“So it’s the image you have in your head; that’s more important than the technique if that makes sense….”
In this article, Roger Deakins gives us his perspective on how he learned to light. He will also provide us with advice on how to master this art of lighting.
This is an excerpt from the podcast of the same title, Episode 9, on the Team Deakins Podcast channel. For more details, I recommend that you listen to the entire podcast on the listening platforms that suit you. This is a conversation between Roger Deakins and his wife, James Deakins. Let’s Go!
How To Learn The Basics of Lighting?
Roger Deakins: “It’s a really difficult question, isn’t it? Technically you think about traditional lighting, and I think a lot of people still look at lighting this way: Front, light key light backlight, feel like kicker light, you know, but that’s not really, that’s not really the essence of lighting. That’s the way of creating an image that you have in your head.
So it’s the image you have in your head; that’s more important than the technique if that makes sense. I think the only way you really learn lighting is by experiencing light and life and the possibilities and the variations, and the new arts of what light does really.”
James Deakins: “Basically looking around and just what you’re seeing, what, where is the light coming from? What is it doing? How am I reacting to the light? Because I think it’s important that, you know, what you like, what you don’t like, or what to you portrays anxiety or whatever.”
Roger Deakins: “I remember what I was a kid. I suspend a lot of my time fishing and you know when you’re fishing you’re watching a float or you just staring at the weather you know you know to watch the dorm come up, you watch the clouds, come in your watch the changes the sun on the ocean you know that you look at the different quality of light when a cloudy day and a sunny day in a patchwork cloud day and the wind coming in and the way it reflects on the water when the waters rough or calm, or mirror calm or, you know, it’s I wouldn’t say everybody should go fishing to learn what light. But, you know, it’s looking around, it’s being aware of where those things are different. And as you say the difference, some days would feel ominous. And some days would feel sparkling and that wasn’t just my mood. It was just created by that kind of light. The feel of the light, it’s how that works on your mind. So I think to really understand light and be able to light, you have to understand how it makes you feel.”
James Deakins: “It’s also important to know how you respond to light”.
Roger Deakins: “Yeah, well, that’s what I’m saying. Really about the nature of light on the day to day basis, when you when I was fishing, you know, just the different moods that are created by light and wind and nature but I’m just looking around here and the different coins of light that I see just within this room and outside the window and the hard sunlight and the way it’s bouncing and the different moods within 180 degrees span of this room, you know,”
James Deakins: “And once you’ve been doing this you can also at home, just take a regular lamp and a practical lamp and move it around and take pictures and see what the changes are by the direction of the light by how much light you put on and all of that?
Roger Deakins: “Again it was more difficult when you did when you had to do things on film. But you can still just use your eyes. You don’t have to take a picture, the idea of just having a bare bulb and anybody can have a bare bulb, you’re gonna have a practical lamp, take the shade off and just use the bare bulb, and then get different kinds of diffusions, or different kinds of materials to put in front of it. And just, yes, as you say, move it around. That was somebody, a friend, something sitting in a chair in front of you, moving it around, seeing what that light does. You can bounce it. You can block one side of the bulb and use the other side to bounce off some material. So, you know, it’s not gonna necessarily give you a lot of light unless you’ve got a very bright bulb, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just you look at it with that quality of light on a face or on an object.”
If you want to listen to the whole podcast it is available on all streaming platforms. Just type in Team Deakins and you’ll see.
What do you think about this advice given by Roger Deakins?!