Help Me (And Others) Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

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awppollock

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Help Me (And Others) Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostSun Dec 20, 2020 8:50 pm

Hello all, and thank you to those who have helped me with my other questions.

I’m new to using a higher end camera and I know I am not using it properly, but there are things I am having a hard time understanding about exposure and low light shooting. I am using an URSA MINI PRO G2 and have shot several shots with 14 and 24mm lenses that appear visible enough when shooting but in post they are clearly underexposed with no range.

How do you expose for an environment where the lighting is medium to low and how are people able to capture such crystal clear low light footage without destroying the image via the shows when it’s uploaded online. This shot used several hidden lights at what I thought were realistic levels to bump up the first room and kitchen, but evidently it is not enough. How do people shoot moody environments without massive amount of lights and how do they preserve the shadows to remain dark without noise. I’m so lost here and I cannot for the life of me find a good resource to help me learn this process. If you can help I’d be deeply grateful.

URSA MINI PRO
4k
ISO 400
Raw
14mm Rokinon lens all the way open.

What am I doing wrong? Do I need massive amounts of light and “pretend” it’s dark? I don’t understand.
Last edited by awppollock on Mon Dec 28, 2020 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 1:19 am

awppollock wrote:What am I doing wrong? Do I need massive amounts of light and “pretend” it’s dark? I don’t understand.


In a certain way that's right. You don't shoot underexposed images, you shoot a low or a high lighting ratio. That is the relationship between, for example, the light side and the dark side of her face. If you are heading for a dark thriller, this ratio has to be higher than for a friendly comedy. To make shadows look really dark will happen by pulling them down in post. Be aware that electronic cameras, other than optochemical film, will never record true black. They produce dark noise instead.

But if you needed to keep the aperture wide open to get these pictures at 400 ISO, you were starving the camera of light, which results in noise. Another big problem are those very soft transitions over large areas of the background, which produce blotchiness by compression.

Lighting is an art! The best book I learned from is unfortunately in German by Achim Dunker. But I hope others can chime in with recommendations. One good source is the magazine "American Cinematographer" which is regularly explaining lighting setups from popular movies.
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awppollock

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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 1:41 am

Uli Plank wrote:
awppollock wrote:What am I doing wrong? Do I need massive amounts of light and “pretend” it’s dark? I don’t understand.


In a certain way that's right. You don't shoot underexposed images, you shoot a low or a high lighting ratio. That is the relationship between, for example, the light side and the dark side of her face. If you are heading for a dark thriller, this ratio has to be higher than for a friendly comedy. To make shadows look really dark will happen by pulling them down in post. Be aware that electronic cameras, other than optochemical film, will never record true black. They produce dark noise instead.

But if you needed to keep the aperture wide open to get these pictures at 400 ISO, you were starving the camera of light, which results in noise. Another big problem are those very soft transitions over large areas of the background, which produce blotchiness by compression.

Lighting is an art! The best book I learned from is unfortunately in German by Achim Dunker. But I hope others can chime in with recommendations. One good source is the magazine "American Cinematographer" which is regularly explaining lighting setups from popular movies.


Thank you. Do you think it is worth trying the same environment with the same lighting with a higher ISO of 800 and/or possibly another lens that lets in more light, or do you think it’s really a matter of not having enough source light?
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 1:58 am

Uli Plank wrote:
Lighting is an art! The best book I learned from is unfortunately in German by Achim Dunker. But I hope others can chime in with recommendations.


In English, this book is a reasonably good place to start. This is the 2015 5th edition, but the 6th edition will be published in April: https://www.amazon.com/Light-Science-Ma ... 415719402/

Alex, if you can get hold of a copy at a library or used bookstore, cinematographer Néstor Almendros's autobiography, A Man with a Camera, talks a lot about lighting. I think that it's a wonderful book: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Camera-Nesto ... ref=sr_1_2?
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 2:23 am

awppollock wrote:
Uli Plank wrote:Do you think it is worth trying the same environment with the same lighting with a higher ISO of 800 and/or possibly another lens that lets in more light, or do you think it’s really a matter of not having enough source light?

Alex, exactly what Uni said above and in both our responses to your other post. Having a higher ISO (i.e. 800) with the UMP G2, which I also own, will not help with the same lighting. It will add more noise in the shadows. This is a matter of lighting then scene correctly, and also not to starve the camera (sensor) of light. If you give it enough light, you will have a brighter exposure but then in post you will pull it down to levels that will be to your satisfaction without introducing noise in the shadows. Also, don't clip your shadows too (watch that histogram). Use a light meter and/or false color as I suggested on the other post.

Rob and Uli's recommendations for books are a good start.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 2:31 am

awppollock wrote:This shot used several hidden lights at what I thought were realistic levels to bump up the first room and kitchen, but evidently it is not enough. How do people shoot moody environments without massive amount of lights


If you had had an incident light meter when you were setting this up, you would have known pretty quickly where there was enough light and where there wasn't. An incident meter is not an inexpensive purchase, but I think that using one is a great way to learn about light and exposure. At times, I've carried one around in my pocket, just learning what kind of readings I get in various conditions of light.

It's also useful to look at successful photographs, figure out how they were done and try to emulate them. I get the sense that you were trying to get the kind of look that one sees in many of the late Roy DeCarava's photographs. Couldn't hurt to see if you can make an image similar to Ketchup Bottles, Table and Coat. You'll certainly find out how far you can go before noise becomes an issue with your particular camera, at which point you can make whatever changes are necessary.

Worth noting this DeCarava quote: “I think I absorbed the visual aesthetic of black-and-white films, so that when I started taking pictures, it was natural.”

Ketchup Bottles, Table and Coat

decarava.jpeg
decarava.jpeg (31.81 KiB) Viewed 1785 times



It might be worth looking at more of DeCarava's photographs for inspiration, especially some of his street scenes, and certain of his portraits, such as these:

John Coltrane

Roy-DeCarava-Coltrane-and-Elvin-1960-via-David-Zwirner.png
Roy-DeCarava-Coltrane-and-Elvin-1960-via-David-Zwirner.png (478.17 KiB) Viewed 1785 times



Billie Holiday and Hazel Scott

39_001.jpg
39_001.jpg (39.1 KiB) Viewed 1776 times



If you're interested in DeCarava's work, I'd suggest getting a book of his photographs. There's not a lot on the internet, probably because his estate is policing it, and the image quality of what's on the internet doesn't do his photographs justice.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:05 am

robedge wrote:
Uli Plank wrote:
Lighting is an art! The best book I learned from is unfortunately in German by Achim Dunker. But I hope others can chime in with recommendations.


In English, this book is a reasonably good place to start. This is the 2015 5th edition, but the 6th edition will be published in April: https://www.amazon.com/Light-Science-Ma ... 415719402/

Alex, if you can get hold of a copy at a library or used bookstore, cinematographer Néstor Almendros's autobiography, A Man with a Camera, talks a lot about lighting. I think that it's a wonderful book: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Camera-Nesto ... ref=sr_1_2?


Thank you very much! I’m so grateful for your input and advice. I purchased the book and am looking into a meter now!
Last edited by awppollock on Mon Dec 21, 2020 4:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:25 am

An incident light meter doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg, there are many top brand ones to be found second-hand because too many camerafolks think they don't need them anymore.

An then there is Adam Wilt's Cine Meter II plus the Luxi dome if you own an iPhone (my favorite, since it'll always be with you).
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:48 am

Uli Plank wrote:An incident light meter doesn't need to cost you an arm and a leg, there are many top brand ones to be found second-hand because too many camerafolks think they don't need them anymore.

An then there is Adam Wilt's Cine Meter II plus the Luxi dome if you own an iPhone (my favorite, since it'll always be with you).


Thank you very much for your help! I am really grateful for the info and am looking into a meter for sure!
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:49 am

Ellory Yu wrote:
awppollock wrote:
Uli Plank wrote:Do you think it is worth trying the same environment with the same lighting with a higher ISO of 800 and/or possibly another lens that lets in more light, or do you think it’s really a matter of not having enough source light?

Alex, exactly what Uni said above and in both our responses to your other post. Having a higher ISO (i.e. 800) with the UMP G2, which I also own, will not help with the same lighting. It will add more noise in the shadows. This is a matter of lighting then scene correctly, and also not to starve the camera (sensor) of light. If you give it enough light, you will have a brighter exposure but then in post you will pull it down to levels that will be to your satisfaction without introducing noise in the shadows. Also, don't clip your shadows too (watch that histogram). Use a light meter and/or false color as I suggested on the other post.

Rob and Uli's recommendations for books are a good start.



Thank you so much for the help! I’m so grateful! This is so helpful to me.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 6:28 am

Robs advice on getting a light meter is spot on. I've always have a light meter with me and some of you might laugh but until last year where I got a Sekonic digital light meter (just because it has a Cine option), I used a manual incident meter - my old and trusty Sekonic L-208. That's how I learned how to measure lights and set exposure on parts of objects or scene. I still have the analog meter with me but also use the Sekonic 858D. That's a bit expensive and the cheaper alternative is the 478. Rob mentioned the Cine Meter II with the Luxi dome. If you have an iPhone, that's like a $35 investment to get it from the App Store. I really like that because not only I can measure light, I can measure color, temperature, and other since it has a color meter too. The only thing about it is that you'll need some reference meter or camera to calibrate it with but that's not so much of a big deal. But for $35USD, it's worth trying out.

EDIT: Many cine cam and field monitor have false color. This is another way to look at the various exposure of your scene. If you learn how to use it, it is pretty versatile as you can see the various levels of exposure as you light the scene and adjust to correct. Read Tim's post and discussion regarding false color here:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=119029&p=654865&hilit=false+color#p654513
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 11:44 am

Uli Plank wrote:An then there is Adam Wilt's Cine Meter II plus the Luxi dome if you own an iPhone (my favorite, since it'll always be with you).


Ellory Yu wrote: [Uli] mentioned the Cine Meter II with the Luxi dome. If you have an iPhone, that's like a $35 investment to get it from the App Store. I really like that because not only I can measure light, I can measure color, temperature, and other since it has a color meter too. The only thing about it is that you'll need some reference meter or camera to calibrate it with but that's not so much of a big deal. But for $35USD, it's worth trying out.



I haven’t tried this, but the price sure is attractive: US$25 for the Cine Meter II app plus $20 for the attachment: https://www.amazon.com/Luxi-All-Smartph ... 00PKTWQTY/
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 3:03 pm

Ellory Yu wrote:Robs advice on getting a light meter is spot on. I've always have a light meter with me and some of you might laugh but until last year where I got a Sekonic digital light meter (just because it has a Cine option), I used a manual incident meter - my old and trusty Sekonic L-208. That's how I learned how to measure lights and set exposure on parts of objects or scene. I still have the analog meter with me but also use the Sekonic 858D. That's a bit expensive and the cheaper alternative is the 478. Rob mentioned the Cine Meter II with the Luxi dome. If you have an iPhone, that's like a $35 investment to get it from the App Store. I really like that because not only I can measure light, I can measure color, temperature, and other since it has a color meter too. The only thing about it is that you'll need some reference meter or camera to calibrate it with but that's not so much of a big deal. But for $35USD, it's worth trying out.

EDIT: Many cine cam and field monitor have false color. This is another way to look at the various exposure of your scene. If you learn how to use it, it is pretty versatile as you can see the various levels of exposure as you light the scene and adjust to correct. Read Tim's post and discussion regarding false color here:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=119029&p=654865&hilit=false+color#p654513


Fantastic advice and I will be looking into a light meter for sure. I like the idea of the iPhone purchase but I am a little concerned about calibration since I don’t have a reference meter, but I’ll do some research and see if there is an affordable way to do that. Thank you again, I’m learning more in this forum post than I have been able to scouring the internet. Much appreciated.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 3:32 pm

awppollock wrote:Fantastic advice and I will be looking into a light meter for sure. I like the idea of the iPhone purchase but I am a little concerned about calibration since I don’t have a reference meter, but I’ll do some research and see if there is an affordable way to do that.


Any serious commercial still photographer or photography teacher will have an incident light meter. Assuming that calibrating is a straightforward process (I haven't looked into it), you may find that it's easy to identify a photographer who will be happy to help, just out of interest/curiosity.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:29 pm

Calibration is pretty simple and well described by Adam. I'll look up an older article of mine for you in the morning, it's late where I live.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:39 pm

I sold my lightmeter (s) as soon as I went digital. The data from the sensor is way more accurate and comprehensive than any lightmeter. Also if you have an external monitor with waveforms and an RGB parade you have even more control. IMO lightmeters belong to the age of film and have little relevance in digital apart from it might make you look important on a set. If you want to learn how to expose properly for low light or any light for that matter get a monitor with scopes and learn how to use them.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:45 pm

robedge wrote:
awppollock wrote:Fantastic advice and I will be looking into a light meter for sure. I like the idea of the iPhone purchase but I am a little concerned about calibration since I don’t have a reference meter, but I’ll do some research and see if there is an affordable way to do that.


Any serious commercial still photographer or photography teacher will have an incident light meter. Assuming that calibrating is a straightforward process (I haven't looked into it), you may find that it's easy to identify a photographer who will be happy to help, just out of interest/curiosity.



I think this will be very helpful to me. Thank you so much!
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:46 pm

Uli Plank wrote:Calibration is pretty simple and well described by Adam. I'll look up an older article of mine for you in the morning, it's late where I live.



Thank you very, very much. Truly. This has been absolutely invaluable.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:48 pm

John Griffin wrote:I sold my lightmeter (s) as soon as I went digital. The data from the sensor is way more accurate and comprehensive than any lightmeter. Also if you have an external monitor with waveforms and an RGB parade you have even more control. IMO lightmeters belong to the age of film and have little relevance in digital apart from it might make you look important on a set. If you want to learn how to expose properly for low light or any light for that matter get a monitor with scopes and learn how to use them.


I have a BM Video Assistant. I will be spending the next few days practicing with False Color and any available tools it has. Thanks!
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 4:53 pm

For your purposes, where you won't be able to control the lighting well enough to maintain fixed ratios, least of all in a moving shot, the camera's "false color" feature will probably be good enough. It instantly tells you what the comparative light levels are in the scene. Refer to the manual first of all, and any number web sources which will explain its use.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 5:06 pm

John Paines wrote:For your purposes, where you won't be able to control the lighting well enough to maintain fixed ratios, least of all in a moving shot, the camera's "false color" feature will probably be good enough. It instantly tells you what the comparative light levels are in the scene. Refer to the manual first of all, and any number web sources which will explain its use.



I’m hoping, at least for this shot to experiment with adding more light to the main room and the blue room and see what happens to the darker spaces once the brighter rooms are much brighter. Hopefully once several key places have a decent exposure the darker places won’t be so bad, and perhaps even interesting. For example, the blue room, will that follow the same exposure workflow regardless of the color of light? Is the the amount of light regardless of color that makes the difference in exposure?
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 5:37 pm

John Griffin wrote:I sold my lightmeter (s) as soon as I went digital. The data from the sensor is way more accurate and comprehensive than any lightmeter. Also if you have an external monitor with waveforms and an RGB parade you have even more control. IMO lightmeters belong to the age of film and have little relevance in digital apart from it might make you look important on a set. If you want to learn how to expose properly for low light or any light for that matter get a monitor with scopes and learn how to use them.

Your opinion is not helpful at all. Digital cameras capture information in a reflective manner, and therefore the measurement is average at best. To get accurate lighting measurement in different areas of the set, an incident meter is most used by professionals. Having a light meter is not to make you look important on a set. Roger Deakins, world famous cinematography and does not need to look or feel important on set as he already is, still uses a Sekonic analog meter which he had shown during a workshop I attended. Yes, scopes and false colors are good alternatives and if you read my earlier posting, I mentioned false colors as an option for the OP. And BTW, I don't want to debate this matter into a long unnecessary discussion.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 5:42 pm

Ellory Yu wrote:
John Griffin wrote:I sold my lightmeter (s) as soon as I went digital. The data from the sensor is way more accurate and comprehensive than any lightmeter. Also if you have an external monitor with waveforms and an RGB parade you have even more control. IMO lightmeters belong to the age of film and have little relevance in digital apart from it might make you look important on a set. If you want to learn how to expose properly for low light or any light for that matter get a monitor with scopes and learn how to use them.

Digital cameras capture information in a reflective manner, and therefore the measurement is average at best.
This makes no sense. The signal on the sensor is the data that's captured - that's all that matters. Incident light meters are ( and I'm speaking from experience here - Sekonic, Gossen Minolta) all read light slightly differently depending on the angle of the light and are by your definition 'average at best'
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 5:58 pm

John Griffin wrote:
Ellory Yu wrote:
John Griffin wrote:I sold my lightmeter (s) as soon as I went digital. The data from the sensor is way more accurate and comprehensive than any lightmeter. Also if you have an external monitor with waveforms and an RGB parade you have even more control. IMO lightmeters belong to the age of film and have little relevance in digital apart from it might make you look important on a set. If you want to learn how to expose properly for low light or any light for that matter get a monitor with scopes and learn how to use them.

Digital cameras capture information in a reflective manner, and therefore the measurement is average at best.
This makes no sense. The signal on the sensor is the data that's captured - that's all that matters. Incident light meters are ( and I'm speaking from experience here - Sekonic, Gossen Minolta) all read light slightly differently depending on the angle of the light and are by your definition 'average at best'

Read this... https://learn.zoner.com/how-measuring-e ... 0a%20scene.

"The built-in light meters in digital cameras measure light reflected onto a scene while assuming that the scene has average reflectance. These are not as precise as external light meters, which measure the actual amount of light falling onto a scene."

EDIT: Does not matter whether it is a digital still or cinema camera. Principles and mechanics are the same.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 6:17 pm

It doesn’t matter if the light meter is reflected or incidence as it’s not measuring the data collected from the sensor which is the only thing that matters. Btw light meters are useful for measuring lighting ratios on set but that’s little to do with exposure for the camera and nothing to do with what the OP asked.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 6:32 pm

Can't speak to Roger D., but I think the main use of light meters these days is establishing ratios on set, quickly and accurately. But for absolute exposure -- false color should be more accurate! After all, you're measuring the actual light hitting the sensor, rather than the light hitting the object, as with an incident meter. Even if it's "wrong", it's "right" -- because what the false colors show is what the sensor sees and will record.

I think it comes down to the response of light meters, which was designed for film. Digital sensors see differently. And how they do respond is reflected by the cam's waveform monitor -- and false color.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 6:36 pm

John Griffin wrote:It doesn’t matter if the light meter is reflected or incidence as it’s not measuring the data collected from the sensor which is the only thing that matters. Btw light meters are useful for measuring lighting ratios on set but that’s little to do with exposure for the camera and nothing to do with what the OP asked.

This is completely wrong but you can have the last word because there's no end in arguing with you... other than to let you know that your commentaries are not helping make useful posts. Cheers!
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 6:57 pm

Ellory Yu wrote:
John Griffin wrote:It doesn’t matter if the light meter is reflected or incidence as it’s not measuring the data collected from the sensor which is the only thing that matters. Btw light meters are useful for measuring lighting ratios on set but that’s little to do with exposure for the camera and nothing to do with what the OP asked.

This is completely wrong but you can have the last word because there's no end in arguing with you... other than to let you know that your commentaries are not helping make useful posts. Cheers!

I'm helping the OP with his question as the best tools for measuring exposure are in the camera already and the advice to use an incident light meter has so many difficulties, caveats and pitfalls to the inexperienced user that it's simply bad advice.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 7:36 pm

Hi Alex,

I think that a light meter and your camera's exposure tools are complementary and that it's not a matter of choosing one over the other. If you search this forum (search "light meter" or "Sekonic L758"), you will find many threads in which people talk about using both. I do not share the view that participants in this forum who use both, and cinematographers like Roger Deakins, who Ellory mentions, use a light meter "to look important".

One of the posts above says to forget about a light meter and use your camera and an external monitor instead. Your camera, with a lens and whatever other gear you have attached to it, and an external monitor, make for a bulky, heavy package.

One of the attractions of a light meter is that one can fit in a coat pocket or around one's neck. Uli and Ellory point out that the owner of an iPhone, at a cost of US$45, has a light meter on him whenever he has his phone. The post in which I first mentioned a light meter says, among other things, that a light meter "is a great way to learn about light and exposure. At times, I've carried one around in my pocket, just learning what kind of readings I get in various conditions of light." One can move at ease with one around a set or a street. For example, when outdoors a few readings with a light meter, taking less than a minute, can help speed up filming until the light changes. It can help one focus on getting images and spend less time focusing on data.

Another attraction is that current light meters have displays and computational abilities that make it possible to take a reading and see, just by pushing a button or turning a dial, what happens to exposure if one changes input assumptions such as ISO or aperture/iris. I find that this is a fast, helpful way to work out what my options are. The fact that a meter can average and store readings helps too, not to mention a meter's use in working through ratios. I do not share the view that a light meter presents "difficulties" and "pitfalls" for an "inexperienced user". Indeed, when I started using a dedicated meter I found it both easier to use than a camera meter, although I use that too, and liberating.

Parenthetically, I'd like to suggest that you check out Adorama's show On Set with Daniel Norton. The show is often about lighting with continuous lights, which are used for filming. Norton, who is a delightful guy and a knowledgeable photographer, also has his own YouTube channel. This is the link for his Adorama programme: https://www.adorama.com/alc/series/onset-daniel-norton/
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 8:37 pm

Zebras, histogram and false colour are inbuilt into a BM camera and are not an accessory. If you can't get your exposure right with these tools an external meter is not going to do it either. In an environment with strong colour light sources you will want to see the individual RGB channels and this is where an external monitor comes in handy (and where a handheld meter is useless unless it's combined with a very expensive color temperature meter) The bottom line for the OP is that they need to understand the fundamental nature of the cameras response to light in terms of it's clipping point, noisefloor and image appearance on the monitor vs the image in your NLE ( Presumably resolve) which means test, test and test.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 9:18 pm

robedge wrote:I do not share the view that participants in this forum who use both, and cinematographers like Roger Deakins, who Ellory mentions, use a light meter "to look important".

Hey Rob, I did not said that cinematographers like Roger Deakins use a light meter "to look important". I was responding to JP's statement that "having a light meter is to make you look important" by stating the opposite. I used Roger D as someone who still uses a light meter and is already famous, he does not need a light meter to look or feel important on set. This is what I wrote and highlighted in bold. And you don't have to share my view but I want to correct your statement as who said what.

Ellory Yu wrote:Having a light meter is not to make you look important on a set. Roger Deakins, world famous cinematography and does not need to look or feel important on set as he already is, still uses a Sekonic analog meter which he had shown during a workshop I attended.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 9:22 pm

Hi Ellroy, I was referring to John Griffin's assertion and crediting you as the person who mentioned Deakins as a prominent cinematographer who uses a light meter. Further down the post, I credited Uli and you for raising the iPhone as a light meter option.

Sorry if I left the wrong impression :)
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 9:30 pm

Ellory Yu wrote:I was responding to JP's statement that


I think you mean "JG", but that aside, the material you linked to concerns automatic exposure. And in that case, yes, a standard light meter (or Cine Meter II, an excellent product) is usually the better choice.

But false color, waveforms and histograms are exposure tools -- they don't set exposure, they reveal information about the exposure. And as tools, they supply far more information about what the sensor will record, than an incident reading.

The joke is, I do use a Sekonic -- but I calibrated it to the BMPCC 4K using the cam's false color 18% grey reading ... going in a circle.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 9:57 pm

Uli Plank wrote:An then there is Adam Wilt's Cine Meter II plus the Luxi dome if you own an iPhone (my favorite, since it'll always be with you).


Ellory Yu wrote: [Uli] mentioned the Cine Meter II with the Luxi dome. If you have an iPhone, that's like a $35 investment to get it from the App Store. I really like that because not only I can measure light, I can measure color, temperature, and other since it has a color meter too. The only thing about it is that you'll need some reference meter or camera to calibrate it with but that's not so much of a big deal. But for $35USD, it's worth trying out.


Thanks guys, I use a Sekonic L-758*, but I've purchased the iPhone app and ordered the attachment.

One way I use the Sekonic is for pre-shoot planning. Recently, during a Covid-19 "lull", I needed to film in my local subway system. As part of planning, I took the Sekonic to the underground stations where I wanted to film, and onto some trains, to get readings. There are times when I'm somewhere, unrelated to filming, that I decide I'd like to return to with my Pocket 4K. If I could use my iPhone on the spot to take some readings, it might prove quite handy.

I'm also intrigued by Ellory's comment that this can be used to measure colour temperature.

Cheers

* In 2017, this light meter was superseded by the Sekonic L-858D, but if one can find an L-758 second hand, it's a terrific light meter.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 10:23 pm

Speaking of Daniel Norton (see six posts up), he published this video this afternoon on his personal YouTube channel. Pretty good advice for someone starting out, and for me a good reminder:

Finding the light, step one in your photographic journey

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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 21, 2020 10:58 pm

robedge wrote:Speaking of Daniel Norton (see six posts up), he published this video this afternoon on his personal YouTube channel. Pretty good advice for someone starting out, and for me a good reminder:

Finding the light, step one in your photographic journey




Fantastic and thank you again. I will absolutely be following this fellow. Much appreciated!!!
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostTue Dec 22, 2020 2:01 am

Sorry, but I consider this discussion of in-camera tools vs light meter ridiculous.
In-camera tools are very helpful for run-n-gun situations or wherever you can't set lights. They are also valuable for spotting problem areas when you have the chance to set up proper lighting. But for the latter, an incident light meter is still needed if you are serious about it.
BTW, to add another very respected DoP, I had the pleasure to attend a workshop with Michael Ballhaus. He always had a light meter dangling around his neck, while there were only electronic cameras around, and he definitely didn't need to show off.

My article on light meter apps is here:
www.dropbox.com/s/l7idyqg86lhjos4/DP190 ... s.pdf?dl=0

Since it's in German, a short summary for the Cine Meter II. Even out of the box it was already not further off than the two professional meters agreed among them. At very dark levels it was more precise than these older instruments. With older models, like iPhone 4 or the first SE, it was more precise at very high light levels than recent models. It seems that Apple is now playing more tricks in the highlights.

Further details here: www.adamwilt.com/cinemeterii/
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostTue Dec 22, 2020 6:35 am

I think we have to separate using an incident light meter to set up lights on set for levels and ratios or to scope a location from setting the exposure on the camera during shooting to best exploit the capabilities of the sensor. These 2 functions may have some overlap but they also have quite distinct differences.
If you don’t want to buy a separate incident meter or iPhone attachment you can measure incident light on any camera with something like an expodisc or similar diffusion attachment which will also give you an accurate 3 channel WB or col temp reading. Even a grey card angled appropriately and reflected light reading will do the same but I guess it’s not as quick to use.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostTue Dec 22, 2020 7:10 am

Agreed. I was referring to the OP's situation, who tried to light a scene for a distinct style.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostTue Dec 22, 2020 9:57 am

Uli Plank wrote:
My article on light meter apps is here:
http://www.dropbox.com/s/l7idyqg86lhjos ... s.pdf?dl=0

Since it's in German, a short summary for the Cine Meter II. Even out of the box it was already not further off than the two professional meters agreed among them. At very dark levels it was more precise than these older instruments. With older models, like iPhone 4 or the first SE, it was more precise at very high light levels than recent models. It seems that Apple is now playing more tricks in the highlights.

Further details here: http://www.adamwilt.com/cinemeterii/


Thanks Uli, very helpful. For those of us who can't read German, Google Translate does a good job. Amazon tells me that I'll have the attachment for Cine Meter II tomorrow. Looking forward to trying it out.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostSun Dec 27, 2020 1:38 pm

robedge wrote:Amazon tells me that I'll have the attachment for Cine Meter II tomorrow. Looking forward to trying it out.


Just a comment on the "Luxi For All" attachment for the Cine Meter II application, which I received a few days ago. The attachment works like a clothes pin. It clips directly onto the recessed lenses on the back of my iPhone 11 Pro Max, and the screen on the front of the phone. This is an expensive phone, and I have some concern about the attachment scratching the lenses and the glass screen. I don't currently use lens and screen protectors, and I'm not inclined to use the attachment regularly without them. I think that my options are to purchase protectors, use the attachment sparingly and carefully or return it.

My gut reaction is that I can carry my Sekonic light meter, which has proven over the years to be quite robust, in my coat pocket or on a lanyard without worrying about this kind of issue.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 1:44 am

I got the first version and it's all plastic. I don't see it scratching the glass. Does yours have some metal there?
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 1:49 am

Uli Plank wrote:I got the first version and it's all plastic. I don't see it scratching the glass. Does yours have some metal there?


No metal. It's like a hard plastic clothes pin and I'm not keen at all on using it routinely on the lenses and glass display of my $1000+ phone. I guess I'm just less sanguine about it than you are :)
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 2:39 am

I trust the Gorilla ;-)

I would never do that to my valued glass for my cameras, but the phone is like my car – may have some scratches but is always useful.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 3:09 am

Uli Plank wrote:I trust the Gorilla ;-)

the phone is like my car – may have some scratches but is always useful.


When I lived in Paris, it was called Paris Body Work. There's a reason why people with sense don't drive expensive cars in Paris. Not sure I want that with my phone :)

Maybe I'm just being paranoid.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 11:09 am

I’d look at the usefulness of the luxi attachment first, since it has the potential to replace a $1,700 - $2,200 color meter. At one point I dedicated a $150 IPhone SE for use as a light /color meter. Then I put some gaffer tape under the luxi.

Not great to get calls and texts on your phone while you are trying to set up a shot. I usually work with 1-2 assistants and I can hand off the phone for stills and metering. I do use it often because it can help determine ND strength quickly especially when I want to overexpose 1-1.5 stops. Then once things are setup on the camera I toggle false color. I also have a Sekonic L398A which never runs out of battery.
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 1:01 pm

Ryan Earl wrote: I also have a Sekonic L398A which never runs out of battery.


Video comparing your classic L398A with the Sekonic L758 (superseded in about 2017 by the L858D). It sure is compact, and as you say, no batteries required. Also quite a bit less expensive. Leaving aside flash, the main downside is no spot metering.


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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 2:29 pm

Just an update for everyone who has been contributing to this thread. First, thank you to all the folks who have and who continue to offer advice, experience and wisdom to this post. I think it will benefit many people who are in a similar position to me. I have done several tests since then and can confirm that it is possible to achieve those darker shadows in a clean manner, but the abundance of light it necessary. Now my plan is to (once my light meter arrives) measure the amount of light used to achieve this in the tests and use this as a guideline for the setting lights in the scene.

My new questions are: How do people achieve these light levels creatively with an understanding of the editing process later and without it being glaringly obvious? How is it possible to achieve this level of light while making an interior space look natural? For example, should I be trying to achieve a color as close to my vision as possible? Or use white light and change it later? For a long shot like this I would imagine color correction in post to be problematic because it will change all the lights throughout the shot, not just the initial ones, in terms of achieving a look.

I also wonder about the splashes of light in the background. Do subtler splashes of light need to be at the same level as the main lighting in order to maintain a clean transition into shadow? Or will they naturally be fine at their own level if the ratio of the main light source to shadow is successful?

Here are two examples of tests. The color correction was obviously pushed to achieve a look that isn’t just my boring apartment, but I’m concerned I won’t be able to do this for the shot because there are natural lights outside the apartment, blue light in the kitchen and white light in the bedroom and bathroom.

Which do you like better? They both have advantages, like the wide having a deeper depth of field which makes shooting the shot easier in some ways, but also capturing more “hidden lights” and flaws and “camera man shadows”, while the 24 captures more emotion, can hide said issues better, but has a shallower depth, making it more difficult to maintain a focal distance with throughout a moving shot.

14mm, same lens as original shot:


24mm:
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Re: Help Me To Understand Exposure/Low Light Shooting

PostMon Dec 28, 2020 4:08 pm

Ellory Yu wrote:
awppollock wrote:
Uli Plank wrote:Do you think it is worth trying the same environment with the same lighting with a higher ISO of 800 and/or possibly another lens that lets in more light, or do you think it’s really a matter of not having enough source light?

Alex, exactly what Uni said above and in both our responses to your other post. Having a higher ISO (i.e. 800) with the UMP G2, which I also own, will not help with the same lighting. It will add more noise in the shadows. This is a matter of lighting then scene correctly, and also not to starve the camera (sensor) of light. If you give it enough light, you will have a brighter exposure but then in post you will pull it down to levels that will be to your satisfaction without introducing noise in the shadows. Also, don't clip your shadows too (watch that histogram). Use a light meter and/or false color as I suggested on the other post.

Rob and Uli's recommendations for books are a good start.


800 is the native ISO of the URSA Mini Pro's so you should be shooting at 800 (not 400) anyways for optimal picture and DR.
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Re: Help Me (And Others) Understand Exposure/Low Light Shoot

PostTue Dec 29, 2020 3:32 pm

JoshMallett wrote:800 is the native ISO of the URSA Mini Pro's so you should be shooting at 800 (not 400) anyways for optimal picture and DR.


I'm usually don't alter 800 ISO even shooting ProRes in the URSA Mini 4.6K, I will generally over expose 1 - 2 stops then push down the shadows to get an inkier look.
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