Lighting

Metering with the Luna Pro (4 replies and 2 comments)

simon m
3 years ago
simon m 3 years ago

Hi Roger, I've noticed on footage I've shot that if the exposure was done well, the skin tones look very good, but on those scenes where the exposure was a little off, the skin tones suffer. I would love to improve my skill with this. Some time ago I asked you how you metered a scene in 'True Grit', and would love to ask you a follow-up question if I may. Here's the original post - 

Q: "In True Grit, near the beginning, when Mattie steps off the train, and as the train pulls away the camera makes a wide angle shot of the town. The sky in the back ground is quite bright, yet we can see faces quite well. Did you take an incident reading with the Gossen facing the camera? Did you make any compensation at all, say stop down 1 stop? Thank you.

RD: I will usually use the Gossen with the diffuser unless I am reading a flat surface. For that shot in 'True Grit' I would have read the brightest light in the shot, which was the full sun, and then the shadows before making a judgement between the two. The direct sunlight might have been 2 stops over and the shadows 2+ stops under. Something in that range.

My question is: When you took your reading of the full sun, did you point the meter at the sun, or in the sun, but pointed towards your camera? I'm asking because the sun being 2 stops over just doesn't seem like enough. I would have thought it would be 5 or 6 stops over.

I've tried different approaches, but am getting less than consistent results. Thanks for any help you can give.

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Mattie-off-the-Train-.-Wide.jpg
simon m
3 years ago
simon m 3 years ago

I think I may have just understood your explanation Roger. Basically you were using the light meter to see what your ratios were - is that right? if so, could you tell me where you would have pointed the light meter to read the shadows? In the shadow of one of the actors maybe? facing towards them or towards the camera? Thanks so much.

Roger Deakins
3 years ago
Roger Deakins 3 years ago

I read the intensity of the sun by metering toward the sun and the shadows similarly. I like to know the range of exposure within a shot and then judge the lens setting from there. I do sometimes meter towards the camera but I don't think the Luna Pro is so accurate working in this way. 

The sun at 2 stops over seems about right to me. On a day with more contrast and a deep blue sky you might want to go to 3 stops or more but that is just a judgement you make depending on the 'look' you are after.

simon m
3 years ago
simon m 3 years ago

Ok - thanks for that Roger. I think I'm getting it now. When you meter the shadows - where do you point the meter?

simon m
3 years ago
simon m 3 years ago

Ok - I think I've figured this out. For the shadow-side reading, you hold the meter pointing away from your subject, but on their shadow side, thus reading the intensity of the ambient light on that side of their body. This is probably taught on day 1 of film school. A little slow, but I'm getting there. Btw - I already did some tests using this method, and am getting much more consistent results. cheers.

jeclark2006
3 years ago

For 'incident' readings, the procedure is to point the dome/disk at the light source in question, take a reading... then point the meter in the direct of the 'shadow' side of the subject... it is good if you actually walk up to the subject and take the reading... but if one is distant from the subject, like a big scenic... taking the shadow reading from where you are standing will give an approximation of the distant shadow readings... at which point a spot meter would be better...

If you look at the various BTS for films available in DVD/BD disks, as you wade through the blather that often centers on the actors or the like, you may see the cinematographer working, and notice how they use their meter... point to the several light sources, shade the dome when trying to get a 'shadow' reading, etc.

Unfortunately BTS clips don't seem to be directed to really deep tech stuff... so you almost have to 'assemble' such info from a series of 1 or 2 second clips...

simon m
3 years ago

Thanks, it's starting to make sense to me.

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