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  • Writer's pictureMike Kozlenko

Making Rocks & Sand Look Cool: PART III

Updated: Mar 23, 2022

Some (simple) Daylight-EXT goodness

On this post I'm gonna rattle through some of the exterior shots on a brand film I shot for a company that does something with rocks & dirt. This will be the 3rd little post about this project.

On this first shot above, shot at around 9a, this guy wearing the hard hat is looking at a dump truck approaching, and we have another shot of him waving the truck on (sorry for the lack of BTS on this folks). What I did here was find an interesting background with nice color & tone. Shot it at a T2.0 to get it nice & creamy in the background. We set up a 4x4 frame of half-soft frost on frame-right, just barely out of frame. This made the sunlight a bit more pleasing on his face, taking the edge off, while still retaining the look of hard sunlight. Then we had a 4x4 beadboard bouncing from the key-side on frame-right. I tried to get it far enough away to just give a little bit of level in the front of his face. Grips usually either try to position a bounce on the opposite side of the sun, or they try to get the bounce way too close, at way too low of an angle, which makes it look unnatural. So I just had my G&E fella walk back the bounce a bit and raise the bounce vertically. This lowered the amount of level I got, but still gave me a pleasing, somewhat-naturalistic bounce to wake up the face. Then I added 2 4x4 floppies camera left to get ride of some ambient light. The fill side being THAT dark is still somewhat motivated because we there's actually some large structure to the left of frame.

This was shot at like 11:15am and the light was starting to look pretty shitty. This one was a little handheld walk n' talk, but it only had to cover like 10 feet. So we set up four 4x4 floppies frame right and had someone hollywood the 4x4 beadboard on camera-left. I staged talent so they could be in the backlight, which was getting more toppy by the minute. The fill side on camera-right is still a bit too lit up for my liking. Ideally I'd also darken the background so it's not brighter than the talent and our eyes can be drawn to their faces a bit more, and then bring a bigger, punchier bounce in to light up the faces more, like an ultrabounce, but it didn't quite work out this way. I just had to go with the 4x4 beadboard. It also would've been great, REALLY great, to have them walk on some black solids, because there's a bunch of shitty ambient light from the ground being bounced up into their neck. This was a quick setup though, and for what it was, it worked.

With this one, we just positioned the talent to be backlit, and we hollywooded a 4x4 floppy behind camera as the forklift moved. Still too much ambient light on the near-side to camera, but the floppy did help cut some of it down.

This one is just for context. The composition in this frame is dogshit but it's a handheld tracking shot so it changes a bit. We're doing a follow shot of this guy walking towards the other one, and a dump truck enters the frame on the right-hand side. I try to shoot my wides early, even earlier than this. There's not really a whole lot you can do on a small skeleton-crew gig besides pick the right time to shoot and let mother nature do the lighting. Looking at this frame, I should have raised the camera & tilted down to get a bit less of the blown out sky. Maybe I was trying to get a lens flare or something?? I darkened his back with a power window in post, but if I had enough people, I probably would've tried to hollywood a couple floppies behind camera.

We wanted to get a closeup shot inside one of the dump trucks of a hand controlling a joystick. When I hopped up to get the shot, it looked pretty darn impossible to get because even though the RED has a shit-ton of dynamic range, it still wasn't enough for this scenario. When I exposed for the background, my foreground was super dark. And I didn't want to expose for the hands because I'd have a crap-ton of shitty blown-out highlights. But we ended up using a 4x4 reflector board and blasting a ton of hard light into the interior of the truck. We angled it so it wasn't directly in front of the driver, but instead off to the far side a bit more, by a few degrees, so our shadows wouldn't get lit up. The driver had to close his eyes because it was so bright.

This was directly overhead sunlight, at like 1pm. What ended up working in our favor was that since the workers were wearing hardhats, it shielded their faces from gross hard sunlight. So I shot at a low-angle, pointed up, which made the toplight look more like a backlight. And then had a 4x4 beadboard from the far side, NOT the near side. I always want to keep the near-side to camera as dark as possible. I may not get as much bounce from that angle, but it doesn't matter. A little bit of beadboard bounce can go a long way. Since he's weaing sunglesses, we end up seeing the bounce in the reflections a little bit. We cheated the position of it so it at least wasn't PROMINENT in his sunglasses. Last thing was adding a 4x4 floppy to suck up a bit more light. What also makes this shot work OK is the background. It's not just a blue sky. I tried to frame in some clouds to make it a bit more interesting & textured.

That's about it for this one folks (for the 3 people that end up reading this for some reason)


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