DIY BEAUTY LIGHTING

A couple of months ago I was on a plane watching "No Country For Old Men" for the first time. The audio was terrible through those headphones and the highly compressed, 4:3 image in front of me was pretty hard to watch...but, I was glued the whole time. I recently hired it and watched it again at home and enjoyed it even more. It's easily in my top 5 favorite films. Roger Deakins, the Coen Brothers and their amazing cast and crew have created a masterpiece! Whenever I watch films these days, it's actually difficult for me to switch off my analytical mind and just enjoy the story....cinema's help, but I'm always wondering..."how the heck did they light that?". The beauty of watching a DVD or Bluray is that often they come bundled with behind the scenes footage, which can sometimes give you a glimpse into the magic that goes into lighting a Hollywood feature film. "No Country for Old Men" has some great special features but sadly, there is ZERO content regarding Mr. Deakins and his work. There are however, some 2 second shots that reveal enough...if you look carefully and are quick with the pause button hehe :)

One thing I noticed, or at least think I have, is that many of the shots were lit with one MASSIVE soft light source (amongst other lights). I managed to pause the making of one shot (the hand-cuff strangle 00:45), and I saw what appeared to be a high intensity tungsten light behind thrown into a corner, which was then diffused by a huge bed sheet. The setup looked DIY but the results looked amazing...this got me thinking. The next day I drove to my local hardware store and purchased 2 x double 500w "workers lights". That equates to 1000Watts of light for $50. Pretty good deal! Next up I drove to the super-market and got 30meters of silver foil for $5. I then drove to a HiFi shop, parked out the back and went through their trash looking for a large flat box from an LCD TV....got one :) 

Behold....THE MOTHER REFLECTOR!!

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"The Mother Reflector" is something I've been meaning to make for a while now....so awesome and so cheap. It even folds up to fit in the car! I'll be using this a lot, especially out doors. But anyway, for this experiment I was using it as my reflective  "wall" to bounce my worker's lights off. From there, even though the bounced light was already soft, I had to soften it even more and disperse its intensity. A bed sheet did the trick nicely :)

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So, as you can see, my experiment looks NOTHING like No Country For Old Men hehe ;) But the idea of creating your own beauty light/massive soft source, is quite simple! A gentle back light slightly camera-left and some soft fill from a reflector on the same side to even out the face is all it took finish it off! The reflector also adds some nice catch lights for the eyes. See below for a detailed diagram :)

It's one thing to have ideas but it's another thing to have someone who is willing to participate and help you bring those ideas to life. My girlfriend, Laura McCann is the most beautiful person I've ever met. Her warmth, massive heart and caring nature FAR outweigh the beauty you see here, but damn, she's HOT too hehe :) She's also the best model I've ever worked with. Who's the luckiest guy on earth? I am.

Here's another shot where I let the spill of the lights hit the back wall (sans black sheet)...same setup, but TOTALLY different look. I love them both :)

For more lighting setups, check out the LIGHTING section at the top of this page :)

Posted on March 11, 2013 .