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Trying to avoid flatness under a canopy of trees.

Chad Griepentrog

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Im scouting for a film now where one of the main locations is very dense forest with a solid canopy. The undergrowth is green, the leaves are green, the moss is green, the light even feels green. The tree trunks have very little character and are skinny. I do have a fogger setup and it has tested well- so at least I can bring areas out from what looks like an infinity of skinny trees and greenness. The sun is almost nonexistent, save for some very small dappled beams. My question to you is how can I bring the characters out- especially in the wider shots -without it looking lit or fake? Ill use negative fill when possible and I have some 8x & 12x frames w/ rags and a couple 1.2 hmis. Its a remote location and tiny budget. I was just surprised to see how flat the light was and how a person gets swallowed by the busy yet uniform environment.

Oh- and the actors are wearing dull colors-jeans, dark sweatshirts, etc. I will ask wardrobe get a little color contrast against the green environment.


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I would definitely say that wardrobe will be your greatest ally here. Bright colors will pop out the talent from the green infinity, especially if they wear something that is white/orange/red.


I'd also say that if the setting is remote maybe you can back up the camera and shoot your wides on a longer lens to help separate the talent from the scenery. This will also help because the compressed field of view will let you more easily hide lighting, perhaps you could place an ultrabounce or similar rag by tying it between the trees and blasting your HMIs up at it from a low angle to help lift certain areas of the forest?


You mentioned you had multiple HMIs, try using one high up with some 216 or doubled up Opal as an edge, or simply light certain areas to cut out talent via the pools of light method. The fact you are in a forrest means there are a ton of natural cucoloris options available to you!

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I recently shot under very similar circumstances ... in the forests of the pacific north west.


Definitely the reflective nature of the talents clothes to catch whatever lights available is a big help. Also, if there is a small gap in the tree canopy, that light will punch through like a stage spot light and blow out everything, so keep some diffusion on hand to avoid bad hot spots.



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