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Posted by Johnny on Jun 24, in Tutorial Comments The most common questions I receive in regards to shooting film are usually about metering and exposure. I have covered a lot of other topics in the blog posts Film is Not Dead and The Secrets of Richard Photo Labbut I wanted to share a dedicated write-up about metering as this subject often seems to cause a lot of confusion.
Not being able to see your results until you get your scans back and learning to trust your own abilities instead of instantly reviewing an image or histogram on the back of your camera takes time and getting used to.
Most of the concerns I hear from photographers who mainly shoot digital are based on the experience that one stop of exposure changes your results drastically.
With digital, your ISO setting simply states how sensitive the sensor is to the amount of light that falls onto it.
With color negative film, the ISO rating usually states the minimum value at which you will be able obtain a properly exposed negative. Because color negative film usually gives the most pleasant results when overexposed, a lot of film photographers rate their film at half box speed ISO instead of ISO and expose for the shadows, which results in stops of overexposure.
Film has so much latitude that losing highlight detail is usually not a concern. With digital, blown out highlights are a problem if you expose too bright.
Underexposure is the most common problem I see when discussing unsatisfying results with fellow photographers. Meter Settings An easy way to make sure your film gets enough exposure is to rate it at half box speed.
That gives it one full stop of exposure more and leaves a bit of headroom for mistakes. In theory, metering with a retracted bulb reduces the amount of light that falls onto the cell of your meter, and with pointing it down a little you take the proportion of the sky back a bit.
You need to know how much light falls onto your subject incident metering and not how much light is reflected by your subject reflective metering, e. This is especially important in difficult light.
My metering method I meter all color negative film the same. I use a very simple analog incident light meter Sekonic L Anothing fancy or expensive.
I rate my film half box speed. Then I meter for the shadows, which means I bring my meter into the part of the scene that has the least light. I hold the meter in a standard 90 degree angle to the ground, which means nothing else than parallel to the subject, with the bulb facing the direction of the camera.
Examples Here are a couple of examples for different lighting conditions. All of these images were metered exactly the same way.
Try checking your negatives against the light and see if they look properly exposed. If they look ok, talk to your lab. The following two shots are metered the exact same way. You can see that one is really bright and airy while the other one is bold and contrasty.
The different look is caused by the light being different and the images being scanned differently, not by me metering or exposing differently: This would make these cameras unusable with a digital sensor without the use of ND filters.
Most color negative film can be overexposed stops with medium format and stops with 35mm. An inexpensive digital alternative is Lumu. I really like the concept and I backed their project on Kickstarter.
Lumu is a little device that you can plug into your iPhone. It works just as well as any other external meter and it saves you having to carry around an extra item.
If you shoot on a regular base it will probably only take you about rolls until you can guess your meter reading for most lighting conditions.
That makes shooting film very easy and enjoyable. And it can also save a lot of worries because you can safely buy unmetered cameras, which is a huge advantage if you like to shoot old Leicas.
But I wanted to share an easy, practical and enjoyable approach that makes it fun to shoot film and helps prevent the most common misunderstandings — especially for photographers who are used to shooting digital.Your Guide to Applying for a Job in Characters or Less.
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