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Old November 9th, 2011, 12:06 AM   #1
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Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

When I reach for a 5 in 1 reflector to fill in a shadow on talent's face, I usually end up finding the silver too "sparkly" to look natural, and the white doesn't reflect enough to make much of a difference.

My compromise is to partially peel the silver shell away, so that about half silver and half white remain. I can control the amount of light by the ratio of how much silver I expose versus white.

But I still often find myself getting unnatural results where it looks like a fake "second sun".

The big hollywood productions set up a 50k HMI light in front of a 20 foot diffuser, half way down the block, to fill in shadows. But is there any lower budget way of getting good fill? Good fabrics that wouldn't give as much sparkliness as silvered but more light than white?
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Old November 9th, 2011, 05:50 PM   #2
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

Hey Tom,

Don't immediately think in terms of adding light. Remember it is really about ratios. You can remove or soften the light source to also remove shadows.

When you remove the reflective covers from those discs they aren't really made to bounce much light. They're more to be used as silks or diffusion. The picture below shows how we used two discs to silk the talent. This shot was an OTC, fairly tight on the female with just the shoulder and part of the head of the male in frame, so we didn't need a large silk to block the direct sun. Most of the discs also have a warm side (golden color) that reflects less light but will also change the color temp of the reflected light. Or better yet, just take a white foam board. Always have several white boards on set for bounce and several black boards for flags.

-Garrett
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Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind-outdoor-sunlight-2.jpg   Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind-outdoor-sunlight.jpg  

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Last edited by Garrett Low; November 10th, 2011 at 01:30 AM.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 12:28 AM   #3
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

Hmmm, maybe I'm being obtuse, but did someone mention "in wind", ah, there it is, in the title, silly me?

Maybe my definition of "wind" differs from the initiator, accepted, but to find no mention whatsoever in the posts is, er, puzzling.

Am I missing something or is this this thread hopelessly mis - titled?


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Old November 10th, 2011, 02:02 AM   #4
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

Here's a screen grab from the scene. Color grading not yet done.

-Garrett
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Old November 10th, 2011, 04:58 AM   #5
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

I often end up using the combo reflector surface that mixes silver and gold to solve the problem.
Westcott Illuminator Reflector 4-in-1 - 42" 1031 B&H Photo

Also, moving the grip further away lessens the effect. The first photo in this post used that type of reflector and was about 15 feet from the talent.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 05:41 AM   #6
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

Hey I recognize those folks Garrett :-) I should have gone on that shoot, might have learned me sumthin.

I should have mentioned that the wind issue I often get is "dancing sparklies" e.g. when using a silver fabric reflector while the wind pumps the fabric in different directions changing the shape and orientation of the reflected beam.

A white foamboard might address that issue of wind changing the beam shape, and probably would reflect a bit more light. But the logistics of transporting foamboard as big as my 60" reflector might make that difficult for field work.

Les, that first still looks like what I want to achieve. Your idea of moving the reflector further away gives me the idea of simply using smaller reflectors, which should be more stable in the wind.

Good food for thought.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 09:07 AM   #7
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

Wind issues can be partly minimized by using Scrim Jim frames and the velcro attached reflective material. The Flexfill type reflectors are hard to keep from warping and losing the sweet spot in a high wind because...well...they're flexible.

Garrett was wise to find a shadowed house behind his subject, because one of the issues you run into with blocking the overhead sun is that it drops the light on the subject well below the background levels. This means you need to kick a little reflected light onto the subject, or run a black mesh behind them to ND the background. None of this works well in a run and gun situation.
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Old November 13th, 2011, 10:20 AM   #8
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

Bill is right about creating an unnaturally high amount of contract between your subject and the background when using some kind of silk. That and making your subject look too flat. We battled that and consciously did frame and set up the actors in this position to try to avoid that. It's not perfect as you can see the left side house is a little to bright and we just couldn't get the actresses eyes to pop without some kind of eye light. The problem here is to create the natural fall of the shadows, you have to reflect or light from high above. without any lights or equipment to get us up high enough we couldn't create a natural looking light source. So we had to go with this compromise. As you can see, she has very fair skin and direct sunlight was just creating a very unflattering look.

When we had her lit like the first example in Les' pictures, she look very hard and unattractive. And one thing I've learned, you never want your actresses to look unattractive especially on their close ups. I would have liked more shadows and character in her face but that was not going to fly.

-Garrett
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Old November 13th, 2011, 08:26 PM   #9
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

When using a scrim, would you ever just use some sort of small sun gun for a fill and to get catch lights in the eyes?
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Old November 14th, 2011, 08:20 AM   #10
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

An HMI works nicely, as does a bounce card or other reflector. So, subtract some of the harsh direct sunlight...then add a little back in from the opposite angle.

Unless it's about 2.4 inches away, most "sun-guns" don't have enough kick to make much difference.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 03:01 PM   #11
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Re: Controlling outdoor reflectors in wind

regarding the silver or white issue, lastolite has two new reflector surfaces: sunlite and soft silver. The soft silver is a weave of silver and white which is softer than silver but with slightly more kick than white. The flipside is sunlite, which mixes two parts of silver to one part of gold. It creates a subtle 'sunny' warmth. I bought a tri grip with these two and have been very happy with the few shoots I've used it so far. As far as the wind, I don't have much to offer but I read somewhere that cutting slits in large reflectors will relieve the wind resistance greatly with negligible affect on the reflections...I've not tried it myself.
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