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Tips for shooting exterior day-for-night (2 replies and 7 comments)

Gwyn_H
2 months ago
Gwyn_H 2 months ago

Hi Roger and James, hope you are both well.  Thank you for this website and the podcast which are incredible sources of information.

I've got a scene for a microbudget feature coming up which features a single actor in a remote exterior location (on top of a big hill) which will be around 15 mins long.  We are going for a dusk/ late evening feel and due to the length of the scene and lack of money, we have opted to shoot day-for-night.  

I'm still doing bits of testing but my current plan is to underexposure the image by 1.5-2 stops, taking extra care to protect the highlights and will be looking at a colour temperature between 3200-4000K.  I'm thinking of having a little battery powered LED eyelight mounted above the lens, plus some bounce from a reflector/polyboard.  We are shooting in Sony S-Log2 to give me the widest dynamic range possible.

Any hints or tips for the shooting and/or grading process would be much appreciated.

Kind regards, Gwyn

Roger Deakins
2 months ago
Roger Deakins 2 months ago

Tricky! If you are in a high point with no tree cover you might want to shoot on an overcast day.

Gwyn_H
2 months ago

Thanks Roger, I forgot to mention that we are planning to pick an overcast (and hopefully dry!) day. There's no tree cover up there so it's very exposed

James_Bo
2 months ago
James_Bo 2 months ago

Your best option is to go with as Roger says when it comes to selling the look in that situation. I thought I'd add some advice regarding shooting in S-Log2, though I can only comment on my experience in shooting with it on an A7iii where you might be using a far more formidable camera and more knowledgeable on the subject of handling it than I am.

In my experience, and with a lot of the information I've looked into on the matter, you actually want to do the opposite and expose to the right for the best results. S-Log2 tends to get quite noisy when you don't feed it enough light, by exposing to the right (ideally 2 stops in my experience) you get the cleanest image and it leaves enough room for manipulation in post. Also shooting overcast, as Roger suggested, your highlights should definitely be protected from clipping because they aren't that bright to begin with, it's usually the shadows that cause worries in S-Log2.

Take my advice with a grain of salt and look into it yourself (if you haven't already), I'm but an amateur and I just thought I'd share some of my experience in using S-Log2. Best of luck on the shoot!

sheriftolba
2 months ago

You're absolutely right.
I shoot in S-Log2 and I always over expose to protect my shadows, bringing the exposure down is fairly easy if you have enough data to begin with.

Gwyn_H
2 months ago

Yep, I would agree with both of those statements, I have noticed noise in the shadows when it is under exposed but I have also found that if your highlights are very bright and you want to bring them right down, the image can look overworked and not quite look right. The noise looks worse when viewed in S-log because the shadows have been pushed up and is much less noticeable when you adjust the exposure curve and darken the shadows. I did a test where I underexposed by 1 stop, and had plenty of information in the shadows with minimal noise which I was pleased with.

sheriftolba
2 months ago

It's great that you can underexpose and avoid S-Log noise issues, what camera are you using?

Gwyn_H
2 months ago

I'm on the A7R iii. Not quite as good in low light in video mode as the A7S ii but I bought it because of its qualities as a stills camera

freelandfoto
1 month ago

how can i ask a a doubt here? where should i post my questions?

Gwyn_H
1 month ago

If your question is a general one, I'd search the website first to check it's not been asked before. If not, you'll see that the forum is split in different categories: Lighting, Camera, Composition etc. Choose the one that is most relevant to your question and post it there.

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