Film for Photography of Dimly Lit Indoor Scenes (a dance)

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by htmlguru4242, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    I've been asked by people at my local high school what film to use for photography of the school's dance (which is Friday). They need some pictures for the yearbook, and have determined that in the extremely dark room, their (quite old) digital cameras will not do the trick, even with the flash on.

    The school's photo teacher (who is not too tech. savvy) seems to know of only three films, period. They are Ilford Delta 100, FP4+ and Tmax 100; none of which will work, even with a massive flash, so they've asked me ...

    So my quesition is, which films would be good for this, either with a flash, or (as they have oddly requested), without a flash; obviously to be push-processed.

    I'll be doing the processing for them ... arrggh
     
  2. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Will there be stage lights? You can push Tri-x or Hp5 to 1600 or beyond if you are feeling bold, or try Delta 3200. I prefer shooting the Delta 3200 at 1600, but you could give 3200 a try, too! Ilford's DDX and Kodak Xtol are both good developers for push process. I haven't tried them yet on the Delta 3200, but have had good results with D-76.

    Good luck with it!!!
     
  3. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    What are you shooting with ?

    Are you comfortable with flash ?

    Using FP4+ with a 35mm lens and a small flash will put light in the faces, let you work close to the people, and shoot at reasonable f/stops ( 8 - 11 ) so focus isn't an issue

    TMY would also be a great choice.

    Yearbooks are about faces. In a dark room, the only source of light is what you bring.
     
  4. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    If I end up doing the shooting, I'll probably be using my Canon AE-1 or my EOS (in manual mode, of course). I'll probably end up using a flash, as I don't understand why they've asked me not to use a flash ... I do have a small (and old) Vivitar flash hanging around from an old Canonet camera, I'll see if it works on my current cameras.

    There will be light in the room, I don't know exactly the level, but it is enough light to clearly read text on a page in front of you. The lights on the ceiling (tungsten, I believe) are a dim orange, and there are lights controlled by the DJ's equipment. The brightness and position of these, however, tends to vary according to what music is playing. It can be anywhere from very bright to amost noexistant.

    I was thinking that an IR flash with Kodak HIE would be neat, as I could use a flash for great illumination without people knowing that they are being photographed. With flashes going off, people sem to try to "pose" or "get ready" for the picture, which makes it seem more artificial than I like.
     
  5. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear htmlquru4242,

    If I were doing it I would use TMZ or Delta 3200 and develop in Xtol full strength. This combination gives, to my eye, a very smooth image at EI3200.

    Neal Wydra
     
  6. JohnArs

    JohnArs Subscriber

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  7. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    That image looks really good. Just to get an idea, do you remember the lens / expoure settings that you used on that.


    And, after looking through some of your site, I'd like to say that you have some nice work.
     
  8. Quinten

    Quinten Member

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    For Black and white I would concider neopan 1600 since it is great with flash, I am not sure how these other films are with flash but flash speeds can be really short and not all films are great with that. I would at least try a roll with the flash on before the big night.

    In case you use colour there are some really good 800asa colour films.

    Above that (but I am sure you knew it already,) try to fix a fast lens that's some extra ambient light for free. And tell your school they can create great athmosphere without it being really dark, it just needs some attention to the light in the room if they want good pictures.

    Best of luck!
     
  9. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Probably Delta 3200 at either ISO 1600 or ISO 3200 (whichever you can get away with) in DD-X but processed for the next speed up (i.e. if shot at ISO 1600 then process for recommended time for ISO 3200).
     
  10. markbb

    markbb Member

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  11. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Instead of thinking film choice first, I'd suggest thinking in reverse. That is, consider what the final product will be (the yearbook), what its requirements are (probably B&W printing, moderate contrast), and what you want the images to look like. Then, consider what "style" of images you want.

    While you (or the yearbook staffers) could shoot existing light with a high-speed film and a fast lens (like one would shoot a stage show), much of the ambiance of the colored lighting will be lost. Additionally, even with fast film and a fast lens, there is a strong likelihood that many of the subjects will be blurred (they will be dancing while the camera is steady), giving a more "artistic" treatment of the event. With this choice, I'd concur with the suggestion of using Delta 3200 rated at 1600. I'd meter highlights and let the shadows go dark.

    The other alternative would be to shoot it like a wedding reception, using flash, so the individuals are lighted well, and recognizable. If using flash, a "normal" speed film and "normal" processing would work just fine.
     
  12. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    For "available darkness", I've had very good results with Tri-X (mine is old, expired TX, but fresh 400TX should work the same or better) exposed at EI 3200 and given a double cycle in Diafine. Be sure to give a thorough water wash between the Bath B and second Bath A, and it does no harm to increase the Bath A time on the second cycle, since the film is already wet and may take longer to soak up the developer. I gave five minutes in each bath on the second cycle, and got very nice, normal looking negatives.

    Alternately, you can expose 400TX at EI 5000 and develop for fifteen minutes (with vigorous agitation every 30 seconds) in a "super soup" composed of:

    Dektol 1+9, to which is added
    1 ml HC-110 syrup per ounce
    1 g ascorbic acid per 8 ounces
    1/2 tsp washing soda per 8 ounces

    I see little reason to spend money on the so-called 1600 and 3200 speed films (all actually ISO 800-1000) when Tri-X works so well with extreme pushes.
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    There is a really good Fuji colour negative film at 1600asa. I used it for an evening airshow and managed to get a good shot of a Hawker Hunter jet when the light was fading badly. The telephoto at its maximum meant that the aperture was f6.3 and the speed was still high enough for a jet flying at about 60 degrees to the camera so it should cope with dancefloor conditions quite well depending on the level of available light.

    I took shots at the evening disco after a wedding with Delta 400 and a dedicated Pentax flash set to the same wide angle as the lens,28mm, and was pleasantly surprised with the results. All faces and actions clear with enough background picked up as well. I used bounce flash off what was probably at least a 12 foot ceiling. This avoided the distraction of the flash for those being photographed. Of course had this been a school asembly hall or gym with very high ceilings then it wouldn't have worked.

    Pentaxuser
     
  14. htmlguru4242

    htmlguru4242 Member

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    Thanks for the info. I'll have to consider exactly what to use here.

    I hope that I get to do the shooting, but if I don't I'll have to lend my camera and the film to a yearbook person and have them do it (aargh). I'll see how stuff comes out.

    And, to Donald, how does Tri-X in "super soup" (great name) come out; do you have any examples?
     
  15. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I don't have any of the 35 mm Tri-X that was intentionally shot at this EI scanned -- it was all constellation images, 20 second exposures hoping to get more sky depth than would be the case at EI 400 -- but I do have a scan of the original, first TXT negative I did with this super soup. This was accidentally loaded backward in the film sheath, so exposed through the antihalation layer on the base side, which gives a working EI of about 16-25, but still metered at EI 320; after the above process, it prints with normal to slightly hard filtering (that is, the negative has about normal contrast).

    The attached is scanned from the print, but the negative scan is very similar.
     

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  16. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Kodak TMax P3200 (TMZ) is made for this sort of thing. It can be easily pushed to 6400 and even higher with a loss in quality. Normally, it's push processed to the 3200 speed, like the Ilford Delta 3200. Best quality is at about 1600. Most people who have tried both feel that TMZ is more versatile and produces a somewhat better image than Delta 3200. One disadvantage is that it is only available in 35mm. If you can work in a larger format, the Ilford Delta 3200 or the Rollei R3 may have the advantage.