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Overexposing for cleaner shadows (2 replies)

RAS
2 years ago
RAS 2 years ago

Dear Roger,

I remember reading a post where you said that sometimes you overexpose an image by one stop, by rating the camera at a lower ISO (the Alexa from 800 to 400), to get cleaner shadows; and that you already did this while using film. I also remember reading another post where you said that in Skyfall you had instructed the second unit to shoot a car chase in Istanbul at 800, not 400 as they eventually did.

So my questions are:

1. When would you overexpose one stop to get cleaner shadows? Just on interiors that are a bit dark overall? How about interior shots that have plenty of light, with strong contrast of highlights and shadows?

2. Do you overexpose exterior shots in a sunny day or plenty of light?

3. In night scenes where there is not enough light, am I correct that you have pushed a bit the ISO on the Alexa to 1280? I remember reading that you said this is perfectly fine, as the Alexa holds well the noise level at this ISO.

4. When you want to overexpose a shot, do you sometimes do it by only half a stop or always by one full stop?

Thanks for your time and answers! They will help me a lot in a project! 

To all forum members, like David and so many others that participate here, your experience, knowledge and suggestions will also be greatly appreciated!

Roger Deakins
2 years ago
Roger Deakins 2 years ago

I did sometimes overexpose when I first began using the Alexa. I rated the camera at 400 ASA on some exteriors but that was about all. Nowadays I stick with the optimum setting of 800 ASA unless I need more speed and then I will, in rare instances, rate the camera at 1280.

Rating the camera at 400 ASA creates a little more contrast but I feel that I can create that kind of look in the DI so I now stay with optimum image quality. Not that you lose much at 400 or at 1280. At 200 or at 1600 you do to see the image quality start to break.

I did almost always overexpose when I was/am shooting on film to maintain my black levels. Something like 1/2 stop, seldom much more than that.

 

RAS
2 years ago
RAS 2 years ago

Roger, thanks a lot for your answers! They are very clear and thorough, and will be very helpful for my next project! 

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