Jump to content


Photo

Shooting B&W with natural lighting


  • Please log in to reply
3 replies to this topic

#1 Carlos Carmona

Carlos Carmona

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 2 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 April 2007 - 07:52 PM

I am about to shoot an indi full length feature with the Pana. DVX 100. Natural lighting will be used, and the footage will be converted to B&W. Besides changing the view finder to B&W, what are some tips and tid-bits for such a shoot?

Edited by Carlos Carmona, 13 April 2007 - 07:54 PM.

  • 0

#2 James Brown

James Brown
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 235 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Sydney, Australia

Posted 13 April 2007 - 08:07 PM

I am about to shoot an indi full length feature with the Pana. DVX 100. Natural lighting will be used, and the footage will be converted to B&W. Besides changing the view finder to B&W, what are some tips and tid-bits for such a shoot?


Negative fill and bounce, shooting at correct times of the day and breaking light up with shadows from trees, buildings ect. I find ext b&w can be very flat.
  • 0

#3 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 13 April 2007 - 08:43 PM

Well, it really depends on how you want the light to look. Technically, natural light would mean light as the camera sees it, you'd only make changes in aperture to emphasize the most important subject matter by giving it lighting suitable to render it in viewable detail. If you want to make light "look natural" i.e. appear on film or tape in a way that makes it look on the screen close enough to what it would actually look like to the eye of the viewer had the viewer been there instead of the camera. This means eliminating, minimizing, or hiding the differences between human vision and electronic/chemical recording media. You need to (usually) reduce the range of information presented to the camera, in other words compress it, so that everything that you want to render faithfully is within the latitude of good rendering the camera, lens and recording medium is capable of capturing with minimum of distortion.

If you're utilizing formal lighting, then obviously there is a whole lot you can do, like using movie lights both indoors and outdoors to enhance detail and add a pleasing contrast and tonality to your subject matter. You obvioulsy need to emphasize form more with B&W because the lack of color tends to obscure the transition between your subject and backround elements, and you have to be careful with different colors that may render as similar shades of gray, which you can fix with colored filters over the lens, such as yellow or green filters, and I'd say that it takes more involved planning to light for B&W. Although you don't have to worry about using different color temperatures generally when you take out color, you have to basically "sculpt" tonality and shape, light an object to emphasize or deemphasize its form as it will appear desaturated. You can actually take advantage of the lack of color to use less-expensive stand in objects of a different color when you don't have to worry about color in your final product. Both due to cultural influeces of a world that already has had color photography for over a century, and due to the typical human eyes ability to discern blue, green, and red wavelengths of light from one another, I'd say you have to do more to create interest when you're working in B&W. A lot of times the allure of an object we see, a new sweater, a scenic overview, a sunset, is actually due to our reaction to its beautiful color, or the contrast and compliments generated due to different color interactions. Take those away and a lot of subjects become boring, some can't even be seen in monochrome (lI tired to photograph a rainbow with B&W film once). I'd say you have to be more theatrical with B&W lighting to make it interesting, too. I don't know if this is the blandness of typical lighting compounded with loss of color information, or the greater separation from reality the modern film viewer feels from B&W than they do from color, but you can get away with "cheating" more in lighing setups in B&W than with color (a fact you can note, sometimes painfully, in the early color photography of directors that were used to being able to change the lighting much more when cutting from a master say to a closeup in their B&W work) as well as being able to use effects in B&W that aren't used or usable at all in color due to either not being visible or not being visually pleaseing when blue green and red wavelengths are reproduced proportionally. Basically you can have more "noisy" B&W shots, whereas color shots can become too busy or too overwhelming when you couple them with diffusion, filtration, and very contrasty lighting all at once. Often this means you need to employ more lights with B&W, as well as you need to emphasize finer control over light to maximize contrast between different shades of grey.

I hope this has been helpful. If I were you, I'd look at my favorite B&W and color photographs, hopefully fine art and not porn from last month's edition of Playboy (not *totally* valueless formally; not only is Playboy shot almost entirely with medium format slide film, they often utilize in excess of FOUR DOZEN lights in a single setup!) and learn to see what makes a B&W photograph powerful as opposed to a color picture. A lot of color pictures we love would be bland, certainly not famous, certainly not even good sometimes if we take away the color. On the other hand, it's hard to find an award-winning B&W picture that doesn't have some sort of significant form (realize of course that the historical significance of what makes up the form, like in documentary work, may make up for a form that isn't intersting unto itself) A picture or shot of a person's head isn't visually interesting, but if we learn that it is Marlon Brando portraying a Mafia leader who has just ordered a. . . you get the point. THen again, if you want a look that emphasizes blandness, to tie into the story you are doing, then it is a lot easier to get a flat, uninteresting shot with B&W, probably why beginning photography classes are almost all taught solely with B&W film principles. Of course, unless you've depicted boring results in a way that is interesting out of context or thematic contrast or visual contrast, I'd say it is an oxymoron and perhaps a rather lame attempt at humor on an internet forum to show something that is boring interestingly.

Lest I forget, if you're lighting naturalistically, like how someone with color achromatopsia (completely oblivious to different colors, like a B&W print), then you basically need to reduce key to fill ratio (fill in shadows when shooting outdoors being really importan, keep highlights from blowing out (a particular problem with video), and avoid obvious visual dissonance between your backround lighting and your foreground lighting.

Regards,

~KB
  • 0

#4 Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre
  • Sustaining Members
  • 96 posts
  • Other
  • Denver, Colorado

Posted 16 April 2007 - 05:20 PM

Whatever you do when converting to B&W, don't just straight desaturate. In other words, don't simply pull out the chroma or 'turn off' the chroma.

With still photography, you can use something like Photoshop's channel mixer to create several different looks for color -> black & white stills. With video, you can also treat the color video's channels to selectively isolate ranges of exposure for black & white.

You might even consider turning up CHROMA on the DVX to give you even more chroma information to play with. You're probably familiar with photographers using different color filters (red, yellow, etc.) to accentuate certain parts of the spectrum for black & white photography. You already have plenty of room to experiment with your in-camera settings.

I realize post discussions are frowned on here in this forum and I don't know what you're using to edit with but there are many ways to go about getting a rich and highly customizable look for black & white.

It may sound like reverse-logic but it works. Don't turn down chroma in-camera, if anything turn it up, bring it into your editing platform and look at ways to get to black and white using RGB channels versus simply turning down saturation.

Hope this helps....... I would elaborate but, again, there's the whole 'no post' discussion thing here.
  • 0


Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Opal

Wooden Camera

FJS International, LLC

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

The Slider

Technodolly

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products

Tai Audio

CineTape

Abel Cine

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Paralinx LLC

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Opal

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Technodolly

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies