Lighting Tips: The Basics of Day for Night Cinematography - Trust Me Shops

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Lighting Tips: The Basics of Day for Night Cinematography

Lighting Tips: The Basics of Day for Night Cinematography

B&H explora - All posts
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Day for night for color cinematography is an old shooting methodology that relies on a number of techniques regarding human perception, socially accepted convention, and technical qualities of film/sensors. There are a variety of reasons for shooting day for night, and understanding the whys and wherefores can help you create believable images.

Moonlight Is Blue

It isn’t really, any more than sunlight is blue. The reality is that moonlight is reflected sunlight, so why do people think moonlight is blue? Sunlight has a color temperature of roughly 5600K, which humans perceive as blueish when compared to light with a lower color temperature—like when you come in from outside and your apartment is dim and orange (those who grew up when most household lighting was tungsten may understand this better). For a more detailed explanation, check out Todd Vorenkamp’s excellent article Understanding White Balance and Color Temperature in Digital Images.

So, moonlight is just dim reflected daylight, and when you see it surrounded by campfires (which have a warm color temperature), your mind balances out the moonlight to blue, because the mind tends to take the brightest thing in your visual field (the brightest parts of the flame) and makes it seem white, shifting the color temperature of everything you see.

In an empty field not surrounded by lights, moonlight will appear gray because, at low light levels, the color receptors in your eye don’t work as well as the luminance receptors, so everything tends to look desaturated.

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