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Exposure Question


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#1 Dan Riordan

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 01:08 PM

I've got what's maybe a really basic question, but bear with me, i'm a student.

I was shooting with a bolex and a sekonic studio meter with the lumisphere attached. I was outside around 1 or 2 in the afternoon.

My actor was facing the sun so I put my camera in front of her and then took a reading. The sekonic was receiving pretty direct sunlight. The sun was behind the camera and her face was receiving the light.

I then moved my camera behind her so I was now pointing towards the sun. I took another reading and as I expected the reading was less intense then it had been in my last shot.

I understand that I am now exposing for her shadowed side and the meter was merely reading this. But then I began to think that my background had not changed. It was still receiving the same amount of light but i was opening up. I then realized that this would change the intensity of my background. Sure I would get detail in my actor's shadowed side but now my background was being exposed more than before.

So i how do i go about getting an even looking exposure in shots that differ in their relation to the sun? If I just took readings with my sekonic facing the camera, and I changed the camera's position, I would get fluctuating exposures for the background. Correct? The actor would be exposed correctly but the background could be overexposed.

I assume I could just pick an f-stop and go with it, but how would I determine what f-stop would be best? Or the other solution would be to bounce light in. Correct?

The reason I ask is because I'm shooting a scene on a large sand dune. I'd like the background to have a proper exposure in order to retain detail of the sand.

Sorry for the long post. Thank you for reading.
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#2 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 02:34 PM

Use lots of fill light.

At the very least, reflectors.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 03:15 PM

So i how do i go about getting an even looking exposure in shots that differ in their relation to the sun?


It's called "lighting" ;). Yes, you would want to bounce enough light onto the shadowed side of the subject so that a single exposure would yield acceptable results on both the key and fill sides. Try using the soft silver reflectors for your shoot in the sand dunes.

A down-and-dirty way to find an exposure for day exteriors is to turn your meter's dome so that it's 1/2 lit by the sun (away from any reflectors). This usually results in the sunlight being about 1/2-stop overexposed, and creates a pretty natural look for most angles. Then, use bounces to bring the shadowed side of your subject up to the desired fill level.
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#4 Dominic Case

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 07:54 PM

THis is a really good question because it illustrates the fact that you can't just point and shoot, even with a meter, and expect everything to cut together and look OK.

Well you could, but if you want the background to remain consistent, then you must wear the fact that faces in shadow will be unreadable. Usually, that's not a good result.

Though if you think everythng through, you will realise that your background isn't receiving the same light as before - it is also backlit. So it's going to look different, whatever you do. However, if you are on sand dunes, the dunes could well appear brighter with the sun bouncing off them than with the sun over your shoulder! Certainly they won't look the same, any more than your subject's face looks the same. That is reasonable though - it's the way the world works.

So, yes, the answer is fill lighting, probably from foil or foam reflector boards. As pointed out, this will reduce the apparent lighting contrast, so you would need to use it to fill the shadows on all shots, not just when the light is behind the actor.
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#5 timHealy

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Posted 01 April 2008 - 09:49 PM

It also goes to show that exposure is not all technical. There are many creative choices going on.

Best

Tim
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#6 Dan Riordan

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Posted 04 April 2008 - 12:04 AM

Thanks for the help guys. I'll be sure to use the reflectors. The other alternative is to hope for a slightly overcast day. I'll post a link when this thing is done. Thanks again, you've been a big help.
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