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sodium vapor and shooting at dawn


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#1 Scottie Mei

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 12:38 AM

I am shooting a night scene at San Pedro harbor in LA, which is an industrial area with sodium vapor everywhere. Instead of fighting with it and try to balance I decided to let it go and using 9 light maxi on a condor to with 1/2 CTB to create a mix lighting temp look with 7218, does anyone has experience or ideas for this situation. Also, the ending shot of the movie is shooting at dawn. The actor first walking toward the camera then the camera pans as he passes and sits down on a park bench in silhouette in front of the lens (the sun is coming up from behind) I am debating whether I should use 7218 as I am shooting most of the night scene with it or I should use 50D and use more light before he passes camera. Any ideas??
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 03:56 PM

The difference in grain between the 500T & 50D will probably be quite stark. If it's dawn and still relatively low light, you can get away with shooting 200T corrected, which will give you roughly another f-stop to work with.

I don't know how extremely orange those sodium vapor street lamps are, but 1/2 CTB sounds like a close guess. I've used 1/2 CTS before, and it's matched up pretty close as well. Also, on another thread somewhere, somebody used a gel called "Chrome Orange" which looked especially close to the sodium vapor look. But just so you're not worrying TOO much about mixing color temps, I'd try and overpower the street lights on close-ups & medium shots with whatever lighting you'll be bringing with you, just to eliminate that factor.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:36 PM

I think he meant using 1/2 CTB on tungsten as a contrasting color to the available sodium vapor light. To match sodium vapor light (for fill) we've discussed many recipes here. I've used 2x Lee 162 Bastard Amber and 1/4 CTO before with good results. There are many other gel combos that can work, but I like this pack because 1) it uses readily available gels 2) you can vary the intensity of pink or yellow for the scene by simply swapping layers.

I think adding a contrasting color to the sodium can be a good idea, to help create depth and keep things from going too monochrome. Remember though that the blue might appear a little more saturated than usual when viewed alongside the pinkish-orange of sodium. Colors tend to stand out more when viewed next to their complement. 1/4 CTB can be enough to look "clean" and not too blue.

50 ASA is going to be pretty slow for anything until the sun comes well up above the horizon. 250D might be a more flexible "second" stock for twilight shooting.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 04:41 PM

I think adding a contrasting color to the sodium can be a good idea, to help create depth and keep things from going too monochrome.


"Rocky Balboa" at times seemed to play around with this with a lot of HMI usage for backlight and top lighting.
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#5 Scottie Mei

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 12:56 AM

Thanks Michael, yes, I was worried the 1/2 CTB might be too much, guess I will go for 1/4 CTB and wet down the street.
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#6 Michael Nash

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 02:53 AM

Thanks Michael, yes, I was worried the 1/2 CTB might be too much, guess I will go for 1/4 CTB and wet down the street.


I just depends on the look you want -- there's nothing wrong with 1/2 CTB; I was just pointing out something to watch out for.

1/2 CTB is common for a "moonlight" look. It's just that in the presence of sodium streetlights, you might not expect to see real moonlight so prominently. At that point a contrasting color would be more believably motivated by other light sources. An underexposed bluish look could appear like low-level tungsten light in the presence of sodium vapor.
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