Media Production Mentoring

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Fixing Lighting in Post

I know there are some pretty awesome programs out there that allow you to do some intense image manipulation with video. But I don't have the money to shell out for those programs. So, what happens when you have a shot that doesn't look good because of a lighting problem? Can you do anything about it?

Absolutely. And you can do it for free.

In a recent interview, I lit for the the close up, but when I pulled out my shot looked like this:

Poor Lighting

The glare off the bookcase completely overpowers my beautiful actress. I can't have people looking at the woodgrain instead of the girl. That just won't do.

So, I fired up GIMP and got busy.

After a few failed attempts, I got an image that worked. First, I created a duplicate layer of the blown out bookcase side and tweaked with the contrast until it was through the roof.

High Contrast Layer

Second, I created a transparent feathered color layer that would bring the color closer to the rest of the wood.

Color Layer

When I put them all together I got a very nice image.

Final Fixed Image

"But hang on," some of you may say, "I can totally tell that was tweaked."

You're right. When I look at the image it looks forced, faked, unnatural. However, we both know that we're looking at an adjusted image. If I hadn't told you, you would just look at the person on screen and not even notice.

It's often hard to separate what "works" from what doesn't. So, to test my work, I show someone around me the clip and ask if anything bothers them about it. Sometimes they will say, "Well, the blue book is a little distracting."

Perfect. It's working. "Thanks."

However, someone may point out that the bookcase takes up too much of the frame. They're probably right, but I could help fix that problem by reducing the amount of color in my fixed bit and making it a bit darker. That may help.

Slightly Darker

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

1 comment :

-)_-. said...

It looks best slightly darker. The reason for this is you eliminated the contrast dominant. We were looking at the books and the wood because it was the brightest point in the frame. Our eyes get drawn from the brightest point on. By bringing that down to a more natural looking lvl our eyes are drawn to the right side of the actress's face because it is now the brightest point in the frame and acting as contrast dominant.

One of the reasons why it looked fake before you brought it darker was because you were confusing the eye. It appears like you have two keys. If I was to light meter the actress's face and then the wood I would probable find a very close reading with an indecent meter. The highlights on her face are still bright but that would only be picked up with a reflective. This light on the wood conflicts with the highlight on the side of the chair camera left. The light hitting it is not coming from the same direction. So it feels keyed.
By making it darker you made the difference between the light values greater thus creating a dominate for our eye to be drawn to and eliminating confusion.

...yeah sorry I've been staring at this kind of stuff too much lately lol Excelent work though and a great post.
But fix your Final Fixed image title(because its wrong)lol Dark one is the one baby woot!