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Black light on camera

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Eric Nicastro
Black light on camera
on Jan 13, 2010 at 7:46:32 pm

Has anyone done a shoot where they had to expose for a black light? I'll be doing a shoot next week about germs and lead paint and one of the scenes is in a completely darkened room with a black light. This crew has a special powder they lay down to detect the germs and such and it shows up with a black light. I've never done anything like this before so I really don't know what to expect and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Black light on camera
on Jan 13, 2010 at 8:45:29 pm

Can you get a demo prior to the shoot?

Failing that, can they supply a picture of what you might expect to see? Do these germs appear in globular patterns, stripes like paint brush marks, paint spatters? Ask 'em how it REALLY looks to the naked eye -- do the fluorescing germs look as bright as the light from a flashlight, perhaps?

Then you do a simulation -- put a cover on a flashlight, poke holes in the cover in the expected pattern, and shine it on a surface in a blacked-out room to get some video of what you can expect, and you can play with exposures, gain, etc.

You'll have a fighting chance of coming back with useful video.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Mark Suszko
Re: Black light on camera
on Jan 13, 2010 at 10:15:58 pm

The black light is not going to be very visible to t he camera, you treat this like the germs ARE the light source, because they are what is fluorescing. Like shooting a string of xmas lights in the dark. Turn off all shutter, open the lens wide, you may need to turn on the gain on the camera, as far as you dare without adding noise and grain. You will then tweak it more in post production. if other things in the shot need to be seen, carefully flag the light so it doesn't hit the germs and wash out that image.

Another way you might go would be to shoot this with a digital SLR camera, which could be set to do a long duration exposure to get more light and more saturated color, in a multi-megapixel picture, like a RAW format file. This would let you pan and zoom the still in post like it was a motion camera, and use photoshop to really bring out the effects. Just an idea.


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