Sony VX2000-shooting against bright sky at

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Sony VX2100 / PD170 / PDX10 Companion
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 01:13 PM   #1
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Location: Toronto, Canada
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Sony VX2000-shooting against bright sky

Hi everyone. I have another tricky shooting situation. I'm shooting someone walking along the top of a dyke in The Netherlands. The lower half of the frame is a gray sloping concrete wall; the top half is a bright white sky. The person is dressed in dark red and black and is crossing horizontally through the frame, appearing to be walking along the horizon line.

I shot this yesterday using the camera's auto settings, and Neutral Density filter on. I ended up with a nice white sky with cloud details, a ground that was pretty well balanced if not a tiny bit dark; a person that seemed to be backlit and had jagged edges all around her as she moved. I also felt that the focus was a bit soft in the ground. May've been the wind...?

Question, is there any way to avoid the dark figure and the jagged edges? Would shooting on manual with a higher shutter speed make any difference in the jagged edges? Any way to expose the figure a bit better? I suppose I could compromise the sky and overexpose to get detail in the figure. In terms of focus, if I use manual focus, focusing on the figure, what kind of aperture do I need for a decent depth of field?

thanks a lot. Going out to try again in the morning.

Lisa K.
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 01:26 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Vallejo, California
Posts: 4,049
You have a limited number of choices:
1. Expose for the person's face and forget the rest.
2. Have someone else walk along with a reflector to light up the actor.
3. Carry a daylight-balanced light source along and don't get any spill light on the wall.

The jagged edges may be compression artifacts which are usually displayed as small blocks. I've seen them when attempting to shoot slowly rotating machinery. But never anywhere else. (PD150)

I don't think it has to do with exposure. You say everything was exposed in-range, just that the actor was dark. I've shot in exactly the same situation as you describe with the exception that the actors were fairly stationary and I was going for proper exposure on their face (PD150)

What you describe did not occur in other occasions (shooting walking actors from a wheelchair) even though the sky was so overexposed, the color viewfinder color rolled over into false colors. The recorded image was OK. (VX-1000 & PC-110)

One trick you can try is to shoot a short clip of the sky with proper exposure. Then set the camera up for proper exposure of the subject. Then lumakey the overexposed sky from that setup out in favor of the properly exposed sky from the short clip. If you have nothing in the sky view (like trees), this works very well.

The same trick also works when you have to shoot inside a building with windows that blow out from overexposure. I've saved many a wedding shot where the bride and groom wanted to get married in a poor-for-video location.
Mike Rehmus
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Old June 3rd, 2005, 11:41 PM   #3
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VX 2000 and bright sky

Thanks for that. I'm also going to try using the camera's function for shooting in a back lit situation.
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Old June 4th, 2005, 09:09 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Contrast with subject

Dear Lisa,

Had a not dissimilar situation last week --- bright light from outside arcades behind a subject sitting in same, foreground.

As you may know, there's a button that says "backlight." [I think it's on the left side of the camera -- just got the new SONY, not too familiar with the gadgets]. Hit it -- the background blasts out -- and the foreground gets acceptable contrast. It's not real subtle -- but it does work. I was actually astonished, when I tried it. Mind you, I didn't RECORD it -- but the mechanical adjustment was surprisingly helpful.

A situation we all face -- and unless you keep subtle control over iris, this button is the way to go.


Just read Mike's comments. They are great -- and useful -- but really laborious. Try simply angling to the side a bit, or shooting higher or lower to avoid sky and extreme contrast; 'course, that blows the effect you are going for.

If you really want to see a dark foreground subject against a bright background, good lighting is the only answer in this situation -- other than the kind of clunky adjustment SONY provides on the camera itself.


RAH [Rick]
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Old June 5th, 2005, 01:55 AM   #5
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strong backlight

Thanks for your help. I ended up working with the sun instead, waiting for it to move in front of the subject.
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