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George Hurrell Hollywood Lighting with LED Lights

9/30/2016 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

Today on The Slanted Lens they are looking at the four principles George Hurrell used when creating his iconic portraits of Hollywood actors and actresses.

If you are a fan of vintage Hollywood glamour, you are probably familiar with the iconic portraits of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Greta Garbo. These portraits are known for their dramatic lighting and sophisticated style. If you've ever wanted to create your own vintage Hollywood portraits, keep reading! We will teach you the four things you need to know to take fabulous portraits that would make George Hurrell himself proud.

1. Positioning: Mastering the Light

The first principle of taking fabulous vintage Hollywood portraits is mastering the light. George Hurrell, the master of these portraits, was a genius when it came to lighting. He would position the light to get a butterfly light, Rembrandt light, or under light, depending on the effect he wanted. For instance, he would place the light in an up position to get a great butterfly light on the actress or actor's face. The butterfly light creates a small butterfly-shaped shadow under the nose, giving the face a sculpted look.

 To get a 45-degree Rembrandt light, Hurrell would place the light at a 45-degree angle to the subject, creating a triangle of light under the eye. Hurrell would also use an under light that would light the subject from below, creating a dramatic look. 

Finally, Hurrell would choose a place that would shape the face according to the different portrait positions. It's all about positioning. Remember, when a person goes into a profile, get the light around them, don't light the front anymore. When the subject turns away from the camera, bring the light way around, and when they cut back, it goes into a 45 or loop light.

2. Quality of Light: Using Hard Light

The second principle of taking fabulous vintage Hollywood portraits is using hard light. Hurrell used pretty strong, hard light to create the dramatic shadows and highlights that characterize vintage Hollywood portraits. You can get a similar look by putting a grid on your lights, which will create a narrow light. Using black wrap around the backdrop will help to narrow the light even further. By using controlled areas of light, you can get a beautiful highlight, even though the light is soft around the edges.

3. Exposure and Control

The third principle of taking fabulous vintage Hollywood portraits is exposure and control. By putting a grid on your lights, you can control the area of coverage and get less exposure. Simply set your ISO at 1240 and go to 4.0 to get a beautiful exposure. Using controlled areas of light will give you a nice, beautiful highlight, even though the light is soft around the edges. You can also use little cuts and pieces of cardboard to take away some of the brightness if it's too bright on the subject's arm. Remember, every light has an area of coverage, so roll the light around to find the edge of that area coverage. This will prevent the light from bleeding into the background or washing out other elements on set.

4. Embrace Shadows

The fourth principle of taking fabulous vintage Hollywood portraits is embracing shadows. Hurrell loved shadows and would let them live in the portrait. He believed that shadows added depth and drama to the portrait. He would put just a little bit of light on the background to separate the person from the background if the shadows started to fall into the background too much. You can create most of these shots with two lights: a key light and one light on the background to separate the person from the background. Occasionally, a little bit of hair light can be used to separate the person's hair from the background. Finally, makeup can make a huge difference, so make sure to work with a makeup artist to get the right look.

About Jay P. Morgan:

Photo Mentor photographerWith more than two decades of experience Jay P. Morgan brings to his commercial studio two special qualities: a keen appreciation of the bizarre and a knack for flawlessly executing elaborate shots. New giveaways every month!

 Connect with Jay on his  Website  | Text and images via The Slanted Lens

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