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Exposing for the shadows


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#1 realfilm

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 01:24 PM

When I read "exposing for the shadows" in some cine article, I'm not completely sure what that means in practical terms. Can someone explain it and give an example of how they did it and why?

Thanks!
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#2 Filip Plesha

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 04:57 PM

Metering from shadows.
Not literally deep dark shadows, but reather second-priority light. Like fill light with artificial light, or skylight in sunny exteriors.

So if you shoot a man lit by sun, you are going to meter of his other cheek (which is not in the direct line of sun) that is lit by the sky. That basically overexposed the key light (sun in this case), but the negative can handle it and you get more shadow detail.

If you take a look at the movies, that is done quite often, rarely you see an exterior shot where the sunlit parts are "regular" in density (appear as midtones). Most of the time you get the shadow side of face to be the midtones in the print, and the sunny part is slightly overexposed (depending on the latitude of the film)


I really never do that in photography. I always expose for the main light, wheather shooting slides or negatives.
I guess I like images that start from highlights (which appear as midtones) and get reduced to shadows as oposed to images that start
from midtones and get burned out into highlights.
In other words, I prefer crushed shadows to blown out highlights. The reason is I can't find films that blow out pretty anymore. Since films are more linear today, they blow out differently than they used to. (the shoulder is smaller)
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#3 Dominic Case

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 05:27 PM

"Expose for the shadows, print for the highlights".

It's really an old term from still photography. The idea is to ensure that even the darkest shadows that you want any detail in, are exposed enough to register that detail on the negative. There is enough exposure range in most negative stocks for the highlights to take care of themselves further up the characteristic curve.

Of course exposing for the shadows in a lit scene is a combination of setting your aperture and controlling your lighting ratio.

As long as you have shadow detail in the neg, you can capture it in the print if you want to. But when making the print you give just enough exposure to show tone in the brightest highlights - and the shadows fill fall into place.

Both for neg and for print, it is the toe of the curve (shadows in the neg, highlights in the print) that are the most critical to place correctly.
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#4 Filip Plesha

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 05:42 PM

With older films, underexposure used to be quite a nasty thing. The image would be very grainy, the shadows would get a heavy color cast, usually to brown, and the image would be low in contrast, due to the reduced "local" gamma of the toe.

That seems to have changed over the years, and Lost in Translation is a good example of that. Someone said in the other thread they rated the film at 1200, which is quite a bit of underexposure, and aside from the grain, the image looked quite good, which proves that modern MP films have a more "domesticated", mild toe of the curve as oposed to the old "wild" toe (lol, that sounds stupid) and more underexposure latitude.
Which means exposing for shadows isn't as cruitial as it used to be.
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#5 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 08:38 PM

Someone said in the other thread they rated the film at 1200


Usually, it means that they would have push processed as well... It's not like underexposing only...
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#6 Filip Plesha

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 08:52 PM

Usually, it means that they would have push processed as well... It's not like underexposing only...


In the interview, The DP said that he thinks the stock is actually faster than 500ISO, that's why he rated it at such ISO. I don't think they pushed it. Otherwise why would he said that it's faster than 500? If it's faster, then why push? Of course I don't think it really is faster, but in the limits of his personal tolerance it can be considered to have over 1000ISO
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#7 Travis Cline

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 09:55 PM

Like Dominic says it comes from still photography. If you are shooting stills, especially large format, where you only shoot one frame at a time you have control over developing each photo seperately. For instance, you are taking a picture that you don't have much control over, say a day ext., you expose so that you will have all the shadow detail that you want. Then in development you can change the density of your highlights by push developing or pull developing. Either by developing longer or shorter respectively or increasing temperature(not a great idea). When you change your developing time it effects the highlights, but leaves the shadows the way you exposed them. Now, obviously this is not extremely feasible with motion picture since we take thousands of pictures, but when with any negative film it is "better" to overexpose, meaning you have all the detail you want in your shadows, and then pull the image down in post to make it the way you want. Neg handles overexposure much better than underexposure, unless of course underexposure gives you the look you want. Overexposing to be "safe" only goes so far, because as you overexpose and then pull your image down you increase your contrast. Anyway, that's more than you asked for, sorry.

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#8 Filip Plesha

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 07:49 AM

pull your image down you increase your contrast


decrease
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#9 Laurent Andrieux

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 04:31 PM

In the interview, The DP said that he thinks the stock is actually faster than 500ISO, that's why he rated it at such ISO. I don't think they pushed it. Otherwise why would he said that it's faster than 500? If it's faster, then why push? Of course I don't think it really is faster, but in the limits of his personal tolerance it can be considered to have over 1000ISO


Yes, I agree it makes sense, you must be right.
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#10 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 05:08 PM

It's the opposite of crushing the blacks. Instead of having pure blacks in the shadows, you now have 70%, or something like that, where you can make out details. It's the difference between "noir", and dark films.

If you are shooting at an F4, then that should give you enough room to expose for the shadows nicely (depending on a few variables), but if you have to shoot at an F1.4, your key light is going to show up nicely, but you are going to crush those blacks that fall into the F.5 range, there just isn't enough light incomparison.
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#11 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 10:24 PM

With older films, underexposure used to be quite a nasty thing. The image would be very grainy, the shadows would get a heavy color cast, usually to brown, and the image would be low in contrast, due to the reduced "local" gamma of the toe.

That seems to have changed over the years, and Lost in Translation is a good example of that. Someone said in the other thread they rated the film at 1200, which is quite a bit of underexposure, and aside from the grain, the image looked quite good, which proves that modern MP films have a more "domesticated", mild toe of the curve as oposed to the old "wild" toe (lol, that sounds stupid) and more underexposure latitude.
Which means exposing for shadows isn't as cruitial as it used to be.


The Kodak VISION2 films have perfected the toe shape, gaining praise for their very neutral tone scale and ability to get good shadow detail along with rich blacks. B)
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#12 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 09:47 AM

an good ol' DOP said to me

"Overexpose film, under expose video"

by how much? - that is the £762342382 question
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