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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:09 AM   #1
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White guy & black gal - what setting?

I will be filming a wedding on Sunday and I have a camera setting question.

The groom is white, the bride is black, and the wedding is going to take place outside at 4PM; the forecast calls for a sunny day, and that means a LOT of light down here in Atlanta. From previous experience I know I will have a lot of trouble setting my exposure - if I set my zebra at 70% on the face of the groom, the face of the bride will be too dark, and likely the shiny white dress will be overblown. If I set my zebra to 100% on the dress, pretty much everything else is going to be too dark.

How do you guys deal with this situation? I will be using two Sony Z1s, and of course the black stretch will be turned on. Any other settings you recommend?

Thank you,
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Old October 14th, 2010, 08:14 AM   #2
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Hey Ervin. I don't own a Z1, but I did a quick search for High Contrast settings on the Z1 and found this little thread. Hope it helps.

Z1 Picture Profiles-- my settings
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Old October 14th, 2010, 08:20 AM   #3
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I always use zebra at 100% because when the patterns appear I know I am at the top white. My experience in uneven light is to have the camera set to all manual and have the exposure set so the important part in the frame is correctly lit. It is better to underexpose then overexpose. I find it easy to bring back detail from dark rather than overexposed white.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #4
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Thanks, Jeff - I did have that page bookmarked a long time ago, and been using some of those settings.

Asvaldur: "I always use zebra at 100% because when the patterns appear I know I am at the top white. My experience in uneven light is to have the camera set to all manual and have the exposure set so the important part in the frame is correctly lit." That's exactly my fear: setting my zebra to 100 and dialing down exposure to where the dress is not overexposed will leave my bride's face way too dark. On the other hand, if I set exposure where the bride's face is correctly exposed, her dress will be overexposed.

Any suggestions please?

Thanks,
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Old October 14th, 2010, 05:11 PM   #5
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Based on my reading of the manual, it seems like this situation is precisely what BLACK STRETCH and CINEMATONE GAMMA TYPE 2 are for. Both are supposed to maintain detail in darker tones while not blowing out highlights.

I haven't been through that other thread in detail for a while, but as I recall it does talk about this at some length. If you've already tried all this, I think that's about the best you can do with a Z1. You could look into renting a couple of Z5s for the weekend; they not only have a more finely adjustable black stretch, but also a great deal of "Knee" adjustment as well, which if I understand it correctly is supposed to preserve detail in the highlights. The Z5 also has a settng for CONTRAST ENHANCER which claims to deal with exactly this sort of situation.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 05:20 PM   #6
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Wedding videographers' specific experience???

Black stretch will definitely be "on", but it is my understanding that it only takes care of the very bottom of the spectrum. Will test CineGamma too...

Any real life expertise from practicing videographers?

Thanks,
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:08 PM   #7
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Ervin, we recorded a wedding a month ago of a white groom and a Nigerian bride with very dark skin tones. The venue was the Great Hall of Bolton School. The layout of the room is N-S with the couple facing N. Most light was coming in from tall windows on both E and W sides of the hall starting at about 6ft above the floor. Ceiling height was probably 25ft in the centre of the room. The room is dominated by a large pipe organ filling the whole of the North Wall. Normally in shadow this was lit by strong artificial lights. The groom was wearing dark morning dress (tails) the bride a pure white dress.

We had three Z1s covering the event. Cameras 1 and 2 had and eyeline each to the bride and the groom, the third camera was at the end of the hall almost down the centre of the aisle.

I'm familiar with George Griswold's settings but I prefer to adjust in post. We white balanced manually before finalising camera positions, black stretch on. Iris control was left to each cameraman. I was on Camera 1 with an eyeline to the bride and against the light. Like my wife on Cam 2 facing the groom, I concentrated on tight one and two shots which were helped by the light reflecting off the bride's dress, or fully wide shots. Camera 3 was on auto iris and was fine throughout.

The only key bit of kit for me was a 6.5inch monitor on Cam 1, properly set up so I could rely on the effect of the iris. Our keys are, as always, careful white balancing of the daylight, careful manual operation of the Iris and focus with careful set up of the monitoring on the cameras. If you intend to rely on the auto exposure or auto focus any camera will let you down in difficult situations. By always handling the cameras that way we get used to doing the work.

Overall not terribly tricky, so my advice would be use manual control and treat it like any photography of a dark-skinned person - expose for her dress but watch for good skintones.

Last edited by Philip Howells; October 14th, 2010 at 10:03 PM.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 07:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asvaldur Kristjansson View Post
I always use zebra at 100% because when the patterns appear I know I am at the top white. My experience in uneven light is to have the camera set to all manual and have the exposure set so the important part in the frame is correctly lit. It is better to underexpose then overexpose. I find it easy to bring back detail from dark rather than overexposed white.
I'll second this experience, at least with Vegas. Using the color curves filter, I've been amazed at the detail in the dark areas (selectively adjustable, exclusive of the light areas), that are there, just waiting to be brought out in post. But if the brights are blown out, I can do absolutely nothing with those. Every time I've gotten scared and brightened it beyond the zebras to lighten the darks during shooting, I've regretted the decision later in post.
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Old October 14th, 2010, 10:45 PM   #9
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Hi Ervin, i do this all the time. i set my zebra to 85% with full manual. do not underexpose the bride face she won't like being darker than the way she is.if u blowing the dress is more tolerable than her skin. most won't care if use good on camera light and just ride your iris between the couple. good luck
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Old October 15th, 2010, 04:29 PM   #10
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If the dress is white and the face is dark and the bride is standing in full sun, then you are going to blow out parts of the dress if you expose for the face. The contrast is too great for the camera to capture.

The best you can do is adjust your framing and composition to minimize the problem. If you can position a camera so that the shot of the bride is over the groom's shoulder, you can finesse the framing so that very little of the dress will be visible. Likewise a wider shot from slightly behind the bride allows you to expose for the dress. All depending of course on where the sun is coming from.
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Old October 18th, 2010, 08:58 AM   #11
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Turned out a lot worse...

On top of it all, above the ceremony place I had these wood beams (think roof in construction), so not only full sun, but a mix of full sun and full shadows. AND, most of the time during the ceremony, the white groom's face was in full sun, while the face of the black bride fell under the shade of one of these beams.

How much worse than this can it get?
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