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Good/Creative Use of Flat Light


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#1 Sean Conaty

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 01:58 PM

I'm faced with a situation in that the perfect location for our story, on first look, couldn't be worse for lighting. The sun will always be behind camera and there's no landscape obstruction to even break up the light (It's a demilitarized Air Force base). Thinking about it more, embracing this harsh, frontal light may actually work well for this particular moment in the story - and potentially other scenes, as well - so I'm considering employing it throughout the film; partly so this particular scene doesn't stick out and partly as a creative choice/challenge.

I was hoping that someone might have good examples of DPs/films actually using flat - conventionally unpretty - light as a storytelling device and using this challenge effectively.

I remember a really great scene in "The Savages" where Laura Linney's character is in a hospital room talking to her father who is sitting on the bed and facing the window. some of the shots of him are from behind so he's backlit in these, but even in the reverses toward his face, this flat light looks great and really fits the story. granted, it helps that the light is coming through a window so it can be broken up/diffused somewhat.
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#2 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 09:35 PM

I'm faced with a situation in that the perfect location for our story, on first look, couldn't be worse for lighting. The sun will always be behind camera and there's no landscape obstruction to even break up the light (It's a demilitarized Air Force base).


Personally, I think this would be a perfect opportunity to use reflectors and shiny boards on the sides to model that ugly frontal light you are talking about. I am a big fan of reflective surfaces for filming. I can't think of any specific movies that have frontal light all the way through but my first instinct would be to use the shiny boards to give the light some depth so that the entire movie doesn't have the same frontal light look. Just my preference of course . . .
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 11:07 PM

Just because the sun is behind camera doesn't mean it has to be flat. Maybe it's got to be flat in the wide shot, but a silk and a shinyboard or two later your mediums and singles have nice contrast.
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