Exposure for Slides

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by kintatsu, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I recently shot 2 rolls of provia 100f, and just got the film back from the lab.

    Everything was great, the highlights were spot on, the shadows were dark enough to give the early morning feel that i wanted. Great stuff.

    It's getting to be autumn here, and I'd like to shoot some scenes that will contain a full range of light, from very dark to quite bright-ish. I'm concerned, though, that the highlights will be right, as I try to place them about Z6.5-7, to prevent them being blown out, but the shadows will lack detail.

    How do I ask the lab to increase shadow levels, is it like B&W, where decreased development can decrease the density in the areas with the greatest amount? If so, how will that impact the highlights? I'm new to shooting transparencies, although I am aware that your exposure should be based on your scenes highlights, similar to negative film, but in reverse.

    I'm shooting the slides on an RB-67, and hope to get them printed, or last resort, scanned and printed.
     
  2. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    More development of a negative gives a higher contrast, denser negative. More development of a slide gives a higher contrast, lighter transparency. So if you want lighter slides, there are two ways to do it. The first way is to give it less exposure and increase development. This is called "pushing" the film. I've done this with Provia 100F. I sometimes shoot it at EI 320 instead of EI 100, and ask the lab for a two stop push. This appears to be pushing 1/3 stop more than it was underexposed, but the pictures come out just fine.

    The second way to do it is to give it slightly more exposure and give standard development. By slightly more exposure, I mean no more than 1/2 stop. At least on my camera, one way to do this is with the exposure compensation dial. If I want 1/3 stop more exposure, I change the ISO dial (in this case from 100 down to 80). Your highlights will get a bit lighter, and your shadows will open up a little.
     
  3. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Spot meter the highlights, but not the brightest areas; do the same for the shadows, but not the darkest of the shadows. Average. It's very simple and will give excellent results. Problems develop when photographers add spectrals into the equation: that's not what you should be metering.

    Provia has wider latitude than the Velvias with a softer treatment of highlights and shadows, as you have observed. But the brighter the light, the greater the chance that highlights will blow, even if you retain some distinct detail in the shadows. Provia with a slightly warmer and more natural palette, is best in hazy light, but I have exposed it in high summer, not that the results impressed me. I suggest if you bracket in marginal light and record notes as you go.
     
  4. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    If one isn't going to project the slides and instead require prints, I wonder what the reasons are for using E6 instead of C41? Colour-negative film will have a longer scale than a transparency film, generally speaking, and the prints can be made directly to RA4 without needing to inter-neg the E6 first.
     
  5. clayne

    clayne Member

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    They render differently. It's not such a utilitarian technical comparison.
     
  6. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    What I'm thinking is if I shoot in a wooded area, around some of the palace gardens, the range of values and brightness will exceed the range of the film. With black and white, you can shoot to bring your shadows to Z III, or 2 stops below neautral grey, and develop for your highlight target of Z VII. With slides, I'm not sure how it would work, as it seems to me that underexposing a part too low, is still underexposing it too low. To that, the overexposed part has no density to retain any information.

    I hope I'm making sense. From your reply, it would seem that it's possible to get a slide that retains detail in both ends of the scale, even though the scale is shorter than a standard negative. Thank you for the reply and advice.
     
  7. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I loved the shots I just got back from the lab. The shots were made on a cloudy morning, in the city, and give a wonderful range! I should have started long ago with reversal film. As I mentioned, the lighting I'm looking at working in will be of a longer scale than this time. I'd like to shoot in some wooded areas to get the leaves changing, but the overhead canopy will proved a challenge. I appreciate the advice and will definitely give it a go!
     
  8. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I plan on getting some Ilfochrome prints made, as they have a beautiful feel to them when done right. The ones I've seen were almost magical in their qualities! The lab I use for my film printing has a couple years worth of the materials and I would like to get some made.

    Plus, seeing the slides against the light, either projected or directly viewing them, has always held a magical feeling to me.
     
  9. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I hadn''t even thought about it that way, which is surprising to me, given that I like to think about the technical side as much as the creative side. Thanks for the reminder of both sides being applicable!
     
  10. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I was having this same confusion about ME Super's explanation. I thought I understood slide film decently, but now I'm not so sure...

    With negatives, you expose for the shadows because nothing you do can recover information that wasn't recorded---you have to give enough time for the shadows to have some activated grains in them, and then you work with the development process to control the highlights. As is well known, slide film works the other way: If you overexpose and remove all the density, your highlights blow, so you have to expose for the highlights. But here's where I get confused.

    Say I've exposed for a reasonable highlight (not a specular) in a scene with a long scale. Well, the shadow areas on the film are still receiving very few photons, so there are very few activated grains in the latent image. Doesn't that mean that I end up with the same blank shadows due to underexposure that I'd get in a negative? Changes in development can raise or lower the curve, but they can't create shadow information that wasn't there.

    Does this mean that in practice very little can be done to extend the dynamic range of slide film? To extend the shadows you'd have to overexpose, but that blows the highlights; to extend the highlights you'd underexpose, but that gives you no information in the shadows; and there doesn't seem to be an analogue to compensating development that would help keep the highlights from blowing out. Have I got it right?

    -NT
     
  11. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Yes it is true that there is little you can do to extend the dynamic range of the slide film.
     
  12. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    That's where my confusion lies, also. Beyond the specularities that come from say, light streaming through the trees, exposing for a highlight makes sense from a density perspective. That allows the highlights to record information. But how can detailed information be recovered from the shadows, if they drop to, say Zone II?
     
  13. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    So basically, according to place and fall, placing your highlights within scale, other values will always be wherever they fall, with no true development controls to offset or change that relationship?
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    +1

    Except ....

    When it comes to projection, you can increase brightness of the light source.

    When it comes to optical printing, either to interneg or Ilfochrome, you can use masks to hold back the highlights, in order to dig out more detail from the shadows.

    And when it comes to scanning and digital post-production, there are techniques available there as well.

    You need to expose for the highlights, and use the after-exposure techniques to dig out more from the shadows. There is a lot of detail there, but it is hard to get at.
     

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  16. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    So, basically, one should plan their after techniques around their final output medium, and use exposure controls to maximize the image quality? Development controls being, for the most part, unavailable, makes this part even more imperative with slides than film, it would seem.

    BTW, amazing photo! I love the light and color coming together that way!
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Correct!

    Don't forget lighting controls as well - reflectors and fill flash are your friends.
     
  18. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    Thanks for the reminder on lighting mods. I quite often forget them for landscape type shots, as larger scenes are often too big for them. Of course, that's when you find some detail oriented shot that gets away for lack of something to bounce in some light!

    Last weekend, in Bayreuth, I could have used one. Walking through a palace garden, I came upon a tree stump that was decayed and bowl formed from the weather that had some moss and 3 maple leaves growing out. The colors came together so nicely, with the texture and shapes, and of course, not enough light! At least I have the memory and a dim digital pic to remind me. I shot it with a yellow filter for B&W, but the colors came together nicely even in color the green seemed to have a life of its own!
     
  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    And also don't forget "Galen Rowell" type Neutral Density Graduated Filters which can hold back the highlights (if they can be divided on a soft or hard line such as a skyline in a landscape).

    An added benefit of these is you can probably get away with using them on US and California Land without a permit (because if you bring scrims, reflectors and flash, you might attract unwanted attention).
     
  20. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I don't have the kit for grads, but do have a 10 stop variable ND, but that won't help. Using my 40 inch reflector and remote cable release, I should be able to get something nice. With my small reflector, detail shots are easy. I just have to remember to bring them!

    Where I'll be shooting, at the Hermiatge and New Residenz in Bayreuth, should pose no problem. I'd like to get some changing leaves in the walk way at the Hermitage. The trees seem almost woven together overhead, and with the colors that come about halfway through the changeover, some dramatic scenes can be brought to life. The hard part will be getting the lake at the New Residenz, as it's extremely dark in parts and overly bright in others. Knowing this and that no controls beyond what I actually have at hand, means I can consider my output and match my shooting to that. A bonus is the ducks. Bring along some cookies or bread, and an army of nearly 100 ducks will converge on the pond and add some life, a detail that brings feeling to the pic.

    Thanks for the tip on the grads. I do have to get a kit together for the filters. Right now, I'm using Heliopan circulars fit to my largest lens and adapters to use them on the smaller lenses.
     
  21. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Previously you could overexpose then "pull" develop certain slide films for slightly lower contrast, but current transparency films aren't very
    amenable to this, and the results always tended to muddy the highlights anyway. "Flashing" is another so-so trick which muddies the shadows.
    And any decent Ciba print requires significant masking to control the contrast anyway. I'm getting prints the same look as Ciba much more
    easily now by using Ektar film and printing it on Fuji Supergloss. Masking is needed only about 30% of the time. With Ciba it's 100% of the
    time. Plus Ektar gives you about one stop more range each direction than Provia. You can get even more latitude with more typical color neg
    films like Portra 160, but you sacrifice to a considerable extent the clean saturated hues typical of chrome films or now Ektar (Porta is basically engineered as portrait film first, other things second). But obviously with negatives you can't just slap them down on a light box
    and instantly recognize what you've got. It takes some experience to judge negatives, or else a contact sheet. Scans can also be used to
    evaluate your negs, but affordable low rez scans tend to work very poorly with 35mm color neg film. Printing color neg in your own darkroom
    is much easier than printing Cibachrome.
     
  22. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Here we go again, Bill.... but if Galen himself couldn't figure out how to use a grad filter without the end result looking ridiculously phony ...
     
  23. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    Thanks for the comment. I haven't even begun to look at masking, and wouldn't know the first thing about doing it. I would imagine, based on the work I've had done, and my conversations with the lab, that they know. The tech who does all their B&W printing has been doing it for 20+ years. When I was asking him about it, he said the Ciba tech is one of the best he's seen.

    I've gotten some really nice photos with Portra, but as you said, they were portraits and the saturation wasn't there for the look I want in my landscapes. When the photos included outside elements, they seem to lack something. I have a box of Ektar for 4x5 I plan to use for autumn shots, I've been hanging on to it for a couple months just for this time. The shots I've had with it in 35mm have been quite nice, so I'm excited to see it large!

    Part of the draw of slides, for me, is as you said the clean saturated look, that feeling of reality in your hands. Another part is, learning something new, and mastering it to the best of my abilty. It's part of my learning and travel through photography. As for developing color films and printing in color at home, I can't do that right now. That will have to come later, when more space is available to allow for proper process control. For my B&W work, it's enough. That time will come, then I'll have something new to work on.

    Thanks for the information and the encouragement regarding Ektar.
     
  24. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Masking will not save swathes of deep, black shadow on Ilfochrome. This is especially true with contrasty emulsions like Velvia (less so with Provia). Nor will it save blown highlights. Look after the exposure at the time of exposure, in-camera and don't rely on quick-fixes in the print stage. It must be said this takes experience — a lot of it, judgement and understanding of the light and its effect on the scene. You are bound to be very disappointed when initially getting a handle on balancing highlights and shadows, but it will come easily and naturally to you if you expose the film in the conditions it was designed for.
     
  25. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    That was my initial concern. The 2 rolls I shot came out almost perfect. The shadows had some black and the highlights had some white, but the balance what almost exactly what I saw, and the images have the feel and impact I was shooting for. I placed the brightest area at Z VII and let the rest fall where they may. A couple portrait ones had some blocked highlights, but that was considered prior to exposure, and the picture is quite nice.

    So, I I find myself shooting as I described, I will try to keep the highlights to a resonable level and work from that. Much like you described in your initial reply, I think that basically entails metering for about Zone VII-ish and Zone III-ish and averaging the 2 readings. For instance, if the highlights are at 200 c/ft2, and shadows are at about 15, then shoot about 1/60 at f/8 for Provia 100, which would place about 50 c/ft2 at Zone V-ish, and the highlights at Zone VII, with the shadows at Zone II. Anything that falls outside that range can be taken for lost, and therefore, important areas must be kept within that range. Much like the zone system, but slightly more in line with keeping values within the usable scale of the reversal film.

    I hope that's right, as it seems to be the gist of everyone's advice!

    Thank you!
     
  26. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I forgot to mention that my meter is the Gossen Starlite 2. It allows me to place values or to sample the scale of values within the scene, which allows for greater awareness of the scale the photo will present.