I have a shoot coming up where we will have to shoot a photographer in
a dark room developing a print under red light and then switches the light
on - does anyone have any experience with shooting this type of scene
and care to share them ?
Matthew Woolf wrote:
>I have a shoot coming up where we will have to shoot a photographer in >dark room
One issue is that when shooting under totally red light, if you set focus
by tape measure as you do under "while" light, the scene will
appear to be soft. You need to fudge the focus closer than the actual
measured distance, like you do when shooting infrared film, but not as
Another issue: it will be difficult to measure the correct exposure of
the red lighting with your meter, as light meters "expect" to
see an even mixture of all colors, i.e. "white" light. The meter
will tend to tell you to give more exposure to the negative than it needs.
When in doubt, text, test, test. Even testing with a still camera, loaded
with color negative film, you will learn a lot.
Los Angeles, CA USA
Bill Bennett wrote :
>You need to fudge the focus closer
than the actual measured distance
There has also been much discussion of how to 'bluff' darkroom shots on
the list in the past - there must be plenty of info in the archives on
On the subject of focus shift under red light I'm curious to know what
would happen if a scene was lit with white light then shot with a red
filter on the camera? [Not a suitable solution for a darkroom scene I
know] I often use a deep red filter when shooting B&W still(s) but
since I'm focussing by eye I never think twice about the distance shifting.
I assume it does. There must be some calculation for this but I'm buggered
if I've ever come across it.
Fotokem did a demo of shooting a darkroom scene under tungsten light and
timing the scene red. It looked far better than the same scene shot under
only red light. Give them a call, they might still have it available.
>Fotokem did a demo of shooting a darkroom scene under tungsten light >and timing the scene red.
I think their test showed that by shooting under magenta-gelled light
instead of red-gelled light, and then timing for red, you got a sharper
image because you exposed more information on the other layers.
I saw the demo and I don't think they tried taking a white-lit shot and
turning it into a red-lit shot through timing (that would be a rather
strange balance of printer lights...)
Cinematographer / L.A.
I realize this has been covered here, but Bill's post confused me. If
you light a scene using only red light, then read it with your meter,
your meter reads the red light, then because of its' programming, adds
the other colors. This would seem to tell the meter that there is more
light than there is, rather than less. It would therefore result in underexposure
rather than overexposure. Or am I making some sort of mental error?
Bill Bennett said :
>it will be difficult to measure the correct exposure of the red lighting with >your meter
Continuing with this thought, this is only a real problem when the shot
has another light reference in it -- such as an open door or a white light
being switched on or off. Otherwise it could be timed to your liking.
When the red lighting is combined in the same shot with another source,
you may find that exposures between the white and red lights are not what
you expected. I've found what Bill says above to hold true. Additionally,
when you switch off a white light and reveal a red safe light, you naturally
expect the red safe lighting to be darker! You don't want the red at key
level, 'cause it just looks too bright.
I especially like amber safe lights, not only for actual darkroom use,
but for filming darkroom scenes by. Combining red and amber lights can
look great, if you want a little more spectrum. This appears to be a minority
view, I suppose because it's not the typical "bathed in red"
>This would seem to tell the meter that there is more light than there is, >rather than less.
Yes. The meters are biased to read more green light than any other color.
They also respond to light that is in the crossover section of the 3 emulsions
(RGB) and can give wrong readings, particularly in the red/orange areas.
You can read more at my website in the article, "From Candle light
>I saw the demo and I don't think they tried taking a white-lit shot and >turning it into a red-lit shot
I agree. However, in that demo you may recall that the scene was shot
three times under three different lighting conditions, 1) all red light,
2) magenta, and 3)tungsten. All captured on tungsten stock. I remember
the tungsten looking by far the sharpest.
The host (I think it was Mark) explained that this was because of the
balance of exposure in each layer. The red timing was a Fotokem "thing"-
or to say in other words, Fotokem was touting their timing ability to
make the scene have that dark room safe-light look. I don't recall if
Fotokem claimed it to be a proprietary timing system (like their post
speed ramp timing system) or if it was just a preferred way to capture
>I remember the tungsten looking
by far the sharpest.
I remember in college (when we printed our dailies), watching two different
prints of the same neg, the shot had a very bright light source in it.
On print was timed so the light source was red, the other so the light
source was yellow. Both looked like they had intended to be shot the way
they were printed.
As to sharpness, that is perhaps the essence. Sure you can light tungsten,
and time it red, or shoot through a red filter. However darkrooms that
I have been in, always look very dim, and a little blurry. It's on the
edge of human vision and dim as well.
Something aesthetic to think about.
Cinematographer - Gladstone Films
Cinematography Mailing List - East Coast List Administrator
Better off Broadcast (B.O.B.)
New York, U.S.A.
I did this shot in film school (still enjoy seeing it) although it's been
done ooodles of times since, in dozens of movies etc. never as realistically,
Take full developed print place into bath (tray) of ferrocyanide bleach
in full lighted darkroom (I used a #25 filter over lights & printed
down) rock tray slowly as you hold camera upside down over tray, shooting
(if you're there hand-holding, hold your breath--the fumes are nasty)
as picture bleaches away to white slowly slide the paper up & out
(so when printed it looks like it's going into the tray--this will take
practice) print in reverse & you have the "effect" you want
(all done in camera) most movies never allow you to "see" the
print coming up in the developer because, of course, that takes place
in the dark (but hardly anyone thinks about that or knows, etc. so the
magic is wasted on typical audience) but that's how we did it once upon
a time in the hills of Southern Ohio (Ohio University Film School) &
impressed our peers!
Lighting Cameraman (Charlotte, NC & Washington, DC)
Congratulations and thanks Don on an innovative way of shooting a much
talked about scene - will have to test that out some day and thanks everyone