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Advice needed for exposure setting... helicopter ride over Vegas


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#1 Zachary Vex

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 02:09 AM

Given the chance to capture some Vegas downtown views on super 16mm during a helicopter ride over downtown at night, I'd like to shoot 100 feet of 7218, but I don't yet have a spotmeter. Any suggestions for how I should set exposure?

I have a Sekonic flashmate and can take some measurements on the street first... should I just set it for a stop or two lower than ambient street levels to keep the neon from blowing out? Or should I shoot for more details and let the neon blow out? Or is there even more to consider?
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 02:51 AM

YOU NEED A SPOT METER

Vegas is pretty bright at night, and I've never shot it, so I have no reference for what you should shoot it at.

But having done a night shoot recently on a building that has about 1/8th the lighting of a Vegas building, I wouldn't be surprised if you had to close it down to a 5.6 or 8 even.
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#3 Gavin Greenwalt

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 03:59 AM

If you're shooting negative I would let it blow out a little bit to get that extra color and shadow. Maybe a stop or two over. Keep in mind that helicopter is going to be vibrating pretty bad, so you might want to consider opening up and using a faster shutter.

You could grab your film SLR and shoot a couple of shots and get a 1 hour development. See what you like.

- Gavin

Edited by Gavin Greenwalt, 16 November 2006 - 04:00 AM.

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#4 Michael Collier

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 04:46 AM

With my meter (spectracine IVa) you can take the photosphere off, and it works as a reflected (45 deg) light meter. Not quite a spot but actually for what your doing it may be just the trick you need. Check your manual and see if yours does the same. Then I would overexpose a bit. Who needs detail in the neon if the rest of the world falls to black?
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#5 Zachary Vex

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 05:20 AM

I'm familiar with using an 18% grey card and can get very repeatable results taking measurements with the photosphere vs the incident meter and grey card combo using my Sekonic flashmate. If I take an incident reading of the city while in the air, what zone would you suggest that I assume?
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#6 Jeff Tanner

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 03:32 PM

Although it's been a few years, I have shot on the strip in Vegas at night. My best results were WIDE OPEN and I still wish that I could have used super speed lenses. From the air, you will want to be wide open for sure...especially in 16mm. It's easy to "print down" but if you try to push 16mm it will fall apart quickly. Seeing the neon will be a no brainer but you want to see the buildings themselves too so get as much information as possible on the negative.

Respectfully,

Jeff Tanner
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#7 Zachary Vex

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Posted 16 November 2006 - 03:45 PM

Thanks, Jeff.
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#8 Zachary Vex

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Posted 20 November 2006 - 07:28 PM

Well, I went and shot on a helicopter in Vegas and I have a few things to report.

1] The helicopter was loaded down with 6 passengers. The pilot told me the only seat where I'd get a direct view of the whole strip was on the left in back because of the flight plan. He was right, but I was sandwiched in with 3 really big guys so my mobility was basically zero. I had my own window but couldn't use it because I couldn't move my head far enough away from it to put the camera in front of me! A vertically arranged camera like a Bolex would have been much better for that reason, but I wanted to shoot super 16mm so my two choices were my Aaton (huge) and the K100 that I took.

2] The thing shook at about 4 Hz, sometimes viciously, sometimes not so bad. I had to hold the camera in very peculiar ways to diminish the movement, and I chose 64 f/s (fastest on that camera) to reduce the vibration down to 1.5 Hz so it wasn't so nauseating. I opened up to 1.4... my reflected meter readings told me that should work... I did multiple measurements on the street in preparation for the shoot. There was still some post-sunset sky light that helped out.

3] Helicopters are extremely fast. I thought the pilot might hover a bit when approaching some of the big buildings but just as I would raise the camera to begin shooting, we cruised right past a lot of the best shots. Also, I was busy winding my brains out (64 frames really chews up the spring) a lot of the time. I got lots of nice shots but I wished I had a small electric camera like a super 16 modified Scoopic instead.
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#9 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 21 November 2006 - 06:18 AM

Just like Jeff said - wide open. On the fastest lenses and on the fastest film.

Don't bother about the neon lights and doing measurements - they're highlights and are supposed to be overexposed (= bright). It's the dark
areas in between you want to see that gives it scope, and they never are bright enough.

My personal mantra is: there is no such thing as an overexposed nightscape.
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Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

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Glidecam

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