Film for 4 - hour night exposures

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by kurt765, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. kurt765

    kurt765 Member

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    I'm looking for a film that can hold up to 4 hour night exposures. Basically, there is an activity with people and lights that I want to photograph that will take between 3-4 hours. I want to be able to capture the people's movement like you would star trails. There will be no artificial light other than lanterns held by the people moving. Moonlight will hopefully fill in the landscape.

    Has anyone successfully done night exposures on that scale? (3-4 hours)
    What film did you use? I was thinking of doing some tests with Provia 100 as a starting point. I want to shoot the final shot on 4x5 film. I'm thinking slide film of some sort.

    -K
     
  2. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I have done night exposures of up to about an hour using TMax 100. I have also been thinking about working up a system for Acros 100, but have gotten distracted by other endeavors. Both TMax 100 and Acros 100 have far better reciprocity characteristics than more traditional films, so for this kind of exposure, they are faster than most 400 speed films. I think that Acros is the better of the two for reciprocity.

    You might actually want film that will slow you down somewhat, for such long exposures. If there is any kind of ambient light, street lights or the like, four hour exposures are very long. You might find that something slower, or with more reciprocity failure, than Tmax or Acros would be in order.
     
  3. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    Color film, not b&w. Provia is a fine choice. Yes, i've done it.
     
  4. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    ahh, I should read more carefully.

    No opinion on color.

    :smile:
     
  5. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    This is an "urban myth" that really needs to be put to rest...

    Yes, exposure compensations grow sligthly quicker with higher ISO films, but in most instances and with current 100 and 400 ISO films, this does NOT compensate for the two stop extra sensitivity of the 400 ISO film.

    So, if with "they are faster than most 400 speed film" you also mean you will have shorter exposure times with 100 ISO films to GET CORRECT EXPOSURE ON THE FILM than with 400 ISO film for very long exposures, than in most cases THIS IS NOT TRUE.

    I have done some controlled real world testing with very long exposures by shooting film and visually examining the density of the resultant negatives using TMax 100, TMax 400, TXP320 and Acros 100.

    TMax 400 did beat all other films up to exposures of 8 hours, meaning after an 8 hour exposure, the TMax 400 had the densest negative. Correspondingly, it means TMax 400 had the shortest needed exposure times.

    Actually, only at this 8 hour point, Acros 100, known for the good reciprocity characteristics, started to "catch up" with the TMax 400, meaning the density of the negative almost equalled TMax 400 after both films were exposed for 8 hours.

    But for any exposure below 8 hours, you will have the shortest exposure times with TMax 400 to get to a certain predefined film density. But yes, sure, if you intend to do day(s) long exposures, than by all means, throw in Acros 100 or so. It is likely to give shorter exposure times, but this is going to the extremes and I stopped testing at 8 hours as a practical limit...

    Interestingly, although an "old type" emulsion, TXP320 did surprisingly well too. It wasn't that far behind TMax 400, and beat the 100 ISO films too for most exposures less than 8 hours.

    2 stops ISO difference is just a lot to compensate for with better reciprocity characteristics... Buy TMax 400 if you don't want to wait for hours in the cold... :laugh:

    I still intend to post the results with all the scans here once on APUG. It is just a damned amount of work that I'd rather spent working in my darkroom...
     
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  6. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I am not sure that I understand exactly what your objective is. If you truly need a 3 to 4 hour exposure and your scene includes people moving while carrying some sort of lanterns, I cannot see how the people will record. It seems that you will have many streaks of light on the film from the moving lanterns, but no evidence of what is moving them.
     
  7. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    I'm guessing that's exactly his point!

    But if he's really doing a 4 hours exposure, at an f-stop small enough to make the background need 4 hours to expose properly, those people are going to have to be moving very slowly, and/or carrying some exceptionally bright lights, to get them to show up well also. I've seen pictures along these lines before (but never 4 hours long!) and the effects you can get are pretty neat. I can't wait to see the results here.

    Duncan
     
  8. Early Riser

    Early Riser Subscriber

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    Marco, when you say that you "visually" checked the densities, are you saying that you did measurements of the tonal ranges, not just how dense the neg looked, with a densitometer? Checked the total range, including FB&F, not just zone I? Higher speed films tend to look denser than slower speed films regardless of reciprocity. I am willing to bet that the FB&F of the T-Max400 is already higher than that of the Acros, and would lend a look of greater density to begin with.

    In looking at the reciprocity failure data reported by Kodak and Fuji, for exposures of 100 seconds in length, Kodak does not indicate ANY times longer, the correction for Tmax 400 is 1 1/2 stops. So the effective EI drops to about 150 for a less than 2 minute exposure.

    For Fuji Acros the data given is for exposures up to 1000 seconds, or nearly 17 minutes, and the correction recommended by Fuji is only 1/2 stop, or an effective EI of 50. However the data also indicates that NO compensation is required for exposures shorter than 2 minutes. Whereas the T-Max 400 a +1/3 at 1 sec, a +1/2 at 10 seconds, and a plus 1 1/2 at 1000 seconds. This indicates to me that compared to the fuji, there is a more rapid decrease in film sensitivity as exposure time increases, whereas the fuji seems to stabilize. One could argue that on exposures of hours length, that the trend of increased reciprocity failure of the T-Max 400 would increase and could catch up to the Fuji Acros in actual sensitivity. If that were the case or even if there was still a slight edge in speed in favor of the T-Max 400, one still has to consider is the image quality of T-max400 worth the slight increase in effective speed?

    Fuji Acros has a RMS granularity value of 7, and a resolution of 60 LP/mm, T-max400 has an RMS of 10 and a resolution of 50 LP/mm. Personally, I'd rather wait a little longer, or open up a half a stop, to use a superior film.
     
  9. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I've got to agree here. If a tree is properly exposed at 4 hours, then a person's walking motion for even 4 minutes in the scene will be negligible. A bright light in their hand may record, but the person is unlikely to be visible.

    Long exposures can give some very interesting results, but until you've done a few they surprise you. Or at least they surprised me.

    Somewhere in my junk I've got a picture of a firetruck that's leaving after duty for a fireworks show. (No fires that night! Just standing by.) The exposure is about 40 seconds as I recall, and the people standing still on the sides are properly exposed. There is no recognizable fire truck in the image - only blurred lights, and even though I took the picture it still took me a minute to figure out what it was when I first saw the image days later. Had it been months later, and I had forgotten the "last frame" on the fireworks roll I doubt I would have ever been able to figure out what that blur was.

    I do encourage you to do the experiment, but I expect you'll need to refine the technique to get the image you've envisioned.

    From an artistic perspective, the photographer's job is to capture the preconceived mental image. (A. Adam's gospel there; you can disagree if you like.) So try a few experiments before you set up the 4 hour exposure. That way you can get some faster feedback on your technique before you set up the long exposure.

    I suspect you're after trails following a figure. (Just a guess, so don't beat me if I'm wrong.) If so then take a look at the difference between the images here. http://www.shortcourses.com/use/using6-2.html

    I know that may not be what you asked, but it might be what you're looking for. And if not then just ignore it.

    MB
     
  10. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Tests would be a good idea. Back when I did a lot of astrophotography I used Kodak Ektachrome 200 and 400 and Fuji Provia 400F for long exposures and all worked well. They each have their own color shift characteristics which happen with long exposures which have undoubtedly changed with the current reformulations.
     
  11. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Whatever you decide, please post the results.

    I did a 20 minute exposure, which I felt was a long time, of people watching a movie that was being projected on the side of a parking garage. I was on the parking garage and had a great vantage point. With a subject like that though, many people stood still for 20 minutes (some people stood surprisingly still).
     
  12. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I've done some hours exposure with Reala, K1000 and the 50mm SMC with the North Star. It works out pretty good.
     
  13. kurt765

    kurt765 Member

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    What I'm going for will be a difficult thing to catch, for sure. It will be in color. I'm not looking to have the people show up at all except for what they show up incidentally with the lights they will be carrying. The people will be 1000-2000 feet away, to add to the difficulty in capturing them, but they will be following the same path so hopefully they will show up in aggregate. The landscape around will be illuminated by moonlight, so I have to be careful with the phase of the moon so as not to overexpose over that period. I'm looking for people trails the same way you look for star trails. There will also be star trails in the shot, for sure. I am going to do some testing for sure. It will be more than 6 months from now when I actually attempt to capture what I'm going to be capturing, depending on weather and a number of other factors, but I need to start testing now to maximize the chances of success.

    I've probably 30-40 different star trail shots up to 1 hour in exposure length usually using Provia 400F with fantastic results, but I'm weary of a 4 hour exposure with film that fast, so I'm thinking Provia 100 to start with. There's not a ton of films available in 4x5 it seems.

    Does Velvia 100 go green like it's 50 cousin? There also seems to be Ekatchrome 100G. Anyone ever use that? I've never tried color negative film for long exposures. Does it work well? I've always loved the color rendition of transparency film.

    I want to capture it on film with one or more 4x5 cameras. I'm going to need a lot of luck.

    This project has a lot of challenges.
    - Film for 4 hour exposures
    - Phase of the moon that won't overexpose the landscape
    - Lanterns or lights that will show up like star trails from 1000 to 2000 feet away at walking pace
    - Finding people crazy enough to do what I want them to do in the dark and in the wilderness
    - Incredible luck with weather

    Weather alone can delay this by an entire year, so I will need all the luck I can get! My head is spinning with ideas though so if I can't do the one shot I have in mind this year (I'll attempt it the next) perhaps I can come up with similar ideas at less remote locations and work out all the bugs. We'll see. I'm not going to reveal what or where exactly this picture will take place. That will be a surprise.

    -K
     
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  15. Stephen Schoof

    Stephen Schoof Member

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    Velvia 100 is my favorite film for moonlight, unless I want Provia 400x for more speed. I have not had the green shift 50 sometimes gives (though I'll say that I strongly prefer 50 for almost every other application). I have only done exposures up to the 4 to 5 minute range. Under a full moon on green grass, 3 minutes at f4 is my usual starting point. As expected, Velvia 100 results in more saturated colors (especially reds and browns) than Provia.

    Velvia 100F is not bad either, but it's skies are more cyan than 100's, and I prefer a deeper blue.
     
  16. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Sorry for the late response. I don't have the luxury of a densitometer, and I only rarely shot Acros 100 and TMax 400 when I did this test, so negatives were actually a bit underdeveloped for the TMax 400 and a bit overdeveloped for the Acros 100. I have tried to follow manufacturers instructions.

    I have been looking at the entire tonal range, and what I saw was consistently slightly more shadow detail for TMax 400 in all negatives up to 8 hours, and less contrast than in Acros 100. This last point may be effect of the development as per above.

    Please do note though that for all real exposure times I tested (7.5, 15 and 30 minutes, 2, 4 and 8 hours) TMax 400 and Acros 100 were very close, although Acros 100 was maybe more close to TXP 320 for exposure up to 2 hours. In fact, if I had seen the negatives, and didn't know what they were, I might have assumed they both had the same ISO speed, just received a different development...

    I am not at all disputing the fact that higher ISO speed films generally loose speed faster than low ISO speed films. This is a well documented phenomenon.

    The thing I am disputing is the general "myth" that for very long exposures times, 100 ISO films will be "faster" than 400 ISO films and you will thus have shorter exposure times with 100 ISO films, regardless of what 400 ISO film you are shooting.

    While the "myth" may be true for a film like Ilford HP5, some films, even in the 400 ISO range, just have far better reciprocity failure characteristics than others, and I am especially referring here to TMax 400. As a consequence, the break even point between 100 and 400 ISO speed film may not be reached within any realistic exposure time scenario. This is the case for TMax 400 against any 100 ISO film like TMax 100, 125 PX, Fomapan 100 or so. TMax 400 will beat these films at exposure times up to 8 hours... Again, Acros 100 is the big exception, as it almost equals TMax 400.

    To illustrate this also, I included Ralph Lambrecht's Reciprocity failure correction table for TMax 100, TMax 400 and "Conventional film". I think you will agree with me there are few people on this globe who have done more rigorous testing than he did. You can find this table and others on his webpage. See the link to the PDF document of the "Reciprocity Compensation" table there.

    For example:
    Let's assume you have set your light meter set to 100 ISO, and get a measured or indicated time of 15 minutes, the maximum measured time Ralph included in his table. Look at the table, and see how Ralph indicates an adjusted time of 40 minutes for TMax 100 to get correct exposure.

    Now a measured time of 15 minutes at 100 ISO, corresponds to a measured time of 4 minutes at an ISO 400 setting of the light meter. Looking up the adjusted time for TMax 400 for 4 minutes, results in an adjusted time of 14 minutes.

    So, in exactly the same light circumstances, shooting the same scene, TMax 100 requires a 40 minute exposure, and TMax 400 just 14 minutes...

    Even the "Conventional film" column, which I found quite accurate for HP5, still has a shorter exposure time listed at 30 minutes, than TMax 100. Of course, with measured exposure times rising above 15 minutes (not in Ralph's table), the conventional film (e.g. HP5) is likely to quickly loose out against TMax 100, but TMax 400 won't.

    Looking at my negatives and the data provided by manufacturers, I have the feeling there are two big exceptions in the field of reciprocity: TMax 400 and Acros 100. Both excel at long exposures, loosing relatively little speed and needing the least reciprocity failure correction of all films in their speed range. In fact, as said above, Acros 100 is so good that it almost matches TMax 400 at long exposure times, although maybe more close to TXP 320 at exposures up to 2 hours, a film which did quite well too. Whatever the exact situation, using Ralph's adjusted time column for TMax 400 for Fuji Acros 100, should get you in the ballpark for a correct exposure for Acros 100 too.

    No arguing about that :wink:, if you need the extra quality, go for the 100 ISO film, and preferably Acros 100 if you don't want to be out to long in the dark cold night. However, I more and more find myself shooting 4x5, where 400 ISO is no issue.
     

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  17. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    To illustrate my point in another way, and using Ralph Lambrecht's table I posted above and your E.I. (Exposured Index) reasoning, looking at the 15 minutes measured or indicated time (which is close to the 1000 seconds / 17 minutes you indicated from the Fuji film datasheets), results in an adjusted time of 1h 10 min for TMax 400 as listed in Ralph's table.

    This is about a 2 1/3 stop speed loss, meaning TMax 400 acts as an EI 80 film or so at 1000 seconds measured time. That is still 2/3 of a stop faster than the corrected EI 50 you calculated for Acros 100 at 1000 second measured time, and means the "break-even" point between the two films is not yet reached.

    The basic point here is that, although the 400 ISO TMax 400 loses speed slightly faster than Acros 100, it starts out with a 2 stop advantage, which is a considerable advantage.

    In addition, Ralph's tables seem to indicate that speed loss levels off / stabilizes for TMax 400 too. Like you correctly reported, according to the Kodak film datasheet of TMax 400, a 100 seconds measured time needs a +1 1/2 stop correction. But the 1000 second measured exposure needs only a +2 1/3 stop correction. So although going from 100 to 1000 seconds (more than 3 stops), the extra speed loss that needs to be accounted for is only 2/3 of a stop...
     
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  18. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Fuji T64 or Provia, cross processed if necessary to allow for some overexposure slop. I've done the same with T64 indoors at an event.
     
  19. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Are you sure about those LP/mm figures above? 50 for T-MAX 400 and 60 for Acros seems low, 150 and 160 seems more reasonable but I could be wrong. You need a very good lens to record 160 of course.
     
  20. kurt765

    kurt765 Member

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    I did some tests with no moonlight over the weekend. I need to finish off the rolls to get the film developed. On my DSLR, just 45 minutes was enough to get detail in the landscape at ISO 400 at f/5.6. For the film I tested Velvia 100 and Provia 100, About 3.75 hours at 5.6 and also at f11. More testing will have to be done, particularly with moonlight levels.
     
  21. Dr. no

    Dr. no Subscriber

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    Just to state what might be obvious: bracket...
    As this is a probably non-repeatable event (I'm guessing the "perfect alignment" that will make time end, or whatever) that would mean several cameras. Beg, borrow, but don't steal, every Speed Graphic you can find, make a rack out of lumber, and line them up. Several films, several apertures, several lenses. Obviously, keep working on the testing and don't leave us in the dark!
     
  22. kurt765

    kurt765 Member

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    Here's one result.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately I don't know the aperture on this one. I must have bumped it because all the other tests at the same time as this one were way underexposed and the exposure was identical to another camera. This was 3.5 hours with an Olympus 35mm camera and Provia 100F.

    -K
     
  23. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Great result Kurt! If you do figure out what the aperture was, post it here. May be a nice guide for others wanting to try it out with Provia 100F or a similar film.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Congratulations on bumping your aperture and ending up with a very nice pic! :D
     
  25. kurt765

    kurt765 Member

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    Thanks. The pic is unfortunately not very sharp. It's kinda in focus on the left side, but drifts out of focus to the right. This was with the 50mm 1.8 lens, and I'm guessing it must have been at 1.8 but I'm confused how I could have out of focus mountains across a range when they are all over a mile away focused at infinity.
     
  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The camera must have moved during the exposure, or I guess it is possible that your lens mount is tweaked.