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Reflective Light on Dark Skin and Exposure?


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#1 anthony derose

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Posted 11 February 2009 - 01:50 PM

How do you expose for darker skinned talent?

I have shot digital with African American talent and haven't ran into a problem. With lighting I always try to use a nice soft reflective source so I get more of a reflectance from the skin. My concern is I am coming on a S16 project where most of the cast is African American. I'm used to underexposing cacasion scene wether its for a night scene effect etc. But what do I do in the case that I want to underexpose for a similar effect with a darker skinned talent? If their refelectance is already 1 stop under and say I under expose a stop and a half from that (I mainly use incident) Im in a range of 2 1/2 stops under which is pretty dark (probably too dark for what I want). I guess the simple answer is don't underexpose as much maybe a half stop?

This leads me into a second question; what do you do when your underexposing for a effect (weather its moonlight, etc.) and you have both a light skinned and dark skinned actor in the shot? Do you just go with what character is more important in the scene? Try to light both differently though? (I assume this could be hard if it was a wide shot with movement). Or just find the exposure in between and go for that?

I know this question has been asked many times I got some tips from my search of the forums but I figured I'd ask it in my words.

Thanks
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#2 Salil Sundresh

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 08:23 AM

How do you expose for darker skinned talent?

I have shot digital with African American talent and haven't ran into a problem. With lighting I always try to use a nice soft reflective source so I get more of a reflectance from the skin. My concern is I am coming on a S16 project where most of the cast is African American. I'm used to underexposing cacasion scene wether its for a night scene effect etc. But what do I do in the case that I want to underexpose for a similar effect with a darker skinned talent? If their refelectance is already 1 stop under and say I under expose a stop and a half from that (I mainly use incident) Im in a range of 2 1/2 stops under which is pretty dark (probably too dark for what I want). I guess the simple answer is don't underexpose as much maybe a half stop?

This leads me into a second question; what do you do when your underexposing for a effect (weather its moonlight, etc.) and you have both a light skinned and dark skinned actor in the shot? Do you just go with what character is more important in the scene? Try to light both differently though? (I assume this could be hard if it was a wide shot with movement). Or just find the exposure in between and go for that?

I know this question has been asked many times I got some tips from my search of the forums but I figured I'd ask it in my words.

Thanks

Usually I expose darker skin at around middle gray -- very close to what your incident meter reads (darker skin is closer to 18% gray than white). Try underexposing 1 stop below what your incident reading gives you?

Edited by Salil Sundresh, 22 February 2009 - 08:24 AM.

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#3 David Rakoczy

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 02:24 PM

Block the mixed skin talent so that you can Net/ Flag the lighter skinned person down a bit to place them both in the same relative illumination (provided the scene calls for that). A great Key Grip can do wonders in this area! Watch your kickers on black skin... they can be a bit overbearing. I prefer soft edgers whenever possible on black skin.
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#4 Salil Sundresh

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 06:08 PM

Block the mixed skin talent so that you can Net/ Flag the lighter skinned person down a bit to place them both in the same relative illumination (provided the scene calls for that). A great Key Grip can do wonders in this area! Watch your kickers on black skin... they can be a bit overbearing. I prefer soft edgers whenever possible on black skin.

Also, check with your make up artist to see if they can do anything to help make lighterskin subjects less reflective.
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#5 Jose Figueroa Baez

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 02:28 PM

I had a similar situation a few months ago doing a short school project. What I ended up doing was using bounced light to fill my main character after the room was already lit. I had a backlight giving an edge and used bounce to fill in his face using the same light. I also used fluorscent lighting in other shots where I didnt have a good source to bounce from. I would bring in the light for him specifically while flagging it off the rest of the set in order to preserve my original set up. I am no big shot professional but that worked for me hopefuly it helps you too.
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rebotnix Technologies

Metropolis Post

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Visual Products

Glidecam

Wooden Camera

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Ritter Battery

Opal

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Rig Wheels Passport