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Night and difficult shots


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#1 Mr. Macgregor

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 05:03 AM

I wonder ho can i set exposure for a distant shot with small lights, like a view of the night horizon in a city or a moon shot. How should i use the lightmeter. How should i read it under those circumstances.

It seems to me that in most cases i will get no recording, and if i get something by using the lightmeter viewfinder i will get a bad metering since i am looking at the lights.

So?
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 06:33 AM

I wonder ho can i set exposure for a distant shot with small lights, like a view of the night horizon in a city or a moon shot. How should i use the lightmeter. How should i read it under those circumstances.

It seems to me that in most cases i will get no recording, and if i get something by using the lightmeter viewfinder i will get a bad metering since i am looking at the lights.

So?


Hi,

A digital stills camera can be used to judge exposure.

Stephen
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#3 Mr. Macgregor

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 06:35 AM

Hi,

A digital stills camera can be used to judge exposure.

Stephen


Hahhaa, yes, but digital cameras started this century. How did the do last decade? How did they do on those dozens of films where you see the night cityscape on the background? Did they just use polaroids?

Take Heat, for example.

Edited by macgregor, 25 July 2006 - 06:36 AM.

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#4 John Holland

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 06:38 AM

Just used ones eyes and normally shot wide open depending on how bright the city scape was . john.
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 07:26 AM

Just used ones eyes and normally shot wide open depending on how bright the city scape was . john.


John,

It was easy before we got such a choice of film stocks! I remember shooting an night with a DP who said "There is always something on the negative"

Stephen
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#6 John Holland

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 09:42 AM

Very true , i still do the same ,rather have more exposure on the neg , then not enough . john .
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#7 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 10:54 AM

I wonder ho can i set exposure for a distant shot with small lights, like a view of the night horizon in a city or a moon shot. How should i use the lightmeter. How should i read it under those circumstances.

It seems to me that in most cases i will get no recording, and if i get something by using the lightmeter viewfinder i will get a bad metering since i am looking at the lights.

So?


Some of the most interesting shots are when the meter says there's nothing there.

On one production that involved a lot of night exteriors I shot tests. Throughout the filming that followed, I never used the meter - it was all f1.4.
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#8 G McMahon

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 11:57 AM

That?s all good, but I'm (It's all about me) about to shoot fire works. How do I trim my foreground lights accordingly so I there sitting right for the back ground exposures (Fire works)? I know what you?re going to say, tests, tests, tests. It's easy to get lazy with forums available.

Mr. Macgregor, I did some tests recently, just some stills for metering. I had some various practices in a frame, flouro , house hold bulb etc. I measured 1 foot from them and took an incident reading. Then took a spot reading of the bulb. I bracketed the incident reading. Have yet to see the results, the other tests I did on that roll I realised would be inconclusive from what I recently read on this site (search soft light sources).
But, I look forward to the results, that lamp in the back ground of shot will sit right with me on the next shoot.

I invite anyone to correct me on my testing method.

Graeme
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#9 Sergi Vilanova

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 12:54 PM

I wonder ho can i set exposure for a distant shot with small lights, like a view of the night horizon in a city or a moon shot. How should i use the lightmeter. How should i read it under those circumstances.

It seems to me that in most cases i will get no recording, and if i get something by using the lightmeter viewfinder i will get a bad metering since i am looking at the lights.

So?


Hi!
I am DoP from Barcelona, Spain and this is my first post / reply in this forum. So I don't really know how it works yet, so excuse me if I do something wrong.

About your question, my experience tells me that no metering is really the best way. In my first shots like the ones you mention, I used to try to meter and all I achieved was headaches because I knew I couldn't rely on my readings, so I just stoped doing it.

Also, in general, I avoid reading bright ligts, like streetlamps, windows or even practicals, because my feeling is that, unless you are REALLY experienced, it can do more harm than good. Whenever I gelled up some street lamp or something like that (dimming down practicals, etc) with NDs I did it by the eye; and usually worked just fine.

Also, for that matter, to me, the new fast stocks (specially kodak 5218) are a blessing, because they handle everything with such a great latitude.

Hope everyone's feedback is of some help. If not, I'm just hapy to have joined the cinematography.com forum.

sergi
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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 05:15 PM

Good points by Sergi. Don't over-meter and try to avoid spot metering cities - it just confuses.

For cities, what I might do is take a reading below a street lamp and then expose for that, letting the neon signs, lamps and practicals go. But mostly I don't even do that. I just simply open up the lens as much as I can and let it rip, because I've always thought there is no such thing as an overexposed city night-scape. I'm not the only one - every post card photographer and time lapse DP does the same thing - bright city lights look good.

Moon can be a bit trickier, depending on what you want. If you want to expose for the moon surface and get the shades of grey out of its topography, then this is one of the places where a spotmeter might be useful. But if you're just going for the moonlight effect as a backlight on an object, then just shoot it wide open on high speed film.
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 25 July 2006 - 05:19 PM

For what it's worth, my rule of thumb for urban night exteriors is T1.4 at 640 ASA. That tends to put your exposure pretty close to "normal" looking. But there is of course a huge range of lighting available at night, from pretty bright to almost non-existent. And your choice of exposure doesn't have to be "normal" either.

Another HUGE factor when deciding night exposures is the shadow response of the film. With lower-contrast stocks you can often get away with much darker exposures, because the film is reproducing more shadow detail relative to your midtones. With a snappier stock you might choose to expose a little hotter to keep more detail in the shadows.

For shots of the moon, I've always used a spot meter and then decided how much above gray I want it (usually about 1-2 stops over). I usually bracket exposures, also. A full moon is actually pretty bright; I recall something like a T-8 or 11 on 400 ASA film, but it's been awhile. Don't trust that figure, though. ;)
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