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Benjamin Huddleston

Basic subject-in-window INT reflection shot.

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I'm just fishing for any basic tricks you have to light and expose for a subject close to a window, while keeping the EXT mostly properly exposed. I've tried a couple of times, and have never been perfectly satisfied.


Assuming a brighly lit day at 3pm in Los Angeles, what would be your go-to quick protocol for getting in the ballpark?


ND the windows? How strong (and what kind) of a key light? Any special considerations?


Thanks to all for sharing your experiences.





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Shooting an actor's reflection in a window is just like shooting the normal way. 1. Expose for the background (in this case, a day exterior) and light the actor to match. 2. Find or place something dark in the background (in this case, outside the window) and line it up behind your actor (in this case, their reflection).


As long as you compose a light subject over a dark background (or vice versa for a silhouette), the subject will read and be clearly visible. It also helps to use shallow depth of field to make the background less distracting, although if you choose your background carefully deep focus can make for a very layered and powerful shot. It's all about context though; composing random backgrounds or objects behind your actors can make for pretty pictures but completely nonsensical images.

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I did a similar shot in "Northfork":



I knew I had to light the actor's face to get the effect, so I put ND gel on the window in order to make the balance easier, though it still required blasting the actor with a bright HMI. Now if the real sun was hitting the actor's face, it would have been easier to get a reflection without using lights nor ND gel.

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