Author Topic: A must read for everyone interested in getting better at lighting  (Read 3320 times)

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Offline Esben Oxholm

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Hi all!

In my opinion this is a must read for everyone interested in getting better at lighting scenes and products.
It is a quote by a danish architect, urban planner, professor and author Steen Eiler Rasmussen.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steen_Eiler_Rasmussen)

What I love about it is that it is so short, but still manages to describe very precisely the thoughts that I think every rendering artist should have when lighting their scene. Enjoy:

“Before going further, it would be well to explain what I mean by “an excellent light.” It is necessary because to most people a good light means only much light. If we do not see a thing well enough we simply demand more light. And very often we find that it does not help because the quantity of light is not nearly as important as its quality.
   Let us imagine that we are looking at a projecting corner formed by the meeting of two white planes. If the two planes are evenly illuminated from sources that can be controlled, the light can be se regulated that the two sides will look equally light. When this happens the edge of the corner can no longer be observed by the eye. You may still recognize it because you can see where the two planes intersect other planes. But you will have lost an essential means of seeing that there is a corner. It will not help to increase the light if it is increased equally on both sides. But if the light on one of the sides is reduced so that there will be a decided difference in the lighting of the two planes, the corner will clearly emerge even if the total intensity of light has now become lower.
   From this it should be clear why a “front light” is generally a poor light. When light falls on a relief at almost a right angle, there will be a minimum of shadow and therefore of plastic effect. The textural effects will also be poor, simply because perception of texture depends on minute differences in relief. If the object is moved from front light to a place where light falls on it from the side, it will be possible to find a spot which gives a particularly good impression both of relief and of texture. A good photographer will continue to experiment until he finds exactly the right light for his subject. If the lighted parts are too light the form on that side is killed, and if the parts in shadow are too dark no form will be seen there. Therefore he chooses a light which gives many variations, from the brightest highlight to the deepest shadow, variations which bring out the true plasticity of every rounded part. He arranges for a suitable amount of reflected lights among the shadows to obtain relief there also. When he finally has adjusted the light so that it gives a completely plastic picture of spots, he says that his picture is well lighted.”

 - Steen Eiler Rasmussen, Experiencing Architecture, p. 189-190

Have a great weekend!

Offline mattjgerard

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Re: A must read for everyone interested in getting better at lighting
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2017, 06:05:45 am »
That's a great quote, very true. I learned that very theory from an old german dude I used to play hockey with. He was about 5' tall, 125lbs with his gear on, and could out skate any of us. At 78 years old,  he was very graceful on the ice. He was also an avid astronomer. He was gracious enough to give me one of his old large mirror reflector telescopes he didn't use anymore, knowing i would use it with my kids. But he told me to not bother looking at a full moon, it would be very boring and flat, not detail. Wait for a 3/4 or 1/2 moon. Much better, more impressive, much more detail.

So, the next night was a full moon, and it was (for me) neat to look at, the kids loved it, all was good. couple weeks later at the 1/2 moon, I set it up again, and wow. The difference was similar to that of standard def vs high def TV. so crisp and clear were the details it was amazing.

Thanks for sharing, its stuff like this that help us take renders to the next level.

Offline Esben Oxholm

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Re: A must read for everyone interested in getting better at lighting
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2017, 10:03:04 am »
Ha, that is a great story, Matt.
Thanks for sharing.

Have never thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense :)

Offline LayC42

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Re: A must read for everyone interested in getting better at lighting
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2017, 11:54:51 pm »
Thank you both for sharing this ideas and thoughts.

Offline DetroitVinylRob

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Re: A must read for everyone interested in getting better at lighting
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2017, 06:27:54 am »
Again, I applaud you Esben Oxholm for bring to light another fine point of our rendering craft. (pun intended) Thank you