Sun Balls on Stage

We have built wheat fields and sun balls on stage for shots that were not practical to shoot in the field.

A shot required a kid on a bench sitting with a fake giraffe. On a 40-foot stage we made a 4 foot hole for a sun ball in a larger paper sky. The orange-red sun, behind the sky, was painted darker at the bottom as a sunset sun looks. The sun was exposed 3+ stops over neutral gray. We painted red clouds in the sky (one to two stops over gray) and built foreground gray rows of hills (about neutral gray). The shot looked like an 800 mm shot, but really about 35mm. The camera side of kid and giraffe were exposed 3 stops under neutral gray and just read some detail. We exposed for neutral gray. Of course all reading were reflected with a spot meter.

For a wheat field we stuck a lot of wheat stalks in styrofoam. Painted a sunset sky and waved the foreground wheat with an effects fan. The wheat was back lit brighter than it would be in the reality of weaker sunset sunlight.

These kind of shots need a lot of "eyeballing" and a film test the day before final shooting. Make some changes of lighting balance and keep good notes. We didn't have video then, but a video test (not video assist) would tell a lot if the difference between video and exposure latitude (negative contrast range) is understood. Film has more negative contrast range. See Zone System Definitions and Zone System for Motion Picture Photography.

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.