Flare, productive uses, controls, & mimicry

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by markbarendt, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    So this thread inspired a thought.

    How can we use, control, and or mimic flare?

    First, I'm not talking about the funky, special effects type flare, that causes shapes to scatter across a shot. I'm talking about the flare that provides a general change.

    As an example, a generic pre-exposure for example seems to me to be a way of mimicking/adding a flare effect. It also seems to me that the second, after fix, developer bath sometimes used with Pyro might have a similar effect, but that's pure conjecture on my part

    One example I experienced was when I bought my Nikkor 35mm f/2 lens and experimented with it in a high key studio set in place of the 50mm f/1.8. Instantly I had a very dreamy effect I wasn't planning on. I love that lens but pointing it at a large bright white background is a problem. So it seems t me that focal length plays a role.

    I know many of us skip the use of lens hoods for various reasons even though we may know that flare may affect the shots.

    So, IMO it seems a given that flare affects every shot, how can we/do you use or control flare?
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I have always considered flare as an issue with the complete cycle of image making.

    I try to always use a good lens hood,
    I always mask my negatives to block out light.
    I always move objects off my easel that can reflect light.
    I make sure I paint around my easel black
    I am always on the look out for flare light when printing.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    So flare seems to be mostly a "problem" for you Bob, something to eradicate.

    I am interested in controlling flare in this sense for a lot of my work, but I also want to see/learn how these techniques are used creatively.

    For example, http://www.mattblack.com/kingdomofdust/01.html

    Like using a short DOF or a swirly Petzval lens, flare in that particular shot from Matt Black, is a tool worthy of consideration for simplifying or adding mood to the composition.
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I use flare light or flash creatively when printing, but to be honest the bouncing flare light seems to be a problem for me so yes I try to eliminate it in my systems.
    Sometimes for lith negatives I will overexpose by 3-4 stops and process normal, this give an incredibly thick negative, then I will expose the paper for about 3 minutes with a wide open enlarger lens onto old graded paper **elite** , the effect is so old world, on ilford Warmtone without tone the prints are yellow green and really quite nice. I think this would be considered using flare to create and effect or style of print.

     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Interesting Bob, I haven't played with Lith yet. I'm sure there's flare involved.

    That's the kind of stuff I was hoping to find, stuff done for effect.

    The 35mm lens that I talked about in the op actually provided an interesting effect, it was a problem only because the expectations were different for that work.

    Though tame compared to your example, my 150SF lens for my RB brings a wonderful glow to strongly lit or backlit subjects that simplifies the subject matter, blurring the imperfections.

    This is really useful when photographing women with a touch of maturity but not limited to them.
     
  6. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Coming out of that thread, I want to make sure I can realistically model flare so I can truly call where my spot meter readings fall on the negative. I don't care if it takes a long time planning, discussing, and hammering out the details. I want the results that I can apply in the field. That's why I use the Zone System terminology for camera and meter, but sensitometry in the darkroom.

    I only have an instant to take the photograph, but all the time in the world to finish it in the darkroom.
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I put a lens hood on the camera today to minimize flare. I had the opportunity to walk around everybody and have the sun at my back but the composition I wanted was there, facing into the sun.

    An old Rolleiflex I had took pictures with dramatic flare like you describe. A dreamy halo around bright spots. It had uncoated optics and heavy cleaning marks. I also get flare when I use my Ikonta. I don't know if you have to shoot Tessar lenses to get flare, but it seems like whenever I get flare, it's a Tessar.
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Im not as worried about mapping the zones as I am about about understanding the concepts. Put another way, I want to understand when to expect a problem and how to adjust.

    Part of the reason that I think I'm less worried about the mapping is that my norm is to peg my mid tones, because that's where my subjects are, rather than my shadows. Typically done with an incident meter.

    That doesn't mean flare isn't ever a consideration.

    Last weekend my wife and I went to Chimayo to see the church. They don't allow photography inside. So I got a long lens and set up on a tripod outside. Had it not been such a busy day, say mid-week, I would have walked up front with the incident meter, but of necessity I used my N90s with a 105mm lens and spot metered the alter as best I could.

    I got close, but I believe the people in the doorway and the facade of the building contributed some flare in the lens and I got a reading that got me a bit less exposure than I was hoping for. I should have known that, or at least been able to guess that that would have bit me and adjusted properly.

    Part of the reason I should have known is that I was planning on the the facade blowing out mostly, leaving just enough detail to see that I was looking in.
     
  9. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Wow Mark, I can't believe they wouldn't let you bring cameras inside. It seems to be no issue here in the missions. And when you can setup a tripod and catch the altar with 1 second of natural light, it is so rewarding.

    BTZS teaches how to shoot a "black hole". It's a large-ish cardboard box spraypainted black inside with a shade like a lens shade over an opening cut in the front. You put this in your pictures, like a prop, and shoot away. The theory is it is pure black. No light that goes in comes out. So any density over base+fog on the negative you get... Is from flare.

    I've heard you can get pretty much the same test by painting a coffee can black inside.
     
  10. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    Mark,

    You seem to be jumping around a bit on what type of flare you're interested in. I have a feeling this isn't it, but I put together graphs of 3 examples of camera image flare to compare: no flare. one stop flare, two stops flare.
     

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  11. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    I did a test like that some years ago while working on an article about flare and the film speed. The set-up consisted of the black box and four cards, white, grey, black, and mixed, with holes cut out of the middle to go over the black box opening.

    I based the exposure on a grey card. I then made exposures of the four different set-ups. Being me, I then exposed a sensitometric strip to run with the black box test. I read the density from the area of the box opening and placed the density on the film curve.
     

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  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    So the light reflected off the target bounced around the lens and contaminated the black box area kinda like my doorway to Chimayo messed with my metering.

    This is one of the creative uses I was hoping to see in this thread.

    Like pre-exposure, I assume this particular type of flare would actually help get the shadow areas up off the toe a bit more.

    Is that a fair thought?
     
  13. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    In general 80% of flare comes from the subject which leaves only 20% coming from stray light. In the black box example, flare added 0.38 more log-H exposure with the white card compared to the black.

    Flare works exactly like pre-exposure. That would be a good way to look at it.

    If you look at the two quad example, you'll notice the camera image has two curves. One is a non flare curve and the other is a one stop flare curve. Look where the non flare curve intersects the film curve. Without flare, film would be one stop slower. The ISO film standard factors in one stop of flare into the speed calculation. So, you should assume that you will always have around a stop of flare in most average shooting situations. Higher flare will add more exposure to the shadows effectively making your film faster. A good rule of thumb is 1/3 stop more or less flare per stop increase or decrease in subject luminance range.

    Down side of flare is the compression of the shadows.
     

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  14. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Well yeah. :laugh:

    So what, this is a creative/artistic/practical use question. :wink:

    If can I look at a scene and put together a good idea of whether or not to use my lens hood, based on the subjects and lighting, and if I want those subjects closer or farther from each other on the curve that's huge.

    I'm actually thinking that not having a hood on when I shot at Chimayo may actually have been a blessing. If the flare caused the the shadows, the people inside and the alter, to get off the toe and land on the film a zone closer to the highlight exposure, the people near the door and the building facade; that's actually better for me when I get to the enlarger.

    Actually you bring up a great thought with regard to types of flare, I don't know what they all are/might be and I don't know what can be done to mimic flare either. That's shy in the op I suggested that the second pyro bath might mimic pre-exposure/flare, in essence reducing overall contrast.
     
  15. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yeah and part of what I'm looking for is knowing how to place exposure to account for that.

    If I'm going to use flare to reduce contrast, then I need to know what my limits are to be able to meter well.
     
  16. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    Flare makes it impossible to determine where the shadow exposure will fall. If you look at the very bottom of film curve in the two quad example, you'll see a Delta X notation. That point indicates the fractional gradient speed point (found using the Delta-X Criterion). The fractional gradient point is the minimum point of exposure that will produce an excellent print (determined from the Loyd Jones First Excellent Print testing).

    Even if it was possible to shoot a scene and experience zero flare, the exposure will still fall at a point where an excellent print is still possible. This also means that there is about a stop safety factor built into the film speed standard.

    As flare varies considerably depending on the tonal distribution of the scene, the idea of film speed and proper exposure is about finding a placement that allows for the variance without sacrificing quality. There's a misconception with some that there are specific densities for specific "Zones." According to Jones, negative density isn't an important factor in the determination of print quality. The critical factor is gradient.

    You've probably seen this graph before, but this is an good time to review it. It shows the relationship between the negative exposure and the perception of quality in the finished print. Point A is the First Excellent Print which has it's exposure at the fractional gradient point.
     

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  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I think Mark and I are going to be satisfied with "rule of thumb" and "at least the right direction" kind of estimates.
     
  18. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    That's what I'm saying. Rule of thumb is all there is. You can't be certain where the shadow exposure will fall because of flare.
     
  19. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    You guys must work the night shift.

    Stephan, Bill's right in that I'm not looking for an absolute measurement, your card/black box experiment actually gives me the tool I need to figure this out in general.

    I can see that in the situation I had at Chimayo I should have expected; 1-flare to trick my N90s's meter into thinking the scene was brighter, and 2- flare to lower the overall contrast of the film as a pre-flash would do.

    With those two expectations I could looked at the scene and known to add "some" exposure knowing that flare was probably tricking the meter and knowing that it was a mixed scene, compared to your card test, I would have known to add "some" exposure to "refill" the paper's curve because of the reduction in contrast flare was going to provide.

    As a side note, this also reinforces my preference for incident metering.
     
  20. Stephen Benskin

    Stephen Benskin Member

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    Mark, I'm glad the information was useful.