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Outdoor Light Manipulation


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#1 Mark Coger

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 02:19 AM

Just had a question about how to control the light for a particular scene. I have scene where two actors are sitting on a picnic table that is covered by a canopy. I plan to shoot this scene in the morning between 7am - 9am where the light is still at a low angle and is side lighting the actors sitting on the picnic table. I did light meter test and came up with the following numbers:

 

 

Key Side: f-8.0

Fill Side: f-2.0

Background: f-5.6

 

 


The test was done on a sunny day with no clouds in the sky. I don't have any lights to use so my only options is to try to manipulate the sun hitting the actors.  Would it be better to try and diffuse the light hitting the actors using a butterfly w/silk or use a bounce board to balance out the fill side? If I shoot the scene as is there's a 4 stop difference from the fill and key side. 

 

I've attached an aerial photo the scene showing the angle of the light hitting the picnic table under the green canopy. 

 

Hopefully when it comes time to film it will be a cloudy day. That would make my life so much easier. But just in case I have to assume it's going to be a sunny day. 

Attached Images

  • sundirection.jpg

Edited by Mark Coger, 26 November 2017 - 02:24 AM.

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#2 Michael Rodin

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 11:21 AM

What's the scene about? What emotions should the image provoke?

 

4 stops is generally too much contrast for a day potrait shot. Shadow side of the face will be around 3 stops below grey - that is, very dark with texture but not much volume, unless you're lifting the shadows in timing a lot. It makes sense to do an over/underexposure test for your camera and grading process, to see, for example, what exactly "-3" will look like.

 

Are you going to side key both your actors with sun? Or more frontally key one and backlight the other? - if it's possible, as you'll need to find a way to light the backlit actor's face with a bounce board or mirror. You can't have one face at T/8 and other at 2 in such a scene - the backlit actor's face should be at least 4-5,6 split if you're at T5,6, to look natural.

Use diffusion to soften the shadows on faces, if needed. Often something light like 1/4 silk is the best. Contrast is better controlled with bounce and nets.


Edited by Michael Rodin, 26 November 2017 - 11:21 AM.

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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 11:51 AM

Keep it simple -- use a large soft bounce surface like a 12'x12' to add some fill.  Could use Day Blue Muslin if you want a less obvious bounce, cooler in cast.  


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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 26 November 2017 - 11:58 AM

Here's a similar scene I lit in a movie last year, although it was late afternoon, not early morning.

 

New%20Wife33.jpg

 

We kept the actors in shade, and let the backgrounds be hot, splitting the exposure so that their faces were slightly under exposed, and everything was slightly over. As we moved into coverage, the sun had got lower and was starting to hit them directly, so I hung 2 or 3 8' x 8'  frames of light grid from the side of the canopy to soften the light.

 

New%20Wife34.jpg

 

I didn't use any fill. The diffused sunlight through the frames was a big enough source that it wrapped around the actors faces to give them some shape, and there was enough ambient light in the shade to keep the shadow sides of their faces from going totally dark. I probably also used some negative fill to knock it down even further to gain some contrast.


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#5 Mark Coger

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 01:42 AM

Thank you for all the tips/advice and especially for the example screen grabs. I think I'll try to keep it simple as David suggested and add some fill w/large bounce source. I originally thought that I would have the two actors sitting side by side by each but realized I might have issues in coverage with the sun shining right into the camera lens since it will be at such low angle in the sky. 

 

Or the other option would be to shoot in the middle of the day and let the background go a little over-exposed compared to the actors. 


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#6 AJ Young

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 08:53 PM

Middle of the day will give a less flattering light; you'll most likely get shadows in the eyes (racoon eyes) which will look bad (unless it's your intention).

 

If you do shoot in the middle of the day, then you'll have some options:

  1. Diffuse the overhead sunlight with a large diffusion in the realm of a 10'x - 12'x and up. Fill in the shadows with fill as well. Safety becomes a concern when doing overhead diffusion because of wind. You'll need proper stands, sand bags, rope, and experience securely rigging a large frame overhead.
  2. Block the overhead sunlight in the same way as diffusion and then bounce in a more flattering angle onto the subjects.

Cat's can be skinned in a thousand ways, and there's numerous approaches to lighting during the mid-day. These aren't the only ones!


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#7 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 09:55 PM

Middle of the day will give a less flattering light; you'll most likely get shadows in the eyes (racoon eyes) which will look bad (unless it's your intention).

 

You may have missed it in the original post, but the table is covered by a canopy, so there wouldn't be any overhead sunlight.

 

Being able to keep them in shade is actually pretty helpful (unless you specifically want direct sun on them), as it mean you can bounce and/or reflect light in from various angles to create shape and modeling on their faces.


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#8 AJ Young

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Posted 27 November 2017 - 10:54 PM

You may have missed it in the original post, but the table is covered by a canopy, so there wouldn't be any overhead sunlight.

 

Being able to keep them in shade is actually pretty helpful (unless you specifically want direct sun on them), as it mean you can bounce and/or reflect light in from various angles to create shape and modeling on their faces.

 

Ah, I totally did miss that note. My mistake!


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