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Filming black people in B&W


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#1 Kaspar Kamu

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 09:11 AM

Hello,

 

I'm not sure if I'm posting my query in the right place, but I'll give it a shot.

 

I'm shooting a short film tomorrow with a black protagonist. Fairly simple. The only issue is that the film will be shot in B&W. So my question is how do I make the finished product visually pleasing without risking to underexpose his face? 

I'm thinking about the possibility of shooting slightly overexposed and then raising the contrast in post. Would this work?

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Kaspar 


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 09:14 AM

There are sometimes genuine photographic issues with ensuring that a wide range of skin tones are flatteringly lit in a single shot, especially with high contrast lighting,

 

What stock or camera system are you shooting, and what sort of look are you after? If you want it all backlit on Tri-X and your director keeps showing you scenes from Blade Runner as inspiration, you may have your work cut out. If it's an overcast day exterior and you're shooting a modern colour stock with the intention of desaturating in post, things will be easier.


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#3 Kaspar Kamu

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 11:05 AM

Thanks for your reply!

 

I'm shooting digitally on a Canon 5d Mark III. It's day exterior with sunshine forecasted all day. I'm not after a specific look, really. Just a kind of slightly high contrast B&W look. 


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#4 Zac Fettig

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 11:36 AM

If you've got a spot meter, I'd meter off his face, then overexpose a third of a stop.


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#5 Tim Tyler

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Posted 11 March 2014 - 12:10 PM

You definitely don't want to expose for dark tone using the zebras you would use for light tone. Dark anything is less reflective than light anything and there's no reason to compensate too much for that, unless,,,  If a subject is very dark and the background is not dark, a frontal fill light for the face can be helpful.

 

Edge lighting works wonderfully on dark faces, and since you're going for a high-contrast look, I'd recommend lots of edge lighting. Bring some reflectors and bounce cards.

 

If you have a light toned subject sharing the frame with a dark toned subject it might help to net some key light off of the light subject so there is less contrast between subjects.

 

Raising the contrast in post mostly just makes the bright things brighter, and the dark things darker, so I wouldn't plan on that in lieu of lighting and composition.  


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