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Old June 17th, 2003, 07:38 AM   #1
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Help needed -- Any tips for videotaping people with a dark complexion?

In a few days I will be shooting a retirement party with my pd150, and 90% of the participants are people with a dark complexion. Any tips in terms of exposure and of camera settings will be very much appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old June 17th, 2003, 12:17 PM   #2
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Use your zebra indicator and treat them pretty much as you do lighter skin. Look for skin detail in the B&W viewfinder and adjust only if you observe that you are losing skin detail.

So use the zebra to get you in the ballpark and then the viewfinder for adjustments.

You do have to be careful not to obviously shoot different parts of the party at different exposures because the room and the clothing don't change with different skin tones.

The best solution is, of course, to light and clothe the subjects according to skin tone which, in a party, is impossible.

Truth is, in this type of event, you are at the mercy of what they wear and where they stand. Give the camera the best chance has got (it is pretty good at this type of event) and use a small light at all times. Use your shutter speed 60-90-100-125-150-180-250 to manually control the camera instead of aperature because the step changes in exposure are smaller and therefore less noticable.

If things get desperate about exposure, shoot longer clips and put a longer than normal dissolve between clips to somewhat hide the exposure changes.

Depending on the event, many guests wear hats. Don't be afraid to ask them to remove the hat.

Depending on your editing system, you can always lighten a region (face) in Post.

I shoot at a local community college where the students range from Irish white to very dark skin. Since these are students in an acting program, we can be more obvious about exposure concerns and tell eveyone to never wear white or black clothing to class.
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Old June 18th, 2003, 06:57 PM   #3
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Mike, thank you very much for your reply.

Unfortunately using "a small light at all times" is out of the question.

I'm a little --rather VERY-- anxious about getting a good exposure. And the thing is that I was particularly asked to make sure that I get footage of three prominent members of the African American Community, and I certainly don't want to screw up.

More advice or input will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old June 18th, 2003, 08:50 PM   #4
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AT this point, if you cannot use a light, I strongly suggest you do some practice shots before the event.

I think that only experience will give you the confidence.

One thing you can do is to even practice a bit at the event assuming you don't have to tape every second.

Tape a bit and then go off in the corner and take a look at the footage. Adjust accordingly.

When I get into a tough lighting situation and I can be stationary with the camera, I always use a portable monitor to set up my exposure. Every pro I know that shoots in those situations prefers to have a monitor and even a Waveform monitor operating. If you have that opportunity, go for it.
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