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Old November 5th, 2007, 03:25 PM   #1
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How do you handle outdoor wedding lighting

Hi All

I just shot a wedding on the weekend and it was outdoors, and the bridal party were standing in direct sunlight with a sky backdrop, needless to say with my limited experience the shots have come out a bit over-exposed.

So I have 2 questions:

1. What is the best method to try and correct over-exposure? ( I'm using adobe PPro CS3)

2. For future shooting, how do you best manage extreme lighting as described above? (I'm shooting with Canon XH-A1)

Cheers
DS
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Old November 5th, 2007, 05:49 PM   #2
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There is no way to correct something that is overexposed. Anything pure white has entirely lost detail and no amount of color correction and no software will do anything to fix it, save for actually painting in lost detail (or, you could actually luma key it onto a background plate you create or have from the shoot).

That sounds just like bad lighting. There may be no way to shoot it well and you'll need to decide if you want the people underexposed or the sky overexposed; I'd say go with the sky because it IS a wedding, so the nice white light might actually help set the mood.

In such a case, it would be in your interest (and theirs) to talk with the B&G about possibly moving slightly, though this may be impossible depending on the setting; of course, if I wouldn't expect it to be too extreme or the audience would have trouble watching.

Your best bet is playing with angles from which you shoot, or maybe doing something to shield your camera from light (over the top, so no lens flares occur).

You could try to use some white boards or other reflective surfaces to bounce light at them, but I expect that would get in their way, so you probably couldn't. Can't hurt to ask, I guess, unless it's simply so outrageous you'd look stupid. Can't say without seeing the setting.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:41 PM   #3
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I have shot a lot of outdoor weddings. Harsh natural lighting is always a challenge. My best exposure compromise is to expose for the skin tones and not worry about anything else.

I shoot with three cameras. The back of house camera is dedicated to wide angle and exposure set for a natural look. This almost always has high contrast which is generally acceptable because of the wide angle. In a typical ceremony the house left and right cameras have an exposure similar to the back house camera at the beginning of the processional. This exposure is gradually shifted plus one or two stops as the actual ceremony begins. By this time both of these cameras have tight framing on the bride and groom. Ultimately the exposure is carefully adjusted for skin tones. The exposure is then adjusted backwards during the recessional.

On one occasion the wedding arch was covered with a thin translucent fabric which really helped soften and diffuse the light around the B&G. I often wish that kind of accident would occur more often.

I've yet to discover a way to unobstrusively introduce reflectors into a ceremony.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 06:59 PM   #4
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Most of the wedding videos I shoot are outside. One thing that really helps is a polarizer. It helps with your exposure as well as keeping the sky a bit more manageable. Not completely manageable, but better than without one. If you look at the videos on my site you can see shots where the sky is blown out and other times when it is not. I expose for my subject. Sometimes you just have to let the sky go. People don't care if the sky is blown out, they just want to see the people well. Most of them won't even notice the sky.
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Old November 5th, 2007, 07:52 PM   #5
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Darren

If its the sky that is over exposed you can probably, without seeing your footage, do a sky replacment in After Effects. Its an advanced technique but the results are great.

http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials.html?id=12

Jim
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:09 PM   #6
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Masks to the rescue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Montgomery View Post
Darren

If its the sky that is over exposed you can probably, without seeing your footage, do a sky replacment in After Effects. Its an advanced technique but the results are great.

http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials.html?id=12

Jim
I just watched bits of the VASST Color correction DVD and it may have womething to help you out.

If the sky is enough of the same color, then use the secondary CC to select the sky and then create a mask from it. Then you can drastically darken the sky to match the foreground but that will not eliminate sun flares and it won't bring lost detail from heavy shadows. But it may make the footage more tolerable.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 01:41 PM   #7
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Won't do much-- the sky is pure white-- you could make it gray if you want, but not add in any lost detail, save for actual sky replacement, which I think is impractical here, unless it's a very short shot.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 03:09 PM   #8
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Won't do much-- the sky is pure white-- you could make it gray if you want, but not add in any lost detail, save for actual sky replacement, which I think is impractical here, unless it's a very short shot.
You might be able to turn the situation into an effects shot. May be some sort of silhouettes or B/W (with enough clips before and after so it doesn't look contrived)?
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Old November 6th, 2007, 03:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Smith View Post
Hi All

I just shot a wedding on the weekend and it was outdoors, and the bridal party were standing in direct sunlight with a sky backdrop, needless to say with my limited experience the shots have come out a bit over-exposed.

So I have 2 questions:

1. What is the best method to try and correct over-exposure? ( I'm using adobe PPro CS3)

2. For future shooting, how do you best manage extreme lighting as described above? (I'm shooting with Canon XH-A1)

Cheers
DS
I think you can minimize the over-exposure by applying a color-correcting filter and dropping the exposure while adding more exposure to the mid-tones. Definitely no substitute whatsoever to over-exposed footage though. If it's a tricky situation, the next time you film, you may want to use the zebra settings to help tell you which areas of your picture are over-exposed and adjust accordingly, especially if you are using the flip out screen to film. When in doubt, I would suggest to under-expose slightly rather than over-expose if you aren't sure.
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Old November 6th, 2007, 04:12 PM   #10
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Thank you all for your input, I will have a play with some of the footage as has been suggested, I'm certain I can have a desirable outcome, will definately spend more time with the camera though and become a lot more familiar with settings etc. I was using the ND filter but as suggested Bruce, I think under is far more viable than over.

Cheers
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Old November 6th, 2007, 07:28 PM   #11
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Sorry for not reading the rest of the posts so I may be repeating what has already been said.

With the Canon A1 in particular, I have a preset created that pulls UP the blacks and when shooting in bright sunlight that gives me a lot more to work with when I get to editing. I try and hold some detaqil in the sky with my wide shots and keeping the blacks up leaves me some details to work with in darker areas where as I would use my normal presets for the tight shots and let the background go as it is much less noticeable with a tight and shallow shot.

Patrick
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Old November 6th, 2007, 09:26 PM   #12
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Canon A1 - preset

Thanks Patrick

I need to start creating some presets for such situations, I will have a look into that and see how we go.

By the way, am a big fan of your work!!

Cheers
DS
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Old November 7th, 2007, 03:57 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau View Post
Sorry for not reading the rest of the posts so I may be repeating what has already been said.

With the Canon A1 in particular, I have a preset created that pulls UP the blacks and when shooting in bright sunlight that gives me a lot more to work with when I get to editing. I try and hold some detail in the sky with my wide shots and keeping the blacks up leaves me some details to work with in darker areas where as I would use my normal presets for the tight shots and let the background go as it is much less noticeable with a tight and shallow shot.

Patrick
In addition to Pat's info, the A1 has a myriad of settings, and in this situation, KNEE is your friend.

Black Press is good to salvage detail in shadows, however even intense blown out shots can be salvaged by about 2 stops with the proper knee settings.

Within Vegas, you can salvage up to 3, almost 4 stops using Levels alone and 32bit processing.

As for this issue in particular, daylights (no less than 150w in harsh light within 7 metres of your subject) with Dichroic filters will salvage a lot of information.
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Old November 7th, 2007, 02:49 PM   #14
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Knee settings

Hi Peter

I was only just looking into the knee settings last night, saw it on another forum, so I will definately give that a go and tweak some presets.

I also looked at the zebra setting, is this something you would have on all the time or only until you get a better feel for what you are shooting?

My shooting experience is limited and I've not done any courses etc. I am looking to find some good fundamental shooting information that I can use as a base. Ultimately I realise nothing teaches better than practice, I guess having a fundamental knowledge would help in this situation for me.

Any suggestions?

Cheers
DS
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Old November 7th, 2007, 04:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
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I also looked at the zebra setting, is this something you would have on all the time or only until you get a better feel for what you are shooting?
I would recommend keeping the zebras on always. It's difficult to tell exactly from a 3.5" (or smaller) screen what is blown out. Best just to keep them on so that you know what is blowing out. That way you can decide whether you need it or not, not just be surprised in post.
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