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Filming The Sun

Where can I get data on shooting the Sun? Principally how to expose for it and how that exposure might vary according to location / time of day / time of year. If anyone has this type of info at their fingertips.....; it'll be done in the UK, next 2-3 weeks with a Panavision C series anamorphic lens (focal length pending suggestion). The scene calls for a 'mid afternoon' look with the sun 'as large as you like' in centre frame.

Yours,

Tom 'prepared to bracket' Townend.


Exposure is only one of the things you need to address. if you are shooting at ~1/30th, good starting point would be somwhere around f256 for 200 ISO film. Obviously, you

won't have an aperature of f256 on the taking lens, so ND's will be needed. Add or subtract stops from f256 to compensate for the ISO of the stock you choose. Mind you, this is a starting point. Bracket in full stop increments from there.

Another element that would seem to be of likely concern is to be able to get some color to the sun. If you shoot this sun mid-day, as your discription calls for, you will get nothing but a white disc. You will need to add color, if you want color.

Yet another element to be concerned with is whether you want to make allowances for how people have come to view "big sun" photographs. Most people have an association that has them prejudiced twards a sun that shimmers. This shimmering they've seen in previous photography comes from atmospheric interferance when shooting the sun low on the horizon. If you want this effect, shoot the sun close to the horizon, but since it is to be a mid afternoon sun, be certain to not include any horizon. The closer you shoot the sun to the horizon the less color filtration you will need ... a "rosey sunset" is caused by the filtration of the sun's light through the atmosphere on earth.

This probably doesn't need to be said (but there's no level of caution about this that I could consider excessive.):

NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN. Damage done to one's eyes doing so is cumulative in nature. Each time you do so, you do do permanent damage to your eyes. You may think you are fine, but that damage, however small or large, has been done.

Do it enough and you get to become a story others get to tell.

You can look through the camera for very short periods of time for framing only after you've ND'ed your lens down to an exposure level similar to bright reflected light.

Cliff Hancuff

Publishers of SunWhere(tm) and MoonWhere(tm)

Washington, DC

www.ClearDaySoftware.com


I can't find it now, but on one of the government sites someone wrote up a pretty detailed explanation on how to shoot a solar eclipse. Obviously, you dont want an eclipse but their calculations and explanations will go along way to getting you the information you need. Try NASA's site.

-JR Allen


Try this site. It'll get you started with the info you need.

http://umbra.nascom.nasa.gov/eclipse/990811/text/eclipse-photography.html

-JR Allen


Shoot a test. With stills perhaps to lighten the costs. Testing seems to be an overlooked phenomenon these days. Why bracket 100' when you can do it all in 5'?

Tom "WWSBD" Jensen

http://home.earthlink.net/~tomjensen/


The only downside to doing advanced bracket testing is that atmospheric conditions change from day to day. You can certainly do advanced testing to tighten your range of bracketing, but I would not advise using test

film shot on any previous day as exposure gospel for the day you shoot stock.

Cliff Hancuff

Washington, DC


Exposure is only one of the things you need to address. if you are shooting at ~1/30th, good starting point would be somwhere around f256 for 200 ISO film. Obviously, you

won't have an aperature of f256 on the taking lens, so ND's will be needed. Add or subtract stops from f256 to compensate for the ISO of the stock you choose. Mind you, this is a starting point. Bracket in full stop increments from there.

Another element that would seem to be of likely concern is to be able to get some color to the sun. If you shoot this sun mid-day, as your discription calls for, you will get nothing but a white disc. You will need to add color, if you want color.

Yet another element to be concerned with is whether you want to make allowances for how people have come to view "big sun" photographs. Most people have an association that has them prejudiced twards a sun that shimmers. This shimmering they've seen in previous photography comes from atmospheric interferance when shooting the sun low on the horizon. If you want this effect, shoot the sun close to the horizon, but since it is to be a mid afternoon sun, be certain to not include any horizon. The closer you shoot the sun to the horizon the less color filtration you will need ... a "rosey sunset" is caused by the filtration of the sun's light through the atmosphere on earth.

This probably doesn't need to be said (but there's no level of caution about this that I could consider excessive.):

NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN. Damage done to one's eyes doing so is cumulative in nature. Each time you do so, you do do permanent damage to your eyes. You may think you are fine, but that damage, however small or large, has been done.

Do it enough and you get to become a story others get to tell.

You can look through the camera for very short periods of time for framing only after you've ND'ed your lens down to an exposure level similar to bright reflected light.

Cliff Hancuff

Publishers of SunWhere(tm) and MoonWhere(tm)

Washington, DC


I still say testing is a good idea. What's it going to cost you in the grand scheme of things? Beats screwing up on "the day." Atmospheric conditions shouldn't have that much impact unless it is early in the morning or late in the day. Once the sun is up, the stop pretty much stays the same until sunset. If you mean clouds then you can't really shoot anyway because your subject, the sun, would not be visible. The old rule of "Sunny 16" seems to work pretty well. The sun is relatively strong source and burns right through much of the atmosphere. If you can get your outdoor exposures within 1/2 stop, you are doing pretty good. I think this is why a lot of old timers can get good exposure without using a meter. Consistency. I could be wrong, given my track record as of late, but I could never say don't shoot a test and use those results as a benchmark to getting an optimum exposure. Testing narrows you down very close if not right where you want to be. Tom Jensen >http://home.earthlink.net/~tomjensen/


PAY ATTENTION!!!

LISTEN TO WHAT I AM ABOUT TO SAY!!!!!!!

I WILL SAY THIS ONLY ONCE!!!!!!!

Never, never look into a lens that is shooting a shot of the sun close-up. You will either go blind in that viewfinder eye, or your eye will be severely damaged.


OK, I believe you. A couple of questions, though. What is it about the sun that is the particular problem...?

1) The intensity of the source? If one chose the appropriate amount of ND to bring the sun into the exposure range of the film, would it also make it safe to view?

2) Is it the UV rays? If so, is there a filter available that properly and completely blocks enough UV to make it OK?

3) Why closeup in particular? Wouldn't one be in equal amount of trouble or worse if the sun was in, let's say, a wide shot and you were exposing for the landscape? This would mean the sun would be a very hot pinpoint in the frame and on your retina.

Mark Schlicher

videographer/cinematographer/storyboard artist

Nashville, TN USA


Use massive amounts of NDs and a spot meter. This isn't a big problem.

Kind Regards,

Mark Woods, Director of Photography

Stills That Move

http://www.markwoods.com/

Pasadena, CA


Isn't there some sort of problem with some ND filters not reducing UV enough, so that your retina can be damaged even when the visible light is comfortable to view?

Wade K. Ramsey, DP

Dept. of Cinema & Video Production

Bob Jones University Greenville, SC 29614


With Mr. Tiffen's permission, I am forwarding to the list, his offline reply to my questions about the nature of eye damage when shooting the sun.

Mark Schlicher cinematographer/videographer/storyboard artist Nashville, TN USA

Infrared light is not normally sensed as visible by the human eye. HOWEVER, it is capable of inflicting permanent damage on the retina WITHOUT your feeling anything- when it is too late, you will find your sight will have been damaged. Whenever viewing the sun directly, especially if it is filling the viewfinder, you must use special ND filters made for this application. Most standard photographic ND filters do not remove IR light enough, even though they may get the visible range down low. You should check out filters made for telescope observing. They are usually of thin plastic film with a metallic coating of around ND 5.7. They let only around 0.001% of the light through and absorb through the IR. Hope this helps...

Ira Tiffen


The sun gives off an incredible amount of both visible and infrared energy. It is difficult to look at the sun by itself with the naked eye, let alone using a form of magnification. Using any form of magnification where you zoom into the sun can be your last shot.

As for using ND for sun viewing, I would not suggest it. When I studied astrophysics at the University of Arizona, we used very specialized filters on telescopes that were coated with aluminum and chromium metal particles. They had a photographic density of around 5 and cut out 1/100,000th of the suns light. No gelatin ND is going to do that safely.

You also asked about why close-up in particular. Try this experiment at night. Have a friend take a million candlepower spotlight and walk one mile away form you and aim the fixture at your eyes. You will be able to see the light and it probably will not affect you all that much. Now have him stand 10 feet in front of you and do the same thing. Effectively his movements imitate the effect of a long zoom lens. The intensity of the light has not changed, but rather your perceived distance from it. Do the 10 foot version and you may see blue spots for the remainder of the night. Now take our sun which is infinitely brighter than this light and look at it setting on a warm summer day. A combination of refraction and pollution make it viewable. But look at that sun unprotected at midday in the sky above and you will see spots for a while. Using any form of lens that magnifies the suns rays is very dangerous. The sudden impact of viewing a bright sun which engulfs your shot can cause serious damage.


The lens acts just like a magnifying glass. Ever burn a hole through a sheet of wood with a lupe and sunlight?

feli

Maurice Bastian, ILM


Yes, there *is* a problem with the residual UV. That's the reason for looking through the camera for framing for only very short periods, and then, **only** after the light intensity has been seriously reduced by ND's.

Cliff Hancuff

Publishers of SunWhere(tm) and MoonWhere(tm)

Washington, DC


> Yes, there *is* a problem with the residual UV.

Correction. I wrote too quickly after a long day. Ira Tiffen is correct, IR is the serious problem.

Ira Tiffen writes:

>You should check out filters made for telescope observing. They are usually of thin >plastic film with a metallic coating of around ND 5.7.

These filters are made for viewing the sun for unlimited amounts of time. Please be advised, these thin plastic film fiters are easily scratched. If their coating is scratched, the sunlight passing through these scratches will burn your retina. When viewing the sun through a telephoto lens and thin film filter with a scratched coating you will burn your retina *much* faster and is *far* more dangerous. You may be inclined to consider yourself completely protected from harm.

There are a number of companies that make glass solar viewing filters that cannot have their protective aluminized coating scratched. They are available from a number of optical companies, including Thousand Oaks Optical:

http://thousandoaksoptical.com/

Though certainly the safest, the down side of these filters is that when viewing through them, the only thing you can see is the disc of the sun.

Cliff Hancuff

Publishers of SunWhere(tm) and MoonWhere(tm)

Washington, DC


We went into this in depth last year during the eclipse and the consensus that we came to (and worked very well) was an ND 5.2 filter on the camera and useing only the video tap and not the viewfinder. My advice would be if you are useing a long lens then make sure you have a very heavy geared head with reduction gears. We had lots of coversation at the time about what would happen if we were shooting 35mm (we were shooting S16) because we were useing the internal light meter. I guess you could strap a spot meter to the viewfinder after making correction for the V/F optic's and use that (I guess a minolta would be better than a Pentax:).

Justin Pentecost Focus Puller London Stockholm +46 70 292 2091


Hallo Thomas,

last year when we had an eclipse here in europe i bought some special filter that was also used in the viewingglasses. it was sold in sheets. through this filter you could use your spotmeter and look at the sun. don´t us it on your eyes to look through the camera. use it on the camera to look at the sun. hope that helps.

bis bald

Markus

http://www.zieglermarkus.de


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