Lighting for outdoor shoot
First, thanks for everyone who helped me a few months ago -- based on your comments we assembled a great lighting kit and have had several successful shoots with it.
My questions this time are for a personal project. here is the background:
I have a really close friend who is a top golf instructor. He played for years on the PGA Tour and now heads up the Jim McLean Golf Academy at PGA West in La Quinta CA. He is the best teacher I have ever seen, but at 62 is not that up to speed with social media stuff like YouTube. He asked me to help him put a few instructional videos together that we can post to YouTube.
I'll be shooting with a Panasonic HPX170. We'll be outside at his teaching facility. I can choose any time of the day to shoot. I have full access to electrical. Here is what I have in my lighting kit (which was clearly designed for inside talking head interviews):
- Kino Flo Diva 400
- Arri 150W Fresnel
- Dedo 150W spotlight
- Two reflectors (one is a "3-in-1", the other a "5-in-1")
The shoot would have a couple types of shots:
1. A tight shoot of the instructor -- probably waist up -- talking to the camera.
2. A medium to wide shot showing the instructor demonstrating the swing or drill.
I could shoot with just natural light -- that is what many of these type of videos do. It would be fine. But, I would love to do better than "fine"
So here are my questions:
1) I am wondering if the equipment I have would help "sweeten" the tight shots and make it more professional. My first guess would be to use the Diva as a key and the reflector as a fill for these tight shots. Would they work okay outdoors (I do have the daylight lamps).
2) It seems like the medium/wide shots would be too wide to use the equipment I have effectively as the sun would be too overpowering from the requisite distance -- Am I being too pessimistic?
3) I assume early morning or late afternoon as the sun gets to the magic hour would be best for shooting. I haven't every used outdoor lights, though, so does that change the decision process for when to shoot?
4) The backdrop for his teaching facility is spectacular in the early morning. Here is an example of the mountains at sunrise:
I love that look, but I wonder if the equipment I have would be able to light him well enough to overcome the intensity of the backdrop. You can see in this shot how dark the pin in this hole is relative to the backdrop (no lighting used her, of course).
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS
As a veteran of more than a few "magic hour" golf course shoots over my career (notice I'm in Scottsdale, AZ?) allow me to chime in here.
Yeah, the light is lovely just after dawn. But out here in the southwest, the lovely light of "magic hour" actually lasts about 20-30 minutes if you're lucky. And during that entire stretch of time, you'll constantly be adjusting your iris as the overall light level changes.
The most instructive part of your photo is the band of green in the center of the shot's vertical dimension. It's telling you that the sun is so low that it's lighting the mountain but NOT lighting the foreground green - that's taking light only from the reflected light of the mountain background and the water.
That band of far off trees is going to EXPLODE with light soon. So anything shot wide will NOT match after the sun infects the background.
Put a talent on that green and even before the background goes to hell, the rising sun will likely hit the talent in the face and even a tight CU exposure will go bad.
You can shoot this kind of stuff, but you have to be very careful about the direction the tee (and therefore talent) faces, the trees and shrubbery near and far, and the backgrounds.
The ONLY way to really extend the time in a scene like this is to fly diffusion between the sun and the talent, bring in the HMI's to kick the subject up to match the background and keep a LOT of water on hand so everyone doesn't pass out from sunstroke.
It's that or accept that over a two to three morning shoot, you're likely to get coverage for about 5 minutes of on-screen content if you have both a first and second unit running. (one on the tee to cover the tee shots, and the other on the fairway or green, to cover where those shots land.
Like I said, here in the southwest relatively close to the equator, magic hour is typically measured in minutes.
If you're going ahead with this, drop me a line via email. I'd be happy to talk you through some of my hard won experience of shooting EFP setups on golf courses.
Excellent advice. I would definitely love to continue this via email. As a newbie I am having trouble figuring out how to get your email address, though.
Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com.
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS
Consider also the slightly lower-tech, old-school approach.
Bill had it right with the overhead - or possibly a black (double?) net. And I'd look at the possibility of finding a knowledgeable gaffer/grip and the right sorts of shiny-boards. In other words, hiring a grip truck with just the grip package.
Upsides: no power concerns whatever, adaptability
Downsides: increased cost, more people involved
Just a slightly different thought here.
Allen is also correct that you can go with natural light and use bounce fill as the key.
The only restriction is that in order to use the sun as a bounced key, your talent has to have the sun at his or her back. When conditions are right for this, the sun forms both a background light on the scene, and a rim light for the talent — and you have the right angle for the sun to hit your bounce fill pretty much full on - so that reflecting the backlight (sun) exposes your talent's face and body equally.
The issue on a golf course - especially a green as in the OP's shot - is that you'll often end up with a big slash of light from your bounce that is VISIBLE across the green with a nice shadow inside IT from the talent.
The problem with golf is that you typically need lots of wide shots to follow both the movements of the golfer AND the progress of the ball - so many of the tricks of a regular talking head outdoor setup won't work. For example, a softbox cage for tight and medium shots work great - but then you have to pull back to watch a swing or a stance adjustment and suddenly all the shadows of the cage are all over the shot.
Golf - both the sport and the task of videotaping it - are hard each very difficult to do well.
Well, yes, reflector placement would be critical. And how I think I'd do it, if I did it that way, would be to have a large reflector low enough that the light is coming straight across, and maybe place a "bottomer" such that I'd get the falloff to rake across the green right at shoe-top level. We're talking a real PITA of a setup here, though.
Or maybe not.
Maybe I'd just try, if I was producing/directing this, to find a slightly more forgiving spot that still had sufficient natural beauty to work.
Seriously, I've had the good fortune to work with some very good lighting folks, and I've tried to absorb as much as I can every time. And I hope that never stops, no matter if it's me or someone else wrangling the photons.
Golf - I think there's a reason a certain Mr. Clemens referred to it as "a good walk spoiled" so very long ago.
Good approaches both.
Actually, the best possible lighting scenario in this is to show up and be lucky enough to get a day with even, high clouds so that GOD presents you with a huge natural softbox over the course - with nice breaks in the clouds OVER THE MOUNTAINS in the background in order to provide suitable highlights.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could predict THAT in advance!
This whole discussion is a great example of why the ONLY path to consistent results in lighting is experience.
You have to be able to show up. READ the situation you're given. Then figure out how to maximize what you have and minimize the issues. Perhaps thats re-positioning the talent AND the tee markers in order tho shoot in another direction (something the audience will NEVER notice if done carefully) - or perhaps it's using the tee from the 7th hole and the green from the 15th hole to composite one shot - since again, the audience will never know the difference.
Maybe you have a hole where there are trees in shadow that you can use as a backdrop for a shot - and those trees will STAY in shadow from 8am to noon. Then while the overall light will change as the sun rises, at least the background will be relatively consistent.
All of this and much, much more are all a part of "reading" the location and making smart choices.
Which in the end, is another example of the whole "experience" thing. It just means we've tried something enough to understand why it commonly fails, and have finally started to figure out how to change things to give it the best chance of working.
Thanks -- a ton of food for thought. I loved the suggestion of renting experience from a real pro grip. Unfortunately, I am doing this gratis as a favor for a friend. He is a good friend, but digging into my own pocket to finance outside talent is a bit too far for me. [grin]
I look at this as an opportunity to gain some of the experience other posters have alluded to. I am a pilot and we have a saying -- you start with two buckets: A luck bucket (which starts full) and an experience bucket (which starts empty). The trick is to fill the experience bucket before you empty the luck bucket.
I will try some of these ideas and post my results for critique.
Connect Public Relations
CS4 Master Suite, 3DS
I would not attempt this without an HMI package -- probably PARS, but fresnels would be acceptable -- ranging from 6kw to 12kw.
Here's my off-the-wall suggestion. Use greenscreen to shoot all the narration. Shoot your background plate one morning. Roll 20 - 30 minutes. It would also be a good idea to shoot a zoomed-in background plate to use behind closeups of the talent. Shoot your talent in front of the green screen then key him into the beauty footage. If you search the Cow you'll find many discussions about shooting with a greenscreen. Apart from the techniques to light the greenscreen to pull a good key, you need to light your foreground (talent) so that lighting matches the beauty shot. Then just shoot your wider shots of actual demonstrations outside. All this will greatly speed up the process and give you more control. Just a thought.
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