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Shooting in natural light


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#1 Malik Sajid

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 09:05 AM

Here are the couple of frame grabs of the shoot that i had last week. These are raw footage grabs with no color correction or any thing. I would want to hear from you guys on these frames. I am disappointed by the output mainly because of the exposure, light was so much at that time of the day. Please tell me what mistakes you find in these images and what should have i done. Shot with Sony DSR 250p on mini Dv.

Shot indoor with natural light coming from the side through a window in a 12x10 ft. room.

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This is the shot from the other side(see the window)
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This is one of the frame from the timelaps sequence. Shot for almost 5 min.
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another one shot outdoor in shiny day at around 12'o clock noon
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Performance happening in the shades of the shrine (see the under-exposure in wide)
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Do we have to light up always. I mean suppose we see at something with eye and see that is ok, even then would i light up in order to look good when it is recorded. Increase the exposure or throw a light or whatever.

Should i apply an ND filter and open my iris????
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#2 Dan Goulder

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 11:25 AM

There's nothing inherently wrong with these images. However, if you were looking for different results, then adjustments could be made. I'm assuming you're concerned about the lack of fill in the first three shots. Since you're using natural daylight, the first thing you may want to try is using a reflector board to add some fill to the darker side of the image. If that's not enough, a small, very diffuse daylight flourescent fixture used for fill could make all the difference. As for the outdoor shots, they look fine.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 02:23 PM

They look fine to me. The rest is a matter of style or tastes.
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#4 Malik Sajid

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 05:01 AM

Well....yah there was no fill in the indoor shots. so yes using a reflector could work.

the outdoor shots are pretty bright, mainly because of light at that time of the day. What you say?
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#5 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 08:49 AM

Well....yah there was no fill in the indoor shots. so yes using a reflector could work.

the outdoor shots are pretty bright, mainly because of light at that time of the day. What you say?



One thing would be to shoot on a better camera,if thats possible.. a 2/3 inch chip camera,with a nice canon or Fujinon lens,is going to make things look better.A mattbox with an ND grad will help landscapes etc straight out of the box.. ofcourse these all cost money,but if they will make your pictures look better.

Personally I dont think you need fill on the first interiors ... will make it look pretty flat.. the shadow is nice in my option .. and ofcourse its up to your personal taste in the first place.. if you did have a small kino light I,d use it on the window /source side of the face on the CU if anything.

Edited by Robin R Probyn, 08 November 2008 - 08:52 AM.

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#6 Daniel Porto

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Posted 09 November 2008 - 06:55 PM

Do we have to light up always. I mean suppose we see at something with eye and see that is ok, even then would i light up in order to look good when it is recorded. Increase the exposure or throw a light or whatever.


As always it comes down to personal taste.

My personal taste (only sometimes): Always use lights and create shots in which the everyday eye is not likely to see. This is the key to creating interesting shots to the eye.
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#7 Malik Sajid

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 08:58 AM

hmm....got you.....but explain this a bit.

suppose you go into a situation and light seems to be fine with naked eye. But would you light it anywayz in order to look it good on screen? light it or enhance the image by any other means or whatever.

is this the approach?
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:01 AM

When I'm doing video work I tend to lower contrast a bit in camera via lighting with the knowledge that i can crush blacks later on if needed. For your shots I might've used some foam-core right off of camera just to fill in a bit, but as said, the INT shadows are nice. Moving him away from the wall a bit and giving a kicker might've helped keep things looking more separated.

Here's an example of a quick curve I threw on in Photoshop which I think makes this image a bit more pleasing. I just crushed a little black, and brought the mids up slightly.
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#9 Daniel Porto

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:07 AM

hmm....got you.....but explain this a bit.

suppose you go into a situation and light seems to be fine with naked eye. But would you light it anywayz in order to look it good on screen? light it or enhance the image by any other means or whatever.

is this the approach?


I would possibly enhance the light coming in if possible (sometimes using only natural light can leave very flat images which are not too exciting for the eye).

What adrian said about keeping the contrast down I agree was that your latitude is not as great as film.
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:12 AM

Here's another example from a doco I'm doing. We went out mainly just to get sound on these two; but I threw up the camera as well. Lighitng was just what was in the room with 2 150 lights bounced off of their white walls for a bit of fill (sony ex1 for camera)
the before and after another quick post curve follow in that order.
p.s. images might appear differant on here than they do in photoshop. save as and open in photoshop if you can
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#11 Malik Sajid

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 09:48 AM

When I'm doing video work I tend to lower contrast a bit in camera via lighting with the knowledge that i can crush blacks later on if needed. For your shots I might've used some foam-core right off of camera just to fill in a bit, but as said, the INT shadows are nice. Moving him away from the wall a bit and giving a kicker might've helped keep things looking more separated.

Here's an example of a quick curve I threw on in Photoshop which I think makes this image a bit more pleasing. I just crushed a little black, and brought the mids up slightly.



Yah...i got you...........well....how could i throw a kicker in the INT shots? Becaus you can see the main source is the window, which is quite big. So that big source has lit the right side (camera right) of the face quite evenly. So where could i throw a kicker. In your examples i can see a kicker, which justifies coz the room is lit evenly.

yes i could have moved the talent away from the wall provided the room is bigger.

And what you mean by crushing the black? I understand video does not print the blacks properly. So what steps should i follow in post? Should i lower the contrast and increase the saturation? I mainly use Adobe Premiere.
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#12 Sam Wells

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 10:05 AM

hmm....got you.....but explain this a bit.

suppose you go into a situation and light seems to be fine with naked eye. But would you light it anywayz in order to look it good on screen? light it or enhance the image by any other means or whatever.

is this the approach?


It depends on the kind of film you're making. There are times when intervention with anything other than the minimal (small reflector etc) or even that is not appropriate: if you've changed 'subject' into 'talent' it's a different film.

Something more dramatic, then you can use existing light as a starting point; how far you go from there gain depends on a variety of factors, kind of film and intentions, what format you're shooting on etc.

What I would try to avoid - as in your examples - is the very bright hot window in that (third ?) shot which distracts from the subject (and reveals the dynamic range limits of your materials).

-Sam
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#13 Malik Sajid

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 10:31 AM

That third shot is just to let you know what/where the source of light is? It is taken by a handycam that a friend was holding, nothing else.


Still i am not cleared about the lighting? Should i enhance the available light in order to look it good on screen?
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#14 Serge Teulon

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 10:48 AM

Hi Malik,

I personally like your interior shots, natural daylight is great.
For me, the problem in the internals is the shot with the window. When you haven't got anything sprucing up your fill try, with that skin tone, try not to show the fill side so much.
The camera that you are using has obviously not got a lot of latitude for you to work with. In future and prior to shooting take some nd gels with you and see if you can nd windows without it showing on camera. Otherwise, block your shots so you don't either, show the entire window or that much of it.

The exteriors require some nd on the lens. There is a lot of hard sun hitting your extremely predominant white area.

Edited by Serge Teulon, 11 November 2008 - 10:50 AM.

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#15 Malik Sajid

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 11:06 AM

That shot with the window is just to let you know what/where the source of light is? It is taken by a handycam that a friend was holding, nothing else. It will not be used.

Exteriors......Suggest me something on exteriors, coz i need to take some long shots and couple of timelaps.
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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 01:05 PM

For a kicker you could use a mirror to bounce some light "harder" in. It of course depends on the type of film you're making as well mentioned. Sometimes you can't and then you go with what you got; ya know? In Doco type filming this is ok as it's often content over composition; if that makes sense? The content of the piece is more important than the aesthetics.
For the exts; it can come down to good planing to get good light. Early in the morning or in the afternoon I find it better as the sunlight is by default more directional. Of course, you can't always do this; and in such situations you're kinda stuck.

To crush blacks you use a color corrector plugin and that interface will be based on the program you're on. In FCP it's a 3 way wheel looking thing with a slider on the bottom. The one one the far left is the "blacks," moving the slider to the left makes things turn "black," faster, "crushing," the details that would be there. I believe premier pro is the same layout? But it's been awhile.
In my AVID I have a curve interface similar to photoshop-- but the intent is the same, make things go black faster which can, in tern, give some contrast so non-black things "pop" out more.
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#17 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 04:54 PM

Personally I believe that it is better to underlight digital than overlight it, so the dark side of his face looks fine to me, as the contrast ratio is not that big. Usually I'm not afraid to be "moody" with digital.
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#18 Serge Teulon

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 05:21 AM

As i said, you need some nd's on your lens to get the exposure where you want it to be.
I agree with Emile on the underlighting with digital, but that skin tone is very dark, so in my opinion, just needs a little lift.
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 07:18 AM

I try to keep everything under 80. (70 if I can!) with digital as i'd rather not hit a hard clip. Doesn't mean I don't light though and I'd agree with Serge here that the skin-tones look just a bit dark, hence why I lifted the mids. Skin-tones are fickle sometimes.
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#20 Malik Sajid

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 07:53 AM

I try to keep everything under 80. (70 if I can!)


Adrian, what you mean by 80? What is it?

Well....let me ask you one thing. Do i have to lift up the blacks so they look contrasty? I mean increase the black level? I think the problem is in the mids, lifting up the mids would work fine as apposed to lifting the whole image.
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