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Old June 28th, 2011, 02:14 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Rio de Janeiro
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Correct exposure when dodging bullets

Hi I am a stills photographer and journalist transitioning to video on my Canon 60D. I am completely self taught, independent and work solo.

I sometimes find myself in a bit of action in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, its fast, 360* and often I am tracking or panning from very bright to dark.

I don't carry any gear except my camera, no lights.

So far I have just been following the rule book, shutter speed to 2x fps, focal length to suit situation, ISO then becomes the last variable.

But generally this all goes to hell when the action kicks off. My last shoot I started inside and had to push the ISO to 6400, aperture wide open and shutter speed pushed way down just to get a shot, which was a bit grainy but quite useable for a web broadcast, then im out in the sun 5mins later and have to get it all reversed and I often find myself playing the shutter speed because its the easiest to access and its more intuitive from my stills work.

Of course this is the extreme case and I suppose the simple answer is get some lights to at least bring up the dark half of the equation. But even a simple pan is tricky if for example the subject is at a distance and standing in a spot of light or shade. Everybody seems to be shouting DONT USE AUTO EXPOSURE so what do I do?

Any veterans got a trick they can share or do I just have to deal with fact that Im not in an ideal situation.

thanks
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Old June 28th, 2011, 04:09 PM   #2
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Re: Correct exposure when dodging bullets

You could try experimenting with a variable ND to control your exposure, the new ones don't seem to cause a colour cast at the higher densities.

Traditional ENG video cameras can handle this no bother because they have built in ND filters that you can change extremely quickly, plus extremely good. viewfinders that allow you to manually ride the aperture and make good judgements regarding the levels of over and underexposure as you're shooting.
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Old June 28th, 2011, 05:10 PM   #3
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Re: Correct exposure when dodging bullets

Sam,
I wouldn't rule out auto iso or Shutter priority modes. They are tools to get the job done. In wedding work, I use this exclusively when the bride is going from a dark church to outdoors. Aside from variable nd filters, you can look at lenses that have had their aperture 'declicked' so that you get a smooth change from changing the aperture by hand.
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Old June 30th, 2011, 06:33 AM   #4
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Re: Correct exposure when dodging bullets

I was shooting in a lighted street and then the lights went out, and fireworks started. The only way I got the shots were that I used the green dummy button on my Canon. The camera adjusted the exposure and the focus when I could never have done it that quick, or well.
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Old September 20th, 2011, 03:25 PM   #5
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Re: Correct exposure when dodging bullets

Hi Sam!
I do much the same type of extreme photography/videography and use P (I hate the green box) far more than I like on my 7D. It doesn't produce the best results but I get the shot when no one else does and the results are good enough.

For Video mode on the 7D any setting other than M will put you in auto. The suggestion of using an ND filter and just exposing by eye works until you start running low on light. A lot depends on the lens you're using.

For video I have been using a Vixia G10 with great results in all modes. I'm starting to love that camera.
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Old October 6th, 2011, 04:54 PM   #6
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Re: Correct exposure when dodging bullets

I would lean towards auto-ISO as well, and also use exposure-lock on the body to hold the ISO as necessary.
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Old October 9th, 2011, 02:57 PM   #7
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Re: Correct exposure when dodging bullets

The variable ND's are nice, but tend to be too dark to leave on when moving indoors - I'm going to try the Xume magnetic filter holder with a variable ND as a solution for moving quickly between indoors and out. Also - have you tried the technicolor cinestyle profile yet? It does require more time in post, but it's real strength is in handling uncontrolled and high-contrast lighting situations.
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