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Difficulty of guaging lighting without a lightmeter


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#1 Joshua Dannais

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 12:30 AM

How hard/inaccurate is it to not use a light meter?

thanks

Edited by Joshua Dannais, 19 June 2007 - 12:31 AM.

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#2 Nick Mulder

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 01:57 AM

Outdoors you can get away with the sunny16 rule in many situations (google it) - indoors, much harder !

I personally found it quite an education working without one for quite a while, but it was made easy as I had lots of spare/throw away film that was cheap as chips to process - It would have been very costly otherwise ...
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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 02:53 AM

Depends on your experience level.

Some DP's can gauge it by eye, others have their eyes "fixed" at a certain f-stop so they light for that, then some like Slocombe or Alekan are SO experienced and come from battlefield experience where there's no time for metering, they don't even touch a light meter.

In fact, I think it was on "Wings of Desire" that Alekan finally picked up a meter, but it was only so the crew members wouldn't murmur about the fact that he didn't carry one.

I was on a shoot recently, where the DP only used his meter for exteriors because the sky had a patchy haze to it, which he had to adjust for. Otherwise, he lit everything for f/2 and never took his meter out of his belt pouch.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 10:26 AM

If you are shooting video, you don't really need to use a light meter -- the camera is a light meter essentially.

If you are shooting film, I don't recommend actually using your meter much to light with -- you light with you eyes, balance with your eyes, then check the general level with your meter to make sure you are at the f-stop level you want and so you know where to set the lens of the camera. The goal is to get experienced enough that you aren't taking many meter readings. Use your eyes.
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#5 John Sprung

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Posted 19 June 2007 - 07:51 PM

How hard/inaccurate is it to not use a light meter?

thanks

It depends on how much skill you've developed at judging light levels. Like weightlifting, singing opera, or working crossword puzzles, it's something that you can improve with practice. Keep a meter with you, and when you have the time, try it. Guess what it'll read in a certain place, then check to see the real level. In a couple weeks, you'll definitely be better at it.

Most anybody can get good at relative levels -- this is so many stops over or under that. But absolute levels are harder. Given the expense of shooting film, no matter how good you get, a meter is cheap insurance.



-- J.S.
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#6 Tony Brown

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Posted 23 June 2007 - 03:11 AM

You can also use the iris for interiors. You get used to a certain light level on the various lookthroughs, play with the iris before you next read a scene. You'll be amazed how consistent you can be.
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The Slider

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Rig Wheels Passport