Lighting with Too much Available Light

The problem: 

We were shooting in an office that structurally was great, and had great colors for the walls, but there was way too much Available light.  

The office was surrounded by windows 15 feet off the ground, and flouros from the ceiling that wouldn’t turn off.  At our location scout we’d overestimated how much of it we could block out.  

Thus, on the day of shooting I:

1. Setup a low ISO (from memory 160)

2. Start to setup my overly complex three point lighting design

I fiddled, and tweaked trying to get the right balance of enough fill light, whilst still suggesting a “Dark” side to the film.  But eventually I decided it was all too much. Thus I…

3.  Turned off all the lights

4.  Upped my ISO to a spot where the ambient light was underexposing the image by approximately 1 stop

5. Used a Dedo as an eyelight.

PRESTO!  That’s kindof the look I want!  There’s some blacks in the image, his eye pops, you can feel a KEYLIGHT coming from Screen Right (if you look at the nose shadow).  

….however, it’s still missing something.  

There’s no motivation for the light sources.  We can feel the light coming from the right side of the shot, but we can’t see any suggestions of where it is.  

That’s when I drew inspiration from something I saw one day in a hotel room….

If you ignore the beams of hard light, this is actually quite a dull image.  Remove those hotspots and this photo would be underexposed.  

So, with a bit of cardboard and a stanley knife, I rigged up a cutter, and thus, we have the shot as it appears in the film…

Now, we have a motivation for the Keylight (or the eyelight).  As an added bonus the image has a bit more contrast to it, and bit more tonal variation in an otherwise boring flat color.