Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens we’re looking at the four principles George Hurrell used when creating his iconic portraits of Hollywood actors and actresses. And we’re using LED lights to do it.
George Hurrell was the master of vintage Hollywood portraits. He sculpted their faces and really made them look fabulous. I wanted to see if I could get the same look using LED lights and our model, Jana Krumholtz. I’m pretty happy with how these turned out.
- Positioning. Hurrell didn’t just throw the light up and start shooting. You’ve got to position the lights correctly. You’ll choose a place that shapes the face according to the different portrait positions. It’s got to be up. You can try above the camera or on the side. If the model turns her head you’ll follow with the light. It’s all about the shadows in this type of lighting. Hurrell had wonderful shadows in his portraits.
- Quality of Light. Hurrell used strong, hard light. I can get that same look with my Vector lights from Rosco by putting a grid on the front of them. I also added a black wrap to the backdrop light to narrow the focus and make it hard and very defined.
- Exposure and Control. I’m going to take my vectors and use that grid to choke down the area of coverage but it’s also going to bring the exposure down. So I hike up my ISO and open up my aperture. I use controlled areas of light so I get a beautiful highlight. I did use a lot of little pieces of cardboard as flags so I could really help control that light anywhere I needed it on Jana.
- Shadows. You have to be ok with shadows. Hurrell loved shadows. If the subjects started to go too dark he’d add a background light to separate give the person some definition. Occasionally you also want a hair light for a bit more separation.
Makeup is also very important in these portraits. Those red lips go dark and look fabulous in black and white. Get some eyelashes, they create interesting shadows across the model’s face. This type of lighting goes very well with dramatic makeup. Teri Groves, over at Makeup Magick, did a fabulous job on Jana.
So get out there and make your own classic Hollywood style portraits! Post them on our Facebook community page!