different daylight characteristic in USA than Europe? (1 reply)

2 weeks ago
Janvalis 2 weeks ago

Hello, in ASC mag on Days of Heaven, Nestor Almendros is saying that light in Europe is more soft than in the USA, where the air is more transparent and the light is more harsh then, making it harder to get less contrasty image. I have been in US once many years back and I also felt, on the way from the airport, that everything looked a bit different, although I didnt think about it too much. What do you, mr Deakins and other members of this forum, think about that? And why do you think is it like that? Is it really a cleaner atmosphere? Is it an overall thing or just a thing in plain nature with no pollution? Thank you

Quote from the mag:

"The light in France is very soft and subtle because of a mattress-like layer of clouds that covers the sky, making work in exteriors very easy, shots matching each other from any angle without modification. 

In North America, however, the air seems more transparent and the light more harsh. When a person is backlit, his face appears to be in dark shadows to the eye of the film. 

In filming day exteriors, the normal procedure is to use reflected or artificial light (such as an arc) to fill the shadowed areas and thereby reduce the photographic contrast. "

Roger Deakins
1 week ago
Roger Deakins 1 week ago

So much depends on the day and the weather system in control on that day. To say that the light in France is 'softer' than in North America is a rather sweeping generalization. If you take the average cloud cover for the year then, of course, the light in France could be said to be softer than the light in California. But to compare it with the light in the entire USA doesn't make sense to me. The US contains so much climatic variation from state to state. At times the light in Spain could be very similar to that in Southern California whilst the light in San Francisco could be similar to that in Devon but even Devon has days of radiant sunshine with deeps shadows! Maybe few but they do happen!

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