Fresnel stage light - vintage: is it worth keeping in a modern photo studio?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
Bobby Deal
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Re: Fresnel stage light - vintage: is it worth keeping in a modern photo studio?
In reply to shpongle, 2 months ago

shpongle wrote:

I found his website so now I have his contact information

Hi, thanks for reaching out to me. While I love shooting old Hollywood style portraiture and do a fair amount of it I currently have a full set of Strand and Mole Richardson Fresnels so would have no personal need for this unit.

I am unfamiliar with this particular brand but it seems quite functional. The quality of light from a fresnel lens is quite unique in that the transfer edge between highlight and shadow carries a unque translucency that simply can not be replicated with strobes.
Using a Fresnel light with models is a unique situation in that the light is powerful and can be hard on the models eyes. Typically the light is positioned at a more oblique angle than a strobe and most always is heavily feathered across the subject which helps to lessen the impact on the eyes. When shooting old Hollywood style work I work in short shifts with the subject to further reduce the impact on her. The strong directional qualities of this type of light require great attention to detail and the need to reset the lights (typically 3-5 units per shot) with each new pose. A small shift in position of the nose or chin can result in poorly balanced lighting and incongruity of shadows which can be quite destructive to what would be an otherwise wonderful portrait.
The value of this light in the USA is likely under $100 US and replacement bulbs should be readily available. Simply opening the lens face should reveal the bulb. If it does not screw in then it will either have a twist lock base which requires you push down then twist the base counter clockwise to release or it will be a strait plug in base with dual pins which should pull straight up to release though there may ba a lock that needs to be released in order to remove the bulb. Once removed you should be able to order replacement bulbs by searching the base and wattage.
In the hands of someone motivated to emulate the lighting styles of the 1920-1940's in Hollywood portraiture these lights can produce stunning results despite the physical limitations and challenges of working with them.
Here is some work I have created in the past with similar lights

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