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jake powell

moonlight beach vista

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I have a project on the go at the moment and am just planning tests for a certain shot within it.

 

i am not super experienced and was looking for advice from people with a little more of it to guide me right.

 

the rest of the peice is shot with campfires and at dusk but this scene is a shot on a nigh time exterior of a beach. a group have previously mucked around burying their friend up to his neck in sand at dusk before several members of the group go off and return later to find the rest of the group - two girls up to their waists in the now high tide and their poor friends fate sealed below it.

 

the shot is from their vantage point on from a path at the top of a hill that you walk over before descending onto the beach proper, the cliffs are to their left off camera and the girls are below them silhouetted black against the moonlight sea.

 

moonlight is the only motivated light source.

 

My budget is limited so please no helium balloons or condor suggestions.

 

i envisage the shot to look something like this but from a higher vantage point looking down with a little more reflectance from the sea.

 

MAxBr.jpg

 

I may be able to get a nice point on the cliffs to the left that jutt out further into the sea than where the girls are to set up my lights and a jenny...

 

what do you all think?

 

I presume an M18 HMI on the cliffs blasting down on them from there may be the go to?

how low a HMI do you think you would get away with however as budget is limited. 1.2kw going to be not enough gun for this fight?

 

Any other options you guys see ? - a bunch of ctb gelled source four par's with a few honda eu20i jennys and pick out bits of the vista selectively?

 

welcome your thoughts on this one...

 

cheers

 

jake

 

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Magic hour or at dusk is the best time for doing large landscapes if you don't have any resources. Camp fires will register quite nicely at these low light levels.

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Get a Sony A7s, wait for a full moon, and shoot in real moonlight. For tighter shots you can use a battery powered bi-color 1x1 Litepanel with some diffusion for fill.

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Or shoot day-for-night.

 

Or do some combo of all of these, a 1.8K HMI on a hilltop would be bright enough if your camera is sensitive enough, so you may need something like the Sony A7S. I don't know the ASA needed but I would guess much faster than 1600 ASA, maybe 3200 ASA would be enough? You'd have to be prepared to boost the ASA, open the shutter, use a T/1.4 lens, etc.

 

Or get a bigger lamp and a generator.

 

Mixing some lighting with late magic hour is nice because then the ocean isn't black. You can't light the ocean for reflections unless you can backlight it from out in the water. Some people get lucky because they find a small cove where a cliff or jetty allows a lamp to be placed in a backlit angle. Otherwise, you're better off shooting at dusk or day-for-night if you want a big reflection on the water.

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The moon, full and absolutely crystal clear air, directly overhead... yeilds about 0.03 Footcandles( .3 Lux) of illumination... or about 11 2/3 stops from 100 Footcandles, and f/2.8 @ 100 fc @ 24 fsp @ 180 deg. (if there is no real motion, one coudl go with a 360 degree shutter...).

 

Yields (rounding to 11 stops...)... ISO of around 204800, for F/1 lens, then one could reduce the ISO to 25600. Or 12800 with 360 deg. shutter.

 

There's a reason why dayfornight is used.

 

The human eye is capable of 'seeing' light as low as 0.0006 fc or so. Which of course is why humans can naviage at night in general, even on moonless nights... well... some can...

Edited by John E Clark

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Yea I would say go with a camera with a lot of sensativity....the scene that you posted a still from was shot with Muscos or like several 18k HMI's actually (thats true grit right?) and that was for an 800ISO base camera.

 

I'd say at like 6400 ISO with fast lenses (f1.4) with an 1.8k HMI you could do something on a pretty large scale ...not as big as that shot you posted but pretty big.

 

 

 

I'd also just consider shooting late dusk and keeping a little ambiance around and in the sky.

Edited by Albion Hockney

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thanks for the responses guys , the still is from true grit Albion yeah, (i think deakins used like 56 hmi's from a km away or something ridiculous like that.... - not something i can do ahahaa)

 

r.e. A7S - i am shooting with a black magic pocket cam RAW im not crazy about the a7s aesthetic , it's impressive in low light for sure but i don't really love the image .... so while i respect that its a great idea for this shot its not for me.

 

Day for night - i have no experience doing time to make some tests as this may be the sensible way - however something about it grates me the wrong way , it seems wrong call me stupid but i have a hard time believing that unnatural way of doing it would give me the sense of authenticity that i feel is very important to come through with this shot... be that as it may i will begin tests to see if i can prove myself wrong... appreciate the sensible suggestion.

 

do you guys think the pocket cam raw pushed to 3200 with some post neat video could hold up with a 1.8k hmi on the hill? oh im shooting it on Superspeeds BTW so T1.3 ... I guess its time to scout the location take measurements and do some proper calculations - thanks stuart!

 

keep the advise coming guys ! its appreciated.

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The Pocket Camera tops out at 1600 ISO for a usable image. You don't have the budget to light this shot properly, so you need to grab some Grad NDs, and shoot it dusk-for-night.

 

Grab all your wider shots first (before you lose the light), and have some smaller lights available for your closer shots to help them match the wides.

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Both of these are pretty much grab shots.

 

Here's an example of a recent 'moonlight' only shot, iPhone... but heck gives an idea...

 

Effective values: F/2.2 ISO 2500 1/15 sec.

 

14999201253_214c20e3b8_o.jpg

 

Here's a BMPCC in a much more 'urban' environment, perhaps .5-1 fc for the 'darker street' areas.

 

F/2.0 ISO 1600 24 fps 180 deg. ProRes 'Film' mode. (so 10 bit log representation) Ungraded.

 

14947856804_b5d417e1cf_o.jpg

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Here's a dusk-for-night shot, shot at 800 ISO, T/2.1, 180 degree shutter. The source lighting the foreground is a single 1.2k HMI PAR from about 60-70 feet away. But we had to wait for the absolute very last bit of light in the sky, in order for the HMI to become the dominant source (which was obviously necessary for continuity with the closer coverage that we had to shoot after we lost the light.

 

You can see how useful the light from the fire is at this exposure, so if you have open fires close to the subjects down on the beach, that might be enough to key them with. Getting a wider shot than this would be very hard without a larger HMI source though. You just need the extra punch in order to illuminate anything from a distance.

 

mpNqGy1.jpg

Edited by Mark Kenfield

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Here's a dusk-for-night shot, shot at 800 ISO, T/2.1, 180 degree shutter. The source lighting the foreground is a single 1.2k HMI PAR from about 60-70 feet away. But we had to wait for the absolute very last bit of light in the sky, in order for the HMI to become the dominant source (which was obviously necessary for continuity with the closer coverage that we had to shoot after we lost the light.

 

You can see how useful the light from the fire is at this exposure, so if you have open fires close to the subjects down on the beach, that might be enough to key them with. Getting a wider shot than this would be very hard without a larger HMI source though. You just need the extra punch in order to illuminate anything from a distance.

 

<image deleted for brevity>

 

Did you have an establishing shot of 'moon rise' to 'justify' the low apparent angle of the 'moon'?

Edited by John E Clark

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I did, though it was a vaguer clouds-passing-over-moon shot than a 'moon rise' with the horizon in shot. That shot was a biatche, as the camera (and, more importantly, the light, were slightly downhill from the shed and the action on screen - and my tallest stand was an 11' C-stand!) - so it was a VERY low moon!

 

The moon I also shot dusk-for-night which allowed me to get details into the clouds.

 

Dusk-for-night is a tricky, time-sensitive beast. But if you plan out you wide coverage sensibly - you can do a hell of a lot with very little gear these days.

 

5bMZygh.jpg

Edited by Mark Kenfield

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"Both of these are pretty much grab shots.

 

Here's an example of a recent 'moonlight' only shot, iPhone... but heck gives an idea...

 

Effective values: F/2.2 ISO 2500 1/15 sec."

 

Although, there's a point where the moon and moonlight does start to look like daylight.

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Here's a dusk-for-night shot, shot at 800 ISO, T/2.1, 180 degree shutter. The source lighting the foreground is a single 1.2k HMI PAR from about 60-70 feet away. But we had to wait for the absolute very last bit of light in the sky, in order for the HMI to become the dominant source (which was obviously necessary for continuity with the closer coverage that we had to shoot after we lost the light.

 

Dusk-for-night is a tricky, time-sensitive beast. But if you plan out you wide coverage sensibly - you can do a hell of a lot with very little gear these days.

 

The key to success in shooting dusk-for-night is choosing the right location and being prepared for a very short window of opportunity to shoot your establishing wide shots. To get the subtle separation of the night sky from a dark horizon, you don’t want to shoot into the after glow of the setting sun. Instead you want to find a location where you will be shooting into the darker eastern sky. After the sun has set, you have maybe a thirty-minute window of opportunity to shoot the wide master so you have to have everything planned out, rehearsed, and ready to go.

 

In order to get the balance right between your lights and the ambient dusk light in the limited time you have to shoot the establishing shot, you have to start with larger fixtures and be prepared to reduce their intensity quickly. The drill is as follows: wait until the ambient dusk level has fallen to the point where the balance between it and your lighting looks realistic and then roll. To get a second shot or take, open the camera aperture a half stop and drop a single in your heads and wait again until the balance between ambient dusk level and your lights has again fallen to the point where it looks realistic and then roll. If you continue in this fashion with nets after you have exhausted your scrims you will be able to get multiple takes out of the diminishing dusk light. Once dusk is past, shoot the close coverage night-for-night when a package consisting of what you can run on a portable generator will suffice.

12K_Paralleling_WS_Sm.jpg

 

As Ken experienced, it is going to take something larger than an M18 to get multiple takes shooting dusk for night. Now a days there are plenty of options between an M18 and an 18k Arrimax. A modified Honda EU6500is will easily run a 4k Par and if you parallel two together you can run up to a 12K Par. Above is a quick shot to give you an idea of what a 12K Par offers at dusk (the stages in the deep background are approximately 400ft away.) You stand a reasonable chance of back lighting the water with this approach since the EU6500s are still small enough that they can be carried by hand out onto the bluff that protrudes into the ocean and quiet enough that you wouldn’t hear them on the beach if you put the Hondas down the slope of the bluff opposite the beach you are shooting. For more options see my white paper on the use of portable generators in motion picture production.

 

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting Rental & Sales in Boston

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okay so my first test of early dusk for night , can anyone give me some pointers to improve upon this? It was shot overcast at about 5:45 in portugal (I'm on holiday) i feel its lacking the harder splashes of moonlight to give contrast (i am with bare minimal equipment out here till next week , looks like i need some grad nd's for that sky which atm is just keyed and exposure brought down ... and a hmi to bring in some contrast ... anything else i am missing as a newbie? cheers guys4fv0w4.jpg

Edited by jake powell

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If you want hard "moon light" on the water, you're going to have to shoot while the sun is out in a backlight position. So day for night rather than dusk for night. An M18 or 2.5k is only going work as a key. Of course then your sky will be rather bright compared to the foreground so you'll have to work a combination of Polarizer, ND grad, or sky replacement in post.

 

Or again, you could leave all that stuff at home and just use a Sony A7s with real moonlight and a few Litepanels.

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