Tips for Working with Reflections when Shooting Shiny Objects

Whether it is a shiny new iPad or a slick sports car, shooting reflective objects can be a nightmare. Usually you can fix this problem by shooting at an angle from the subject, but sometimes you either have to shoot directly towards the subject or there isn’t a good off-angle that works. Here are some quick tips to get rid of unwanted reflections.

Guide to Light Systems for Film and Television

Introduction

Let’s start by coming to an understanding that the list of lighting tools is long as long as it is complicated. This is a collection of the most common lighting tools that you will encounter on set and their basic function.

Power Management on Set

Most film lights draw huge amounts of power, so understanding a few basic concepts of electricity will ensure you don’t ever blow a breaker while out on a shoot. Let’s get started with a refresher on electricity. [Header photo credit: Ricardo Diaz]

The Price of a Large Sensor Digital Cinema Camera Infographic: Mind the Gap

With the popularity of large sensor digital cinema cameras in full swing, recently re-stoked by the release of the RED Scarlet-X and Canon C300, I got to thinking how the proverbial “gap” would look if it was represented visually.  Go back a couple of years and you basically had four choices. Film, RED One, ARRI Alexa & DSLR’s. It is amazing how much the gaps between all of these cameras has closed.

The Tradeoff Between Quality and Fatigue: Camera Rigs

I am 8 hours into a non-stop hand held shoot using a fully loaded Sony PMW-F3 for a documentary stye shoot when my back starts to give me serious trouble. The F3 is not a light camera to begin with but when you add all the necessary accessories for a run-n-gun style shoot it gets monstrous. I was starting to miss shots and have trouble keeping the rig steady during long interviews. By the time we called cut I would have to set the camera on the ground because I was literally exhausted.

Using Mixed Color Temperature to Your Advantage

Getting color temperature dialed into your camera correctly serves many purposes. Whether its getting the skin tones of your subject accurate or using as it as a creative tool to advance the narrative through the use of color, knowing how you can use mixed lighting sources to your advantage can help you when your in a pinch, or offer you more creative options when lighting a scene.

Mixed Lighting can be a Nightmare

When I first started as a DP (Director of Photography) I would always try to get my white balance unified in the scene, which meant when I arrived at a location with a ton of natural light I had a uphill battle.

Daylight is at 5500K whereas my ARRI Tungsten Fresnel lights are all emitting light at 3200K (Tungsten). If you try and white balance the mixture of color you end up with something that just doesn’t look right.

To correct this I would throw full CTB (Color Temperature Blue) gels on the lights to bring them closer to 5500K, meanwhile losing a stop of light for every full CTB. At the time I had a modest amount of power in my location kit, so I needed every bit of light I could get and the CTB gels were robbing me of my light!

The other solution was to black out the windows and try and rebuild the light to my liking but this limited the parts of the scene I could use as the background as well as requires more light power overall.

The Solution

Thankfully someone taught me to work with the mixture of color temperature and use it to my advantage, instead of pulling my hair out trying to to fight it.

STEP 1: Light your scene as you normally would, using the tungsten lights to illuminate only foreground objects, such as your talent.

STEP 2: Use a portion of the scene that is lit by daylight as the background, such as a window or section of the room with daylight spill.

STEP 3: Now set the color balance your camera to 3200K (Tungsten) and watch the magic happen!

The Results

What you should see happen is the foreground will look neutral and the background will go a nice cool blue.