Jump to content


Photo

Sunpath?


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Jaco Jansen

Jaco Jansen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 12 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Gauteng, South Africa

Posted 27 October 2006 - 08:22 AM

Since hearing about some DOP not wanting to shoot here in South Africa becuase of its "unfavourable" sunpath, I was wondering what the best / preffered paths are and what countries 'offer' them. I always thought that Southern Africa is great for exteriors especially April- late August? Any opinions?
  • 0

#2 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:30 AM

Never heard that about Dp s sun path problem . Think they should watch "Zulu" early 60s Super Techinrama70 , all they had was reflectors and a few battery lamps. Stunning images. John Holland . London
  • 0

#3 Dan Goulder

Dan Goulder
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1259 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:45 AM

One significant factor in regards to sunpath is the flexibility of the staging in order to keep the shoot facing the most favorable angle in regards to the position of the sun. This requires fast and fluid setups, as the sun obviously doesn't keep still. However, it remains the ultimate light source. Indirect sunlight, especially when utilized for daylight interiors (staged in the proximity of windows), can potentially give one up to several hours of fairly consistent and good quality light to work with.
  • 0

#4 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 27 October 2006 - 11:50 AM

Only answer to that is always shoot into the light , backlight . Other wise boring flat Kodak pics , they have always advised keep sun behind you , crap . John Holland , London.
  • 0

#5 Bob Hayes

Bob Hayes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1087 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Culver City, California

Posted 27 October 2006 - 12:29 PM

I?ve done quite a lot of shooting in South Africa and the sun is spectacular. When I hear DOPs complain about the sun they are usually DOPs that come from northern climates where the weather is usually overcast. You can often shoot day exterior with available light and it looks like Barry Lyndon. They rarely have to deal with harsh direct sunlight. Especially that mid day down light sun. That would be my guess. The funny thing for me shooting in South Africa is that the sun looks like it moves backwards in the sky. The sun rises and then moves off to the left tracing a huge arc and setting far left as opposed to California where the sun rises and arcs to the right.
  • 0

#6 Dan Goulder

Dan Goulder
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1259 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 27 October 2006 - 12:57 PM

Only answer to that is always shoot into the light , backlight . Other wise boring flat Kodak pics , they have always advised keep sun behind you , crap . John Holland , London.

Huh??? Please elaborate. (You may find a midday sun to give flat results, but once it arcs low on the horizon, there is NO better key light.)
  • 0

#7 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 27 October 2006 - 01:12 PM

Yes . if sun is very low , but still turn talent so they are back lit with that sun , if possible , think you ought check out some more David Watkin movies , do have the dvd of Catch 22 ? great directors voice over with Stephen Soderburg , spend most oftime talking about when the director Mike Nicols was allowed to shoot by Watkin , if i remember between 2.30 -3.30 afternoon in Mexico . That was it on exteriors. Cant do it to that to that extent now. But have to make a stand sometimes . John Holland .London
  • 0

#8 Michael Collier

Michael Collier
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1262 posts
  • Gaffer
  • Los Angeles, CA

Posted 27 October 2006 - 01:16 PM

I think the point they were trying to make is the suns path varys depending on your latitude. In south africa, and anywhere close to the equator, the sun is directly overhead at noon (seems obvious enough)

Where I am depending on the time of the year, the sun takes a very radical path. Right now, going into winter (first snowfall was yeasterday!) the sun stays low in the sky. The short I worked on we shot the endscene at noon, and the sun barely got over the mountains. We had problems with long shadows from the mics, camera, tripod, at noon. Here during this time of year the sun rises only a little above horizon, then tracks in a circle low on the horizon, never truely getting overhead.

I believe that is what they are refering too, the overhead sun, combined with the fact that its usually more intense sun down there, which means on a cloudless day the contrast is even greater. Also (having never been there) I would imagine there would be less ambient light comming from the sky there than here, due to less atmosphere and less favorable refraction angles they would have, further boosting contrast.

I wouldn't avoid south africa because of this. Seems like its a damn hot place, so some toppy, very hot light would convey that feeling. Just something to take into account anywhere you go.
  • 0

#9 Dan Goulder

Dan Goulder
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1259 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 27 October 2006 - 01:35 PM

Yes . if sun is very low , but still turn talent so they are back lit with that sun

I guess we're quibbling over different looks. Yes, if you want maximum emphasis on the backlight, then one may prefer to follow your suggestion. That would tend to spotlight the "heat" of a scene. Now we're getting into subjective interpretations, which are best arrived at by seeking whatever look best serves the particular material.
  • 0

#10 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 27 October 2006 - 01:41 PM

Yes i am talking ideal situations , lots of times you just cant do it , but should always try to if possible . John Holland.
  • 0

#11 Nor Domingo

Nor Domingo
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 37 posts
  • Other

Posted 04 November 2006 - 04:00 AM

Since you're all talking about sunpaths, Any of you guys use the suunto global navigator to estimate the position of the sun at a certain time of the day? I saw a DP using it once when I was an AD, and he was pretty much right on... or the suunto was.

My question is is it an essential tool for a DP to have? Or would a plain, old trusted compass do?

Npr
  • 0

#12 John Holland

John Holland
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2248 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • London England

Posted 06 November 2006 - 04:08 AM

They are a nice ,"toy" but think a compass works just as good. John Holland, London.
  • 0

#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

Jonathan Bowerbank
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2815 posts
  • 1st Assistant Camera
  • San Francisco, CA

Posted 07 November 2006 - 04:30 PM

One significant factor in regards to sunpath is the flexibility of the staging in order to keep the shoot facing the most favorable angle in regards to the position of the sun.


I recall reading an interview with James Glennon who's shot a few episodes of "Deadwood" as well as some other great films. He noted the advantage of building a set that runs East to West, instead of North to South. On an EtoW set, you have the ability to shoot one side of scenes with the actors backs to the sun, then the other side of scenes later in the day with the actors' backs to the sun again. That way, the scenes intercut much better and really there's very little concern about which way shadows are cast in the backgrounds since it's bound to be a little blown out anyway if your exposing for the subject's face.
  • 0

#14 Mark Bliss

Mark Bliss
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 11 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Prague

Posted 12 January 2008 - 06:02 AM

The use of any sun path tools or charts, software for pinpointing the position of the sun is a great help not only to a DOP but the whole production.
I can tell exactly, on a location recce, two months ahead of the actual shoot, where the sun will rise. Imagine you're shooting in a down town area
and it's essential that you get sunlit scene. Your compass will only tell you an approximate direction, the more sophisticated tools will tell you at what time the sun will rise over this building or that mountain. So even though, sunrise proper is a 5am the sun doesn't come over that mountain range until 9:25, so you can either shoot something else, don't have to be there at 4:30am to set it up,
The advantages are numerous and I don't need to spell them out.
As for shooting in Southern hemisphere, the midday sun is not a very flattering look, I would always try to shoot day exteriors from early sunrise till say about 10:30am and then after 3pm. Or at least do all the wide shots in those hours and shoot all close up's where you can model the light better with overhead scrims and such. The contrast in the sunlit areas and shadow is massive and sometimes can be six to seven stops.
  • 0

#15 timHealy

timHealy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1252 posts
  • Other
  • New York

Posted 12 January 2008 - 09:44 PM

Only answer to that is always shoot into the light , backlight . Other wise boring flat Kodak pics , they have always advised keep sun behind you , crap . John Holland , London.


I agree with John sentiment generally speaking. But I would also use the sun up to a 3/4 back or side light as well depending on the shot and depending on the relationship between the camera, the actor and the light.

Best

Tim
  • 0


Broadcast Solutions Inc

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Ritter Battery

Opal

CineTape

Technodolly

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Metropolis Post

CineLab

The Slider

Visual Products

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

The Slider

CineLab

FJS International, LLC

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Opal

Willys Widgets

Visual Products

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

Tai Audio

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks