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using real CANDLES


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#1 J Costantini

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 04:24 PM

Hi.

I'm using a 500 ASA stock, kodak's 18, rating it 400 ASA to shoot a scene with real candles in it.
How should I photograph the scene in order to have information on the flames...
they could go a little white, but I still want them to be a little reddish, to see the fire.
What is the recommended t-stop? What happens if I use T2.8 ?

plus
what is the avarage temperature for a candle flame? Do they make a caucasian skin look too redish? Could I use my fill light a little higher (in terms of kelvin temp) to make the skin a little less redish if I want to?


Thanks

Edited by nillo, 06 April 2006 - 04:31 PM.

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#2 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 08:11 PM

only around 1500K i think. if that's too red for you i'd rather suggest filtering the artificial light to a lower kelvin and grade to taste in post. mixing color temps will only make the difference more obvious. as for the exposure if you stop down so the flame won't burn out (absolutely no pun intended) you won't have to worry about color temperature either since the light it will cast will be next to none.

/matt
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#3 Matt Sandstrom

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 08:22 PM

one more thing just for fun: the light it casts on something one foot away is of course one footcandle, which would give you approximately 3 stops underexposure at t2.8. in pure theory. don't forget your light meter. :-)

/matt
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#4 Rob van Gelder

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 09:56 PM

I just did a complete scene like this on a seance from a fortune teller with 5 other girls around a table, completely on Steadicam (Moviecam Compact ) and with Super speeds.
Shooting around f2 if i am not mistaken, normal candles and wicks, worked beautifully!
It is pretty orange all the way, those candles are low in spectrum, but it makes a good atmosphere.

a hell of a job for the focus puller though, on 50 and 85mm lenses
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 10:46 PM

What you need to do it take a Mitchell BNC, tear it apart and adapt a Ziess lens designed for taking pictures from a satallite to it. That gives you absolutely stunning images from a scene lit only with candlelight. :D
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 April 2006 - 11:12 PM

Kubrick used 3-wick candles to help increase the exposure, besides the f/0.7 lens.

If you want to get a reddish flame, you'll be underexposing the flames, so they won't be doing much real lighting. You can look at "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and see how reddish the candles are from being shot at around f/2.8 probably using the 3-strip Technicolor process, which was only effectively about 5 ASA back then.

So basically the more you underexpose fire, the redder it becomes. For example, I sometimes will shoot flames at f/4 or 5.6 on 250 ASA film to get a redder fire, sometimes even use daylight-balanced film.

Take at look at "Emma", mostly shot on 250D stock to see how warm the candles look.
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#7 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 12:23 AM

Oh, and use 3-wick candles for the scene.
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#8 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 12:59 AM

While it is useful to know how to expose flames to preserve their color, it's never bothered me when flames "white out" a little bit. For one thing, there's always a little bit of "corona" or edge to the flame that's still orange. Also, overexposing the flame lets you expose the light it gives off a little more naturally. To me it looks much more realistic to see a white candle flame give off an orange glow, than it is to have an orange candle flame that gives off no light...

In Memoirs of a Geisha when the house catches fire the flames are almost completely clipped white, but the orange glow still lets you see the heat and the danger. It didn't really bother me there, although I did notice it.

But there are of course legitmate reasons to keep a flame's color in check, and it's good to have a rule of thumb as a reference. Explosions at night for instance...
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#9 ben jones

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 11:20 AM

I just finished a 1 minute film where the whole room was lit by candle light (two fat ones and a couple of tea light) and a 25 watt yellow bulb in the ceiling (from homebase). we were using an XL1 - actually really pleased with the results. On the flame close ups, I decided to stop down a little to retain some information. It was great fun!
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 12:46 PM

I shot a music vid a couple of years ago on Fuji's T125, at night and with a 45-degree shutter and at T2-2.8 split and the flames still went white at their hottest. So fire and candles give more than you think.

But as has been mentioned, you're out of luck if you want the flames to be orange and still light the faces. You can't have both.
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#11 Dan Goulder

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 01:31 PM

What you need to do it take a Mitchell BNC, tear it apart and adapt a Ziess lens designed for taking pictures from a satallite to it. That gives you absolutely stunning images from a scene lit only with candlelight. :D

The "Barry Lyndon" reference you're using was shot on 100ASA stock. Even Kubrick agreed that approach was no longer necessary when 500ASA stocks were introduced, which is why he decided against using those lenses for "Eyes Wide Shut". I've gotten good usable footage of a boat captain, using nothing more than the lights off an instrument panel, which were well below the level of candlelight, by using a combination of wide open super speeds and 5218.

Warm color temperatures don't really look that unnatural when shot at ultra low light levels, and can certainly be compensated for in post.

Edited by dgoulder, 07 April 2006 - 01:32 PM.

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#12 Michael Nash

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 03:34 PM

Warm color temperatures don't really look that unnatural when shot at ultra low light levels, and can certainly be compensated for in post.


That reminds me of this article:
http://www.cameragui...candlelight.htm
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#13 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 08:24 AM

plus
what is the avarage temperature for a candle flame? Do they make a caucasian skin look too redish? Could I use my fill light a little higher (in terms of kelvin temp) to make the skin a little less redish if I want to?
Thanks
[/quote]

... candle-light averages 1800k. A recent asc article features the making of HBO series and in it DP Martin Kenzie talks about his methods of shooting with candle-light...

I've sometimes combined chocolate 156 +118 gels to mimic candle-light. For me part of the candle-light look is it warmth. You could add a cooler fill but it's brightness level would have to be pretty minimal. The results could be nice and subtle...

... Can't beat Barry Lyndon though...


Rupe Whiteman
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 03:51 PM

The truth is that if the overall scene is candlelit with no mixing with other colored sources (moonlight, for example), you don't have to nail the perfect shade of orange-yellow-whatever. You get close with whatever gels you like (Straw, Amber, CTO, etc.) and you can always tweak the yellowness or redness in post color-correction.
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#15 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 04:09 PM

Well, candle light is warmer to the eye as well, so don't overcompensate too much. Barry Lyndon did use subtle make-up to slightly cool the faces down, though. It's fine balance - you don't want your actors to look like Marcel Marceau in the face. :D
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#16 Filip Plesha

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 04:30 PM

I know it's non of my bussiness but I have to comment on that

Warm color temperatures don't really look that unnatural when shot at ultra low light levels, and can certainly be compensated for in post.


You can't compensate such warm light unless you overexpose the film maybe a stop, because at 1500K, you are heavily underexposing the yellow layer, and if you expose it "right" accoarding to the meter on such orange light, your cyan layer might be empty. Same happens when you are exposing on the boarderline of proper exposure with daylight film using tungsten lights, your yellow(blue) layer gets crushed, or gone depending on how much underexposure latitude you have.
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#17 Dan Goulder

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 08:19 PM

I know it's non of my bussiness but I have to comment on that
You can't compensate such warm light unless you overexpose the film maybe a stop, because at 1500K, you are heavily underexposing the yellow layer, and if you expose it "right" accoarding to the meter on such orange light, your cyan layer might be empty. Same happens when you are exposing on the boarderline of proper exposure with daylight film using tungsten lights, your yellow(blue) layer gets crushed, or gone depending on how much underexposure latitude you have.

As I stated, the light level you are shooting at makes a huge difference. A low color temperature at T2.8 is going to look a lot more out of whack than the same temperature shot at T1.3 or below. The rules you're quoting can be pretty much thrown out at these levels, where your meter readings are off the scale, and you have to rely primarily on lens markings for focus. Candelight doesn't look anything like 3200K quartz light, and would look quite unnatural if you tried to grade it that way.
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#18 Filip Plesha

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 08:29 PM

I'm not quoting rules, just speaking from experience with such light sources. The effect is not so strong with tungsten film, but with daylight film the yellow layer is gone compleatly with candles, and you can't get it back in scanning, unless you overexpose by at least a stop
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#19 Dan Goulder

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 08:37 PM

I'm not quoting rules, just speaking from experience with such light sources. The effect is not so strong with tungsten film, but with daylight film the yellow layer is gone compleatly with candles, and you can't get it back in scanning, unless you overexpose by at least a stop

I'm also speaking from experience, and am clearly referring to shooting candlelight with 500asa TUNGSTEN film.
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#20 Filip Plesha

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 08:45 PM

Someone mentioned using daylight film in this thread for warming the flames...
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