Backlight Dilemma at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old November 5th, 2013, 04:07 AM   #1
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK/Yorkshire
Posts: 2,066
Backlight Dilemma

So I'm filming a hotel wedding next week where I've filmed a couple of times before - both time suffered from terrible backlight in the ceremony room. There's a whole bank of windows down the bride's side of the room. I always like to position myself with my main camera at the front on the groom's side so I get the groom's profile and bride's face for rings/vows etc.

However in this venue I can position myself pretty much where I want so I'm thinking of putting myself at the front on the bride's side - sure I'll get her profile and his face but at least it will be a well lit and exposed shot - not like the bride's just walked out of an alien spaceship - honestly if the sun's out then the backlight will be awful!! I'll have a locked off camera on the groom's side but it will be set medium wide to allow for their movements.

So the dilemma is - should I sacrifice a nicely lit and exposed shot for close ups of the bride's face? My instinct is telling me to get the bride's face whatever but my experience tells me not to shoot into the light!

Pete

Last edited by Peter Rush; November 5th, 2013 at 05:40 AM.
Peter Rush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 06:05 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 8,222
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Hi Pete

The curse of all videographers!! I did a wedding at the weekend in an open pavilion that was in deep shade but where the couple insisted on standing we had a huge expanse of water and sky and really fierce backlighting. It's a nightmare!! I had the EA-50 set at an EV of one stop over which of course, blows out the background sky and water and really still isn't enough for ideal exposure of the couple ..An EV of +2 would have been perfect BUT the sky water would have been pure white with no detail at all.

I don't think there is a solution that's practical but shooting from the side does help a bit. I would be very dubious about shooting from the bride's side as weddings are all about the bride so my natural instinct is always shoot from the groom's side so he is in profile and her face is featured.

I'm not sure what NLE you are using but if masking is an option that might be worth a try?? Shoot some footage of the windows (correctly exposed) with no-one there and then mask and replace the blown out window with your sneak footage. They are not really going to move an awful lot during vows so that might be a solution to get well exposed subjects backed with a well exposed screen of the window but quite hard work. Around 10 minutes of background only video would probably be more convincing than a still that replaces a masked area.

Anyone else have a good solution?? I'd also love to have a practical one!!

Chris
Chris Harding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 06:30 AM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK/Yorkshire
Posts: 2,066
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Evil backlight crops up in probably a half dozen weddings a year but it's a real problem. Masking is not really an option as I do reframe quite often during the ceremony. I can adjust the footage in Premiere but to get correct (as near as it can be) post production exposure is not ideal - the footage to my eyes has a washed out look and that halo of light - sheesh! I just let the background through the windows blow out a little and try and get the face as correctly exposed at the time as I can!
Peter Rush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 07:58 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 8,222
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Hi Pete

My problem exactly ...In Sony Vegas I use invert masks and have to play with gamma and gain until I get the footage as good as I can but it's hardly considered pristine. I do try and use a higher angle than usual so sky and background is minimised but the issue is still there!! The other thing I do is shoot plenty of cutaways of guests and bridal party from an angle where the backlight is not an issue and use them liberally in footage with backlighting. Yep, the light flooding in from the back causes major issues and you cannot get rid of the halo.

Ever considered over-lighting the couple ..maybe just a couple of angled reflectors that will pick up the backlight and bounce it onto the front of the couple??? With an overlit subject exposure just might be a little more balanced. I'm often stuck in quite darkish gazebos while the light outside is glaring so I wondered if using some reflected light to balance the outdoor/indoor difference might work?? Photo reflectors on a light stand would be quite cheap and easy to use in a venue I think

Graham (Grazie) did mention in the Vegas forum that he uses reflectors to balance the lighting a bit better

What do you think??? I'd rather solve the issue pre-shoot than have to struggle in post!!

Chris
Chris Harding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 08:35 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Crookston, MN
Posts: 1,353
Re: Backlight Dilemma

I was going to ask about reflectors or even lights discreetly placed at the front row to add light to their faces. Then mark their positions to stand with a little tape.

How big are the windows? Could you ask them to pipe and drape them, even just to add a thin sheer that doesn't block the view but cuts the light? Or an awning of some kind on the outside?

Will shooting from the far outsides and getting medium/tight shots of each the bride and groom's faces solve this? Are there any elevated positions to place a camera?

How far away from the windows are they? Could you drop down to f/2.8 or lower and just blur out the blown out windows?

Can you shoot HDR when they're not moving much and get both them and their background exposed properly?
Robert Benda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 08:50 AM   #6
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK/Yorkshire
Posts: 2,066
Re: Backlight Dilemma

I pretty much shoot f2.8 - f4.0 so DOF is fairly shallow - space in this particular venue (and is usually the case) is a premium so there would be nowhere to put a reflector - unless it's above me - but then that's going to be directed into their faces - they might not like that much. I'll see if the organiser is willing to draw the drapes at the near end of the room - that would help. I have 2 other cameras on the go as well but this is my main camera that gets the emotive shots - it's a tricky one (as always)

I share your pain with gazebos/marquees chris - awash with backlight normally!
Peter Rush is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 09:30 AM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,609
Re: Backlight Dilemma

VALUE of the shot vs. QUALITY of the shot. Sometimes one must sacrifice one for the other. I personally always try to go for the VALUE of the shot as I can repair most of the Quality in post. Not all, but a large portion and IF the Quality is OFF a bit the B&G almost never notice it because of the VALUE of the shot.

Your call, your choice. Use your plentiful experience, your best judgement, common sense and eye to determine what to do on that day. The worst thing that can happen is you're wrong and still, you'd be at least 50% right because remember, you can fix a lot in post if you need to.
__________________
What do I know? I'm just a video-O-grafer.
Don
Don Bloom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 09:52 AM   #8
Trustee
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England liverpool
Posts: 1,310
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Pete maybe go closer frame wise and have a really blurred background at 2.8. then all should be ok. Keep switching quite a bit in the edit.
Steve Bleasdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 12:40 PM   #9
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: York, England
Posts: 1,323
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Of course you could end up with the opposite problem if the sun really does come out and you stand on the Bride's side - you'll have to stop down enough to not totally blow the side/back of the bride's white dress to the point where their faces are too dark.
__________________
Qualified UAV Pilot with CAA PFAW
Aerial Photo / Aerial Video | Corporate Video Production
Dave Partington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 12:52 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 504
Re: Backlight Dilemma

I use a narrow beam battery powered 5200K LED light on a tripod about 30 feet away to fill in the shadow area while exposing the background. I only bring it if I know that venue has a backlighting problem.
Arthur Gannis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 03:15 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Apple Valley CA
Posts: 4,866
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Not sure if you want to go wider on a badly backlit shot - would only increase your "issues", IMO. I'd think a tighter shot would give you the ability to expose to the face? You'll still fight "halo", but the more of the background in the frame, the worse the potential problems...
Dave Blackhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 05:12 PM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Reading Berkshire UK
Posts: 827
Re: Backlight Dilemma

If its very bad backlighting from the windows behind the bride I would say do your main shooting from the brides side. You're probably over-estimating what you might not be able to capture of her face. The only part of the civil ceremony where her eyes will not be visible would be where she faces the groom to do the ring exchange and even then she will glance towards the celebrant. At other points she will be looking forwards towards the celebrant and forwards towards any readers.

I've done it like that loads of times particularly with stills. With photos the backlit composition can be extremely ugly the more so because fill-flash is generally not allowed . Its less noticeable with video because the motion occupies the viewer to a greater extent.

For example this photo gallery from a few weeks ago. Similar scenario, bright sunlight streaming through tall windows on brides side of the room. I shot all the photos from the brides front side. I also had the main video cam next to me together with a gopro, then a small cam locked down on the grooms side, and another cam locked down at the back:

wedding photographers videographers easthampstead park wokingham photography video jess and paul ashton lamont photo galleries

I haven't got the video online for you to view but it turned out surprisingly well from the grooms side. That cam was a Panny TM900 set to auto backlight compensation - something that it does extremely well, so no worries if the sun keeps going in and out of clouds.

When the groom approved their GraphiStudio photo album he also mentioned:
"Jess and I love the video by the way. Am so bored of it now, having been made to watch several times! "
Typical bloke comment! But it does show that the video passed muster.

Also, I wouldn't hesitate to try out playing with any curtains or blinds to see if you can even out the lighting without making the room too dark. With blinds try not to get dark stripes across the subject area obviously. Thats something else I do regularly. Usually the couple don't care one way or another whether curtains are open or drawn. Sometimes I close curtains to hide ugly vehicles parked outside etc.

This recent wedding had direct late afternoon sunshine streaming straight onto the wedding breakfast top table. I closed the curtains at that end of the room. That made it pretty much too dark but it was the lesser of two evils:

wedding photographers videographers oxford somerville college photography video kathryn and shane ashton lamont photo galleries

Oh and please please please don't set up humungous reflectors or lights in a wedding ceremony! Just when we may be shaking off the terrible reputation wedding videographers have for turning a wedding into a wannabe film production with all the intrusion that involves!

Pete
Peter Riding is online now   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 05:47 PM   #13
Trustee
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: York, England
Posts: 1,323
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthur Gannis View Post
I use a narrow beam battery powered 5200K LED light on a tripod about 30 feet away to fill in the shadow area while exposing the background. I only bring it if I know that venue has a backlighting problem.
Wow. Definitely not something that would go down well around here! ;)

I add this kinda tongue in cheek (though I've done it on several of corporate shots where I've had to re-light a room), but this is exactly what rolls of ND filter attached to the windows are for in hollywood movies! :)
__________________
Qualified UAV Pilot with CAA PFAW
Aerial Photo / Aerial Video | Corporate Video Production
Dave Partington is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 5th, 2013, 07:14 PM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 8,222
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Hi Dave

An LED light on a stand (especially the newer and smaller PowerLED ones) would probably be less intrusive than a 43" sliver reflector on a stand so maybe that is quite a clever trick ... I know it's tacky but I guess one could even use a light on the main camera as it would be pointing in the main direction anyway and you be less noticeable as it would be considered part of the camera/tripod.

If I can I try to get brides to change position .. even a slight move can make a huge difference but in Pete's case it seems like very little can change!

Chris
Chris Harding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 6th, 2013, 02:52 AM   #15
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK/Yorkshire
Posts: 2,066
Re: Backlight Dilemma

Some great advice here guys and it's good to know that all us creative people are in the same boat and I'm not missing a trick somewhere along the line!

I pride myself (and it's a good selling point) on being discreet so big reflectors and lights will be a no no for me. I have used lights for speeches but I wouldn't for a civil ceremony.

Peter - I have 2 TM900 cams and yes the auto-backlight is a great feature - I've just also purchased a couple of Sony CX730 cams which I think will give me a little more latitude to fix backlight issues in post.

Don - I agree wholeheartedly - the value of the shot is crucial however, in churches where I've only been allowed on the bride's side and rarely get a good close up of her face, the resultant videos have always been well received.:)
Peter Rush is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Wedding / Event Videography Techniques

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:36 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network