Tag Archives: depth of field aperture

Basic Tips for Lighting Setup


The Basics of lighting A scene

In this article I’m going to give you some basic tips for lighting setup in a scene. Lighting is one of the important tools the cinematographer can use to tell the story. When lighting is made correctly, you can use it to say a lot about your characters, about the film’s theme and atmosphere, the emotional mood of the scene, and more. You can also control the colours of the set and create depth to the picture. When working on lighting for a scene, there is no time for experiments. You have to know what you want and go after it.

Study classical art

Watch some important paintings. You will be amazed how they use light to tell a story in one frame.

Color Balance

The first thing you need to do before you start working with the light in the scene is to color balance the colors in your camera. This is a step cinematographer can skip id they want to create a special effect, but when you aiming for realistic lighting, you should balance the colors first. Most cameras have a Color balance or White balance button. They usually will have at least two standards: One daylight (5500k) and one for indoor light (3200k).

Adjusting The Monitor

When you start planning your lighting in the location, you should make sure your monitor is adjusted. You have to make sure you see all the colors in the palette. It is very important because you are going to see how things will look with that monitor and you want to have a true picture.

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Know all the Scene Details

Before starting the work on the scene, you need to have details about the scene (If you came prepared then you already know these answers). You do need to know stuff like what time of day is the scene happening, Where is it happening? How many actors are in the scene? How big the frame is and where the camera is going to stand? You also should watch a rehearsal, you need to see where everyone is standing and walking.

Use a Light Meter

for professional cinematography (film or video), you will need a proper light meter. The light meter will help you to measure the amount of light in the shot.

Today there are many cameras with a light meter built in them, but they are known to not be accurate many times. A hand-held light meter will give you much more details than the one in the camera will. It doesn’t cost much (shouldn’t be more than 300$) and your picture will have better pictures. I’m probably going to post about how to use a hand-held light meter, but I’m sure the guy in the store will explain it also (let me know if you want me to write about it soon)

Lighting The Scene

First look for interesting elements you can use in the scene. Stuff like candle light, lamp; window and etc. Your next step is to turn off all the lights in the location until you have a complete darkness. Then we simply light one lamp at a time and see how it helps us.

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On the next cinematography course post, I’m going to write about the basic light positioning for lighting a scene. For now I advise you to exercise by shooting under different lightings- natural or indoor. Try to shoot in as many locations as you can and try to learn why each picture turned out the way it did. If it’s possible, try even different weather conditions.

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Depth of field – Create great image

Working With Depth Of Field

The depth of field is the area in the shot where all the items in it look sharp. You can say the depth of field “decides” what is going to be sharp in the picture and what is not and by that creating depth in the picture.

The two types of depth of field

There are two types of depth in image: shallow depth and deep depth.

Shallow depth is a field in the shot where the focus area is very small. We usually use it to direct the viewer’s attention to something specific in the frame. You might also see it a lot in interviews. The DSLR cameras became very famous because of their ability to create a shallow depth of field very easily. Anyway, what you need to remember is that the closer you are to the photographed object, the shallower the depth of field is going to be.
The second type is Deep depth which means that the entire frame from background to foreground is as sharp as possible.

The three factors that contribute to the depth of field

Aperture -This mechanism is in charge of the size of the lens opening that determines the amount of light entering the lens and also the angle of light rays that are hitting it. Aperture is measured in f/stops, for example, f/2 or f/16. F/2, For example, represents an aperture diameter that is 1/2 the focal length of the lens. Therefor, f/2 will be bigger than f/16.
A larger opening will decree the depth of field. If your camera has an internal neutral density (ND) filter you can dial this in.

Focal length – The longer the focal length of your lens is, the shallower the depth of field will be. In other words, the more you magnified your object the less depth of field you’ll have.

The 3rd factor is the distance of the object from the camera– The closer you are to the filmed object, the shallower the depth of focus will be, the farther the object is- the greater the depth will be.

There are many tables that can help you do calculations needed, but there are not always accurate and sometimes missing the new cameras and lenses out there. I recommend playing with those 3 factors until you’ll have complete control and understanding on them. If you don’t have time for playing, there are many apps that can help you to calculate the depth of field. A good one is called pCAM FILM + DIGITAL PRO – Thin Man Inc. This app not only does great calculations with a depth of field, but it also calculate exposure, running times and more. Another good app is Toland ASC Digital Assistant – Chemical Wedding which also does a lot more than just calculating depth of field

Shooting with depth of field

Using this tool needs to be considered while doing the shooting breakdown. Let’s say you are shooting a scene with a long shot, a medium shot, and a close-up, you may need to increase the light in the medium shot in order to get the depth of field you want or even to change lens.

The depth of field is a great way to make a good picture, but also good to manipulate the viewer’s emotions and concentration. Don’t use it just for the sake of using it. On the set while looking at the picture on the monitor, you should always ask yourself, is it what I want? How does it serve the theme of the scene and even the premise of the film (among other question we will learn later on in the blog)? Using this tool right will make your film look more professional and interesting.