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Sunday, May 18, 2014

••◊ If you can't beat 'em, fill 'em.


Clarence and I spent yesterday up in Venice Beach doing an interview with painter Rhea Ashcraft.  Rhea is a painter who owns and manages the Trunk Gallery in just off of Venice Boulevard, blocks from the world famous beach.

What I originally intended to do was to light Rhea with the LED light kit I brought.  I borrowed this kit from a local rental house for evaluation.  Unfortunately, even with ambient light blocked the LEDs just weren't enough to do much on camera.  They were many stops too dim.  Our 'A' camera was the Sony EA-50, which has a native ISO of 200, so this shoot required some serious light!  I really, really miss the Hive lights I used on the cooking shoot a few weeks ago.  I really, really, seriously miss them!  Did I mention how much I miss them?

The lesson I learned here in the general "use what you got" category is to supplement the ambient light through a window with the LED lights.  What you see above and below is that I added a highlight onto her hair on the left, filled from the side; just enough to avoid harsh shadows on her and the wall, and filled from the right with a large soft source.  My plan B was avoid the harshness of real daylight, but make the frame look natural at the same time.

We also learned that Clarence's Sony VG-30 needs to go on EBay fast.  Neither of us were happy with the default contrast-y image that couldn't be adjusted - too consumer-ish.  We also learned the hard lesson to never trust the back LCD on the Sony A7R, which was used as a C camera.  The footage comes out looking about 1 stop brighter than it looks on the camera's LCD!  When we got back to my house we tested it again and found the screen to be untrustworthy.  It turned out to be a less than flattering angle, so we're going to scrap the C camera footage anyway.

The only other thing I think we should have done differently is bring sound blankets.  The gallery has all hard surfaces, which makes for a great echo chamber.  I tried to get the mic as close as possible, but there's still a lot of echo in the audio.  Reminder to self...if it's in a gallery, tell the producer to buy/rent sound blankets.

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