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Shooting under theatrical stage lights
Old 07-22-2004, 09:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I have been hired to shoot under theatrical stage lights for our local equity theater. I used to be the house photog there years ago,I used film back then and had wonderful photos. Now, I am unsure of the best way to set up my dig to balance the lights. The white board will help, but was wondering if anyone has any suggestions?
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Re: Shooting under theatrical stage lights
Old 07-22-2004, 03:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
...unsure of the best way to set up my dig to balance the lights. The white board will help, but was wondering if anyone has any suggestions

[/ QUOTE ]

#1 - make sure you get a chance to shoot test images during lighting rehersals! Don't wait until the night of the performance to try and nail things down.

#2 - stage lighting is basically tungsten based, but usually you've got a lot of lights that will be colored with gels, so you can't just set it to "tungsten" and assume everything will be OK. So, don't necessarily depend on the camera to figure things out for you.

#3 - color balance from either a grey card or white card, depending on what kind of system you're using (for example - Nikon's Capture software allows me to balance the RAW images that I'm shooting against a known grey point, (say, a Kodak 18% grey card) or to adjust my color curves against a white, grey, and/or black known point. I can also adjust the color temp versus a white card while watching the changes on the monitor.

#3A - shoot RAW instead of JPEG. Much easier to color correct!

One photog I know managed to get several 18% grey cards stuck into the scenery so that, just about anywhere he was focused upon, there was one of the grey cards in the shot, somewhere (this set had incredible lighting differences from one part of the set to another - it was a nightmare) so that he always (well, almost always) had a known point to work with, and he could color balance from there. He was doing work for a national publication, so he had to be fairly rigid in his color correction... you may find that your application allows you a bit more leeway.

#4 You might want to try something like Expodisc (www.expodisc.com) - it also allows you to custom set your white balance for the lights by reading the color coming FROM the lights (the incident) instead of what's being reflected off the 18% grey card, or a white card, or whatever.

Good luck with your shoot! Hope these ideas help, some.

Wayne
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