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Lighting straight into a window!


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#1 Mark Austin

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 03:28 AM

Hello All,
Here's my scenario. I'm lighting straight into a window in a kitchen. I don't have ND for the windows. What is an exceptable exposure ratio between a decently lit face and a blown out window behind them? A blown out window is fine, but not too much where it "bleeds" into their face and wipes out the frame.

Is a 5 stop over the key window behind the actor's head a good thing? What's my limit? I know style plays a part, but there is always a point of way too much!


Thanks!
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 03:47 AM

What are you shooting on? How are you lighting through the window? Is there a light set up outside, or are you just using available light?

So long as your actor isn't overexposed with the blown out exterior behind him, you should be fine. Having him more silhouetted against the window would be more natural anyways. It just depends on the scene, but to me when the windows are ND'd too much and the exterior is obviously sunny but at the same exposure as indoors, it can be distracting.
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#3 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 06:28 AM

Without even hearing more, I'd say save yourself the trouble and get some ND. If you are having doubts at this juncture, odds are good your intuition knows something you don't.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 11:31 AM

You could also put a Double-Net scrim outside of the window, either a 4'x4' if the window is small enough, or one stretched on a frame. Only cuts one-stop but sometimes that's enough to take down a flaring window.
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#5 Ken Minehan

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:20 PM

Another option if you dont want to ND the window, is to bring in enough light, to light the subject. If you bring in enough light you might find that it would be easier to reduce the light then to ND the window.

I often have to shoot corporate videos where the client wants to have an interview against a big window with the skyline in the back ground. I have tried NDing the windows, but i found that when it comes to interviews, sticking ND on the window takes takes too much time, and after viewing the rushes i notice the ND starting to bubble and coming apart from the window. So my question is how do you stick ND on the window with out it peeling away every 15 min. I have always used a wet rag to moisten the window and the ND will stick on, but when you have the sun on the window it dries very quickly and starts to peel away.

Back to the topic at hand.

So what i would do is keep your back ground over exposed a little bit (maybe 2 stops) and light the subject to exposure. Bring in the biggest light your location would allow (assuming you have no gennie) light the subject with some form of diffusion, and always have a back light. I have made the mistake before of not setting up a backlight when the back ground is over exposed. You will find that with out the backlight it will look like a bad green screen job.

hope it helps
ken minehan
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#6 Walter Graff

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 09:49 PM

< So my question is how do you stick ND on the window with out it peeling away every 15 min.

Bring a spray bottle with water and add a teaspoon of dish detergent. Spray the window, lay on the gel anduse a squeegee going from the center out and you will not have it fall off. The principle of hanging gel on a window is more about physics than anything else and if you create low pressure between the window and the gel, it will stay. Hence a squeegee to make an area of bonding between the two surfaces by creating a low pressure between the two surfaces and a molecular attraction between the gel and the window do to one needing electrons and the other having them, and the soap simply making a nice surfactant for ease of squeezing.

<So what i would do is keep your back ground over exposed a little bit (maybe 2 stops) and light the subject to exposure.

This is what I discussed earlier as being a poor choice that will be difficult at best and cost more time than simply ND'ing the windows and create a very uncomfortable room to work in. To equal the light outside you'd have to make the room so bright as to blind your subject. And if it's two stops of light on a video camera it is not going to look good. It has to do with the camera bias and the differences in blacks indoors and the bright window. Too much contrast between a window and indoors even at a stop or so. It takes about five minutes to squeegee an ND filter or simply tape it to a window frame as I did in this video which I also linked to in another discussion. The ND is taped outside of the door and windows in this shot taught. It stayed there all day until we struck it hours later. It took all of five minutes to do two doors and two windows.

http://www.bluesky-w...ond4001H264.mov

Another simple option to reduce the light by 1.5 stops is to use black gaffers tape and tape on the inside around the window frame a piece of Lee 270 scrim (black side toward camera) or Lee 275 black scrim. It does two things as it cuts down light and reduces any indoor reflections you might have.

It seems from some of the threads lately that a discussion on ND would be good so I will make an article and video on my site next week explaining the options of quickly and professionally hanging these materials to a door or window.
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