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Old December 6th, 2010, 06:21 PM   #1
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Exposure Issue

G'day,

I am trying to film the inside of an old courthouse. The walls have been hung with various picture boards of a historic nature and there is also the original crest on one of the walls that I would particularly like to capture. My problem is that the building has inadequate artificial lighting (built in the 1890's) and I'm not allowed to do anything that would compromise the heritage values of the building. (ie, I can't fasten anything to cover the windows etc.) I just don't have the equipment to light the rooms artificially.

So, I basically have to shoot in daytime and that's where the fun begins. The main courtroom has many, many windows, quite a few of which are right up high. I can't frame shots without at least one of these windows in the shot. As good as the EX1R is, in order to get the exposure correct on the walls I wish to shoot, the exposure level in the windows is invariably over 100%. This is a particular problem with the crest, which is surrounded by windows.

I could get in tight on everything but I'd also like some wide shots to show the general ambience and amenity of the building. I can't figure out a way of getting around this, but then, I'm only new at it and am most likely missing something basic.

I'm not sure whether this thread is better in the "Managing Photons" thread or the EX thread so I'm trying here first. Any clues out there?

Cheers

Russ
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Old December 6th, 2010, 07:22 PM   #2
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Russ
If this is a location you can go to at any time, you might consider waiting for a day that is very overcast- this would provide a big ND filter on the sun- or check it out late in the day near sunset.
I have shot some occasional real estate listing interior videos. On an overcast day, with the interior lights all on, it's magic- interior is well exposed and the windows reveal the outdoor details- maybe a little hot, but not blown out.
Sounds like the main issue is finding a way to turn the sun down- not too many options :)
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Old December 6th, 2010, 07:40 PM   #3
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Or you could use a basic ND Grad filter which was designed to tackle this type of problem...

Tiffen HT Filters
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Old December 6th, 2010, 07:57 PM   #4
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Hello Robert and Perrone.

The courthouse is right where I live, so I could wait around for an overcast day - but unfortunately I might grow a pretty substantial beard while I wait. We've had just 44mm of rain in 12 months here - it doesn't get cloudy often - so I think Perrone might be onto it. I'd never heard of the graduated ND filters. Definitely look like they could be the answer.

Cheers

Russ
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Old December 6th, 2010, 10:11 PM   #5
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Seems like HDR technique could help. Lock the camera down on a tripod and basically shoot video stills. with different exposures (crest is exposed well not windows are blown... crest is under exposed but windows are good...halfway between) and use masks and transparency to combine in post. Caveat: I've not done this with video...only stills...which is another option perhaps and use Burns effect on the HDR still.
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Old December 7th, 2010, 06:59 AM   #6
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I suppose the windows are blown out when the subject is lit properly?

Check your picture profile settings.
You could set knee at 90 and slope (?) at 20 or higher.
This way you can stretch the dynamic range in the highlights, but the downside it that the highlights may lack fine detail (because you may get that 'super-curved-look like the Pulp-musicvideo 'Common people').
Experiment with the both knee and slope values to see what looks the best.
I think this might solve your problem :-)

On the other hand: if the view outside is not important I see no problem with blown out windows. But that is just my taste.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 05:05 AM   #7
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The first choice is to set cine4 in your picture profile, which will give you most scope for recording this situation. Obviously it would help a lot to bring in some lights and you may not need a lot to make a big difference (in close shots). Renting some KinoFlos might be worth looking at; cool, soft, easily set up. Otherwise I like the trick of using stills for the wide shots should work nicely (you can track over them in post if you wish).
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Old December 8th, 2010, 05:53 AM   #8
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You could make your own "cloud". If only one window is the problem you need 3x 6M lengths of 50mm DWV PVC pipe, 2x 50mm elbows and 2x 50mm T pieces and a piece of shade cloth. Make frame big enough to cover window using one length of pipe, elbows on 2 corners, T pieces on the other two. Affix shade cloth over frame. Fit the other two lengths of pipe into the T pieces to make some long legs for your scrim, lean up against outside of building to put some shade over the window. If the window is less then 6M from the ground this should work just fine, you might need to cut the legs to length. Keep the lengths of pipe for when you need a dolly.
Also consider using a reflector inside the room to bounce some of the sunlight around. Combined with the "cloud" over the offending window you should be able to balance the lighting pretty well without need lights.
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Old December 8th, 2010, 08:56 AM   #9
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Thanks, everyone, for all of the suggestions. I have some free time tomorrow and I'll give some of them a go.

Serena, I would love to rent gear when I need it but the freight would kill me, even if the rental didn't. I'm 1600 Km from Perth - and that's the nearest city - but along with the other suggestions, I'll definitely try the Cine 4 setting.

The learning curve is steep folks, but I'm having a lot of fun climbing it.

Cheers

Russ
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Old December 9th, 2010, 05:54 AM   #10
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1600Km north of Perth at this time of year is fairly cloud free. Probably strong sunlight entering some windows, so Bob's suggestion of using reflectors is a good one. I've used cardboard covered in matt aluminium foil for this bad sort of situation (for long throw), or just painted white when placed closer to the subject. Surprising how much light can be contributed using reflectors when you have a strong source available.
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Old December 9th, 2010, 07:58 AM   #11
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A very interesting thread this one is, with plenty of valid technical advise. The purely technical measures that I'd consider the most valuable and effective are:

- using a gamma curve that stretches lower midtones (like the Cine4, or better yet - Std4, but with the Knee carefully adopted)
- using grad ND filtering
- using reflectors to actually use the excessive light from the windows

But - apart from technical aspects - there might also be some aesthetics ones to consider. For example: if none of the above is enough to properly expose the walls inside, while not partially blowing out the windows - why not blow them out completely and on purpose, in a controllable fashion? I mean, some very bright light coming from a window - so bright that no outside details are retained - could create quite an interesting effect (one that could be further tuned up in post with FX's like Light Rays, Lens Flare, and alike).

Just a suggestion, but I think certainly better effect than leaving the windows only partially blown-out, with those ugly remnants of out-of-the-window details and colors (especially with CT differing from that of the inside)...
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Old December 9th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr Wozniacki View Post

.......................................

But - apart from technical aspects - there might also be some aesthetics ones to consider. For example: if none of the above is enough to properly expose the walls inside, while not partially blowing out the windows - why not blow them out completely and on purpose, in a controllable fashion? I mean, some very bright light coming from a window - so bright that no outside details are retained - could create quite an interesting effect (one that could be further tuned up in post with FX's like Light Rays, Lens Flare, and alike).

Just a suggestion, but I think certainly better effect than leaving the windows only partially blown-out, with those ugly remnants of out-of-the-window details and colors (especially with CT differing from that of the inside)...
Just my thought.
(Like I posted before)
I would even consider bringing chalkpowder to make the lightrays from the windows visible if it would fit the picture.

(Sometimes people get stuck in a strive for technical perfection: "thou shall nor blow out the highlights" is not a commandment ;) )
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Old December 9th, 2010, 05:08 PM   #13
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Thanks again everyone,

Yesterday I tried a few of the ideas published in this thread. It was quite interesting playing with different settings and lighting using reflectors. From my experimentation, a combination of careful knee-point adjustments, camera positioning and reflected light at the right time of the day will do it for me. Sorry Perrone, it's going to take a while to get an ND filter to this little far flung part of the world.

The right time of the day is going to be key to getting the right shots. I'm going to have to shoot the Crest in the afternoon light and the remainder in the morning light. I had bit of a laugh when I read Walter's comment about the chalk powder. Even though Cossack is on the coast, it is also in the desert and the building is literally surrounded by sand. The slightest puff of wind fills the air with a fine mist of good old Australian red dirt particles. Chalk powder completely unnecessary!

The shots of the Courthouse are going to be included in a short that I'm making to send to my friends as a Christmas message. Many of our friends haven't even been to Western Australia, let alone somewhere as remote as Cossack. When finished, I'll put it up on Vimeo for you all to have a look.....and please, go easy on me - I'm still very much a learner at this craft.

Cheers

Russ
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Old December 10th, 2010, 10:20 AM   #14
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Hahaha, I'm not used to the desert....
We have mist and rain as 'light medium' in stead of dust, but with mist and rain there is no sunlight...
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Old December 11th, 2010, 02:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Russell Heaton View Post
Yesterday I tried a few of the ideas published in this thread. It was quite interesting playing with different settings and lighting using reflectors. From my experimentation, a combination of careful knee-point adjustments, camera positioning and reflected light at the right time of the day will do it for me.
Good show, Russ
It's amazing how clever we can be when it's forced upon us.
Looking forward to your video.
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