Thread: Shooting in Direct sunlight

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  1. #1 Shooting in Direct sunlight 
    I've seen some footage with people shot in harsh, direct sunlight and make it look like it was just another hot summer day. Every time I've tried though, I've end up blowing them out or just getting way too contrasty. Any tips? Things I should be looking for?
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  2. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by RomanStone View Post
    I've seen some footage with people shot in harsh, direct sunlight and make it look like it was just another hot summer day. Every time I've tried though, I've end up blowing them out or just getting way too contrasty. Any tips? Things I should be looking for?

    If you're talking about controlled shooting then the answer is silk.
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    If it looks too contrasty, you're probably shooting with the sun behind you, or at least from some angle behind you.

    But there are a lot of factors at play here. Do you have examples of footage shot in sun that has the look you want?
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    A simple bounce goes a long way. It's contrasty because the sun is a bright, un-diffused key. That makes harsh shadows on your subject. You have to get rid of those in either with fill (bounce, lights) or by diffusing the sun (silks, overcast and color for "sunny"). Filling outside can make your subject appear extra bright which is why it looks "cheap" and obviously rigging a silk is expensive so that's why it looks so.
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    Silks are the way to go for this... either go to a fabric store and purchase a large bolt of... silk, or a place like Seattle Fabrics and get a large sheet of silnylon (undyed).

    We used a silnylon sheet, and our grip hemmed it and added grommets to it. He took a couple of flat wooden dowels and put a bolt in them at one end, and wrapped the bolt with duct tape. Those make for nice, convenient handles... we've also use the grommets to tie it to trees or SUVs and such.

    The up side to silnylon is that it's relatively inexpensive ($140 or so for a 10x15 before hemming) sheet, and it will last a LONG time. (Sailmakers and cottage outdoor gear makers use it -- my mountaineering shelter is made of silnylon).

    I used that on a feature film... got results that looked Hollywood, with a $200 (parts, labor) silk + bounce to rimlight.

    You can do this cheaply with a bit of ingenuity
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    The other half of Rakesh's suggestion is a black net, hung behind the subject, and far enough back to be out of focus. This is where your ND filters get a work out. The black mesh reduces the sunlit background about 2 stops, so it looks closer to the exposure under the silk. They often use a setup like this for the commentators on TV golf matches if you look carefully. The trick is the net has to be REALLY out of focus, so you load up the ND's so you can shoot at a fairly open aperture on your lens with a very shallow depth of field. Happily this also helps the subject stand out against the background, which is a big part of the "outdoor Hollywood" look. The only place I have seen the netting available is grip rental or supply (B&H sells it). https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ne_single.html
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