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Old September 23rd, 2004, 02:07 PM   #1
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Outdoor lighting question

I am filming outdoors and have some low level shots with my actor against the horizon. It needs to bright outside and my actor needs to be wearing a near white shirt for the shot. What can I do to prevent his clothes from blending in with the background and not give the picture a too washed out look?

Mitch
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Old September 23rd, 2004, 02:19 PM   #2
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Mitch,m
If you've got a fine day, with plenty of blue sky, you shouldn't have a problem. You might even consider using a Pola filter which will give even more contrast to the sky.
Otherwise, it's down to you and exposure. You would be well served by using a production monitor on locayion to keep an eye on those levels. Personally, I don't think you'll have too many problems there...

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Old September 23rd, 2004, 05:27 PM   #3
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Shoot them with the sun at your back (well, not DIRECTLY at your back) and you shouldn't really have a problem, the sky should be a nice dark saturated blue.

Shoot with the sun at your actor's back, and you'll have more problems. The sky will blow out white, which may conflict with his white shirt, etc. Use a bounce card to bring his exposure level up, which will let you iris down and keep the sky blue.

When shooting at 90 degrees to the sun, definitely use a polarizer, it has an amazing effect on video colors at 90 degrees to the sun.
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Old October 2nd, 2004, 07:55 PM   #4
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I disagree with Barry's approach. Shooting talent with the light behind camera results in flat composition and squinting eyes.

Ideally, you have a full set of overhead butterfly silks and nets. But you can get by with just reflection too.

I try to shoot talent on exteriors with the key (the sun) over the shoulder - even on the reverse. Shoot all the angles facing East during the morning, then shoot the reverse angles facing West in the afternoon. This is called "chasing the sun" in narrative film parlance. You also get a lot better modeling of the talent with this technique. This approach is also more flattering to the talent.

Once you've got that high key over the talent's shoulder, throw white and/or silver reflection back at their faces for fill. To do a foil bounce on the cheap, I tape a pre-crumpled space blanket over foamcore and hand it to a grip with a steady hand. If you really have a contrast issue with sky and talent, add a net behind your talent on the closer shots.

I threw together a page on my site, with stills from one of my projects, that addresses this technique:

http://michael-morlan.net/pages/learning/learning_chasing_the_sun.htm
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Old October 3rd, 2004, 02:32 PM   #5
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I too generally shoot with the sun behind the actor's heads, but rather than save the reverse coverage for the afternoon I'll sometimes cheat the background and shoot the other side of the coverage concurrently and also backlit. However, I do also like the late afternoon sun directly in the actor's face. If it's too strong I'll use a light diffusion on a frame on close-ups to ease the squinting factor. As Barry points out, the saturation is excellent with the sun behind camera. This is a classic "fashion" look also.

I prefer not to use direct silver reflection on faces if at all possible, rather a white bounce if you can get enough of it. It's softer and thus less "source-y".
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Old October 4th, 2004, 09:40 PM   #6
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Re: Outdoor lighting question

I would suggest considering a black bounce board or frame panel as negative fill.
I find negative fill a great thing to utilize.
Depends on the shot.
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mitch Buss : I am filming outdoors and have some low level shots with my actor against the horizon. It needs to bright outside and my actor needs to be wearing a near white shirt for the shot. What can I do to prevent his clothes from blending in with the background and not give the picture a too washed out look?

Mitch -->>>
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