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


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Old December 14th, 2014, 06:35 AM   #1
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Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Hi, winter weddings, you have to love them! The work is great but the indoor ceremonies with a harsh sun lit background can be difficult to film.

Perhaps it's easy as asking the hall to close the curtains, but without going that far, what in-camera adjustments are you making so that the background is not completely blown out?

I have two high power lights on the bride, which only provided a small amount of light on their faces battling the sun.

Who would like to share their techniques?
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Old December 14th, 2014, 06:59 AM   #2
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Ouch, that's a tough one, in such a case I would use a reflector to bounce the sunlight back but you definitely will blind the people up front, otoh they make the guests look right into the sun as well :)
I'm afraid you would need some very powerfull light to balance that out, not sure there is much you can do incamera settings, maybe work more with telelenses and having a closeups so you don' have so much of the surrounding light in frame. Maybe also dial down contrast so you do see more in the shades.
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Old December 14th, 2014, 07:00 AM   #3
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

In that situation I would always ask them to close the curtains if it was really directly into sun, as the guests would also have problems. Failing that, I would film diagonally across the widow, rather that directly into it to reduce the glare.

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Old December 14th, 2014, 07:04 AM   #4
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Yeah. Wow.

If it were me I would

(1) See if they will close the curtains or rotate the position of everything 90 or 180 degrees if possible

(2) Barring that, I'd maybe shoot this "reverse" so instead of having a safety camera shooting wide in the back, maybe use a compact camera on a light stand at front shooting the crowd, and then do the rest of the shooting up front as well facing left and right.

(3) Finally, it looks like you'd need a pretty powerful and plentiful set of lights to compensate for that sunlight. Probably easier to try and compensate via shooting.

In camera settings - yeah I don't think there are any that will help? Aside from zooming in max and getting head and shoulder shots from the back maybe.
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Old December 14th, 2014, 08:18 AM   #5
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Hey guys, thanks for the comments... I had a safety camera off to the right, zoomed in to the bride. My main camera which was positioned in the aisle most of the time (except when I walked behind the bridal party and filmed some from there).

Some good ideas you posted, and I did notice some of the guests were blind too. I guess it couldn't hurt to ask the bride her thoughts on closing the blinds for the video, photographer and guests sake... it was really bright!!!
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Old December 14th, 2014, 11:30 AM   #6
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Yeah, in the past, I probably would have just rolled with whatever was going on.

But this past year, I really was more "assertive" in my attempts to fix things that I knew would improve the video, and photos.

Normally, I try and attend rehearsals and if I had seen this, I would have immediately brought up all the potential problems with the set up. If they don't want to change it, that's fine. As long as they understand that there may be a lot of problems in the final video kind of thing.
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Old December 14th, 2014, 12:04 PM   #7
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Short of an Arrisun 1200, you're not going to be able to balance a background that is blown out with a dark interior. You have some good suggestions here already, first and foremost would be to try and avoid the problem in the first place by educating the client in the pre-production stage (yes, weddings are a production). If you find out that their venue has a long row of windows, your next question should be "can I get a layout diagram?" Or simply explain that they might want to avoid putting themselves in front of the window. Don't make it a 'video' issue, make it a comfort issue. Guest will have a difficult time seeing anyone's face when they are heavily backlit.

My only other suggestion is to use the camera height, and background to your advantage if possible.A high camera angle seeing less sky will help control contrast. Same is true with positioning. Try not to have a blank sky behind you. If there is a distant structure (hill, buildings, trees), position your camera to shoot towards the darkest portion of the background.

If you can shoot flat, do so. But don't expect to pull 15 stops of latitude in a DSLR or typical wedding camera. We're not quite there yet (but that day is coming soon).
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Old December 14th, 2014, 01:22 PM   #8
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

One untested thought: low-contrast filters, which make the shadows go milky. Might work, or might be an unwatchable mess. Not sure, but have always been curious.

Tiffen 77mm 5 Low Contrast Filter 77LC5 B&H Photo Video


Apart for dialling down contrast in picture profile, there's often an adjustment (on Canon DSLRs at least) called "highlight tone priority". I use it in really contrasty situations, but don't know properly what it does! I think there's in-camera gain applied to just the shadows area. So I think it's the equivalent of raising the "black ped" or "master ped" setting on a camera that gives you more control over the gamma curve. Whether in-camera gain is better than post-camera gain, I'm not sure, but at least you see what you get.
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Old December 15th, 2014, 06:07 AM   #9
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

That still image of the venue mimics some of my worst lighting conditions. Those have been on yachts where the sun is behind the couple and then you also have the reflection, so you've essentially got two suns glaring at you. Made even worse with the ceremony being inside the yacht with a ceiling above, so no ambient light. All you can reasonably do in a situation like that is just blow out the background to expose the couple.
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Old December 15th, 2014, 06:38 AM   #10
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

If you are using canon dslr you could try ML dual iso. I have seen some passable results with this.
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Old December 15th, 2014, 06:48 AM   #11
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Re: Shooting into sun lit background for ceremony

Definitely I would convince them to move position and that's why I always make the effort to go to the rehearsal! Otherwise as Donald says .. expose for the skin tones and let the background blow out... it's pretty hard to fight the sun even with lighting!!!
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