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Creating A Strong Highlight


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#1 Carl Fischer

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Posted 25 November 2010 - 01:33 AM

If I let a slash of a highlight that mimics the sun go around 3 1/2 - 4 stops over on 5219 will that give me a pretty strong, somewhat burned out highlight? Do people go hotter? I'm not looking to create a Robert Richardson style highlight, but I want it to be pretty strong and don't mind if it blows out a bit. Though I know the stock has a lot of latitude so I'm not sure if you have to overexpose more to get the effect.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2010 - 12:11 PM

If I let a slash of a highlight that mimics the sun go around 3 1/2 - 4 stops over on 5219 will that give me a pretty strong, somewhat burned out highlight? Do people go hotter? I'm not looking to create a Robert Richardson style highlight, but I want it to be pretty strong and don't mind if it blows out a bit. Though I know the stock has a lot of latitude so I'm not sure if you have to overexpose more to get the effect.


It needs to be overexposed, but by how much is a creative choice. It also depends on how large the overexposed area is in the frame (it gets more distracting as the area is larger), how light-toned the object is that the light is hitting (a white shirt versus a black shirt, for example, or a dark wooden desk versus a yellow tiled counter), what the various camera angles are (maybe you have a tighter shot where the action happens in the hot patch), what the dynamic range of the camera or film stock is, etc.

It also depends on if you want the overexposed patch or area to bounce light up into dark areas, whether you are using the bit of overexposure as fill for a shadow, for example. It also depends on how long the main character or action passes through the hot patch, or whether they are always in it.

Also depends on the time of day - late afternoon light starts to get less hot as it gets lower.

It also depends on how bright the sun would be relative to the room light levels -- in an open sunny room with a lot of ambience, closer to outdoor levels, a spot of sun would not be as hot as it would in a dark wooden office with a small window where a bit of hard sun poked through and hit something.

Generally I don't even meter a hot slash if it's small in frame and I mostly want the halation and bounceback off of it. I suspect it is often four or more stops over, but that depends on if I am shooting film or digital. Yes, 3 to 4 stops is a good starting point, 5 is close to white & burned out on film but it depends on the object it is hitting. WIth some digital cameras, you have clipping just around 2 to 3 stops over.

If it's a small hot spot, it's better to set it by eye first because your meter will tend to make you too conservative.
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