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Exposure exercises


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#1 Chris Clarke

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 03:19 PM

I recently finished my first project to be shot on film (I'll upload some stills for critique when I get a final copy). A big thing to come out of it for me was metering tequnique. I had a quite a range of exposures to judge during the 2 day shoot - elevator interior, hotel night ext, roof night ext, corridor tracking shot, basement night int) As the shoot progressed, I found my metering getting better but I definitely relied upon my DSLR for reasurance. I was wondering if any of you know of any useful metering exercises I could practice to improve my technique? I could set my meter and DSLR to the same settings and compare results. Other than simple situations, what 'problems' could I create for myself to get to grips with exposure? I want to get more comfortable with the spot meter and interpreting its readings better.
I have to say what a great learning experience I found going into the telecine suite a few days after we wrapped to view my footage was. We had a great operator who gave me good honest feedback that was as interesting as the shoot itself.
Thanks for any replies.
Chris.

Edited by flyingpenguins, 01 March 2006 - 03:22 PM.

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#2 J. Lamar King

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 04:34 PM

Just metering and shooting then comparing the results is the best practice. If the results are what you interpreted them to be then you're on the right track. Extreme conditions is where the interpretation comes in. The classic black subject against a white wall in the sun or the black dinner plate with silver fork or whatever. In cinematography you sometimes run up against situations where there is no real "Key" light, that is, none of your lights will actually be at your shooting stop. That could be a strong backlight and low fill light situation. That situation requires you to make a judgement call on whether to split the difference or give weight to the highlights or the shadows or add more light etc. Also, if you are able to shoot tests on current stock a good one to do is to see how a particular stock will handle underexposure as in a dim night scene.
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#3 Chris Clarke

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 02:31 AM

Just metering and shooting then comparing the results is the best practice. If the results are what you interpreted them to be then you're on the right track. Extreme conditions is where the interpretation comes in. The classic black subject against a white wall in the sun or the black dinner plate with silver fork or whatever. In cinematography you sometimes run up against situations where there is no real "Key" light, that is, none of your lights will actually be at your shooting stop. That could be a strong backlight and low fill light situation. That situation requires you to make a judgement call on whether to split the difference or give weight to the highlights or the shadows or add more light etc. Also, if you are able to shoot tests on current stock a good one to do is to see how a particular stock will handle underexposure as in a dim night scene.

Hi. Do you think that using a DSLR is good idea or would shooting reversal stills be a better judge?
I'd love to practice on 16mm but it's just not possible with the expense involved. I do realise that eventually I'll get to a point where I'm learning how different stocks react to exposure and will then need to test on 16mm/35mm.
Thanks, Chris.
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#4 J. Lamar King

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Posted 02 March 2006 - 04:52 PM

Being that I learned my skills on film in the land before "digital" and "24p" I would say shoot chromes. They give good feedback on differences in exposure because of the narrow latitude compared to negative and you get back from the lab what you shot. With a negative/print process someone could print out all the variations in exposure. I guess a dSLR would work for the basics though. But be sure you can meter, shoot and then see a bonafide result with no manipulation. However, I think it would be difficult to learn what density looks like on film by using a dSLR. After you shoot enough film, you begin see in a range of densities. You can tell where your exposures are by eye even by looking at a print. You also can tell if something is wrong with a negative or print.

Edited by J. Lamar King, 02 March 2006 - 04:53 PM.

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