How Do You Miniaturise Light?

min010If the title seems like a fatuous question, please be patient. I am trying to think through a project that is reported on my other blog: ” Here All Week ” at The project is starting out as a modelling exercise and hopefully will progress to a whole new form of still photo work – it is the construction of a 1:12 scale theatre stage with sets and the use of the sets and actors to recreate Victorian and Edwardian theatrical and studio photos.

The sets are to be made with scale model flats and furnished with 1:12 scale model doll’s house equipment. Preliminary efforts to make plain and windowed flats are proving successful, and in some cases we may end up with reversible Hollywood-style flats so that we can get double use out of them. The decor is going to be a complex task, but at least it is made easier by the production of a great deal of 1:12 scale hobby material.

The general idea is to make and light the sets, take pictures of them from the various salient angles, and then do the same thing for live actors on a grey separation scoop. Eventually the actors are stripped into the scenery and hopefully will be realistic. When you do this you need to use the same sort of lighting angles, temperature, and intensity for both the model set as for the live actors, and that is the puzzling part. I can light the latter with what I already use – Elinchrom mono block stones with various light modifiers. The problem is to devise similar illumination for the 1:12 stage.

There are some lovely models of stages on the internet and in a few cases the mueller has gone as far as to replicate the lighting grid above the stage. I cannot be sure, but in some cases I think they are using halogen lamps and LED blocks as they are small sources. I shall have to haunt the electronics-parts shops to see if there is a ready supply of components to do this – if the circuits are not hard to follow I may be able to do the same.

Yet, the diameter of a halogen downlight is 80mm. Scaled up 12 x that is 960mm which is a lot bigger than a standard Elinchrom reflector – even the largest beauty dish I own is only 440mm diameter. Ideally, to replicate what I own at present in full-size lights, I need round lights with diameters of 15, 17.5, and 37mm. They need not be too bright as the set is not moving and I can do long exposures after dark.

There is also a very big soft box in the studio. In scale terms this will be 114mm x 152mm. I think this is do-able with a tiny soft box modifier on a speed light.

I would also like to incorporate footlights to the theatre as they were such a feature of the 19th century experience. I have three strobe footers that actually do quite a decent job for full-size studio work and I suspect that LEDs from the electronics store will also be good for this in model form.

Now all I need is actors, actresses, aspidistras ( Nothing says Victorian like an aspidistra…) and a script.


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