to understand because when you think of reflected light, you might be thinking, primarily, of the light bouncing off of a reflector. However, light is bouncing off of virtually everythingeverything is a reflector.

Knowing this, you'll be able to not only use reflective surfaces to illuminate your subjects and inherent color pollution to your advantage, but you'll also be able to anticipate the presence of reflected light and unwanted color pollution and fix the problems using negative fill or color gels.

What are some other important aspects of this lighting principle? Let us know down below.      

Your Comment

10 Comments

Work lights with barn doors. Lots of moody contrast and bottomless shadows. Not the most whimsical but the lighting becomes part of the drama lending to a feeling of uncertainty, sadness, mystery, etc.

February 6, 2018 at 1:22AM, Edited February 6, 1:22AM

0
Reply

Great tips) Thanks a lot)

February 6, 2018 at 11:01AM

0
Reply
avatar
Terry Smith
Marketing Manager
8

SO cool) I can imagine the effect

February 6, 2018 at 11:02AM

2
Reply
avatar
Terry Smith
Marketing Manager
8

Great advice! Chase soft light sources with flags to give you more control of your contrast ratio. Nothing worse than bouncing a hard source into a bead board and watching it fill the room with unintended ambient light.

February 6, 2018 at 11:36AM

0
Reply
avatar
SpacemanSteve
Director of Photography
188

February 7, 2018 at 12:05AM

0
Reply

I like to bounce light at different intensities and softness to shape faces. Light can be bounced off of small white surfaces to create more specular highlights (instead of a straight hard source) and then bounced from a bigger surface with less intensity to fill. This can blend in with other bounced sources, it doesn't necessarily have to just be either side of the face. They can both sit on the same side of the subject to blend and shape them together.

February 7, 2018 at 8:52AM

0
Reply
Lee Burnett
Director of Photography
72

One of the coolest light tricks we used on our film "The Highway" was a cell phone pointed at the actors chest. It lit his face in a dark car, just right. Thanks for the tips. <3

February 7, 2018 at 1:37PM

0
Reply
Susan Davis
Producer/Writer/Director
1

Great tips thank you for sharing! I started my career in high school theatre with source 4 pars and barn doors on the barrel! When I transitioned into film I had no idea how much light was all around that could be used just by bouncing and controlling!

A Few years back I was shooting a movie in North Carolina and our gear got damaged. All that was left was a few 4 x 8 B-Boards, some diffusion and frames, and 6 Pars. We made magic happen!

Looking forward to more!

February 8, 2018 at 4:01PM

0
Reply
avatar
J Friedman
Producer / Owner Crew Me Up
8

Yes! More of this, please!

February 12, 2018 at 10:40AM

0
Reply
avatar
Dan Parsons
Director of Photography
6

Here are 2 helpful lighting tips that use the same overall gear but are used for different results:

1. A mirror offers incredible flexibility when dealing with small distances. For instance, we have all encountered that shooting scenario when there really is only one place from which we prefer to motivate light--yet the blocking requires the talent to walk in close proximity to where you want to place the source. At this point, if you aren't aware of the inverse square law before you attempt this lighting setup, you will learn its effects as soon as you place your light: the talent draws attention to the presence of the source due to its close proximity and relative high intensity. One way to increase the distance of the light to your subject when your space is limited is to place a mirror where you would have placed your source. Place your lighting source adjacent to the mirror in order to reflect it, and you can effectively increase the distance of the source to your subject by using the mirror as the "effective source." (Be sure to have some black wrap and/or other modifiers handy to shape the light to meet the look of your scene.)

2. Intuitively, many of us have created DIY "cookies" (Cucoloris) shaped like windows in order to throw that ubiquitous "light through a window look" somewhere in the background of a shot. While it may not be the number one go-to stylist choice for cinematographers at the moment, keep the following tip in mind in case you find yourself wanting that look at some point. Rather than creating a "cookie" by cutting wood, cardboard, or other scrap material in the shape of a window and then firing a light through it, consider this handy alternative:

Rip some gaffer's tape into strips (experiment with different widths until you find what works for your setup) and adhere them to a rectangular mirror. Using a lighting fixture that can spot and flood, experiment with various position, distance, intensity, and spot/flood combinations until you achieve the same effect you otherwise would have using a "cookie." Intuitively, you might wonder why to use this mirror method over the "cookie" method. As soon as you start to adjust the spot, flood, and distance of the light/mirror, it will become obvious. Minute adjustments will offer dramatically different results when compared to the "cookie" method. You will also be able to piggyback off the 1st tip listed above in addition to these adjustments.

Enjoy!

www.signaturelight.com/dan_parsons_dp.pdf

February 9, 2018 at 3:26PM, Edited February 9, 3:26PM

0
Reply
avatar
Dan Parsons
Director of Photography
6