Highlight detail...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ChristopherCoy, May 28, 2012.

  1. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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    To date, my color film experience is basically none. I have been very hesitant to use it for a few different reasons, but I have shot a few (3 to be exact) rolls of Porta 400 with my Hasselblad. Those rolls are still in my camera bag as I have yet to send them to the The Darkroom for processing.

    I've been watching all three episodes of the show that Mainecoonmaniac posted in this thread:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum47/106045-those-who-love-film.html

    In episode 2, where they are going on a 'light walk', Ryan mentions that you "cannot loose highlight detail with color negative film." He goes on to mention that you should err on the side of OVER exposure with color negative film, instead of under exposing. He also mentions that if he meters at say f4 1/2000th, he is going to shoot it at 1/1000th for that one stop over exposure.

    While I find his methods quite intriguing, the one thing that I can't wrap my mind around is the highlight detail bit.

    Can you truly NOT loose highlight detail with color negative film???
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Yes of course you can lose highlight detail with colour negative film. It does have more range than transparancy film.
    Many workers overexpose colour negative film but I have always found that around box speed is best.
     
  3. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    Color neg has a ridiculous amount of latitude and highlights never really go "paper white". Ryan shoots the same way I do when i'm shooting CN, half box speed, expose for the shadows, let the film compress the highlights. Looks incredible.

    With color neg, when you overexpose you open up your shadows, get better range in the contast, have finer grain (at least when scanning), and fuller color.
     
  4. thegman

    thegman Member

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    It is possible to blow highlights on say Portra 400, but you need to over expose by many stops. I've over exposed it by probably 5 stops, still looks fine. I saw an article which showed Portra 400 shot at 3200 ISO, and ISO 25, both were usable shots.

    I shoot box speed, but often knowingly over expose if I want a wide aperture, and my camera does not have a fast enough shutter speed to match. It has incredible tolerance compared to slide film.
     
  5. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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    So what you're saying is that if I am shooting Porta 400 in my Hassy, I should set my light meter to ISO200? If I wanted to use that technique of course....
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    No
    I have found box speed is the best. I shoot Portra 400, NC 400, VC 400 and UC 400 at 400; and Portra 800 at 800 in my Hasselblad and I do not have problems with the highlights blown out or a lack of shadow detail. I meter the subject with the PME and avoid having the sky dominate the light meter.

    Steve
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2012
  7. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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    With all due respect, a one word answer without an explanation isn't really helpful.


    If box speed is 400, and I meter it at ISO200, wouldn't I get a longer shutter speed thus raising the exposure by at least a stop?
     
  8. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I used more than one word. Down rating C-41 film gains nothing but in high SBR situations, the risk of highlight blow out is greater. Down rating one or two stops does not really add any more shadow detail worth the effort.

    105 words not including the
    's
     
  9. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I don't see any underlying methodic proof that "[...] if he meters at say f4 1/2000th, he is going to shoot it at 1/1000th for that one stop over exposure."
    You can lose highlight detail if you are shooting in very bright sun and the exposure is erroneous, particularly with handheld metering (I see this very often). The very wide latitude of negative film does not really lend itself to abrubt blows and blocks (highlights and shadows) compared to reversal film. Shoot the film at its intended ISO and baseline your own exposures based on your real-world experience, not on somebody else's.
     
  10. AFenvy

    AFenvy Member

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    I tend to overexpose color negative film by one full stop. I have overexposed by up to 3 stops with virtually no loss of highlight detail. Color negative film usually looks very nasty when underexposed: excessively grainy, gritty, and hypersaturated with unpredictable color shifts. With a one stop overexposure all my shots look fantastic. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I hate to be a stick in the mud ,,,, but take a roll of colour neg and do a range of exposures. My money is on the negative closest to normal and not one that is two or three stops overexposed. the normal neg will be sharper/better resolution and also have better colour accuracy.
    Lots of wedding photogs are blasting their film for effect and thats ok but does not translate across the range of subject matter. There is no magical lattitude with this film just an ability to handle more base exposure than trans.
     
  12. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    You would... by exactly one stop.


    Steve.
     
  13. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    Or, to put it slightly lengthier than Steve said:
    If by your example you're using Portra 400 and set the meter to 200, then you're using film one stop faster than what you told the camera, thus overexposing by a stop.
     
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  15. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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    That's what I figured. I knew I shouldn't have paid attention to Sirius' response of "no".
     
  16. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Color neg film is pretty forgiving. Even more forgiving the standard BW film. It's a lot easier to scan or print through the dyes of color neg film than overly dense grains. The best thing I suggest is to test your film and take good notes. Here's one note about shooting color neg film versus shooting digital. If you blow your highlights out on your digital camera, it's pretty much gone. It's like blowing out highlights on transparency film.
     
  17. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Member

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    What Sirius possibly meant is that you are not supposed to do that systematically. If the dynamic range of the scene is contained you obtain better results by exposing at box speed and there is no need to "overexpose" (i.e. to adopt an exposure index lower than the ISO value declared for the film). If you just set your ISO speed to half the speed you systematically "overexpose" and this, I agree, doesn't make much sense in all situations where you have the time to think about the exposure.

    If you are in a "high contrast" situation then you expose "for the shadows" because that gives you the possibility to avoid blocking the shadows, while still retaining highlight detail due to the great dynamic range of negative films.
    There is a price to pay when you "overexpose": a small increase in grain, a small decay in colour quality. You "pay" this price only when you need to exploit the great dynamic range of negative film.

    Personally I think that setting a "half" ISO setting AND metering for the shadows is over-overexposing. When you meter for the shadows you are already placing your shadows in the film comfort zone and you don't need to open more than that.

    Fabrizio
     
  18. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    There's a lot of misunderstanding about color negs. Underexposure is an obvious problem. But significant overexposure has the risk of shifting the bulk of the scene onto where there is more overlap in the respective dye curves, causing the film to act in a way it was not specifically engineered for. You might like the effect, you might not. But the purity of the hues will suffer to
    some extent. Most people don't recognize this because they're accustomed to color neg work being
    basically a bit muddy outside skintones per se. Proper filtration for color balance is also quite important, with correct exp compensation. In any event, you should experiment at box speed as
    well as slight overexposure to determine your personal preference. A lot has to do with the lighting
    ratio and specific hues involved.
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    +1
     
  20. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    If you over-expose your color neg film, you run a risk of developing a cross-over in color filtration that can be impossible to correct. The more you over-expose, the greater the risk. This risk also goes up if your film is out-dated/stored in sub-optimal conditions. By a cross-over, I mean that when printing, you observe a specific color cast to the print. When you adjust filtration to the point that the originally observed cast goes away, you find a secondary color cast that for all intents and purposes cannot be filtered out (you find yourself chasing a never-ending filtration and exposure trail - as you make one filter modification, your exposure shifts, so you make another filter change and exposure changes again, which then requires another filter change and exposure change, etc etc). It's not common, but its not rare either - something best avoided if at all possible by practicing reasonable care in storing, handling, exposing and processing your film (you can also get crossovers from sloppy lab work with old/exhausted/out-of-balance chemistry, which is probably the most common cause of crossovers).
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Exactly! Grandi ringraziamenti! My hand has been acting up, so my responses have been shorter. [15 words] :wink:
     
  22. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Again right on the money, but in his heart Chris really knew that already. Right, Chris?? :wink: [15 words & emoticon]
     
  23. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Subscriber

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    Actually, through the various explanations I'm only beginning to slightly understand what people are talking about when it comes to filters and color casts. I got Scotts explanation about the 'chase, and I'm assuming that if you over expose and get a yellow cast, when you try to fix that you may get a blue cast, and if you try to get that you may get some other color cast. I'm associating that explanation to the times when I am digitally editing and I repair a white balance, but then get something that is too green or too red, and then when I fix that, it goes yellow or blue etc etc etc...


    If you think I'm doing this for kicks you're diluted. My color negative experience amounts to the 35mm rolls that I bought and developed at Walmart once upon a time. I haven't a clue how color works.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Well keep at it and you will get there. No one is born with the knowledge; we all have to learn it. [22 words]
     
  25. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Except that on transparency film it looks much better than on digital!
     
  26. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Oh no, not dilutions again!!:eek:




    Though I guess deluded people are in a sense diluted... i.e., not at full strength.