How to Light for Specific Camera Blocking: Master to Close-Up

Shane Hurlbut ASC offers some tips from his career for how to approach lighting a scene for camera blocking going from master shots to close ups.

“Don’t Be Afraid of Hard Light”

I believe we all have gotten a little overindulgent in the use of soft light because we think, “I want it to feel natural”; “I want it to feel like ambient light, not lit”; “I want to go with available light.” I have heard many of these descriptions. It is your job as a cinematographer to translate that into a lighting language that will deliver exactly what the director wants. His or her description doesn’t always mean soft light. What about the illusion of soft light, while you are using a harder source? Herb Ritts used hard light to his advantage in so many ways. Conrad Hall was a big hard light user as well. I love hard light just as much as I love soft. There is a time and a place for both. What hard light does is to give you lighting control on master shots.

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