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Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations

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Steve Crow
Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations
on Nov 2, 2011 at 8:46:18 pm

Okay, I hope to get some advice on filming in tough lighting situations. For my first example, I am going to use actually a still photograph of a dog I took at a clients home where I was filming. The location was in a small living room flooded with early morning light coming through big windows- most of the furniture in the room was of a dark tone and the dog itself has blondish colored hair.



Camera: Canon T2i
ISO: 100
Fstop 4.5
Shutter 1/160

As you can see, it's a very boring picture will dull tones and harsh shadows combined with blown out areas from the sunshine. This wasn't an important shot but had it been I would have been embarrassed, can someone help me to understand what is going on here and what I could do about it?


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Liam Hall
Re: Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations
on Nov 2, 2011 at 9:46:45 pm

What is going on is a lack of dynamic range. That's why many of us shoot with super flat settings to maintain as much detail as possible, then fix the contrast in the grade.

Short of using a camera with greater dynamic range, you could put up some lights or use a reflector to bounce some light into the shadows. You could expose for the highlights to create a little drama or simply choose an angle that works better for you.

Liam Hall
Director/DoP/Editor
http://www.liamhall.net


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Peter Burger
Re: Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations
on Nov 2, 2011 at 10:53:18 pm

I agree with Liam: Extra lights and/or reflectors plus a flat picture-style will help a lot.
What I want to add is, to not make the same mistake I did and use the Highlight Tone Priority (HTP) with the T2i in such situations.
Had a shoot lately with bright sunlight and deep shadows and I thought: "Heck, why not use HTP? These are the situations it was made for, wasn't it?"
Bad idea! What I got was footage that flickered in the highlights (and just the highlights) while exposure remained constant in the rest of the picture. HTP might be good for stills, but for video... hmmm... At least that's what I learned.

Just my two cents

------------------------------------------
"Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot." - Buster Keaton


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Phil Balsdon
Re: Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations
on Nov 3, 2011 at 2:26:32 am

Hi Steve, This the kind of situation I use the "Technicolor" Cinestyle in the camera Picture Styles. Images come out very flat and always need grading. I use "Color" from FCS Studio suite for grading, although you can still achieve good results in FCP with the 3 Way Color Corrector.

I never use this style for clients taking the post work elsewhere without discussing the set up with the post house first.

I would expose so the highlights don't blow out, you should have enough info in the mids to achieve an optimal grade. Of course if you had time to light etc., which always seems an impossible these days, you would get more control.

Cinematographer, Steadicam Operator, Final Cut Pro Post Production.
http://philming.com.au
http://www.steadi-onfilms.com.au/


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Steve Crow
Re: Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations
on Nov 3, 2011 at 2:28:52 am

Thanks everyone for all the feedback! :-)


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Noah Kadner
Re: Harsh Shadows/High Contrast Filming Situations
on Nov 3, 2011 at 5:12:57 am

Also applying a silk (a really nice bedsheet essentially) in the way of the incoming light would greatly diffuse it. That in addition to fill light would knock the contract down into the range the camera can pick up. Remember your eyes deceive you as they reveal far more dynamic range than most cameras can. Only certain film stocks and HDR-video capable cameras are close to what the eye actually sees.

Noah

Call Box Training.
Featuring the Panasonic GH2 and GoPro HD Hero.


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