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Putting a layer of diffusion in a close-up (1 reply and 1 comment)

Max A.
1 week ago
Max A. 1 week ago

Hello Mr. Deakins, and all the Dp's over this fantastic forum. I know Mr. Deakins you are busy shooting (I can't wait to see) so maybe I would like to ask this question to everyone who has experience.

I think this is a very simple question but it is a doubt that I have. Sometimes when is "necessary" to put a diffusion layer on a face in a close up how do you manage the entire balance of exposure?
Let's say that we have a master shot with two subjects sitting on a table with a background of 2 STOP under, then we move for the close-up, and (due to the location limitation in the master) we decide to put a layer of diffusion close to the subject, let's say 1/4 white diffusion. Now my subject has about 1/3 of STOP of light less than before, how do you manage the balance between the subject and the background? It is only a matter of opening up the aperture a third of a STOP (but now the ratio with the background is changed by 1/3) or do you add another light to "boost" the original key light just to compensate for the slight light loss due to the diffusion?
Maybe this is a silly question and I'm overthinking the concept, but a clarification can help me to sleep better LOL.

As usual, thank you very much to everyone in this forum. And I wish a lot of strength to Mr. Deakins for the shooting.

Have a peaceful day.

1 week ago
dmullenasc 1 week ago

It may be a small enough difference that it doesn’t matter but normally you’d try and maintain the same balance, to get another 1/3 stop back you’d most likely just move the lighting a bit closer to the diffusion to compensate, but if it’s heavy diffusion then yes, you could add another small light into it to boost it. Often you plan your lighting so that knowing you’d be adding more diffusion later you might light the wider shot with a half-scrim or some other method of lowering intensity so that when it came time to shoot the close-up and add another layer of diffusion, you’d just pull that half-scrim, etc.

If you’re really rushed and think the small loss of exposure on the key is barely noticeable, you could just say that in post you can adjust the brightness of the face by 1/3-stop if necessary in digital color-correction using a window or key.

Max A.
1 week ago

Thank you very much for your answer Mr. Mullen. I really needed clarification about this "simple" concept which gave me more than one doubt.
Really great the idea to light with a half scrim or something to lower the intensity for the 'master' shot and then pull the scrim, but also the "last" method sometimes could be good since too often it is a rush (not really good but this also teach to think before).

thank you again for your time Mr. Mullen.
I wish you a peaceful day.

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