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Pat Ford
Shooting Near Water
on Feb 8, 2008 at 6:42:36 pm

I am doing a documentary on an artists' community that was at the mouth of a river here in Washington state. The location is exposed to sun and water 180 to 270 degrees. The river runs into salt water where I am shooting. It is common that there is a high haze. A year ago, I did some preliminary shooting at the location. I was shooting at roughly mid-day. (The area is accessible only by boat; we are limited in access time by tides.)The area is stunningly beautiful. However, the footage I got was flat and drained of color.

Suggestions?

Shoot late in day?
Use a polarizing filter? I understand that this knocks back some of the diffusion from the haze?
Your ideas?

Shooting with a PD150. Thanks in advance.


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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 9, 2008 at 5:51:56 am

Water doesn't have it's own color. What color are you hoping to get?

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Pat Ford
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 9, 2008 at 6:29:04 am

[Steve Wargo] "Water doesn't have it's own color. What color are you hoping to get?"

Ok...you're from Arizona.

Air over marine water (at least in the NW) is often hazy due to water vapor. This diffuses the light. I understand that a polarizing filter helps a bit. The abundance of light, from the sun,light bouncing off the water, diffused light through the haze produced footage that was less than stunning. Even with the aperture closed down, the colors were pretty lifeless. Supposedly late in the day/early evening evening light is wonderful at the location.

I was wondering if anyone has had experience shooting on the water or near large expanses of water.


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todd mcmullen
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 10, 2008 at 2:03:33 am

pat,

considering the fact that you will be shooting sd video I would highly recommend that you shoot this early in the day and late in the day. I polarizer can only take you so far. And even film doesn't look so good in high noon.

of course you may want to have that de-saturated look so you can accurately document what it is truly like there. May add to your story.

cheers




Todd McMullen
Flip Flop Films
Austin
http://www.toddmcmullen.com


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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 10, 2008 at 2:30:38 am

[Pat Ford] "Ok...you're from Arizona. "

Pat, what color is the water where you live?



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 10, 2008 at 2:42:38 am

[Pat Ford] "polarizing filter helps a bit"

Remember that a polarier bends the light to accomplish it's function. For more info on the color of water, see this: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~etrnsfer/water.htm



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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Mark Maness
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 10, 2008 at 5:53:43 am

The advice you've been given is great. I've spent the better part of my career shooting outdoor shows, many on saltwater all over the world.

First off, water (if it's clear) seems to take it's color from the sky. Deep blue sky, deep blue water. Unless it's shallow, then obviously the color comes from a combination of the sky and the bottom you can see.

Shoot early and late like the others have said. High noon is the worst possible time to shoot. Definitely ALWAYS use a polarizer. It really does help reduce glare on the water, helps "cut thorough" the haze of the moisture in the air, and helps with overall saturation of the blue sky and the water color.

I hope this helps.





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Pat Ford
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 11, 2008 at 4:50:35 am

[Mark Maness] "The advice you've been given is great. I've spent the better part of my career shooting outdoor shows, many on saltwater all over the world."

Ok, yes, thanks to all who answered.

I had the good fortune to run into a marine photographer at a classic boat event today (my other job).

Since my situation for the doc is essentially like shooting on the water, I asked he how he handled shooting boats and dealing with the surfeit of light...and the scattered nature of that light.

He suggested
1. Shooting late. Shooting early would had little advantage since we are just west of a significant hill.
2. Using a skylight filter.
3. Using a haze filter.
4. Stopping down a bit..he mentioned there are drawback to this..problems with areas in shadow.

I don't know where the heck the color of water discussion came from..Interesting, I suppose.




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Steve Wargo
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 11, 2008 at 6:21:30 am

[Pat Ford] "I don't know where the heck the color of water discussion came from"

In your opening post, you said "footage I got was flat and drained of color". So my comment was along the lines of: If the sky is hazy, that's going to be almost white and when it reflects on the colorless water, it's going to make the water white, like the sky, so that's what I thought that your issue was. I guess I misunderstood your question, if there was one, which I guess there wasn't, so I don't know why I answered your non-question.

Well, it's 11:20pm and, according to Boomer, it's almost bed time.


Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck
2-Sony EX-1.


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edward  chick
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 11, 2008 at 11:09:48 pm

Sounds like the photographer friend of yours knows what he is talking about. I agree with using a polarizer and or a UV filter.

edward chick


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Guy Cochran
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 13, 2008 at 12:22:45 am

Hi Pat,

I'm up here just north of Seattle. One of the filters I like to have in our kit is a Grad Blue.
http://tiffen.com/results.html?search_type_no=365&tablename=filters&family=...

On flat gray days around the Pacific NW you can really punch up a scene with a few tricks. So I'll ND Grad the Sky Blue, then if I'm shooting people, I use a Photoflex 5n1 reflector with the White/Gold side to warm up the talent. You can also get a matte box and use larger 4x4 grad filters. I've shot scenes where we did a "tobacco" sunset grad for the sky and a Blue Grad flipped upside down for the water.

Hope this helps,

Guy Cochran
DVcreators.net

__________________


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christian tanner
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 13, 2008 at 7:15:16 am

hey pat!

just to drop a lign about polas that might help you:

polarizers come in two models: directional and omni-directional. omni-directional polas work - no matter what direction you mount them on in front of your camera. problem with omni-directional polas is, they are LESS powerfull than directional polas.

directional polas have only one, proper direction. if mounted wrongly, they don't do anything at all.
what you do with a directional pola is to watch a reflection through the pola and twisting it (45° to a reflection or the sky if there is none works best). easier to do that before you mont it on your camera just by looking through it by eye. especially if your matt box trays (if you have any) don't twist.

directional polas in most cases take a stop of your exposure.

polas noticably increase sky contrast if it's cloudy.

as suggested before, polas reduce reflection best on a 45° angle to the reflecting surface. flat on, they don't work at all.

hope that helped...

tanner



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Bill Barton
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Mar 9, 2008 at 5:01:43 pm

Mark,
Great advice! I also wanted to say "Thumbs-up on BIRTHRITE". I Saw it twice and think that you and Randall did a great job. Keep making Movies!
Bill Barton



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Carelton Holt
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 13, 2008 at 1:41:51 pm

Hi Pat,
A polarizer filter will definitely improve the haze situation. You will even see higher color saturation as well. It is important to get a polarizer that is compatable with your lens (circular or linear). It seems strange, but not all polarizers yield the same results with all lenses. If you have a matte box, a 4x4 polarizer from Schneider optics is expensive, but yields an awesome result... but is not quite as convenient to operate as the screw on types. B&W and Hoya make great screw on models. If at all possible, try to buy one from a shop that will let you try before you buy to assure a good result with your camera. Good luck!




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Orin Jenkins
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 13, 2008 at 7:19:53 pm

Didn't read the other posts, but this is my solution that works most every time:
Shooting on or near water for best color/contrast:
Early within 2 hours of sunrise
Late within 2 hours of sunset plus 30 minutes after.
Proper lens hood for the focal length, preferably metal for best black inside hood
Polarize -- use the correct Polarizer for your capture medium
UV and/or 1A
Keep your back to the sun as much as possible
If you must shoot with a tripod physically in saltwater, either rinse immediately with fresh or use coated wood. Saltwater loves to eat your aluminum.
If shooting from a boat watch for hull ripples in your foreground.

That's it off the top of my head.
Say Hi to Puyallup from Florida.


We shoot with anything and the list keeps growing.
oj@thephotocollege.com




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Bob Cole
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 13, 2008 at 11:35:33 pm

Great suggestions.

Also, watch out for the continuity problem. Because the apparent color of water can change rapidly, it's vital to get interesting cutaways, to avoid the disconcerting effect of cutting from water that's light blue to water that's dark blue.

Apparently water-color-continuity problems gave even Spielberg a headache, with some movie about a shark.

Bob C

MacPro 2 x 3GHz dualcore; 10 GB 667MHz
Kona LHe
Sony HDV Z1
Sony HDV M25U
HD-Connect MI
Betacam UVW1800
DVCPro AJ-D650


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Pat Ford
Re: Shooting Near Water
on Feb 17, 2008 at 5:22:00 am

Hey...thanks you guys.

You advice answered my questions. Thanks, especially to those that understand our peculiar problems with water and light in the Northwest.

And to Orin Jenkins who wrote from Florida...as you wish, I will send your greetings to Puyallup and a hello to Humptulips.

Thanks all!!!



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