Advice needed on shooting skin with B&W film - Filters ?

Discussion in 'Portraiture' started by Simplicius, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Simplicius

    Simplicius Member

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    Hi,

    I have been asked by a friend who is getting a tattoo down her spine to photograph it happening. The tattoo artist has no issue just no flashes and says he needs lots of light anyways so all sounding good. As I have no clue how to use flashes anyway.

    I plan on using an old MF Folder f/2.8 or a TLR f/3.5 Autocord. And Ilford Delta 3200 at box speed. My question would be on the need to use a yellow filter. Will it assist or add benefit to shooting skin where standard flourescent lighting is the only source. The subject has very pale unblemished Celtic skin. almost porcelain like.

    many thanks in advance
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I would make a game time decision on what speed to shoot the Delta 3200 at. You could very easily have enough light to shoot it at 1600 or lower, as I'm imaging some really strong illumination for the tatt-man; especially if you do not use a filter.

    As for filtration, I don't think it'll be necessary IMO. Y'know, usually the point is to darken the blue sky, but inside it'll only have very subtle contrast effects. Not to say that those effects aren't warranted, and perhaps they are, but I don't know if it's a big deal either way plus in this situation, you need to optimize speed.

    Now, if she was freckled or ruddy, I might use a bluish filter which will darken those red areas. It gives a cool look, again IMO. Some people might hate it, but I think it looks interesting, kinda old fashioned like an old blue-sensitive emulsion. But then again, she has porcelain skin, so no go anyways.

    I'd say ditch the filter.
     
  3. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    If you're gonna filter, you might use the yellow. In all likelihood it will darken the ink and the artist's gloved hands to add some contrast. But if your not sure then don't sweat the filter. Go in and have fun with composition and don't compound the problem with to much gadgetry.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The filters of opposite color will darken the tattoo. Filters of the same color will lighten it. Same goes for skin imperfections as holmsburgers has described. A yellow filter will slightly enhance a tattoo probably. Green might lighten it and bring out skin imperfections more (as it's would darken reddish blemishes and freckles) I would suggest bringing along filters depending on the tattoo color and trying some things.

    If it's brightly lit, you might use slower film too, unless you're after a gritty look. I think skin might benefit from the smoother tones of a quality iso400ish film. I recently made nice handheld tmy2 photos with my yashica-c TLR of my daughter in the dentist's chair getting worked on, and I'm guessing room illumination at the tattoo shop would be brighter than that.
     
  5. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I personally wouldn't bother with filters in this case, but I'm not a super precise technician like some photographers are in terms of setup. Then again, from the description, I don't think that's appropriate for these photos. I'd take a couple rolls of D3200 and a couple of your favorite 400 speed film. If you can get away with EI 1600, shoot the D3200 there. If you can get away with EI 400, think about using the 400 speed film unless you want the D3200 look.
     
  6. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Also, if it was me and the light was up to it, I'd consider using XP2 [if you don't mind chromogenic films] as I find it gives a particularly nice looking with smooth/pale skin and it handles a one-stop push in medium format quite well. That also gives a little leeway with changing light or tricky to meter light. I wouldn't bother with a filter. I'd also be wary of using an older folder unless it had a good rangefinder on it, as I'm not sure who much leeway you'll have to scale-focus in lower light.
     
  7. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Somewhat garbled English there. Bah.

    Anyway, I've used XP2 in a TLR at 800ASA and had good results.
     
  8. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I shot a friend getting a tattoo once and I found that the light the tattooist needs falls short of the type of light film needs, especially with a filer in place. I had to shoot the whole session at f1.4 - not good. My recommendation would be to bring along some fast film just in case the light is like what I encountered and be prepared to abandon the filters.
     
  9. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Take a tripod. Your friend will be still except for when it really hurts :smile:

    Use the 3200 and if you have lots of film, I would try a green for helping skin tones but I would also consider an orange (15 wratten #) and maybe even a red (25) though that will take a long exposure, but you might just get something cool.

    The green will render more natural skin tones and the red will whiten the skin. If you need more light, take some with you. A bright 100 watt light with a piece of silk, rice paper, or translucent cloth of some sort to diffuse the light will help you and the tattoo artist.

    Make sure you show us the pics!

    Good luck
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you have enough light to filter, I'd use a a Wratten #11. The Hoya XO is equivalent if you cannot find one. I find that it makes tonal separations in b/w a bit more like what the eye sees when shooting in warm light sources.

    Remember that Delta 3200 is an ISO 1000 speed film, and that it is very flat. Because it is flat, however, it handles underexposure very well. You may want to rate it at at least 2000, or even 4000, to give the negs a little punch. It's a very forgiving and easy to print film IME. I use it very often.

    I wouldn't use a folder for this unless it has a coupled rangefinder. Even then, a reflex camera will help quite a bit. A monopod may help a bit as well. I doubt that a tripod would be OK, but if so, you should bring one.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I don't know, but it seems to me that the colour of the light may be the most important concern - fluorescent with a yellow filter sounds - yech!

    I would think that you might want to work fairly close to your subject. Are you sure that a folder or an Autocord will permit what you need to do?
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Shooting b/w in colored light is similar to shooting with filters in neutral light. However, fluorescent tubes come in various color temperatures now. They are not all sickly green like they used to be.

    The way to do this, if you really want to nail it spot on, is to go in and shoot there ahead of time, and see what you get. See what color the lamps are, and try different filters on a test roll or two.
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    2F/2F's suggestion about trial shots is right on!

    It may very well be that a good tatoo artist would be very particular about the colour temperature of the light he/she works in.

    And then, maybe not!