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Jack Banatoni
Shooting video outside in daylight
on May 21, 2009 at 4:47:52 pm

I'm shooting interviews for a documentary outdoors and I've had some trouble balancing the light in my shot. My background was incredibly bright (almost completely blown-out) and my subject was dark (even with some fill lights). Does anyone have any tips to help with this problem? Would a polarized filter help? I'm using a JVC GYHD200UB, shooting HDV 720p 30fps, stock lens.

I'm usually a post-production guy, but I'm working to improve my shooting skills. Most of my shooting experience has been in studios and other controlled-lighting situations.

Any helpful/constructive comments appreciated.

Thanks!
JB


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Lisa Farr
Re: Shooting video outside in daylight
on May 21, 2009 at 5:49:53 pm

Howdy! When shooting outside you don't have much control over lighting, so instead of 'fixing' the lighting you have to think in terms of controlling the contrast. Adding fill lights and reflectors to bring up the shadows on your subject is a good start. You can also use scrims to knock down your backlight.


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Rick Wise
Re: Shooting video outside in daylight
on May 21, 2009 at 7:00:06 pm

The first rule of shooting anything anywhere is to take a good look at the natural lighting opportunities. Trial and error may be your best teacher. You can also practice with a simple still camera.

In general, you almost never want the sun to be behind you. In that position it blasts the subject flat in the kisser. If the subject is in partial or total shade, anything behind him/her in direct sun will be blazingly hot.

If you position the subject so that he/she is 3/4 back lit by the sun, you have a better chance. The background will not be very hot. The face will usually want some front fill. That can usually be managed with a flexfill or even a 4 x 4 piece of foamcore. Those two items are sort of minimum tools you need. After that you can consider adding, along with crew to handle them:

--a sunswatter or butterfly to soften/diffuse the sun when you are forced to shoot with the sun in a more frontal position
--a 8x8 clean single and double net in a frame, plus stands to hold it, so you can reduce the intensity of the background when the sun is more frontal
--4 x 4 shiny boards with hard and soft sides (these are heavy)
--mirror board(s)
--HMIs and generator, etc.

It's hard to pull any of this off as a one-man band. Using the simplest solution above, just a piece of foamcore or a flexfill, you can probably hold these in place with a c-stand plus sand bags to steady the stand if the wind comes up. A platypus grip device is good to hold the foamcore. Flexfills are not made to be c-stand gripped and really require a pair of extra and steady hands.

At the core, use your eyes. The first rule of lighting is shadows: where do I want them, and do I want them hard or soft? Where do I want the sun in relation to the subject for this to happen? For "portrait" lighting you most often want the shadows soft.



Rick Wise
director of photography
and custom lighting design
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
http://www.recessionvideo.net
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rwise
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Jack Banatoni
Re: Shooting video outside in daylight
on May 28, 2009 at 8:58:49 pm

Thank you both for the advice. I practiced a little more over the weekend and kept your suggestions in mind. The foamcore helped.

Unfortunately, I'm part of a two-person crew, so I'm somewhat limited in resources. I might pick up a few C-stands, though.

Thanks again.

PS: Any suggested reading for cinematography basics? I do mainly documentary work.


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