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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 9th, 2014, 03:31 AM   #1
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Backlight - Aaargh!

I think the environment was against me on Saturday - It relentlessly threw it down all day for the church part of the wedding and as soon as the speeches were imminent the sun burst out and blasted a load of backlight into an otherwise fairly dark marquee - I tried to pull the sash curtains only to find out they were decorative so I had to suffer it.

My strategy for severe backlight is (short of pointing a few 2K lights at the top table) to let it blow out and keep the speakers as well exposed as possible (see pic). The downside is that the speakers look a little like the alien at the end of CE3K stepping off his spaceship!

I think next time I might try a few seconds of underexposing the speaker to get some more detail into the background and bring back the speaker's exposure in post.

What's your strategy?
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Old June 9th, 2014, 04:30 AM   #2
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

I think under exposing and lifting it back up in post is a good solution though that background will continue to look ugly, you could also zoom in much closer so less of the background is not visible, at this moment it fills up a large part of the frame.

I had the same issue last year on a outdoor wedding, they put a tent with the sides open on the grass so there was shadow where everyone was sitting but no light inside the tent and outside the very bright sun made me blow out every detail just to get all guests and bridescouple well exposed. It looked plain ugly and my sony cx730's where clearly not up to the task of handling such harsh contrasts in light.
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Old June 9th, 2014, 05:10 AM   #3
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

Under exposing is one way, but when you push the speaker in post it's going to get noisy. If you can live with it then fair enough.

I always carry a couple of lights, but rarely use them.

That background was nasty. If that had been a corporate shoot I'd have stuck 3 stops of ND filter on the window but at weddings we don't have that opportunity.

I would probably have tried to find different angles to shoot from (end of top table looking sideways), but again, venues seem to love lots of large open windows so you could well have had side light that we can't see int he picture.

Another option is to have a super high camera (I think our big-bertha tripod goes to 9+ feet) so you're looking down more rather that straight out the window on to bright foliage.

Or if there is room get a really low camera as close to the top table as possible so you're looking up, rather than straight out the window.

Unfortunately that background is seriously posterised so there's not much you can do with it!

Saturday was yet another day I felt sorry for the wedding crews. Fortunately I'm doing fewer and fewer weddings now and on days like that I am soooo glad!
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Old June 9th, 2014, 05:23 AM   #4
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

Hi Pete

I had much the same with a wedding reception at a yacht club two weeks ago and they insisted on having the speakers with their back to a huge window just before sunset too so the light coming in was crazy !!

I wasn't prepared to fight that much light from Mother Nature (and no curtains either!!!) so as Dave suggested I shot the speakers 90 degrees off centre so the windows were totally out of shot. It didn't look too bad actually even with the speaker in side profile .. as there were people either side they also turned to speak to them too. I think that's a better option and try and choose the side to shoot from where the "more important people" are sitting if you can. I think you edit with Adobe??? In Sony Vegas what I do is add an invert mask to reverse the image as the first plugin, then my colour corrector so I can tweak the gamma and gain on the inverted image, and finally a second invert plugin to flip the image back to normal again. It tends to work a lot better on an inverted image so with the window that's blown out you are correcting blacks not whites.

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Old June 9th, 2014, 05:32 AM   #5
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

I did think about getting the speakers in profile (with a church ceremony at 3pm, and in another town, this was a very rushed schedule so I had little time to think) but after the FOB speech, which was mainly directed at the couple, I'd have had to haul around the back of the marquee (as the tables were so close together) to the other side for the best men speech, as this also would have been directed at the couple but from the other side.

That nasty posterisation seems the norm for my EA50 when it blows out!

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Old June 9th, 2014, 05:37 AM   #6
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
That nasty posterisation seems the norm for my EA50 when it blows out!
Ouch. I won't be using one of those then ;)
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Old June 9th, 2014, 05:39 AM   #7
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

I'm going to keep using it for this season but will have a rethink for my main camera for next year!
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Old June 9th, 2014, 06:17 AM   #8
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

That looks very much like good ole Sony AVCHD shot at 50P ????

Shoot the same in 50i and the image will be stunning, then de-interlace and drop into a 25P timeline. I have never had either camera do that!! My Panny's used to also go crazy like that with 50P

Was that shot progressive Peter?? If you are going to shoot progressive and have blowouts to contend with then you need a minimum bitrate of 50mbps
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Old June 9th, 2014, 06:24 AM   #9
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

So you are saying that 50i will eliminate the blown out background and magically give you a few stops extra dynamic range? :)
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Old June 9th, 2014, 06:29 AM   #10
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

You shooting one or 2 cams?

We always shoot 2 and in these situations we put ourselves as far to the side as possible without seeing each other. People rarely face forwards, they tend to look at the person they are talking about so the 2 cams allows us to always get their face thanks to our walkies and hand signals.

If were stuck in that situation then year, we expose and let it blow out. We then mask it in post and use levels to just stop the brightness being so painful.
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Old June 9th, 2014, 06:30 AM   #11
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

You are right Chris - 50p - My old Sony Z1 I used to shoot in 50i and never had that issue - I'm going to recreate something similar and compare this week.

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Old June 9th, 2014, 07:05 AM   #12
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

It would be interesting to see that outcome, I have done some pixel peeping on my pana g6 as I noticed 50p was softer then 25p, on my gh3 however they are not, both are equally sharp and I can't see any difference side by side, avchd 50p is 28mbs and 25p is 24mbs.

So I looked at 50i on my g6 but that also looked worse (less sharp and more artifacts) then 25p eventhough both had the same bitrate, so it's not the bitrate or the fact that you shoot interlaced or progressive that makes the difference here but something else going on behind the screen that gives a sharp 50p on the gh3 and not on the g6, eventhough it's exactly the same codec and bitrate.

My experience however is that 50i or 50p has nothing to do with dynamic range, If the camera can't handle high contrasts 50i or 50p won't make any difference, at least not from what I have seen but who knows does the nex-ea50 react in a different way if you switch.
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Old June 9th, 2014, 07:51 AM   #13
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

Hi Noa

Absolutely .. you can shoot straight into the light and have 24 stops of dynamic range in 50i !!!! Yeah right don't we wish cameras would do that!!!!!!!

Nope I was talking about the posterisation when you over-expose in 50P which doesn't happen with 50i at all.

Some guru told me that it was that 50P needs a minimum bitrate of 50 mbps and the AVCHD cams like we have only do 28 at best. I'm no expert so I cannot comment. My Panasonics I used from 2010 to 2012 also had issues in bright light with progressive but they tended to pixelate near the centre of the image so bride's faces, especially cheekbones were badly pixelated and that was 50P at 28 mbps too.

Pete also posted some frame grabs where just a portion of the image would blow out and then posterise on the EA-50 forum.

I have only have issues at 50P ... whether they occur at 25P I have no idea but if I shoot at 25P motion blur worries me a bit. Also shooting at 50i I can go crazy on shutter speed with no problems..I have footage shot on a hot summer day at 50i and the shutter was at 1/600th on the EA-50 and it looks pristine !! I reckon even at 50P I would have had issues at that high shutter speed!!

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Old June 9th, 2014, 09:45 AM   #14
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

Hi Peter,

I'd had that same situation come up many times. What sometimes helps me is to go much tighter on the subject and change my angle to put something behind him, minimizing the backlit window area. In your example image, moving the camera a couple of feet to the right would put the narrow wall and curtain directly behind subject, and then zoom in a lot tighter on him. Makes a big difference.

Thanks
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Old June 9th, 2014, 01:28 PM   #15
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Re: Backlight - Aaargh!

In this situation I've shot from the side whenever it was feasible, and of course always at least two cameras.
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