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Old February 14th, 2008, 08:57 PM   #1
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Wedding in a cave

So here's the Challenge d'Jour:

I'm filming a wedding in Austin in a few weeks that will be held in a cave. The good news is that's a touristy type cave that has poured floors and power outlets. Also, a critical factor, it's not a "living cave" so there's not a lot humidity. On the bad side, the obvious: no light. Well, not exactly, there is a bit but it's very low wattage. Plus there will be several hundred candles.

Any thoughts on how to light this? I won't be able to hang anything, but I do have a certain amount of flexibility in terms of setting up some light stands relatively close(I was thinking maybe a pair of spots, one on the groom, one on the bride with perhaps low backlight as well creating a kind of glow on the happy couple...would that work?)

Also, fwiw, I'm shooting with two DVXs.
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Old February 14th, 2008, 10:35 PM   #2
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the very last thing you want to do is add any lighting that makes the contrast even harder. you'll make the background go black, and pretty much ruin the mood. I'd look to get a couple of arri 150's as a starting point, with some scrims and 1/2 diffusion. well before ceremony time, get a stand in on the spot and set 2 lights up basically cross lighting. they need to be dead even to avoid casting shadows, and some diffusion will help even them out. also some dimmers may help. you aren't trying to re-light the scene, just boost a diffuse level of light up.

another option is 650's in chimeras way back. again, just a soft boost in overall light level to make the camera happy. flo lights could also work.

shutter the camera at 1/30 for 60i, that will net you one extra stop of light, 1/24 or 1/30 @ 24 will also help over 1/48th. then consider 3db ( 1/2 stop ) or 6db (1 stop) boost. gain is not evil when you use a little bit when you really need to use it. that will give you two more stops sensitivity over "normal" settings. between the small booster lights and this, you should be in very good shape to have a nice natural look.

last, a couple of 650's, or 300's played onto the WALLS will open the backgrounds up considerably, and also make some nice bounce. add some 1/2 or 1/4 CTO to warm them up to match better with the candle light. this is to augment the overall feel, not take it away by blasting the place out with raw 3200K. some flo lights bounced on the walls might also work well.

doing something like this is all about subtlety and a even increase in light levels. also, have all your lights on before people show up so its part of the place. turning them on right before show time will blast them out, and not make you a liked person.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 11:28 AM   #3
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To boost the light level and keep the candlelight atmosphere I find it looks great to have a lot of spotlights everywhere from almost directly above. This way you can achieve a lot of contrast, but with more light than dark spots. Also nobody is blinded when the spotlights come from almost directly above (PAR 64 cans for example, they don't spill to the sides).

I was never able to light something like that because you need a lot of PAR cans with a lot of truss on the ceiling to do it. But I've seen this in perfection once where a large room had this extremely pleasing candlelight-atmoshpere, but the camera told me it's f-stop 2.8 with 0dB gain.

However, I don't think you will be able to mount 50 PAR cans to the ceiling, so it's in the realm of dreams... but maybe you can use spots from directly above to light up some dark spots here and there. They must not spill to the sides, so that people don't actually see any light sources unless they look 90 up (which they usually don't unless they're interested in lighting like us)
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Old February 21st, 2008, 02:26 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. Those are great suggestions. I appreciate the insights. I'll let you know how it goes.
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