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Low contrast day exteriors


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#1 Dimitri Zaunders

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 01:15 AM

Hi all,

I've got a 16mm shoot coming up soon and I'm hoping to achieve a really low contrast, milky image that is somewhat similar to this:



I was also really influenced by Darius Khondji's incredibly underrated work on 'Cheri', which was stunning.

Anyway I read in the AC article on 'Cheri' (July 09) that he achieved his look partly through overexposing and then pulling stops.

Considering that I will be shooting outdoors in fairly high contrast exteriors, and will be shooting on Kodak Vision 3 250D (rather than the low contrast Fuji Eterna 400T that Khondji used), can I expect a similar result?

Sadly I don't have access to other tools that would help, such as atmospheric haze or low contrast filters, am I going about this the best way to achieve the look I'm after?

Thanks in advance for any and all help you can provide!
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#2 Alex Malm

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 01:28 AM

One of my professors claims that vision 3 500t is a low contrast stock, but sometimes there's a language barrier so perhaps he meant something else...

But yeah, it sounds like you've thought this one through. Flashing can also be used to reduce contrast. It would add a small amount of uniform light over the entire film bringing up the shadows more so than mid tones and highlights.

Supposedly, Fuji films don't respond to flashing very well, while Kodak and AGFA faired better. An example of a film that was flashed would be McCabe and Mrs. Miller.
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#3 Dimitri Zaunders

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 01:58 AM

Thanks Alex! I really hope that 7207 is a fairly low contrast stock too, like always I don't have the luxury of being able to shoot tests so all I can do is cross my fingers and hope it turns out the way I want it to :(

And I really wish I could try flashing, I've always wanted to and I hope one day I'll get the chance. I think it would have been great for this project but I wouldn't dare risk it without shooting tests, which sadly isn't possible for this project.

So am I on the right track with two stops of overexposure? I was also hoping to overexpose an additional 2/3 stop, as I remember David Mullen saying that the benefits of overexposing for a denser negative are mitigated by pulling, which means I would need to expose a further 2/3 on top of what I already intended. Does this sound right? I'm hoping for a rather extreme effect, so I'm not so much concerned about it being too much as I am about it being not enough to be noticeable.
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#4 Alex Malm

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 02:13 AM

Well, I'm a student myself so I understand the inability to shoot tests due to budget and time constraints, among other things. I would be hesitant about overexposing by more than 2 stops unless you're prepared to risk loss of detail in the highlights. But I suppose that's a look all of its own. I was just reading some things in Kodak's "The Essential Reference Guide For Filmmakers" about most films having about 2 stops over and 2 stops under of latitude on the negative where the information is still preserved and available to print.

If I have time tomorrow between classes I'll see if I can take a look at this one work print my professor has where the class shot incrementally over and underexposure and then pushed and pulled incrementally. But if it was me, I wouldn't overexpose by more than 2 stops. But hey, I'm no expert. And don't worry too much, it's better to experiment while in school than to screw up out in the field, right?

Goodnight. :)
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 08:38 AM

The Kodak stocks are pretty low in contrast but in reality a lot of how low contrast your scene will be will have to do with art direction... a deep saturated red wall will be a deep saturated red wall no matter what! Now, if you're doing a digital post, e.g. supervised color correction, then you can lower the scene contrast therein, or raise it. That being said, I would look into a 1 stop pull, though it costs more, while over-exposing maybe 1 -1 and 1/2 stops.
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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 10:53 AM

One of my professors claims that vision 3 500t is a low contrast stock, but sometimes there's a language barrier so perhaps he meant something else...

Supposedly, Fuji films don't respond to flashing very well, while Kodak and AGFA faired better. An example of a film that was flashed would be McCabe and Mrs. Miller.


Mc Cabe and Mrs Miller went preety wild with different techniques to get the low contrast look including double fog filters (I'm guessing Harrison?) .

Filters are one of the easiest ways to get your images to be more low contrast, most other things require special equipment such as a varicon or special processing both of which can work out expensive. There are lots of filters for a low contrast effect all with different looks from digicons to double fogs, so lots to choose from. I'm a known filter fan but it's worth giving special consideraation I think.

I don't know if it's still available but Vision Expression 500T was supposed to give a more low contrast look out of the box. Maybe that could help too?

love

Freya
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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 11:20 AM

I'm sure you must be able to lend your hands on some kind of diffusion filters, it wouldn't be an expensive rental and you could even pick up something used I am sure.

However, failing that, you could try the old trick of getting some nylon tights or stockings (not sure what these are called in American) and creating a net on the back of the lens. It might be an extreme look however. I'm guessing you would want to use very low denier tights like maybe 10 denier?

I'm guessing it would only affect the highlights too which might not be the look you want even if combined with something else. *shrug*

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 14 April 2010 - 11:23 AM.

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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 12:21 PM

Okay scratch the tights idea, that was probably not a great idea, my mind was drifting, but how about an optical flat and some vaseline. Another old trick that I have to confess I havn't actually tried but in theory it might help you with what you want especially if you apply it really thinly. This also means you could apply it to the areas of the image you want and leave others unaffected.

Okay you might not have access to an optical flat, which I would find weird if you have acess to a 16mm camera package, but I find it is a strange world. Grab a large cheap UV filter off ebay, and use that! You can tape it on if the lens isn't threaded but otherwise you could even find one to match the filter thread of the lens! (Wow!) :)

You could try out filtration ideas with a digital camera, or a camcorder. It won't look quite the same but you can run tests this way to get a very rough idea of what kinds of filtration you might use and what effect it might have. Experimentation can really help.

Anyway just some ideas to think about.

love

Freya
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#9 Dominic Case

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 06:46 PM

Check with your lab. Will they push as much as two stops? How much will they charge you for that? Surely you could buy a lo-con filter for less, and get the film processed properly.

The clip you referred to looks like overexposure and some kind of diffusion. I agree with Freya, maybe white stockings.

Flashing would work too, as it lightens the shadows: but you absolutely shouldn't do that without testing.

Whatever you do, aim to get the look right without relying on processing tricks. Film stocks are become more and more stable to process variation. You need to achieve your look with a standard process, and maybe just rely on the pull-process to avoid the neg getting too dense.
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#10 Gregory Middleton

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 09:18 PM

I would not recommend pull processing more than 1 stop without testing. Most labs might have difficulty with that speed of processing anyway. The newer films are far from linear in their response to Push and Pull processing. 1 stop push will not really give you 1 stop more asa, same with Pulling.

Based on your references , exposure wise remember to expose for the shadows. On of the reasons those images are bright and low contast is that the shadow exposure is generally close to key.
Low Contrast filters are a good way to lift the blacks easily, they will also give you a slight halo. They are not to popular now so try and look around, even online. I bet you can find one cheap or borrow. Testing is best if you can of course.
You can try and make your own filter if you want to have some fun and experiment. Use a clear filter and try a variety of sprays on it. dulling spray, or Arrid extra dry, or a clear laquer. Low contrast filters and Double fogs are basically tiny spots of opaque material between glass. Be sure to never let any direct light hit your filter or it will 'milk out' quickly.

You did not mention your post path. If finishing digitally/video you can control your contrast later very easily as long as you expose correctly.( enough detail in the shadows )

Good Luck
Greg



Hi all,

I've got a 16mm shoot coming up soon and I'm hoping to achieve a really low contrast, milky image that is somewhat similar to this:



I was also really influenced by Darius Khondji's incredibly underrated work on 'Cheri', which was stunning.

Anyway I read in the AC article on 'Cheri' (July 09) that he achieved his look partly through overexposing and then pulling stops.

Considering that I will be shooting outdoors in fairly high contrast exteriors, and will be shooting on Kodak Vision 3 250D (rather than the low contrast Fuji Eterna 400T that Khondji used), can I expect a similar result?

Sadly I don't have access to other tools that would help, such as atmospheric haze or low contrast filters, am I going about this the best way to achieve the look I'm after?

Thanks in advance for any and all help you can provide!


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#11 Dimitri Zaunders

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 09:42 PM

Thanks again for all the responses!

Unfortunately I'm stuck with a Canon Scoopic 16M for this project, which makes any kind of filter difficult. Thanks for the suggestions though Freya, I've particularly always wanted to try the trick with the nylon stockings but it won't be possible with this camera :(

I'm interested in trying to achieve this effect through processing, which from what I can tell isn't as expensive as everyone is warning me. I called Fotokem and they will pull process up to 3 stops for only a couple more cents per foot (maybe this is student pricing though, which explains why the cost is so reasonable?). This particularly appeals to me because I've taken meter readings at my location at the time of day we'll be shooting and even after rating my 250D stock at 40 (2 2/3 stops over) I'm still going to be shooting at f/11. It's unfortunate because I have no ND filters and I was hoping to shoot close to wide open for a fairly narrow depth of field, but even with the pull processing buying me an extra 2 stops I'm still a long way from where I want to be...

Maybe my best bet would be to overexpose 2 stops and pull only one, leaving me with a denser negative which will be timed in the telecine to a grey card? I'm curious about the ability to adjust contrast in post too, although I've always learnt that it's best to achieve the effect on the negative. How easily can contrast be played with in post production?

At the moment I'm hoping to go to HDCam but I don't know if my budget will allow it, are the benefits of HD for Regular 16mm worth it? We will only be finishing on a DVD to start with, but I'd like to release it in HD on the web or send it to festivals at some point.
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#12 Dominic Case

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 02:01 AM

I'm interested in trying to achieve this effect through processing, which from what I can tell isn't as expensive as everyone is warning me.

I don't think you've read the responses. Expensive or not, (and 2 or 3 cents a foot still mounts up), processing variation simply doesn't have much of an effect. You simply WILL NOT get anything approaching the look of the Youtube clip you refer to, by processing. There is image flare there, and you'll need filters or nets to do that.

I don't see why any camera is incapable of having a filter rigged onto it somehow - in front of the lens if you can't get behind it. And flashing can be done in any camera provided you can rewind the stock and run it through again. Though I wouldn't do that without testing either.

Still, if Fotokem is going to pull 3 stops for you, I just hope you get the film fully bleached and fixed.

Good luck.
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#13 Mei Lewis

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:32 AM

I'd like to try shooting with stockings as diffusion on my Canon DSLR (primarily for stills). I can;t see how I'd get anything 'behind the lens' though, would it still work if I stretch it over the end of the lens?
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#14 Dimitri Zaunders

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:23 PM

I've looked over the Canon Scoopic that I'm going to be shooting on and thankfully it has both a behind-the-lens filter slot as well as a 72mm thread for glass filters.

I understand that the benefit of using a filter behind the lens is that it doesn't reduce light to the eyepiece (and critical focus on the Scoopic eyepiece is hard enough already without having next to no light to see with). But I've also heard that there can be serious problems in terms of gel filters throwing off focus...

Maybe I should stick with filters in front of the lens? Tiffen makes a 72mm low contrast filter, although I'm not sure if I can get a hold of one in time. I'm not game to try stockings or glass with vaseline in front of the lens without testing the results, anything else I can try which is less risky?

Thanks again for the responses, I'm taking everything on board that people are suggesting and trying to think through my options. Please keep them coming!
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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 05:33 PM

I'd like to try shooting with stockings as diffusion on my Canon DSLR (primarily for stills). I can;t see how I'd get anything 'behind the lens' though, would it still work if I stretch it over the end of the lens?


Yes it's nicer behined the lenss tho as it's harder for the stocking to be in focus back there, ut should be fine in front too! Try it. You can also buy cheap net diffusion filters to go in front of the lens.

love

Freya
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#16 Dominic Case

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:13 PM

I'd like to try shooting with stockings as diffusion on my Canon DSLR (primarily for stills). I can;t see how I'd get anything 'behind the lens' though, would it still work if I stretch it over the end of the lens?

Er . . . . I think you could try this out for yourself almost as quickly as you got an answer here. And see the result.
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#17 Freya Black

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 06:13 PM

I've looked over the Canon Scoopic that I'm going to be shooting on and thankfully it has both a behind-the-lens filter slot as well as a 72mm thread for glass filters.

I understand that the benefit of using a filter behind the lens is that it doesn't reduce light to the eyepiece (and critical focus on the Scoopic eyepiece is hard enough already without having next to no light to see with). But I've also heard that there can be serious problems in terms of gel filters throwing off focus...

Maybe I should stick with filters in front of the lens? Tiffen makes a 72mm low contrast filter, although I'm not sure if I can get a hold of one in time. I'm not game to try stockings or glass with vaseline in front of the lens without testing the results, anything else I can try which is less risky?

Thanks again for the responses, I'm taking everything on board that people are suggesting and trying to think through my options. Please keep them coming!


Yes I was about to say scoopic is easy, cheap 72mm filters!

I'm feeling super nice today so check out these:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...=item5885ba5b16

Real 3x3 diffusion filters. Okay so 5 of them look like centre spot but that can be interesting too. The 5th is straight diffusion and at 5$ filter it seems easy. You may have to tape them on till you get a cheap 3x3 matte box but then they will be there for you on future projects and you won't have to wish you had access to filters.

Also:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...=item563ab8158d

The real deal. Tiffen pro mists. This one is the non black variety which might be more like your thing for this. This is a 2 which I would normally think quite strong tho.

Just for starters.

Also as I said before you can test these filters on the front of a digital stils camera or camcorder or even on the front of a 35mm film still camera. So testing can be cheap too. Get the rough idea on video and then the real deal on film.

love

Freya
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