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Critic's CornerFresnel Behind the Scenes

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cyclohexane
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Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby cyclohexane » Wed Aug 12, 2015 6:27 pm

Well, sort of. I got an old time Hollywood movie behind the scenes feel from this image, sort of like one Bobby shared ages ago.

From a shoot with Bobby Deal involving his collection of old school fresnels and my grandfather's equally old Leitz Wetzlar 9cm f/2.8 Elmarit lens.

Not really a portrait, so I guess it's sort of a candid. There was probably another photographer working with directly with the model when I shot this.

L1004131.jpg


Camera used was the Leica Monochrom I, so this isn't a black-and-white conversion. Image is straight of Capture One 8 with a little cropped off of the top.
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby Onslow » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:49 am

I think I remember this session from one of Bobbys shots of the model. I 'm interested in your impressions of using the Fresnel.. I myslef have been thinking about purchasing the Bowens Fresnel attachment. Haven't had any experience with them though so am holding off.

re your image, I do like the light in it. It helps to set the scene for the image. :)

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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby cyclohexane » Thu Aug 13, 2015 3:44 am

Well, these were old old hot lights for cinema, which put out a different look than a fresnel modifier for a strobe. Bobby is adamant that the strobe ones behave differently, and I see no reason not to believe him.

I mostly remember that they were extremely directional; move the model a little, and your look is gone. Also, the heat... the heat. :x

This model was also specially-trained to not have her eyeballs burned out by the things by looking at them incorrectly.
-Michael
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby Didereaux » Thu Aug 13, 2015 4:12 pm

A fresnel lens has one thing to do, the thing it was designed to do...make the beams of light as parallel as possible. That is why all the later lighthouses used them, so that a kerosene burning wick of only a few inches wide could produce a light seen 10-11 miles out to sea. What you see in the the studio lights using a fresnel lens is a very concentrated beam of light. You achieve exactly the same light using a long snoot. What the fresnel adds is that it produces a higher strength beam because it redirects the light waves that would otherwise go at angles to where the subject is located. Any claims that a fresnel modifies light (other than concentrating the output of a source) is pure hogwash. I'm not now,nor ever have claimed to be a professional photographer, but I am well schooled in the sciences, particularly physics.

Just a bit of trivia: The fresnel lens is one of the closest things to make normal light behave like that from a laser...perfectly parallel rays. So if you want to have what the fresnel tries to accomplish then get yourself some lasers. You'll have a bit of difficulty getting one that emits white light though! :lol:
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby cyclohexane » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:16 pm

Didereaux wrote:Just a bit of trivia: The fresnel lens is one of the closest things to make normal light behave like that from a laser...perfectly parallel rays. So if you want to have what the fresnel tries to accomplish then get yourself some lasers. You'll have a bit of difficulty getting one that emits white light though! :lol:


Are we talking laser pointers or James Bond lasers? :rofl:
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby cyclohexane » Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:18 pm

Two more from this angle, approximately.

L1004147.jpg


L1004167.jpg
-Michael
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby Ed Shapiro » Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:47 pm

Undoubtedly, the purely scientific aspects of photography are extremely important, especially in the areas of the physics of light and the related optics. Most of us know that the literal meaning of the of the word, as per it's root, is painting or imaging with light. Generally speaking, it is interesting and extremely helpful to understand how things work, mechanically, physically chemically and theoretically in order to better and more appropriately apply certain methodologies to the artistic aspects of photography or any other art-form or craft.

The remarks, this far, that have been made about the workings a Fresnel light source are mostly correct, however, the aesthetics have not been address in terms of practical photographic results especially in the areas of portraiture and commercial photography where the aesthetic aspects of the resulting imagery are vital.

Technically speaking, with any and all photographic light sources it is certainly a basic requirement to understand certain theories and formulas including those of; angle of incidence, reflectivity, color temperature, the components of a beam of light that enable an understanding of “feathering” and the concepts of softness and hardness of light as influenced by size of the light source, the optics of the light source, if any, and the distance of the light source from c the subject. Each and every light source type has its own suggested applications, prescribed usages, properties and limitations. Even units of the same ilk can have some differences and variations due to differences in size, construction, adjustablity and/or engineering concepts.

In the “old school” of portraiture, the diehards believed and professed that spotlights and raw unmodified floodlights were the tools of “real photographers”- the stuff that separated the boys form the men. Soft-boxes and umbrella “contraptions” were looked upon as “idiot-boxes” with which lesser photographer could “cheat and get away with murder” in terms of lighting mistakes. A few of theses old guys may have “condescended” to use a thin sheet of “spun glass” material as a diffuser. “Real” light control was accomplished by very precise lighting placements, feathering, barn-dooring and, snooting. No doubt, some outstanding and absolutely stunning work was and still can be created utilizing theses simple methods and principles but it ain't necessary, especially the first time around.

Raw lighting devices (floods in particular) were the common tools in portrait and commercial studios for time immemorial. Spotlights were mostly found in theatrical stage lighting grids so as to to place light in specific areas of the stage, act as back or background lighting either unfiltered or in conjunction with colored gels. All of this eventually graduated into cinematography where raw floods and spots were the common tools back in the day. It was common practice, again, back in the day, for the stills photographer on movie sets to take temporary command of the lighting crew for photo-calls and make portraits of the stars and images for lobby cards and publicity photographs right on the sets. Eventually, spot lights of various configurations and types found their way into the photo studio to facilitate dramatic and theatrical effects. Most were electrical- the originals were oftentimes illuminated by carbon-arc systems that were rather cumbersome and somewhat dangerious.

There are two basic types of spotlights, the optical spot and the Fresnel. The optical spot works like a movie or slide projector or an analog condenser photo-enlarger. It incorporates lenses that can be focused and thereby condenses the light beam in a very precise and definite manner. Some of theses units have variable apertures that further narrow the beam. Some of them also have internal and external features that can introduce colored gels patterned cutouts call “cookies” that can be projected onto a white, gray or colored background. Theses spots are recommended where an extremely defined or even harsh main light is required or for some of the aforementioned special effects are required.

The Fresnel spotlight is more commonly found in the photographic studio. Its effects is quite a bit softer or more diffused that its optical counterpart but it is still, as compared to a flood light, rather a hard and concentrated light source. There, however, are many variation in its aesthetic effect. Much has to do with the internal light source; a conventional incandescent projection lamp, a quartz tube or an electronic flash tube; its size in relation to the Fresnel lens, the size, shape and reflectivity of the reflector behind the bulb, or tube, its adjustable position within the housing, the characteristics of the Fresnel lens itself and the distance of the unit from the subject and the degree of feathering as well! The all over size of the unit, obviously, also factors in too. Both, a mini-spot or “inky-dink” and a keg-light can be of the Fresnel class but have decidedly different effects and applications. We can conclude that all Fresnel spots are not created equally.

To say that a Fresnel spot does not qualify as a light modifier may be scientifically correct but only a half-truth when the aesthetics of photography are considered. The lamp or flash tube, would not have any of the aforementioned usages, advantages or even disadvantages of an entire Fresnel unit with the lens in place. There are also a number of adaptions for popular electronic flash systems that accessorize the standard lamp-heads whereby they can preform as a Fresnel unit.

In most shooting situations, there is not time to make mathematical, trigonometrical or formula based calculations. Theses assessments can be applied perhaps when choosing a lighting unit but the gold standard here is to assess the lighting effects visually by moving the light around latterly, vertically, back and forth and using various degrees of feathering. Feathering means to use the edge of the beam of light rather than the center “hot spot” part of the beam.

No doubt, Fresnel spots are certainly useful additions to any lighting “arsenal”! There can be, however, certain pitfalls in their nature and usage can tend to be frustrating and like everything else in photography, some research, study, experimentation and practice are needed to attain the full potential of any equipment and technique.

To illustrate this outlook in spot light or even raw floodlight usage you need to make a list of just about everything that can go wrong with lighting technicalities and aesthetics: Out of control ratios, results that are way out of the dynamic range of our cameras' sensors, totally washed out highlights and/or blocked up shadows, stray light spilling where we don't want it, washed out highlights due to steep angles of incidence, flare from spilled light, overly harsh and unflattering results with certain subjects, problems such as “raccoon” eyes due to a main light that is placed to high in relations to the subject, misplaced shadows for the nose projecting onto the lips- the list goes on and on.

Many of the aforementioned gremlins can appear even with the softest and most forgiving lighting configurations but with spots and raw lights- just double the bad potential by 10 fold. As one other poser in this thread aptly alluded to; if the subject of the light source is moved so much as an inch away from the planned postilion, the entire effect can radically change. Photographing a impatient subject such as a very active child can become an impossible chore. Even with a totally cooperative subject, the photographer has to really watch is lighting Ps & Qs. A lighting change may be required when the same subjects in the same position simply changes expression for a smile to a more demure look. A spot light as a main light makes the photographer very aware how even minor shifts in musculature of the face can noticeably effect or affect the precision of a light scheme. For some, all of this can be a nasty pain in neck but let me tell y'all; it's a great way to learn and refine your lighting savvy even when using softer light sources. One becomes more observant and aware of facial characteristics, lighting patters and cosmetic lighting techniques. Wanna thin out a round face, broaden a thin face, hide a double chin, straighten out an irregular nose? Practice with a spotlight! Sometimes it's hard to see the subtle changes or exactness of remedial lighting techniques with soft lights. The spotlights more easily and succinctly demonstrate the differences. For the “Old Hollywood” look- the Fresnel Spotlight is the tool of choice! A great combination is the use of spotlight with a soft-focus lens- it called hard light/soft lens. This combo imparts a lovely ethereal look without a “mushy” out of focus impression- great for retro stylists. Inversely, soft light with a tack-sharp monochromatic lens can yield an equally dramatic effect.

Although spotlights have a very controllable beam spread, it is oftentimes necessary to modify them as well. Barn doors and snoots can prefect stray light from becoming a distraction and some experienced portraitists will even employ a diffuser and/or a colored gell for subtle variations in effects.

Hope this helps!

Ed

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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby TomCofer » Sat Aug 29, 2015 6:02 pm

Wandering around, I got to enjoy seeing these again and realized that I failed to say so the first time I saw 'em. :)
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby cyclohexane » Sun Aug 30, 2015 1:17 am

Thanks for taking the time, Tom! :)
-Michael
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Re: Fresnel Behind the Scenes

Postby Bobby Deal » Sat Oct 03, 2015 6:49 pm

Didereaux wrote:A fresnel lens has one thing to do, the thing it was designed to do...make the beams of light as parallel as possible. That is why all the later lighthouses used them, so that a kerosene burning wick of only a few inches wide could produce a light seen 10-11 miles out to sea. What you see in the the studio lights using a fresnel lens is a very concentrated beam of light. You achieve exactly the same light using a long snoot. What the fresnel adds is that it produces a higher strength beam because it redirects the light waves that would otherwise go at angles to where the subject is located. Any claims that a fresnel modifies light (other than concentrating the output of a source) is pure hogwash. I'm not now,nor ever have claimed to be a professional photographer, but I am well schooled in the sciences, particularly physics.

Just a bit of trivia: The fresnel lens is one of the closest things to make normal light behave like that from a laser...perfectly parallel rays. So if you want to have what the fresnel tries to accomplish then get yourself some lasers. You'll have a bit of difficulty getting one that emits white light though! :lol:



You are certainly entitled to the opinion of your education in physics and I agree the design of the fresnel lens allows for exceptional concentration of the light source. However to make a statement such as this
Any claims that a fresnel modifies light (other than concentrating the output of a source) is pure hogwash.
is indeed Hogwash.

While your explanation of the purpose of the lens is correct you are only addressing the effect of the lens its self and not the full construction of the light or the effects of the varied lens densities on light. We all know that the more diffusion you apply to a light source the softer it becomes. We think of the fresnel as a HARD light source because it is a concentrated spot when in fact it is a diffused light source when the light source is opened up to its wider settings. When combined with the overall design of the theatrical fresnel spot the light does provide a unique "aesthetic" quality of light that is most definitely not the same as the effect of a long snoot. The very construction of the fresnel lens with its thick and thin rings of light creates concentric rings of light that are modified by the density of glass in each ring. The aesthetic result of these concentric rings of light with distinctly varying degrees of diffusion creates the ability to produce a strong typically hard shadow yet is still maintains a subtly translucent transfer edge. Depending on position and feathering combined with the size of the lens, distance of lens from light source and distance of light from subject these subtle concentric rings can result is a radial gradation of shadow that exhibits varying densities from the outer edge to the center. This gradation and translucency of shadow zone is not recreatable with a bare snoot or any other modifier or light source I have ever used. So while I am not and never would claim to be an educated physicist I am a professional photographer and as such am attuned to visualizing the fine details and effects of various light sources and can affirm that the visual quality of light from a fresnel is indeed a modified spotlight and it does produce a result that can not be faithfully recreated with modern strobe lighting.

If you really want to see the difference between a long snoot and a fresnel light simply shine one directly on a flat wall from a few feet away and alter the focus of the light, if you look carefully you will see the concentric rings within the pattern of the light and will see the translucency of transfer edge which appears as you defocus the point of light.

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