Lighting a Scene Against a Window? A Butterfly Frame Can Help Overexposure Issues
When I first started learning about lighting various scenes, almost every book I read advised not to shoot your subject in front of a window (unless you want to create a silhouette, of course.) That's good advice for beginners or people who don't have access to sufficient equipment, but -- what if you want to use a window as a backdrop? A tutorial by NextWaveDV shows us how to get an even exposure by using a butterfly frame as a soft key light. Hit the jump for the video.
There are a couple of reasons why windows can be problematic in a scene. For one, sunlight gives off different color temperatures depending on what time of day it is, which may not mix well with the other kinds of lights you're using.
Another issue, and one they talk about in the tutorial is overexposure. Shooting your subject against a window puts them in silhouette. If that's not what you're looking for, you're going to want to adjust your camera settings to get a proper exposure on your subject. Doing this, however, drastically overexposes the background.
To counteract this, NextWaveDV suggests pumping enough juice into a butterfly frame to provide enough light to get an even exposure on both your subject and window together. Check out the tutorial below:
For those of us who don't have access to the lights and equipment these guys use in the tutorial, are we doomed to avoid windows all together? Maybe not. If I know anything about indie filmmakers it's that they're inventive and can jimmy rig just about anything. I've used white sheets and the high beams on my car more times than I'd like to admit, but -- you do what you gotta do. However, I've never tried the DIY version of this technique. Have you?
What lighting techniques, DIY or otherwise, have you've used to light a scene against a window? Let us know in the comments.