The Thought Process Behind Lighting an Exterior Shot at Night

Gearing up for an outdoor nighttime shoot? Keep these lighting techniques in mind.

Night exteriors pose unique lighting challenges to cinematographers. Not only do they have to paint light on the blank canvas that is darkness but they also have to mimic the look and feel of the moon, a light source that is often not powerful enough to produce a decent exposure. If you’re unsure of how to approach a nighttime shoot, you should check out this video from Aputure. In it, Ted Sim talks with DP Julia Swain as she details her lighting process and techniques, from how to recreate moonlight to taking advantage of practicals.

Because there aren’t really any hard and fast rules about lighting, not all DPs are going to light a scene in the same way. However, Swain’s three different lighting setups can give you a great primer on exterior night shots, as well as a great place to start your education on how to light them. She demos a “bare moonlight” setup, moonlight with practicals, and finally, just practicals, which introduces you to some of the most common and important concepts in lighting night exteriors.

There are many different things to think about when deciding on how to light these kinds of scenes, but perhaps the biggest concepts and issues to consider are moonlight (its role in the shot and how to recreate it) and practicals (how you can use available lights to your advantage).


If you’ve never recreated moonlight, Swain’s advice is to soften and spread your light to give it a more natural appearance. You can do this by not only bouncing your key light off of a bounce board but also diffusing it through a grid to reduce what Swain calls a “sourcey” look. Also, bouncing light onto a soft bounce will give a nice, even, soft look to your fill light.


Swain’s second setup shows you just how intricate and detailed lighting a scene from complete darkness can be. Not only does she use recreated moonlight to illuminate the scene, but she also uses a ton of practicals, including a jacuzzi light, string lights, as well as several studio lights that extend the power of the practicals inside the house. What all of this does is, yes, provides enough brightness to properly expose, but it also gives the scene depth and character. From the background to the foreground, the final shot has so many things to see, but it also successfully sells the illusion that the lighting setup is completely natural.

What are some other tips for lighting scenes at night? Let us know down below.      

5 Things You Should and Shouldn’t Do When Shooting Slow Motion

If you want to shoot better slow motion footage, you might want to consider these dos and don’ts.

When’s the last time you watched a film or video that didn’t have at least a few seconds of slow motion footage? It’s probably been a while (or never), right? Its ubiquity is partly due to how it can instantly give shots a lot of style without much effort, but despite the relative ease of capturing slow-mo, it’s actually even easier to fudge it up. In this video from Filmora, learn about five dos and don’ts of slow motion filmmaking that will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes.

The first thing new filmmakers learn about slow motion filmmaking usually relates to frame rate: the higher your frame rate, the slower your footage will be. So, they go out, set their frame rate to 60 or 120 (or higher), and are surprised when they find lots of issues with their footage, like underexposure and flickering. These issues are both incredibly common and incredibly avoidable if you know a few things about slow motion. Here are the tips mentioned in the video:

  • Adjust your shutter speed: Want to avoid weird artifacts and that weird ghosting effect you get when you shoot slow-mo? Then you’ll need to make sure your shutter speed is twice the inverse of your frame rate. So, if you’re shooting at 60 fps, set your shutter speed at 1/120 (or whatever’s closest), and if you’re shooting at 120 fps, set your shutter speed aaaatttt…1/140 (or whatever’s closest). That’s right!
  • Use enough light:  Now that your shutter speed is a lot faster, less light is going to hit your camera sensor. This means darker images. In order to ensure you can get a proper exposure, make sure you provide enough light for your scene.
  • Be aware of flickering: Okay, you’ve got some lights to properly expose, but…what kinds of lights do you have? Some will appear to “flicker” in playback, a phenomenon known as banding, but there are plenty of flicker-free light sources out there that you can use, or you can calculate your light source’s pulse frequency and camera settings to make sure you won’t produce that ugly strobe effect.
  • Overcranking: When it comes to slow motion, the slower the footage the better, right? Well, not always. Each frame rate setting produces its own unique look, from 24 fps to 1000 fps and beyond. Even if your camera can capture 240 fps, it may 1.) have a lower resolution, and 2.) have an aesthetic that doesn’t work as well as, say, 120 fps does for your project.
  • Overusing slow-mo: Everybody and their judgy Aunt Debbie loves slow-mo, but just like judgy Aunt Debbie, slow-mo is best when it makes an appearance occasionally. If you think you might be overusing it, ask yourself why you think the shot should be in slow-mo, what effect it’ll have on your audience, and whether or not it’s necessary to the story.
  • Use a stabilizer: Slow motion is a great way to hide unsteady footage, but if you did your due diligence and used a stabilizer, not only are you an overachiever but your footage is going to look milky silky smooth.
  • Use music: Footage captured in slow motion either doesn’t record audio or records distorted and unusable audio. So, be prepared to have some sweet tracks on deck to fill the silence.
  • Testing: Before you go out and actually capture your slow motion shots, you might want to do a few tests first. Make sure your lighting is sufficient, that there isn’t any banding, and, of course, that your focus is on point.
  • Speed ramping: To add a little flair to your edit, you can try a *cough* tragically overused *cough* editing technique called “speed ramping,” in which the speed of your footage changes between different frame rates. Typically, editors will have a clip play at 24 fps and then slow it down to 120 or 240 fps during a big moment, like somebody pulling off a sweet kickflip or something. (Peter McKinnon has a great tutorial on how to pull off speed ramping.)
  • Break the rules: You’re the boss of your own life and if you want to throw away all of these tips and try new things and be a friggin’ rockstar, then you do it, my love! Please experiment with slow-mo and discover stuff so the rest of us can play around with a cool new effect.

Mars Gigapixel Panorama – Curiosity rover: Martian solar days 136-149


NASA’s Mars Exploration Program (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
4 billion pixels panorama of Mars
Mars VR Panorama

The images for panorama obtained by the two rover’s Mast Cameras:

Narrow Angle Camera (NAC), which has a 100 mm focal length
Medium Angle Camera (MAC), which has a 34 mm focal length

The mosaic, which stretches 90000×45000 pixels, includes 295 images from NAC taken on Sols 136-149 and 112 images from MAC taken on Sol 137.

Copyright: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Type: Spherical
Resolution: 90000×45000
Taken: 06/01/2013
Uploaded: 27/02/2013
Updated: 09/09/2016

Tags: curiosity; rover; mars; sol 136; sol 149; nasa; jpl-caltech; mars panorama; red planet; out_of_this_world; gigapixel; @tags-mars-panorama

Mars VR Panorama

Halloween is here!

10 Iconic Shots That Remind Us Why We Love Horror
What do you see when you watch a horror movie?

Horror is a complex film genre that blends beauty and the macabre together to elicit fear in thrill-seeking audiences. They can be simple, blood-soaked tales about the dangers of vice, or they can be complicated challenges to society and the status quo (though, also usually blood-soaked), but one thing they all have in common is the fact that they feature some of the most disturbing, cringe-worthy, and terrifying cinematic images we’ve ever seen. To celebrate these scary, often beautiful images, One Perfect Shot put together what they think are the top 10 shots in horror film. Check it out below:

If you’re a horror fan, surely you could add a myriad more to the list, probably starting with your own top 10 horror films. If you’re into zombie flicks, you’re probably imagining shots from 28 Days Later, Night of the Living Dead, and Dawn of the Dead. If you’re into slashers, shots from A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Sleepaway Camp might come to mind. If you’re a fan of the slew of body horror films that came out in the 80s, the special effects shots from The Fly, The Thing, Dead Ringers, and Videodrome are probably permanently imprinted onto your brain.

Here are a few of our own favorite shots from a range of different horror films. Feel free to share your favorites down in the comments! screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-12-30-40-am




Nasa Shows off new Red 4k Footage

NASA Shows Off Gorgeous 4K Space Footage Shot with the RED DRAGON Camera
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NASA 6K RED EPIC DRAGON in Space – 4K Footage
Back in October, we found out RED’s EPIC DRAGON was going to space.

The 6K digital cinema camera has been in space for a number of months now, and NASA has begun uploading some of this 4K footage to their YouTube channel (in 4K, of course). Here is just the first taste of some of the fantastic images that astronauts on the International Space Station will be capturing for months and years to come:

The camera reached the International Space Station back in January:

The fifth SpaceX cargo resupply mission delivered this camera to the orbiting laboratory in January 2015. The camera’s ability to record at a high resolution as well as up to 300 frames per second made it the ideal recording device to capture dynamic events like vehicle operations near the station, such as docking and undocking. The higher resolution images and higher frame rate videos can reveal more information when used on science investigations, giving researchers a valuable new tool aboard the space station.

And here’s the newest clip that was just uploaded:

More from NASA about the clip and their goals:

In the video [above], astronaut Terry Virts extracts a floating ball of water, into which he inserts an effervescent tablet to watch it dissolve and release gasses in mid-air. Rodney Grubbs, program manager for NASA’s Imagery Experts Program at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says the footage itself is dynamic for its subject matter, and the detailed, high-resolution makes it especially riveting.

“This is a huge leap in camera technology for spaceflight,” Grubbs said. “These cameras have large sensors capable of very high resolution imaging at high frame rates. It is like having a high speed 35MM motion picture film camera, but it is compact, can use lenses we already have up there, and it is digital. No film to return to Earth.”

The RED camera is the same model used to record theatrical releases such as The Hobbit trilogy and television programs. Ultra-HD televisions capable of receiving and displaying 4K transmissions are now sold in stores.

While the 4K resolutions are optimal for showing on movie screens, NASA video editors are working on space station footage for public viewing on YouTube. You will be able to watch high-resolution footage from inside and outside the orbiting laboratory right on your computer screen. You will need a screen capable of displaying 4K resolution for the full effect, but the imagery still trumps that of standard cameras. RED videos and pictures are shot at a higher fidelity and then down-converted, meaning much more information is captured in the images, which results in higher-quality playback, even if you don’t have a 4K screen.

These are not the first 4K digital cinema cameras to make it to space, as Canon has sent up at least one C500, though I imagine the all-internal RAW recording and the high frame rates of the DRAGON are slightly better suited for NASA’s purposes. Since NASA has been using Nikon DSLRs on the ISS for some time, they’ve already got compatible lenses for the camera. It would not be surprising if RED is already working with NASA to try to get their new 8K camera up on the ISS at some point, which uses a full-frame (Vista Vision) 35mm sensor to deliver the same image quality as the 6K camera, but with higher resolution.

GoPro announces its smallest, lightest action-camera yet, the HERO4 Session

GoPro announces its smallest, lightest action-camera yet, the HERO4 Session
Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.10.11 PM

It’s not the size of the camera strapped to the ship…
GoPro HERO4 Session unveiled

UPDATED: Battery life information and other specs have been included, as well as a brand new HERO4 Session showreel – details below.

If you’ve always wanted to buy a GoPro camera but were put off by the advanced, pro-level functionality found in GoPro’s HERO4 Black, you’re in luck – GoPro has announced its most user-friendly camera ever: the HERO4 Session.

Operating the HERO4 Session is easier than it is on any of GoPro’s other cameras, with a single button used to perform the majority of its functions – A short press of the shutter button turns the camera on, starting video capture automatically, a longer press powers the camera on and switches it to Time Lapse photo capture mode, and you only have to press the button once more to save your recording or photo and turn it off again.

Just like with previous models, you can further refine your controls and settings by using the GoPro App or Smart Remote.
GoPro or go home
HERO4 Session Snowboarding

The HERO4 Session is 50% smaller and 40% lighter (74g) than GoPro’s HERO4 Black and Silver, at roughly a cubic inch in size, and has a Micro SD card slot, an non-removable battery (2 hours on a full charge), built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and a Micro USB port, so you can keep it going indefinitely.

Its reduced size and weight means that the HERO4 Session can be placed in areas that were previously impossible, such as on the bottom of a skateboard.

It’s also waterproof right out of the box to a depth of 10 metres, without the need for an additional case or dive housing, though it does come with standard and low-profile mount brackets, as well as a new Ball Joint Buckle mount.

HERO4 Session is also compatible with all existing GoPro mounts and accessories.
Technically (GO)Proficient
HERO4 Session Swimming

The HERO4 Session retains GoPro’s signature high-quality image capture capabilities, recording 1080p video at 60fps, 720p at 100fps and 1440p at 30fps (those after 4K video will have to opt for HERO4 Black), along with eight megapixel photos in its Single, Burst and Time Lapse modes.

The new model also features auto image rotation, placing your video capture the right way up, regardless of how you attach it to any given surface (it should be noted however, that the image will not rotate once it has commenced recording), and a new dual microphone system which automatically switches its sound recording between two microphones in order to minimise wind noise.

The GoPro HERO4 Session hits the street on July 12 for AUD$579.95 (US$399, £329), which is the same price as GoPro’s HERO4 Silver – check out the new HERO4 Session showreel below:

Dog snaps photos with heartbeat-triggered Nikon camera

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Grizzler the dog may not be Ansel Adams, but he captured some charming photos with a chest-mounted Nikon that takes a picture whenever he’s excited.
Grizzler wants to be the Robert Frank of the dog world.

Watch out, cat photographers, you have some competition from the canine world. A black-and-white dog named Grizzler is capturing arty images using a new system from Nikon Asia. Heartography consists of a heartbeat monitor, a camera and a special housing that includes a shutter trigger activated when the dog’s heart rate rises.

The proof-of-concept system seems to mainly be a publicity stunt for the Nikon Coolpix L31. The camera and 3D-printed case together are bulky, making the package an unlikely candidate for commercial production. It does give us a set of amusing images showing off all the things that get a dog excited, like people, upset cats and other dogs.
Grizzler the dog’s photographic masterpieces…

Grizzler won’t likely be hailed as a genius photographer. The camera is mounted on his chest, so all the images are taken at about a person’s knee level. There are a few surprises in the photo collection. Grizzler seems to be a fan of wild mushrooms, probably because he’s excited about the prospect of eating them. He has a couple photos of a van filled with canola oil and Heinz Beans, so he’s a bit of a foodie.

Grizzler does have a special touch with animal portraits. His work really captures the angst of a cat faced with a primal enemy and the curiosity of other dogs when meeting another of their kind. These are images human photographers can’t easily capture.

This publicity move wouldn’t be complete without a cutesy name. Nikon has dubbed the picture-taking pup a “pho-dog-rapher.”