Direct Sun on 16mm

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  • #175904

      Hello Roger, James and people on this forum,

      Thank you for offering a second season to the Team Deakins podcast! This is a real pleasure to listen!

      I am shooting in a few weeks a project in 16mm and I am seeking for advice when shooting in direct sunlight. This project will be happening on a Caribbean beach, an environment I know little about. I will shoot either on 200T or 250D. I won’t have the means to control / diffuse the sun light (only for close ups). I also don’t know in which measure I will be able to choose the best time of day to shoot so I want to prepare for the worst.

      I was wondering if there is any advice you can provide notably with shooting on film in such environment: maybe by pushing or pulling process and, in this case, is 200T better? What are the things to be particularly attentive to in order to protect highlight but also, and perhaps more, shadows? I have shot a few time with 250D and know how well it handle the highlight but I never shot in this environment. 🙂

      Thanks in advance!

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    • #175949
      Roger Deakins

        It is a shame that there is no longer the softer 20o0ASA stock. My past experience led me to shoot on a tungsten balanced stock with an 85 correction rather than a daylight stock. I felt the daylight stocks a little over-saturated and had that bit more contrast, but I am talking of my experience a while ago now.

        Hard to give advice as to exposure as it would depend a lot on whether you are shooting on a beach or amongst dense foliage! I have overexposed and underdeveloped in the past but I would not recommend doing it today unless you have great confidence in your lab! Besides, it seems like complicating your task without a vast amount of reward.

        I think you should run a test to be sure which you yourself prefer and to give yourself a little more confidence.


          It seems to me that with Vision3 color negative on an open beach in sunlight, you’ll have plenty of highlight and shadow detail with all of the light bouncing off of the sand.


            Thank you both for your replies and advices.

            I never knew about this softer stock.. I ll read about it.

            I am shooting a test tomorrow. It is going to be in a very different environment (grey/brown/ January Greenford parking lot! No sand..) but will help figure things out.

            I am leaning toward shooting 200T, and testing it with and without color correction also. I think it might be useful not to have to compensated for the filter on the exposure. Have you ever color corrected afterwards? I had a chat with the house who is doing the transfer to make sure it will be all good -it is-but I was wondering if you had a though on this.

            I will be shooting on the beach, with pink sand, and looking at ways to cut some of the reflexions from the sand, notably on close(r) shots. Anyhow, it should be fun (and then days of anxiety episodes before to see the rushes!) !

            Thank you!





              If you’re shooting under full sun, you’ll need to use ND filters anyway on 200 ASA stock so you have the stop for using 85ND combo filters.

              The “Sunny 16” rule is that the f/stop is f/16 when shooting in direct sunlight at midday using an ASA stock that is the same number as the shutter time under 1/–. In other words, 50 ASA at 1/50th (which is close to shooting 24 fps with a 180 degree shutter.) Since 200 ASA is two-stops faster than 50 ASA, that means you’d need an ND.6 just to get down to f/16 at 50 ASA, and you might prefer not shooting at f/16. Of course, you might want to overexpose a stop for more open shadows and you might shoot in backlight or in overcast weather, etc.  But you should plan on carrying ND filters (or 85ND combo filters plus a straight 85.)

              Of course, you can shoot without the 85 filter and correct in post. Depends on whether you want a cool bias on the negative or more warmth built into the image.

              I think by “softer 200 ASA” stock Roger is referring to EXR 200T 5293, which was replaced by Vision-1 200T 5274 in the late 1990s. There was also briefly a low-con 200T stock from 1994-1996 (5287). Peter Jackson and Andrew Lesnie preferred 5293 over new 5274 and used it for much of “The Lord of the Rings”.



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