Tungsten across the board looks like the best and most realistic moonlight source because it looks silver, and has a soft gray like the moon. Since our sources are at 3200 K, we have slightly cooled the moonlight up on the camera by going to 2900 K. When working with tungsten sources, that’s the perfect way to make a slight cool edge. We also have our big 12×12 white Matthbounce that filters the light through so it doesn’t look so harsh, and we have a beautiful edge of backlight on both Kyra and Eli.
To recap, here is a current top down schematic of our setup:
I used this style of lighting on Terminator Salvation. I did what I did here, I used a mini 9 light, and two 24 light dinos, 120 ft in the air. Instead of a 12×12 Matthbounce, I used a 20×20 Matthbounce 50 ft in the air with 12 light maxis bouncing into them.
So with this today, I’m recreating what I did in Terminator Salvation, but downscaled.
Alright so now I’m going to show you the ratios we have going for us.
The camera is set at 23.98 fps and 1280 ISO, with our lens set at t/2. The reading we get with our light meter is 1½ , so that is exactly where I like to keep my fill level, about 3 stops down because on Canon L-Series glass, a 2.8 is really a 2.8 and a half.
The moonlight is playing at a t/2. I always do my moonlight sources a stop or stop and a half under what the camera is set at. All the ratios play into how I shoot with film. With these Red Dragons, I’m noticing that I can gauge it like how I shoot on film, and it really delivers all the same kinds of ratios and values.
So we have a 1½ coming out of our soft source, which is about 2 and a half-3 stops down from what the camera is set at, and our moonlight is reading at a t 2, which is 1 to 1 and a half stops down to our lens set at a t 2.8.
Going back to the monitor one last time, I’m loving the gray quality of light. the light on Kyra actually looks a little hot, so I could pop off a few of those bubbles on the mini 9 light.
By going to 2900 K on the camera we’re able to make beautiful silver gray moonlight. We also went with a warmer bounce because the haze from our hazer makes our moonlight a warmer tone. Our soft source is in the 3150 K range, and our moonlight source reading at 3030 K. Both are similar in color temperature for them to match. Now a lot of times I like using lawn mower foggers for exteriors, instead of the DF-50 that we’re using today. The lawn mower foggers have a blue tonality to their smoke, so the smoke is able to create a more blue tone in the light. DF-50 smoke, gives off a more warm, brownish tone, but is great for interior shots.
Ok so that concludes our How to Light Night Exteriors: Moonlight Gray series. Here are a some things to take away from this:
- DF-50 Hazers have warmer toned smoke, so they’re great for interior shots.
- Lawn mower foggers have a blue tonality to their smoke, so they’re king for night exteriors.
- By cooling the camera to 2900 K, you give your self that nice cool edge to really emphasize the gray moonlight.
- Tungsten lights have a wonderful soft, silver quality to them that looks like natural moonlight
- When lighting night exteriors, I like to keep my fill level, about 3 stops down from what the camera is set at.
- I always do my moonlight sources a stop or stop and a half under what the camera is set at.