Lighting Task

The Potato Eaters an oil painting by Vicent Van Gogh made in 1885 gives us an insight on past lives we would have never experienced otherwise. Almost like a piece of historic evidence illustrated in stone.

This was one of our tasks leading us into our final piece and what this focused on was lighting, creating a scene illustrating the photograph. In order to make a satisfying project   we needed to have an understanding on what the image was about. At first glance, I thought it was a poor family breaking bread with ragged clothes. As soon as we found out the name for the image ‘The potato eaters’ it obviously changed our initial idea.

I didn’t know what Van Gogh was referring to so I looked into it. On the Van Gogh museum’s website from his hometown, it explained why it was named Potato eaters and the reason for the choice of colours

 “He painted the five figures in earth colours – ‘something like the colour of a really dusty potato, unpeeled of course’”

It really made us consider the lighting as it affects the connotation of our film, Van Gogh thought about how dark dirty earthy colours would highlight the peasants lifestyle in the countryside and really emphasises how the majority of the society felt about poorer people.

What was extremely important for us was location, it sets the scene and gives a sense authenticity. Especially because we couldn’t get the costumes and we didn’t want to modernise the image too much.  As a group, we went on a location scout and the perfect location was the pub “The white Friars” who claim to be the oldest building in Coventry.

The beams remind me of the painting, it framed the image nicely

Van Goghs fictional biography says he was ‘A painter of genius, his life was an incessant struggle against poverty, discouragement, madness and despair.’ 

It made me feel as if somehow he has reflected his own life experiences like his struggle against poverty in his own art, especially in ‘The potato eaters’ probably the reasoning for his accomplishments in gaining positive reviews is because he’s sensed the feeling before and was able to portray it in the art.

Technically we needed to get lighting right in order of having a satisfactory body of work but there was a small issue, this is an old building so there went any plug sockets around. Luckily I went and inspected the location twice before so I was aware so when it came to the day we use the Battery powered LED panels. We filmed on a 5D because it is better in low light compared to the 700d. Lastly, we used a slider to emphasise certain actions. For

Lastly, we used a slider to emphasise certain actions. For example, our interpretation of the story was that the men in the room had respect for the female providing the food but every time she left the room the would fight with each other but when she would come back everything would be silent. This happened a few times and the slider would move with the female so it was kind of like we were viewing the situation from her point of view.

The lighting was dark for effect but it meant on the shooting day we didn’t realise that the slider was in shot. Even the Editor didn’t notice this but once you point it out then you realise. I am planning to mask it out in future but because we didn’t have time we presented it to the class how it was and funnily enough nobody noticed.

Props were important but we also had to think about budget, I bought candles because not only are they a useful light source on camera but they fit in with the era in time our film and the painting was set. Also for the feast we used a loaf of bread, it was really important to the extent where the audience needs to know what it is but it definitely adds authenticity.



The Potato Eaters. Available: Last accessed 2016.

Irving Stone (1990). Lust of Life. ,: Arrow. 601.


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