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    I'm about to shot a short in about a month and a half on 16mm. The director and I I've gone through what the vision should be etc.

    The film has a lot of night time exterior shots amongst a city landscape. Were shooting on 7218 for these scenes and have minimal lighting. Studying the city landscape I notice that the light comes from street lamps (sodium vapor), reflected sources like neon signs, night sky, car beams etc.

    What I'm having problems with is determining what key exposures should be. I see that directly under a lamp or right next to a neo sign that the face gets a little hot or on a side street there's pools of light coming from the 2 or 3 streetlamps that illuminate it.

    But for instance there are areas that are well lit, but no source is directly lighting it. The light mainly comes from street lamp fall off. So with the lights we have I plan on softening it and matching the brownish of the sodium vapor and maybe going under 1/2 a stop to make it feel just a tad dim. Would this work?

  • #2
    I think you should shoot some test footage at various exposures. Also, it sounds like you are working with a lot of different kinds of light, tungsten and neon, for instance. Not all types of light have the same emission pattern (neon, as with any heated gas, does not give off a continuous ROYGBIV spectrum). Physics aside, you should also test for color.


    • #3
      It's OK to have overexposed areas in the frame at night -- it adds depth and contrast. The underlit, underexposed, murky night areas are problematic because they bring out the graininess of the film and generally are too low to get enough exposure with resorting to things like undercranking.

      The old trick is when shooting in very underexposed conditions, try and frame one bright point in the shot, a streetlamp or something to create a highlight.
      David Mullen, ASC
      Los Angeles