The Art of Lighting Dark Skin for Film and HD 

by Cybel Martin

“Every shade and hue offers its own unique challenges and glorious opportunities for the Cinematographer to create art. Anyone with a basic knowledge of lighting can get a decent exposure when filming non-white skin. I want to discuss “the art”.

Your narrative will dictate how a character should appear: Ashen. Vibrant. Healthy. Exhausted. Apathetic. Enlightened. I can (and so can you) make any skin tone exude one of those adjectives. This is my process:

                                  ( Cinematographer Cybel Martin )

Once the director and I come to a consensus on how a film should look, I determine which HD camera / film stocks and lenses can achieve it and still stay in budget. My lighting scheme is based on the dynamic range and/or latitude of the HD/film stock, my “man power” (size and technical ability of my G/E crew), post production budget for Color Correct, pace of our shooting schedule and demands of the location (no windows, can’t rig from the ceiling etc)…

Here are a few of the things I consider when working with different skin colors…”

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“I am not going to sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I’m going to take a stand. I’m going to defend it. Right or wrong, I’m going to defend it.”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
dir. John Hughes


SHERLOCK: The Art of Symmetry

This came through in an editor’s forum I’m a member of. 

God damn, this show is gorgeous.