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exposing for a campfire...


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#1 Toni el Khazen

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:27 AM

Hi to all,

i need your opinion on the following matter:
i have a scene in which the actors are near a campfire.
i am using the Kodak 500t vision 2 and need to know what is the best exposure to work around to have details in the flames.
Assuming it's a strong campfire what is the ideal exposure to avoid blown out flames.
note that i will add lighting on the actors to work safe on the fire.

thanks
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 08:50 AM

You'll need to take a meter reading of the campfire; though. I'd suspect it to be 'round T11-T22, in it's brightest point, so trying to light to a 5.6 on the actors should help.

This will depend a lot on how big the fire it, how far your actors are and the like.
Mind that 500T (52/7218) handles over-exposure pretty well, up to 3 stops I would say.
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#3 Serge Teulon

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:05 AM

I'd also say the same......the 18 stock is so sensitive that I wouldn't feel too worried about whether it will register. I'd be more concerned in achieving the right feel for the scene.
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:29 AM

Hi thought about using say a 250d stock ? you will get a nice colour from the fire then you can light your subjects with what ever gels on the lamps you choose to get your balance .
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 11:35 AM

Generally you want to shoot a fire scene at least at f/5.6 at 500 ASA if you want to retain the orange color of the flames, f/4 maybe. But then you lose the light output of the fire so it's a compromise.

Fire is just one of those things that gets more orange the more you underexpose it. Old Technicolor movies had great orange/red fires because pre-1940's, it was in the 5 to 10 ASA range and daylight-balanced.

A lot depends on the size of the fire and how much of the frame it occupies in terms of how much overexposure you can live with. A giant bonfire or a burning house, etc. perhaps can be shot more to retain the color and texture but throw everyone in silhouette against it, but a small campfire, it's better to let it overexpose and get more light output from it.
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#6 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 12:34 PM

I have filmed fireplaces with great results at T3 using 200T rated normally, and I would shoot it at T5.6 on 500T. I used 7217 because we wanted to get away from grain since we were shooting S16. It obviously also depends how you light the people in the scene, your contrast ratio will determine how the fire looks in the scene.

I wouldn't be to afraid of blowing out flames. If you look at pictures of wood fire and wood fire itself in real life, you will see there are million nuances in the flames in terms of color and intensity. You probably couldn't expose properly for all of them, or control the nature of fire, if your life depended on it. What you want is to make fire look real, with all those everchanging colors and intensity.
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#7 Ira Ratner

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Posted 07 July 2008 - 09:28 PM

My opinion means nothing because I'm a newbie here, but different woods burn differently. And I'm not a newbie to smoking meats with different woods.

Also, what would happen if you used artifical DURAFLAME logs?

You have to remember that you're going to be shooting for a while, and tending a fire to the height that you want it ain't gonna be all that easy. Duraflame logs burn easily and consistently and don't SMOKE, which could screw EVERYTHING up.

However, once the log(s) is burning, you can throw s handful of some standard barbecue smoking chips (available at any supermarket), to give you a little smoke and a crackling sound. In fact, you can throw any dry tinder on top of the log(s).

Main point is, the Duraflame will give you like 2 hours of a great burn without headaches. The color of the burn though might not be that perfect, so this is just a suggestion.
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#8 Nadav Hekselman

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Posted 08 July 2008 - 01:24 AM

Ofcourse it depends on several factors, but if its a simple sit-down dialog around the fire, a natural look will be the best in my opinion. Especially when going for close-ups, artificial lighting will never match the beautiful effect a real bone-fire have. So if thats your situation I say expose for the face and use the flame as source light without artificial lighting. (maybe only for small touches)

Also, do tests! check different exposures and see how it looks ... maybe you'll like it when the faces are a bit underexposed and you get more of the fire.( although i recommend doing that later in post so you get a good exposure for the faces).

A final thought. You can compose your frames in such away the will allow you to use ND-GRAD filters . This way you can bring down the exposure only on the fire and leave the actors unchanged. if you do this correctly, you will get great exposure on the faces and a beautiful detailed fire! Just make sure you use the soft-edge filters and not the hard-edge, so you get a smooth gradation.

good luck!

P.S If you can grab a movie named "Atash", its beautiful and brilliant , and they have the most amazing bone-fire scenes, all natural.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398713/
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#9 David Rakoczy

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 11:54 AM

Be VERY careful with NDs and (Filters) in general around Flames.. they can cause 'ghosting'.

I recommend shooting 200T.. why shoot 500t at a 5.6 when you can shoot 200t at just under a 4? 200t looks so much better than 500 unles you relly like the Grain.. or the Stock is already purchased and you are stuck with it.

Build a real fire and use the smoke.. it will add a naturalness to your shot. Backlit smoke looks great! I wouldn't go deeper then 1/2 CTB for your moonlight and use a combo of 1/2 and full CTO for your Fire-light.

Remember it is contrast that will make your image snap...

Have fun.. throw one on the Bar-B for me :-)

Edited by David Rakoczy, 09 July 2008 - 11:54 AM.

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