Tungsten magic

It seems many photographers today grew up believing electronic flash is the only source of artificial light. Flash has its advantages, and it is often the equipment of choice for both studio and location work. But there also exists the almost forgotten magic of an illumination called tungsten, or incandescent light, produced by the very low-tech light bulb. Years ago, I learned with this medium, and I still strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to master the most fundamental element of photography: light.

The greatest advantage of this continuous light source is simply that you can see the actual effect of the light on the subject before making the exposure, without having to rely on the often inadequate modeling lights built into electronic photography tips on iphone flash equipment. No waiting for the chromes to come back from the lab to be sure that you really captured on film what you saw on the groundglass. Tungsten lights can be snooted, barndoored, diffused, bounced, or what have you, with the results immediately visible. Also, with the new designs on the market, this equipment is inexpensive, lightweight, and very versatile.

The accompanying picture is an example of simple, yet wisely used tungsten light. The concept was to produce a warm image of a young woman dressing for the evening, with a minimum of picture elements and props. The shot was to be done in an all white room, so the equipment had to be kept compact and portable. The “window light” effect, the gimmick in this picture, was created by an optical spotlight with a handle-made miniature cucoloris inserted into its light path to project the shape onto the model’s back. As the color temperature of this light was far less than the usual 3200 [degrees] Kelvin, I knew that the pattern would register as very yellow on tungsten balanced film, the effect I basically wanted. The overall set lighting was accomplished with photography tips nikon d3400 a single 1000 watt 3200 [degrees] K lamp, positioned to the side of the camera and bounced from the ceiling and rear wall.

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If the exposure were made on film balanced for tungsten illumination, the overall color would be reproduced as “normal,” with only the spotlight’s pattern showing as unusually warm. But shooting daylight balanced film instead, with no filtration at the camera lens, I achieved the sunset look I wanted. I made a slight change to the color of the spotlight pattern by simply placing a red acetate filter in front of it. Exposure was determined with an incident hand held meter and a couple of Polaroid type 52 test exposures, with the finished shots made on 4×5-inch Polaroid Pro Chrome Daylight Film. I made a total of five exposures, starting with my basic setting and bracketing up and down in 1/3-stop increments. A simple set, simple lighting, but a picture that both my subject and I like.

The same effect could have been produced with electronic flash, but the window pattern would have been much more difficult, especially when it came to placing it exactly where I wanted it. Also, daylight film shot by flash would have yielded normal color, and tungsten film would have come out very blue, so precise filtration at the camera lens would have been required for this effect. But most important, I would not have been able to calmly stand there, puff my pipe, and enjoy this magic light.

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