So, I have not been in the habit of using a Captcha application on this blog to make sure that commenters are human. This means that my comment stream has a tendency to pick up bot-spam. No worries, I still have to ‘approve’ messages before they are posted, and it’s not really so widespread that it’s a huge problem. What I do have is a big inbox full of comments waiting to be approved. I think the bots need to go back to general grammar school. Reprinted here are some of my favorites:
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Always read your rehearsal reports. You never know when this kind of stuff will show up.
96. Jesus may re-enter as ‘fat Jesus’. Can there be a discussion about this in the next few days?
74. Can Sally’s disembodied head be turned into a puppet so that it can sing?
364. A remote controlled whoopee cushion has been added. This prop has been provided by the actor.
359. The Brownie’s fangs can be cut.
90. PK worked with cast members on hair pulls, strangles, kicking, as well as whip training.
188. Would it be possible to place a handle on the inside of the Turkish Bath door, somewhere near the middle of the door, in order to allow it to be easily pulled shit from the inside?
296. We are estimating that we will use three starlight mints per night as the Hunchback’s teeth.
15. Auditions went smoothly this weekend, several people came out.
I am falling behind on posting these photos, but I’m doing pretty well at keeping up on taking them (most days)- here are a few
January 19, 2012
A daytime shot of a sunny morning shining through the leaves of thick foliage.
January 20, 2012
For some reason, I am fascinated with the perspective view of hallways and fluorescent lights.
January 21, 2012
My first South Carolina thunderstorm.
January 22, 2012
(Mulligan: More shots from the thunderstorm last night)
Pouring rain on wet pavement in the light of an amber streetlamp.
January 23, 2012
(Mulligan: did I really miss two days in a row? I suck at this.)
On a rainy night, a car passes an open camera shutter.
January 24, 2012
2012 photo of bedroom ceiling fan #2. Probably by the end of the year, I'll have enough for a book of ceiling fan photos.
January 25, 2012
A fountain on the College of Charleston's campus. Bright lights from below highlight the textures well.
January 26, 2012
Morning sun, a tree, and a cell-phone camera. Dig it.
January 27, 2012
I have not rotated this photo on purpose. This photo will become a set design someday- for something. I call dibs on the lighting as well.
January 28, 2012
(Mulligan, but I’m glad I didn’t take one on 1/28 in order for me to show this very cool shot I took the day before)
I pass this contemporary art every day. The way that the setting sun shone through the windows on this day really struck me.
January 29, 2012
My father-in-law Don walking up Folly Beach. I don't have very many daytime photos in this series. This is a good example of a strong directional source (coming from the right side of the photo), while the whole scene is well lit due to the bright clear day.
January 30, 2012
(Mulligan. This moon actually appeared over South Carolina on January 26)
I'm told that this sliver of a crescent moon is seen everywhere. But only South Carolina has it on its flag. The night before it was even slivery-er. No camera. Fail.
January 31, 2012
(Mulligan- back to Paris for just a second)
From Centre Pompideau on January 1. An exhibit that I threw out of focus. Once the details are de-emphasized look how the focus of the hanging lighting stands out.
February 1, 2012
This is on the top of my parking structure. I think it is to help guide ships into Charleston Harbor. Or it is Sauron's Eye.
February 2, 2012
Happy Groundhog’s Day. No picture of a groundhog, but if this is what winter is like, I’d be happy for it to hang around for a little while.
In some ways, Groundhog’s Day is the height of the year for lighting designers. It’s a holiday that centers around a shadow… I’ve never thought about it in that way before.
A detail of my lampshade. Not a real Tiffany & Co.
February 3, 2012
The iPod is the light source. The face of the microwave becomes a reflective surface. The old-school Tigers logo is a bonus.
February 4, 2012
During a focus session for "Hush: An Interview with America" at College of Charleston. Pictured is lighting designer Hannah Strickland.
February 5, 2012
A photo session with a guitar and a clip light. Look at those strings shine!
All in all, a successful month of January. I’m pleased with the light and shadow that I’ve been able to capture. 1/12 of my project is done. A few days missed, a few crappy pictures, and that will not likely change.
Almost forgot this day, so this photo was taken at the 11th hour (literally) through my blinds. It's a streetlamp in my parking lot.
Morning sun shining on the concrete beams in my parking structure.
Looking back towards the setting sun just a short time before it dropped behind the horizon. Very pretty sky this day. I wasn't quite in the car yet, and a good thing- this is a pretty treacherous road driving into the sun at this time of day. What the picture loses is the color in the street sign, which the camera leaves just in shadow. The eye is still the best camera...
LED sidelight, and one of my favorite items to light- an A-Frame ladder. Cooler in toplight, but there you go.
Love all the lighting in this restaurant. Cool fixtures, and an old-school flashing arrow sign. This crappy pic from my phone, which apparently does not do night work well, does not do it justice. 365 photos, there are going to be some stinkers. I'll have to go back with my real camera- an excuse for another great calzone.
Mulligan #2. Sorry January 14- missed you. That means that I drop in the first photo that I didn't take. This is from my daughter who is becoming quite a photographer herself during her year in France. Streetlights in the fog- very cool. Not to mention the pink in the windows to the right. Good stuff. Thanks Molly!
My phone camera doesn't take very good night pictures, but it's always cool to see the 'sparkle' it gives to fixtures.
The College of Charleston Cistern yard. Hundred year old oaks and Spanish moss- and lots of cool architectural lighting. More coming tomorrow...
The camera phone image from last night doesn't really do justice to how cool the architectural lighting is in the Cistern yard, so I went back the next night with the real camera to catch this image of Randolph Hall.
My students in Stage Lighting at College of Charleston are required to write short journal entries at various points during the semester in order for them to look at light in a way that they perhaps have not before. I promised my class this semester that I would participate in this activity (perhaps with the intention of getting them to actually drop by the blog once in a while). One is due tomorrow, so I best get my homework done.
This photo was taken while I was on a walk across campus the other day. It was a nice, clear, sunny day, resulting in sharp shadow-play from the lamppost and tree. This is a good example of the shadows thrown off by a single light source (in this case, the king of all single-source lights: the sun). The contrast here that I’d like to point out is between the shadows cast by the lamppost and the branches of the unseen tree. The lamppost is reproduced sharply on the pavement- the shape of the lamp is very detailed, and very clear. Here is a detail:
However, despite the clarity that the shadow of the lamppost gives, the branches are much fuzzier. The light source is the same- so why do the shadows not share the same clarity? The difference between these items is not the light source, but the distance that the surrounding light travels between the point at which it is blocked by the opaque object and the point that it lands on the pavement next to the shadow. The branches are much farther away from the pavement than the lamppost is. What difference does this make? The answer to this conundrum lies in that which the light passes through.
Light bounces around everywhere. Anything that gets in the way of light causes it to bounce off in a different direction. That’s why objects appear brighter when a light is shined at it- the light is being reflected off of that object and towards our eye. Notice the highlights that help to shape the lamppost in our eyes:
All those bright white parts are where the most light is being reflected (bounced) directly back towards the camera’s lens. The same thing is happening more subtly in the air between the tree branches and the pavement. Light is bouncing off of particles in the air- dust, gas, all kinds of stuff- and part of where that light bounces is into where the cast shadow of the branches land on the pavement, slightly brightening up those areas of the brick. For what it’s worth, this phenomenon is happening between the lamppost and the pavement too, but because there is less distance between the lamppost and the pavement than there is between the branches and the pavement (and therefore less air), it is much less noticeable, and less of that light is reflecting back into where the cast shadow lands- leaving us a much clearer image of the outline of the lamppost than that of the tree branches.
Some photos from my holiday trip to France will get this party started:
JANUARY 1, 2012
CENTRE POMPIDOU, PARIS FRANCE
Contemporary art exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. My apologies to the artist, the name of whom I sadly did not record.
JANUARY 2, 2012
CHAMPS ÉLYSÉES, FROM THE TOP OF THE ARC DE TRIOMPH
Christmas decorations, plus headlights and brakelights on the Champs-Elysees
A detail of the shot- it's the French National Flag!
JANUARY 3, 2012
(Mulligan number 1)
THE EIFFEL TOWER, FROM THE TOP OF THE ARC DE TRIOMPH
The first mulligan (first of many, I’m sure). I was traveling all day on January 3rd, and failed to take even a single photo. That allows me to double up on our trip to the top of the Arc De Triomph
The Eiffel Tower is all lit up in amber light (mounted inside the tower), and on the hour it 'sparkles' with hundreds of strobe lights. This photo is a little blurry- it's windy up there- but you get the idea. Very pretty stuff.
JANUARY 4, 2012
DAWN AT DULLES
The sky was very pretty at 7am as the sun was rising over Dulles Airport near Washington DC. The photo hardly captures it.
JANUARY 5, 2012
Don't look at the sun! This is a shot of the afternoon sun shining through the translucent window shade in my office. The bit at the bottom of the frame is the roof of the building across the street from me.
JANUARY 6, 2012
MOTHER EMANUEL AME CHURCH, CHARLESTON SC
Neat shadowplay on this gate in the morning sunlight.
JANUARY 7, 2012
CEILING FAN, OR MY NEW PHONE
I just got a new phone with what I hope is a relatively decent phone camera. This was one of a handful of shots I took, just to check out the possibilities. We'll see how it goes.
JANUARY 8, 2012
I have been trying to capture this image for quite some time- no wind tonight, so I could finally get a shot of this lamp surrounded by vegetation and Spanish Moss without blurring.
I have seen some of the Photo365 projects out there, in which photographers go out and take a photo a day for a year. I would like to do my own version, and with the New Year coming up, it seems like a good time to start. In the spirit of the focus of this blog, my version of Photo365 will center on light and lighting. There is so much interesting light out there, that I will have no trouble with subject matter… just with remembering to pack my camera. Maybe a new and better camera phone is in order.
I’ll look at natural light, theatrical light, lighting fixtures, sky, sun, shadow, darkness— whatever seems to jump out at me that day.
While I’m not going to begin officially until January 1, 2012, I have taken a couple ‘practice shots’ over the last couple days, so as a matter of introduction, here they are:
December 10, 2011: Charleston SC--Here's a shot taken outside of my apartment building. I love the cloudy sky obscuring the moonlight set up against the electric streetlamp.
December 8, 2011. College of Charleston, Charleston SC. From a photo session with my drafting lamp. I spent some time experimenting with various exposure settings and angles. The light source is a fluorescent tube.
Here are some ideas that I will address in this blog in the nearish future:
Grey Light- The script calls for a cloudy day. There’s no such thing as Grey light. What do we do?
Development of the Lighting Design- Lead, Follow or Get the hell out of the way?
Emotion of Light- A book put out by the Philips group, that I hope to get at and read soon.
Paris and the New Year
Architectural Lighting of Major City Skylines: inspired by my nighttime trip through Charlotte, NC
One of the basic tools of lighting is color. When we use color, we are on a continuum from deep saturated hues to the catchall “No Color” designation. When we design big flashy musicals, or high concept abstract pieces, the use of saturated color is wholly appropriate. For example, see some of these production shots:
"Almost, Maine" College of Charleston, 2011
"Reefer Madness" University of Iowa, 2009
"Lost Sharks" by Kevin Artigue, University of Iowa Gallery Series, 2009
In many ways, this kind of stuff is what a color-loving designer like me lives for. But ignoring the other end of the continuum does a disservice to a huge sector of so-called “realistic” production. Is the answer then, when we present Shaw or O’Neill or Chekhov, to plot the lights with “NC” in the color column? While going naked in the gel frame is sometimes the right choice for a production (I’ve made this choice many times to great effect), it is important to realize that it is still a color choice.
Check out this ad which has been playing on television a lot lately.
What is really striking about this ad are the vastly different definitions of ‘white light’ in the various sections of the ad. During the first nine seconds of the minute long piece we go from a straw color in the opening shot (Image #1), almost immediately to a pink-hued key from the window in the left of the frame, and then, with a switch off of the light, to a pretty lavender dominant fill look (while also pulling the key light from the left to the right of the frame for the first time- check out the very ‘blue’ white light of the practical in the far right of the frame versus the much warmer amber practical in the middle of the frame of shot #3)- Try to ignore the sloppy cueing of the lightswitch shift and pay attention specifically to the color change- that’s a topic for another blog entry:
Image 1: Opening shot- straw colored key
Image 2: shift to pink from window
Image 3: Lightswitch out, shift key to practicals from right, dominant lavender fill
Not to be left out, the ad then shifts to a series of greenish tints, including a cyan backlight in image #4.
Image 4: Cyan glow from the kitchen
In theatrical lighting, it has become common to use CTB (Color Temperature Blue) color correction to present no color ‘daylight’, and the ad gives us a glimpse of that as well (Image #5, keying from the window), but only a glimpse as we shift quickly to the first outdoor scene of the ad (Image #6), pushed significantly to the amber realm of the spectrum, but a different amber than we’ve experienced in the minute so far. This is an emotional color shift that helps to reflect the ‘autumn of life’ punctuation of the ad itself.
Image 5: "Daylight Blue"
Image 6: The warm amber autumn of life
So, going into a project in which “color isn’t important”, keep in mind the full spectrum of “white” light, and make your choices accordingly!