Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

style="margin-bottom: 0"> 

class="style5" Lake Shot At Night

>Published : 16th July 2005

>Howdy Folks,

>I have a client who needs a shot of a frozen lake at night on 35mm.

>Frozen lakes I have around me a plenty so no problem there.

>The only way I can think to get this shot is to shoot on a full moon, with Kodak 5218. The widest aperture lens I have is F2.2.

>Any ideas on whether or not the shot would even turn out under these conditions? Would there be enough light to even make it worth while trying?

>Things look bright to the eye around here on full moon nights. But I don't want to waste my time and film stock trying to get a shot that won't turn out at all.

>Any ideas would be appreciated.

>Thanks
George Wilson


>UNDERCRANK!

>Mark Weingartner
LA based


>George Wilson wrote :

class="Paragraph">> The only way I can think to get this shot is to shoot on a full moon, with >Kodak 5218...

>Wow, I think you'd need everything you got... 5218 pushed 2 stops, t1.3 lens, no filter (tungsten film loves blue daylight) and 3 fps (step-printed for motion) to get much of anything... which still may be nuthin! That lighter frozen surface helps, but even the full moon in clear skies is a dark light source.

>Where's that 230 degree shutter when you really need it.

>Needless to say, if its really a static shot you can Norris it, or even take an SLR still at a long exposure - the only way I could guarantee a moonlit image without getting into motion control rigs.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


>I would try under cranking first of all. I did a similar shot a while ago but in the city. I used 5218 pushed one stop and under cranked. It was a little to grainy for my taste.

>Paul Evans
dop
London/Stockholm


>Wild idea -- use a 35mm still camera with a motor drive and a 250 frame back. You can get about 5 frames/second out of it.

>Push it a couple stops.

>Since the 35mm still frame is much larger than a cine frame, the grain will shrink when you do either an optical or digital shrink-down.

>Bob Morein
owner/operator of cine cameras & indie film freak


>How about setting off some 4 to 6 marine flares 3/4 back and top over the lake to reflect in it? Keeping them out of shot, that should give you some exposure to play with.

>You might want to isolate and dial out the unwanted reddish firework colours in telecine.

>Good luck.

>Simon Higgins
DP, Australia


>Simon Higgins wrote :

class="Paragraph">> How about setting off some 4 to 6 marine flares 3/4 back and top over >the lake to reflect in it?

>Hmm. I would advise against using flares as a light source, especially in the mountains at night. Peoples lives depend on them.

>Rory Moles
1st AC and Day Skipper


>George Wilson wrote:

class="Paragraph">> Any ideas on whether or not the shot would even turn out under these >conditions? Would there be enough light to even make it worth while >trying?

>I like the suggestion to Norris the shot. You could make it look like daytime if you wanted to. You could also get a Nikon D70 and shoot a series of stills and string that together.

>Mark Smith Dp NYC


class="Paragraph">>Wow, I think you'd need everything you got... 5218 pushed 2 stops, t1.3 >lens...

>And a windless night!

>Jim Sofranko
NY/DP


>Avoid pushing the film if possible. Pushing will increase grain and contrast. Despite the low light level, moonlight is extremely contrasty. Instead, follow Mark Weingartner's advice and under crank. 6fps will give you the two stops you would have gotten from pushing, without contrast or additional grain.

>If you want to have the moon in the shot you can shoot on a day with an early moonrise, so you can shoot while there's still some skylight from the sun, then you won't need to under crank or push. Otherwise you can add the moon in post wherever you want to put it.

>If you are transferring to video, then any color correction or sky control is a relatively straight forward process.

>The problem with Norris or any significant time lapse is rapid shadow and moon movement. Also even the slightest breeze will cause branches, etc. to vibrate when viewed at 24fps. If you shoot at 12fps, you can transfer at 12fps without a speed change.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP


>Hello,

>I would be concerned about using a 35mm still camera for image registration issues.

>Severe undercrank could be a way to go or very long exposures with a digital still and stitch them together after in post. Of course there are movement of landscape issues.

>We had a discussion about using digital stills for time lapse before and they work well too. Check out a small time lapse shot with my Sony DSC-V1 at www.dvdp.ca/time

>I have done moonlight tests with my digital still. Go see at
www.dvdp.ca/lake Not a great shot but if one were to do more testing, and not have the moon itself in the shot like I had and in a mostly with setting, there is potential I think. A 5 megapixels image would transfer very well, I presume, to 35 motion picture film. HD with just about 2
megapix does pretty good.

>All those ideas of course assume a pretty much static shot or finely planned movements (pans or tilts) but any action with humans that are supposed to look normal...take out the big bucks. Or the old day for night comes to the rescue

>Good luck

>Daniel Villeneuve, c.s.c.
Directeur-Photo/Director of Photography
Montréal, Canada
2005 demos à / at : http://dvdp.ca


>Brian Heller wrote:

class="Paragraph">>The problem with Norris or any significant time lapse is rapid shadow >and moon movement. Also even the slightest breeze will cause >branches, etc. to vibrate when viewed at 24fps.

>I was thinking of the 1 Fps possibility with the Norris rig, I've used this quite successfully with mine when shooting some exteriors on '45 and there's very little light.

>Twitchy branches aren't the worst, its the blasted ski doos that screw it up the worst.

>Mark Smith
Pixel Wrangler
NYC


>Or just shoot a day-for-night.

>Here's a justification if you want: it's really sunlight anyway, the moon is just a small reflector, the sky is a larger one

>Sam Wells / mythical gaffer / nj


>I agree with Sam Wells. You probably will have more control in a day for night situation.

>Last winter I did this very shot on a frozen section of Big Bear Lake. We shot early in the morning-back lit to get a bit of shine from the ice- then used grads in telecine to take down the sky and drained the small palette of colors to a monochromatic, subtle,drained blue.

>The pine tree's in the back ground were silhouetted from the back light of the sun. Very convincing shot.

>I believe I even exposed the shot normally then graded it down in telecine.

>Brian Bleak
LA dir/cameraman


class="Paragraph">>Wild idea -- use a 35mm still camera with a motor drive and a 250 >frame back. You can get about 5 frames/second out of it.

>The problem with time-lapse and under crank is that even a little bit of wind will make the foliage oscillate a lot. the original description didn't indicate any need for motion on the frozen lake, like someone walking across it, in which case, a lighting truck is what's needed. I'd just get out there with a high-res still camera, be it digital, medium format, whatever, but you do want 4K across as a baseline, and do a bracket series. If a long time exposure, walk around with a strobe and be the lighting truck yourself. We do this kind of stuff all the time, and it works great. We'd maybe also composite in a bit of drifting fog and, if daytime, some birds flying. Shoot at dusk, not midnight.

>Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>Undercrank, or perhaps shoot day for night(?)w/ filter-

>John Babl
DP
Miami


>Thank-you all for those excellent suggestions on how to achieve this shot of the frozen lake at night.

>After reading all the posts I have decided to try two ways.

>1) Use 5218 with a full moon and undercrank at 8fps.
Slowest my camera rolls.

>2) Use 250D at dusk, and see if they can work some post magic on it to make it look night. Maybe we'll get lucky with some blue filtering?

>George Wilson


class="Paragraph">> 2) Use 250D at dusk, and see if they can work some post magic on it to >make it look night. Maybe we'll get lucky with some blue filtering?

>You could shoot at dusk with 5217 or 18(much better stock, I think) and it will be blue without filter and it will be even easier to help it along in the telecine.

>Good luck

>Jens Jakob Thorsen
Director of Photography
Denmark
www.jensjakob.com


class="Paragraph">> 2) Use 250D at dusk, and see if they can work some post magic on it to >make it look night. Maybe we'll get lucky with some blue filtering?

>Why not start with a Tungsten stock then (5218 wd be fine I'd think) ?

>P.S Don't want to prevent you or anyone from having fun with a Norris motor, I was just being reasonable. ("overcompensating")

>Sam Wells


>My preference would be to shoot at dusk using unfiltered 5229 or 5218, you'd get a tiny bit more low end detail with the 29. Just start shooting as soon as the sun is set, and get as many takes as you can. If you have a clear sky you should get 20 or so minutes of usable light at 25/24fps. Latter takes will look more genuinely like night.

>There is a link below to a spot in the desert where I couldn't shoot wide shots at night (shot to big to light) and preferred not to shoot DFN because I couldn't keep the sky's contrast down, and needed my practical and effect lights to read. I shot with 5229 and Cooke S4's under exposing about 2 stops.

>http://www.davidreviews.com/playmovie.asp?ID=2004123101

>Personally I wouldn't force either of these stocks unless it was an emergency as I find the grain level too high above a half stop push. Good Luck.

>Dan Bronks
DP
London