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Setting Exposure When Filming in Forest?

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Matt Frame
Setting Exposure When Filming in Forest?
on Jul 18, 2015 at 5:30:43 am

What is the standard rule of thumb when setting the exposure for daylight filming in a shaded forested area that has spots of bright sunlight shining in the background? If I set the exposure on the actor (who is in a shaded area) then wouldn't the bright areas in the background be totally blown out? I often wondered what the best way of dealing with such a problem is given that the sun is constantly moving and new shadows are created every few minutes. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Rick Wise
Re: Setting Exposure When Filming in Forest?
on Jul 18, 2015 at 3:25:03 pm

Compromise. Set exposure so that your actor is a bit darker than "normal" to preserve detail in the highlights. A whole lot depends on your camera's ability to handle high-contrast situations. For digital, anything over 100 IRE is lost forever, but shadows can be boosted in post. So protect the highlights. On a large budget shoot you'd have HMIs to fill in the shadow area so the range from darkest to brightest is not so great. For no budget, find the sweet spot for your camera. Experiment!

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Setting Exposure When Filming in Forest?
on Jul 18, 2015 at 6:06:12 pm
Last Edited By Todd Terry on Jul 18, 2015 at 6:07:55 pm

What Rick said... who is invariably right.

Also, in a situation like that it helps if you can block you shots so that you are backlit... which you might have opportunities to do in a forest where there are splashes of light here and there (and actually although challenging that can make for a very beautiful setting to shoot in).

If you are in a sun-backlighting position that can help with a lot of issues... firstly, it's just a cool look. Secondly, it will make your background darker than if you shoot in the other direction. Thirdly, you might find a spot where you can get some natural hair/back/rim lighting for your talent (or a bit of side lighting, the sun doesn't have to be directly behind the talent). And fourthly it will give you some opportunities to bounce light back in to the talent, if there is a nearby "sun splash" spot. A regular 4x4 bounce card or even a pop-up reflector would be fine.

I've also shot in wooded areas a couple of times where I found that even a couple of smallish (say, 1K tungsten equivalent) battery-powered LED panels were helpful to give talent a little pop, when able to position them closely enough.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Matt Frame
Re: Setting Exposure When Filming in Forest?
on Jul 18, 2015 at 7:46:59 pm

Cheers very much Todd and Rick!


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