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Vincenzo Di Salvo

Obtain a amber lighting atmosphere: how to

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Hello everybody,

I'm new of this forum.

I've a question regarding how to create an amber lighting atmosphere during a shooting. I love the darkness scenes, lighted with candles lights.

However so doing the scenes result in a irritable reddish dominant.
If you want an example, you can simply see one of the several amateur short films that are free posted on youtube.

Then, please, give a look at the movie "The boy". There, the candles light is very very nice, soft, wonderfully amber.
That is: in professional productions the candle light is always wonderfully amber.

Please, can you tell me what kind of candle is used ?
Or maybe does it depend from a particular white balance on the camera ?
Or what ?

Thanks very much in advance.


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It’s either color correction, gels, or camera color temp settings.

Warm light is orange but orange can be skewed towards to red or the yellow, sounds like you want more yellow instead of red. That can be done with gels on lights.

You could also shift a warm shot towards yellow by adding some green in the color temp setting if it has a plus or minus green correction on top of the color temp setting. Or shift it in color correction later. But amber gel on lights is your best solution.

Real candlelight does have a lot of red in it so if you’re lighting with only candles then you’d have to correct some red out and shift it towards yellow either in camera or in color-correction.

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real candlelight also creates weird contrast issues (naked flame + heavy falloff) and you may not like the flickering quality of light (if the air moves there is multiple small flickering sources which thus create multiple overlapped flickering shadows) . and the light falls off pretty quickly. most people don't like the flames being heavily overexposed which tends to happen if you don't use additional lights.

if using only candlelight lighting the scene you may easily end up somewhere between 3200 and 6400 ISO with very low color temperature which may cause noise issues with some cameras. You can always add more candles or candles with heavier filaments but that adds lots of work to the art dept when trying to keep them constant.

for example on a indie movie I lit a scene only with candles. I think I used around 20 or 25 regular candles all the time pretty close to the actors and the set was only couple of meters across. This was at ISO6400 and T2.3 lens fully open. It was partially a look test, normally I would add a little bit of gelled supplementary tungsten light to get more light to the actors whereas using only candles leaves the actors a bit underexposed and the flames very overexposed. so it can work but for most persons taste the lighting balance is "wrong" 

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