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Exposure in bright sun


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#1 Adam Thompson

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 04:35 PM

I feel like I need a better approach to shooting day ext. I haven't done as much as Id like to on film and when I have I've usually got what I wanted. I just need a better system to start with. I feel like I need to restart where I am on the subject, to be more consistant. Anyone have a method they'd like to share?

For example, it's 4pm, no clouds and your actor is lit on one side of their face from the sun.

Another shot has them in full backlight at 6pm.

Another one, and this is where I would be more worried... say they go from side light into backlight.

How do you start thinking of where to place your stops? I'm not talking about setting up silks, etc., just how to approach exposure in the sun where the extremes are all in full force.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 05:01 PM

Shooting color neg (which has a lot of latitude), I tend to take the following approach:

What I set the exposure for is based on what is more dominant - the sunlit areas or the shadows. And generally the shadows are always exposed under key in order to feel like they are in the shade.

So when the sun is frontal, I expose for the sun, or slightly overexpose if I want a "hot" feeling.

When the sun is very high and toppy, I overexpose the sun by one stop, which opens up the shadows a little more.

If the sun is backlight but high-ish, I usually meter the shadow side of the face and underexpose it by a stop & a half (or I overexpose the sun by two stops, which is similar).

If it is late afternoon backlight, I meter the shadow side and underexpose it by one stop.

Shooting slide film, with its limited latitude, is a good way to find out what works as a general rule.
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#3 Adam Thompson

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 05:58 PM

Thank you Mr. Mullen. That's close to what I was doing in general but it helps a lot to see it written out. I've shot loads of slide film in bright sun and it did teach me a lot. Its tough sometimes though, when you aren't in practice.

Do you have any guess as to how Lubezki may have approached The New World photography for the backlit shots, in general? It seems like when I try the same type of shots I will often have too dark of a face. I know they had the ability of waiting till very late day for shooting where the ratio is easier to deal with but some didn't look so late day. Some shots could not have even had BBoards because they were too wide or moved too much. I'm really curious if he may have had a line of thought to stick to, sort of.

The anamorphic combined with the natural light is amazing in that movie. That's also a perfect example of a 35mm film with deep DOF that still looks like 35mm film... there's just more to nice cinematic images than hi-rez math and shallow dof.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 October 2007 - 06:57 PM

When you run around like that on some of "The New World", the general rule is to just split the exposure difference between sun & shade since you're panning the camera everywhere anyway. The color neg can handle it. They shot 5217 and 5218 outdoors, which are fairly wide in latitude.
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