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Dark Skinned Actress


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#1 Trever Ryan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 05:30 PM

Hey everybody,

I'm filming a short at the end of next week primarily EXT. scenes. One of the actresses is a fairly dark African American. Now outdoors we will be shooting in some backlight conditions, have some bounce, but I want it to be natural so I plan on underexposing this shadow side by a stop. Now with a darker skinned person will I lose detail in the face if I do that?

Cheers
Trever
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#2 Trever Ryan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 05:31 PM

*I plan on underexposing the shadow side* is what I meant
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 06:01 PM

I'm not sure I undertand your question. If you're underexposing the shadow side of her face by a stop, it will be a stop darker than middle gray and should about right for someone of her skintone.
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#4 Trever Ryan

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 06:14 PM

Thanks. What I usually do is underexpose my subjects backlight by the sun by a stop becuase I want to sell the fact that they are on the shadow side of the sun rather then exposing them at key (when there frontlit I expose at key). I haven't worked with as dark of an actress so I was just worried if I used that technique I'd lose detail.

Cheers
Trever


I'm not sure I undertand your question. If you're underexposing the shadow side of her face by a stop, it will be a stop darker than middle gray and should about right for someone of her skintone.


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#5 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 07:13 PM

I would find out where her skin town falls within a zone step grayscale. I usually use a DSC CamAlign Chart. You can do this by spot metering the zones and finding out which matches her tone, or closest too, under the same light. From that you can tell where her skin will fall. I used to do a lot of music videos for local Ugandan rappers and they are really dark skinned. There skin is so dark it?s around 3-4 steps/stops in reflectance under middle gray. The only successful way I found to light them was using reflective sources like bounces or diffused sources. Their skin has a sheen to it that catches reflective diffused sources well. You don?t even need high output sources; you just need to hit them from reflective angles, which is often easier because of the sheen to their skin. These reflective techniques were utilized very well in City of God.

To answer your question, I would run this test and then you can tell precisely if there will be enough detail or not. Remember to account for contrast added in post.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 08:15 PM

I see what you were asking. You're measuring light incident on her at a stop under key. Gotcha. Chase hs you covered. It's very simple once you do that quick test.
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#7 Patrick McGowan

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 02:28 AM

Absolutely spot meter, and put the darker side of him/her at zone VI rather than zone IV or V.
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#8 Bill Totolo

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 07:52 AM

What format are you shooting?
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#9 anthony derose

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:08 AM

Thanks everyone!
I'm doing 16mm Color Neg.
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#10 Bill Totolo

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Posted 21 September 2007 - 11:22 AM

Because of the dark skin tone, personally, I would expose for the b/g BUT I would fill to the SAME F-stop. IOW, if you set exposure at, say F4.0, I would fill until the subject was also at F4.0 but it depends on the reflectivity of the person and how dark their skin tone is.

I recently shot a Nigerian musician who literally soaked up all the light from my HMI's outside. Of course I was letting the sun back light him but I had to hit him with multiple fill lights.

Sometimes you have to work it out on set and listen to what your eyes tell you.
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#11 Michael Nash

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 12:24 AM

Sometimes you have to work it out on set and listen to what your eyes tell you.


Good advice...

I gaffed a reggae music video awhile back where the dark-skinned artist was staged against the setting sun. I put a lot more fill light on him than I normally would.

In general I wouldn't allow too much difference for skin tones though. Even with the darkest skin I'd only put about 1/2 stop more light on it than I would "moderate" skin tones. If you try to overcompensate with too much light it just ends up looking artificial, so if your bright background requires too much light to balance the exposure I would consider re-framing the shot to something more "exposure friendly."
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#12 Bill Totolo

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 04:48 AM

I'd also recomend a "larger" source, going with a four by frame or a large chimera at least.
Go bigger if you can. That skin tone can be a lot more reflective and the larger source looks more natural as fill light.
Kind of like a show car, not to sound disrespectful.
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