Shooting with a digital camera in a environment engulfed in flames offered an excellent opportunity to examine the dynamic range of this format. Several years ago I had tested 3 digital cameras side by side with 35mm in a similar environment for the night exteriors of a feature film. On that occasion when we projected the tests we found that the digital cameras required a much deeper stop to hold the highlights in the flames and thus we opted to shoot 35mm film. However there have been significant developments since then.
The photographic approach to AXE required me to integrate my film lighting seamlessly with real firelight and balance to a digital sensor. My intention was for the scene to feel entirely lit by firelight. However I also needed to create a working environment that gave me more control and that was comfortable and safe for the actors. We used a variety of techniques to achieve this effect and by modifying our tools we were able to achieve this over relatively large areas. Primarily this required careful attention to the quality of firelight itself which has quite unique properties. I often find that it is the careful observation of and sensitivity to natural light that enables an artist to reproduce it successfully and with authenticity.