Advice on exposing in a mechanic's shop

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mark, Aug 25, 2009.

  1. mark

    mark Member

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    In reality there is a lot of light. Flat light from translucent (sp) sky-lights and Two really big bay doors on the eastern side of the shop

    The times I have to shoot are in the afternoon, so the Bay doors are on the shady side.

    Basically the light is bright but extremely even.

    This is kind of an important project for me and I don't want flat lifelss images.

    Any advice would be helpful.

    PS-Images will be black and white as well as color.
     
  2. mrred

    mrred Subscriber

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    Your choices are to increase contrast by creating shadows and / or control the light with brighter light.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Use a spot meter to find the SBR [from darkest shadow of interest to brightest area]. Use the reading to determine the camera settings.

    Steve
     
  4. eddym

    eddym Member

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    The light may look flat, but I'll wager there will be some dark shadows somewhere. Only you can decide if they are important enough to render detail in them. Steve's advice is good; check the range of tones with a spot meter, and process your B&W film to match. You will also then know if you need to shoot a "normal" or a "vivid" color film. Kodak Portra NC and VC are the best examples.
     
  5. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    If you can't use additional light to control the scene, check the SBR and overdevelop if you don't have enough contrast. If you can, do a quick test a few days before the main shoot.
     
  6. randyB

    randyB Member

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    Good advise. Bracket if you can. I know film is not cheap but neither is you time nor reputation for a re-shoot. Whenever I had a shoot at a location where I couldn't modify the light I always bracketed 1-2 stops over and under, yes, it is a waste but at least I got a useable photo and that is what they where paying me for.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi mark

    i have done similar things ..
    what i usually do is ..
    go the a spot with bright sun and shadow
    put your light meter with the globe towards your camera.
    get a reading for the light, and then for the shadow
    average them ... and over expose by at least 1 fstop and bracket.
    do some bracketed exposures after flashing your film too and use a compensating developer ..

    have fun!
    john
     
  8. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Hi,

    I'm a newbie taking a beginning B&W photography class. This "SBR" thingy is interesting. I've wondered recently about properly exposing for good tonal range, especially after a recent shoot. My next assignment involves shallow DOF, but I'm trying to understand how I should meter a scene/subject using the camera's meter to obtain a properly exposed negative that is neither too light or too dark and would render a good print.

    In the past, I've just pointed the camera at the subject/scene and used the camera's meter to determine overall exposure and not exactly considering tonal ranges. But as I mentioned above, the last shoot got me to thinking if I was metering the subject/scene properly. That's why I'm interested in this "SBR" topic. I have a feeling I'm doing something wrong. I've heard: "Expose for the shadows, process for highlights," but not quite sure what that really means.

    Does my statement/question make sense?
     
  9. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Knowing the brightness range helps knowing the brightness range.
    Very often, that means that you know what will disappear into darkness and/or what will be leached by overexposure.
    You can only do something about that by asjustingboth exposure and processing. Exposure should suffice for the shadow details to register. Processing should be short enough that the highlights don't block up That's what that old, but very valid adage is about.

    Metering the scene to get the most important bit of it (your subject) exposed properly is the most important bit though.
    You do not necessarily also need to capture all detail on the extreme ends of the range as well to create a good image. And every often, you don't want to capture a large brightness range.

    But if you do (or if you want to decrease the range - which alsohappens), some playing around, testing different exposures and processing options to see how they affect contrast will be needed.
    I really hate to, but at this time giving the Zone System a mention is not inappropriate. It, despite the misplaced cult following it has, is a great teaching tool.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Start with post #3 on this thread. You don't have a spot meter, then go up closely and meter the darkest shadow detail you want and the brightest area and take a reading.

    For example, I was at Yosemite taking a photo of Half Dome just after a snow storm. The sky was bright with scattered clouds. There was snow on Half Dome that was a slightly darker tone than the clouds. I used the spot meter on my Nikon f100 and the zoom lens at 300mm [I was NOT going to walk up to the top of Half Dome, but you get the concept], then I took a spot reading of the shadow detail in the densely packed trees. Finally I took a overall reading. It was an SBR of 12 stops. I then adjusted the camera to between the two readings and compared it to the overall reading. If it is close I use the calculated reading, otherwise I take two photographs one using the calculated reading and the other the overall reading. The film captured the SBR without the brights blowing out. The problem was printing it on paper that can at best cover seven stops. That took burning, dodging, and bleaching. You will get into that later.

    I use the box speed of Tri-X 400 and XTOL undiluted for the normal time and temperature. I do not compensate with N-2, N-1, N, N+1, N+2 with roll film. If I ever go back to sheet film I would use N-2, N-1, N, N+1, N+2 because I can handle each photograph separately and because of the cost of the film.

    Steve
     
  11. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    No spot meter. I have to rely on the in-camera meter. The subject that I had in mind when I read this thread was one of a building shot in morning light (around 8-8:30), clear skies. The building was surrounded by trees with heavy foilage. I had to shoot from across the street which meant that the building was side-lighted by the morning sun. As a result, parts of the building had darker shadows but still showed detail. I don't remeber the settings exactly, but I think I made the shot at 1/1000 @ f3.5, 1/500 @ f3.5, and 1/250 @3.5. And I tried a few other shots stopping down to f8, and f16.

    I probably should have used the DOF preview button - but I was being harrassed by a meter maid at the time, so I was kinda rushed.

    The class requires a choice of Tri-X, FP4, HP5, or Delta 400 or equivalent.
    I shot this scene with HP5. For the remainder of the class, I will be shooting Delta 400.

    The developer will be D-76.
     
  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    You can always take a reading off your hand: sun, shade, partial shade. Also try metering just the side of the building from where you are standing [do each side].

    The best bet is to process the film and see what you have. I do not think that you will need to reshoot, but you may have to.

    Steve
     
  13. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Whaa! you mean no instant gratification :smile: like with digital? It'll be at least two weeks before we get to develop this particular shoot in class.

    I guess I'll just need to get used to that aspect about shooting film.
    Looks like I better plan on bracketing like crazy and hope for the best.
    The other thing is I don't trust the meter in my Minolta X-700. I just get this feeling in my stomach that the roll may be overexposed :sad: But heck with 36 frames and maybe limiting the number of subjects I choose to shoot, I may just hit the jackpot:wink:
     
  14. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    No, no, no.
    You better plan on thinking about it like crazy. Find the thing that you need to do to know (!) that you get the shot the way you need it.
    Learn!

    Else you would indeed better use a digital camera, and 'chimp' like crazy.
    'Chimping': a highly visible, tell tale sign, allowing to identify photographers who don't know what they are doing.
    Bracketing is the less visible analog equivalent. Photographers who use meters, and know how to, do not bracket.

    Though it may result in a passing grade, i doubt that your class is about hiding that you don't know what you are doing.
    So try to understand, think, before clicking the shutter. Not afterwards.

    Afterwards is the time to reflect on why things went wrong anyway. And when bracketing saved your butt, you won't. You'll just shrug every frame wasted in bracketing off with a smug "clever of me to bracket, for despite the wasted frames, and me still not knowing what to do the next time - except bracket again - i got the shot!".
     
  15. mark

    mark Member

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    Roll film developing tanks are dirt cheap. Get one. Develop at home. You may not be able to print but you can read a negative like a print. This will tell you if you need to reshoot. Don't wait.
     
  16. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Exactly! and that's why I'm asking all these newbie questions so that I can better understand what I'm doing. I was half-kidding with the bracketing like crazy comment. I'm just a little eager to understand proper exposure techniques so that I can develop good skills and habits and then work on improving them. I'd rather be consistent, rather than hap-hazard, or just lucky.

    Right now, there's just a lot of rules and theoretical stuff. And on top of that, you hear and read things like "learn the rules, then break them."

    Geez Louise!

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that at first, I would just aim the camera, compose what I thought was a good shot, look at the information provided by the camera's meter and adjust. Now I'm thinking more along the lines of type and quality of light; is the subject too contrasty; should I meter a part of the scene, then recompose; should I consider investing in a hand-held meter and learn how to use it. Stuff like that.

    I just need to know if I'm on the right track or floundering:confused:
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Bracketing like crazy is a good idea, if you take detailed notes.

    You need to develop that most important of all photographic tools - your ability to observe and evaluate the scene and the light.

    If you take notes, and then closely examine the negatives and resulting prints in light of the information in your notes, you will quickly learn how to interpret your observations, including meter readings. That will enable you to decrease (but not eliminate) bracketing.

    Matt
     
  18. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    ¡Ay, caramba! :smile:
     
  19. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Asking questions

    Don't ever be afraid to ask a question. I started taking 35mm photos about 25 years ago and I will be the first person to admit that I don't know everything. I think that it is great that anyone is willing to take a photography course, but let me offer a couple of observations. Put more effort into the course than the minimum course requirement and you will get more out of the course than the minimum and you may end up learning. I think that it is important to set goals for yourself so that you can know when you are learning. For instance, you may set a goal like "I want to be familiar with exposure using Ilford HP5+ with my camera." When you can get repeatable results 90% of the time you have taken a step forward. The advise of taking detailed notes is great advice. The notes will help you enormously to get to that place where you can walk out of the darkroom with a good looking print. Take notes of what you are thinking as you evaluate a subject. Take more notes when you develop the film and when you make a print. Don't be afraid to make a mistake. Sometimes we can learn as much from a failed effort as from a masterpiece. Look at the photos made by others to use as a yardstick to compare with your own work. Most important, have some fun with the camera.
    Dave
     
  20. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    If you intend to expose yourself, I would be SURE that there was NO welding in progress!
    Those errant sparks are !!HOT!!. :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2009
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    !!!!!

    great advice
     
  22. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Excellent - Thank you! Thank all of you. I started out wanting to learn digital photography but something inside said: "You'll learn more about photography going the traditional route with film." So I dropped the digital class and I'm going to focus on film.

    Ironically, I had a similar experience with audio. Started out with analog. Switched to digital but it just wasn't the same. About 4 years ago, I switched to all tube gear. Nothing like listening to some good jazz or classical music through single-ended triodes.

    Tubes Rule! - and so does Film!
     
  23. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

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    As a guitar player for the last 45 years, I can attest to that. All my amps are tube amps. There is nothing like a pair of 6L6's, cranked into overdrive (an effect not for audiophiles but one which guitarists love), making the floor vibrate a little.