Thursday, January 18, 2018

Lighting For Video Just Got Easier – My New Model Works Cheap, Doesn’t Complain or Talk Back

Meet Bridget – my new “model”

Testing my lighting for video setup just got easier…and quieter.

I got tired of asking Kim to come down to my basement studio and sit in as a model while I fiddle around with my new lighting system. After all, she has work to do and I have so many options with this new lighting kit that I know she’ll run out of patience long before I run out of ideas.

So… like many a lonesome lover, I went online to find my ummm, girl? I looked in the local Craigslist and ebay and discovered something called cosmetology mannequin heads. Of course, being an oafish male I had no idea these things existed, but they are perfect stand-ins while a photographer sets up lights.

Apparently you can get them bald or with hair. If you get one without hair you add wigs to get your chops up (pun intended) on hair styling. Mine has hair built in and it looks like the owner failed her cosmetology lessons because it has a really bad haircut. It would look OK on a medieval celtic warrior who cut his hair with a sword.

Anyway, I got “Bridget” for about $5 on ebay. She has everything a photographer could want: high cheekbones, a nice pointy nose, strawberry blonde hair and a strong chin. These features are great for creating and manipulating or eliminating shadows with creative lighting. I can experiment all day long and she won’t complain; her lips are sealed.

I startled myself a couple of times at first when I set Bridget’s head on the counter next to my computer and then glanced over to see her staring at me. There is a slight creepiness about it so when I put her head on a light stand in my studio I added an old bathrobe of Kim’s to create a body. Otherwise it reminded me too much of a head on a pike, like something Ghengis Khan might have done. I chose the busy black and white print because it’ll be great to focus on and test both my lens’ ability to resolve detail and give me a good contrast range.

Finding a mannequin head or a mannequin comes in especially handy if you are going to be the shooter and well as the on-camera talent. That way, you can see how your lighting will look before you press record. (You are adding lighting for your videos, either natural light via windows or the outdoors or through lamps or other lights, aren’t you? You should be.) You can also find find these used at cheap prices at your Goodwill, Craigslist, or a clothing store liquidation sale. You might even call your local cosmetology school. It doesn’t just have to be female either.

Now I can have my lights set up before my talent (usually Kim and me) arrive in the studio, making shooting far less of a hassle.

I’ll put Bridget to work in my videos on studio lighting for video in the upcoming Special Interest Video Academy, so stay tuned for news about that.

Oh, and a final warning if you do this. I forgot I had her set up in my studio and walked in today, turned on the lights and almost had to change my clothes.


2 Responses to “Lighting For Video Just Got Easier – My New Model Works Cheap, Doesn’t Complain or Talk Back”
  1. Art Speck says:

    Brilliant Rick. Laura has a dressmakers dummy in the loft, I will have to search Ebay for a head, then I can have some fun like you guys.


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  1. […] find you’re faced with a challenging shot or a special request from your talent or you just don’t have what you need on hand. Rather than miss the opportunity to shoot, you’ve got to do some creative video problem […]


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