Hints and tips: on the spot exposure

I’ve just shot the dress rehearsal for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. This was a brightly lit show, which was a nice  change for me. However, there was also extensive use of following spots which brought their own challenges. The light level twixt action in the spots and action beyond their reach typically varied by a stop or two. They had their own colour temperature too, of course, higher than that for the stage as a whole.

Expose for the actors in the spot and you lose detail in the periphery, expose for those without the spots and you risk burning out the main actors. In the end I went with the matrix metering which was a compromise resulting in quite a lot of post processing, both to pull back the highlights but also to fill the shadows. This tended to vary with composition and zoom setting so resulted in more tweaking than I’m used to. It wold probably have been better to use spot metering on the leads to get the highlights at least sorted and then have only to pull up the shadows in PP.

Look carefully and you’ll spot (I’ve got to stop this…) quite a variation in white balance too, noticeable in the changing hue of the tavern wall  in different scenes. Again quite a lot of extra work in PP to get an acceptable balance between all the elements. It’s definitely worth it though.


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