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What are your favorite examples of using natural light in a film(s) ?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 23 January 2008 - 10:51 PM

I was thinking how much I love the look of Local Hero (dir. Bill Forsythe,
lighting cameraman Chris Menges.) There are so many great shots that seem to be done
in available light and not augmented at all with any lamps.

What films do you like for their scenes with exclusive use of available light or
also what films do you like because they look so convincingly naturally lighted
due to the skillful use of available light supplemented by some help from lights off
of the truck?
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 01:26 AM

Most films shot by Deakins, Wexler, Ozzie Morris, Gordon Willis, Deschanel, Fred Murphy ("Hoosiers" especially), Almendros, amont many others...

Watch any one of Terry Malick's films, and you'll see some brilliant use of natural lighting.
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#3 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 02:06 AM

Most films shot by Deakins, Wexler, Ozzie Morris, Gordon Willis, Deschanel, Fred Murphy ("Hoosiers" especially), Almendros, amont many others...

Watch any one of Terry Malick's films, and you'll see some brilliant use of natural lighting.




Good list. I'll have to go back and look at "Hoosiers" though. I remember the story and the
performances, maybe because the lighting was so good I got caught up in the people on screen.


I read Nestor's book a while ago (can't recall the proper title.) He has lots of great stories in it
of how he shot with natural light and got good at it because he didn't have any lights.
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#4 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 11:30 AM

If feel like (but can't be certain) that Lost in Translation used a lot of available light, especially in the hotel room. Of course you could probably light Scarlett with a traffic light and she'd look good.
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 12:37 PM

Its almost impossible to shoot a feature film with just natural light ,you can spend 10 hours on a scene in a room on location so to keep lighting continuity you need to use lights .The trick is to make it look not lit if you can do that it makes you a good cinematographer in my opinion.
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#6 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 24 January 2008 - 12:42 PM

Its almost impossible to shoot a feature film with just natural light ,you can spend 10 hours on a scene in a room on location so to keep lighting continuity you need to use lights .The trick is to make it look not lit if you can do that it makes you a good cinematographer in my opinion.


Yep, there's natural lighting, then there's natural sources. I suppose whenever I say "natural lighting" I'm really meaning "naturalistic".
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#7 Jason Sikorski

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 07:39 AM

Just to clarify the definition of "natural light" (I've always been a bit confused about this), it would be any lighting that mimics the actual lighting in a given environment?

For example - I'm shooting at night in a room with several large windows, and I put one or more large lights outside each window (diffused). Assuming that's all I use to light the shot, I'm using "natural lighting", right?
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#8 G McMahon

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 09:52 AM

Hello all,

To me the term "natural lighting" means no lighting, or no augmentation of what is in the location. So, shooting in an office environment under practical lights that are "naturally" there, to me, means natural lighting.

The term "to look natural" means the use of anything in any means to make the look or style uncontrived or unnoticed, like no one pulled a production light out.

I hope I am right, as some times I will say, " lets shoot it oysters", meaning, lets shoot it how it is.

Did anyone add John Seale to the list? Witness, Dead Poets society, Rain man, and I believe he won an oscar too. Dean Semler (Dances with Wolves), and Russell Boyd (master and commander) as well. In fact, I believe they all come from the same country. Don't mind me, we just had our national day a couple of days ago. But I do believe they light to "look natural", I hear that is how they got allot of their gigs.
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#9 Sam Wells

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 10:23 AM

Ermano Olmi "The Tree Of Wooden Clogs"

Alexander Sokurov "Mother And Son"

-Sam
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 06:49 PM

Did anyone add John Seale to the list? Witness, Dead Poets society, Rain man, and I believe he won an oscar too. Dean Semler (Dances with Wolves), and Russell Boyd (master and commander) as well.

Interestingly, if you watch some of these guys' master classes where they replicate the lighting from certain scenes in their films for students, they do use a lot of lights but the results are usually very naturalistic. John Seale's master class took a day interior scene from "Dead Poets Society" in the boys dormitory which was done on a soundstage. He had several large diffused tungsten sources outside gelled 1/2 or 1/4 blue for window light and to light up the painted backdrop. Then he had some smaller sources from the open ceiling to create a soft top light and then several practicals in the room. Then he added an inkie for eyelight above the camera. He had a great old school trick where to hide the top lights in the wide shot, he took a wooden board painted the same color as the walls and placed that in the foreground of the shot on a stand so that it would simultaneously hide the lamp and blend in with the walls. You can see an excerpt of this class on the "Dead Poets" DVD.

Dean Semler taught a similar class using a night interior scene from "Dances with Wolves" inside the Sioux chief's tent which is supposed to be lit only from the fire in the center of the tent. He used a bunch of orange-gelled Totas on flickerboxes around the base of the fire to augment the real fire and also used a flame bar under the lens for close ups to get the heat distortions. Then he used a large blue-gelled tungsten source outside the tent for moonlight, the effect of which we only see briefly when a character steps out of the tent.

Haven't seen a master class with Russell Boyd, but I've been watching "Picnic at Hanging Rock" recently which was one of his early features and comparing it to "Master and Commander." Wow, what a difference. The interiors in "Picnic" are very hard lit and not strictly source motivated. You can see that he was probably trained in an old-school studio style of lighting and had to modify his style as the times changed. It would be interesting to revisit his work between "Picnic" and "Master" and see how his style evolved over the years.
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#11 G McMahon

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 07:09 AM

Mr Murashige,

I wasn't necessarily insinuating that they do not use lights, just the look of their pictures are natural.

They are good master classes by the way.
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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 08:12 PM

Mr Murashige,

I wasn't necessarily insinuating that they do not use lights, just the look of their pictures are natural.

They are good master classes by the way.

No one's ever called me Mr. before (except on my bills). "Sir" occasionally... as in, "Sir, would you please step outside and empty your pockets." I start to worry when people become overly polite. ;)

I realize you were only saying that those DPs were working in a naturalistic style, just thought I'd share how these scenes were actually lit for those who didn't know.
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 09:07 PM

I loved seeing that "Dead Poets Society" trick with the painted piece of wood just out in front of the camera. Ever since seeing that, I've done the "Peering through my fist as a viewfinder" technique as well. It helps so to see the scene without the lights themselves effecting your eye's iris and closing it down.
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#14 Chayse Irvin

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Posted 01 February 2008 - 11:05 PM

http://www.chayseirv.../video/Dawn.mov

Days of Heaven
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