Lowering contrast on Velvia 50

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Ambar, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    This weekend I went to a Park/Art Gallery and took 3 rolls of Velvia 50 with me..
    Results came out fine but for the first time I was a little disapointed with the latitude on Velvia 50. They were almost all bright scenes (as expected to go well with velvia) but for some reason I was bothered by how quickly detail broke down in the shadows and highlights. A small (maybe 1/3-1/2 stop) underexposure sends shadows into the blackest depths! And detail on clouds were completely lost when the blue sky was correctly exposed. I'm going to do a more critical comparison with previousely shot Velvia 50 that were processed in the same lab to see if they mucked something or if my taste is simply changing a bit..

    But my question is none the less worth being made.. Following my B&W rationale of shooting film at a lower rate in order to lower contrast (ex. Tri-X 400 shot @200). Would this hold true for positive as well (Ex. Velvia 50 shot @25)??
     
  2. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    I imagine that Velvia 50 would probably not be the right choice for art gallery photography. Velvia 50 is not designed for use in point light where it will block shadows completely. It's latitude is very narrow, certainly nothing like the 4-5 stops of negative film, so your exposure must be spot-on. Pushing or pulling is not the answer as either will have some detriment to one of highlights or shadows. It is best exposed in diffuse light. Rating Velvia 50 at EI40 will deliver a slightly less enriched palette (but one nonetheless characteristic of this film) and marginally better shadow detail but sometimes at the expense of highlights during long exposures, so your scenes need to be chosen carefully. It is a testy film to use and you might wish to try Velvia 100F, although the palette of that film is far removed from the gold standard set by RVP 50.
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    There was a photographer in Minneapolis in the early 2000s, by the name of Jeff Kreuger, who received grant money to travel around the United States to photograph famous trees.

    He shot Velvia if I remember correctly, over-exposed it, and drove the guys running the film line nuts by asking them to use minus-development. With the Refrema you only had so much play regarding the time in the developer, which meant they had to run into the dark processor and manually lift the hanger back a couple of notches.
    He did, though, bring out an astounding range of tones from those sheets of 4x5. I can't recall seeing Velvia ever look quite like that again.

    It may not be perfect, but it entirely altered how Velvia looked.

    With that said, my recommendation would be for Provia (or Astia, were it still available).
     
  4. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply Poisson Du Jour!
    Just to be clear.. I wasn't taking pictures of the Art persay.. I was hanging around with friends enjoying the day! :D

    The narrow latitude of velvia was never a problem until today! I like the color pallete of Velvia 50 and I was also aware that color would be one of the coolest factors of the scenery so that's precisely why I choose it to take with me. I had used it before in very similar conditions (same amount and kind of sunlight, in a town close by) and achieved some very happy results. I just wish it gave me a single extra stop of latitude (half above and half below), or at least a smoother/rounder shoulder/knee when transitioning to it's up/lower limits. Is that at all achievable by playing with the exposure/developement without completely destroying the films qualities?
    I've tried E100VS which was quite nice and rich however it always swayed too much toward red for my taste. I quite enjoy the coolness of Velvia 50. Provia 100 has also been a choice of mine but it never quite gave me the color punch I was looking forward to in this trip.
     
  5. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    Thanks Thomas! Great tip! I'm definitely going to look into him!!
     
  6. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    If the goal is mainly just lower contrast in a current production film, use E100G. But the color is diverging far from Velvia. It's much closer to Astia, but of course more Kodak look.

    But if you want neutral color saturation with more moderate contrast than Provia in a current production transparency film, E100G will give you that. But if Provia doesn't give "quite the color punch" one is looking for, E100G certainly will not (nor would Astia.)
     
  7. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    Thomas, I quickly looked into Jeff Kreuger's stuff and he seems to have taken it a little over what I'm looking for but definitely in that direction! Would you by any chance have more detailed info on his process? As in how much over exposure that was?
    Still.. he got some very interesting results!
    Thanks!
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I'm sorry, I don't remember. More than a Refrema could manage automatically, that's for sure, or the lab guys would not be swearing... :smile:
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Pre-flash it. I think you can first shoot something called a "whi-bal" or put a semitransparent white object (tupperware lid!) over the lens, where it is out of focus and provides a good even light. You then expose the slide ~4 stops faster than your metered exposure. And voila, lower contrast slide film.

    Slide shooters also tend to use GNDs and such just to rein in the contrast of a scene.

    I would recommend using astia...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2012
  10. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    Thanks Keith!
    Pre Flashing the film seems like an interesting idea I will most definitely try..!!
    However what do you mean with GNDs? Neutral Density filters?
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Gradual Neutral Density. The density changes gradually across the surface of the filter. It's used a lot for lowering exposure in bright skies, for example, while retaining detail in a darker foreground.
     
  12. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    I see.. I've known about these but never used one.. I'm not quite sure if it'll fit into my shooting style.
    It's worth checking out though..!
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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  15. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    sunny days, no grads, sounds like velvia isn't your shooting style. I shoot a lot of it but almost never shoot it in direct sun, the film just isn't capable of handling that contrast ratio if you're looking for professional results. And pull processing without color shifts, GOOD LUCK!
     
  16. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    White balance body cap, widely available in digimon stores for virtually any camera body be it digital or film (that is, what fits digi, also fits film bodies!).
    Reducing Velvia's contrast though reduces the effect that Velvia sets out in the first place, using contrast and palette to deliver punch, in lighting matched to the design parameters of the film. The heavy contrast and touchy latitude can be too much for some people, but like everything, you get better with it with lots of experience! Provia 100 is a good, lower contrast alternative but a pastier palette. Experimentally, GNDs with multi-patter/evaluative metering systems can confuse the reading. Run tests specific to your camera before committing a GND to an important shoo.
     
  17. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Velvia can work great in full sun, you just have to be sure to expose using the Sunny-16 rule instead of your meter and make sure there is nothing deeply-shadowed in your scene. At Sunny-16 with a CPL, you will get deep dark skies, perfect foreground-exposure and nicely-exposed bright-but-not-blown clouds, it all comes together quite well.

    OTOH, Fuji says it's fine to pull-process it by one stop by reducing the duration of first-developer. You could certainly reduce contrast that way though it might have an effect on saturation.
     
  18. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Transparency material doesn't have great latitude. I used to shoot 4x5 transparency material for commercial work and I had to proof it all with Polaroid. Luckily, I used studio lights where I can fill dark shadows and used flags to gobo off hot spots. I'd rather work with neg film. Doing photography shows what great latitude our eyes have.
     
  19. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    And introduces a color cast, they don't mention that.
     
  20. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    What!? A polariser in bright sun for Velvia!? Come off the glue.
     
  21. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    No actually, using a polarizer in bright sun makes a lot of sense. Properly used, the polarizer will bring down the brightness of the sky (sort of) like a graduated ND filter. This makes your meter think there's less light, so it increases the exposure. This makes the shadows less dark. Bringing down the brightness of the sky is reducing contrast of the scene, and since we know how contrasty Velvia 50 is, it should allow a bit more shadow detail without completely blowing out the sky.

    ME Super
     
  22. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    A graduated ND filter is a great thing to use with Velvia 50. Galen Rowell worked with Singh Ray to develop a set of these that fit the Cokin holders.

    Has anyone tried the patented Tiffen contrast-reducing filters developed for cinema?
     
  23. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    No, but I dropped one on the ground once while working on a movie. Several hundred dollar mistake.
     
  24. coigach

    coigach Member

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    Used plenty Velvia years ago for landscapes (mostly now dr5 b+w transparencies) and ND Grads are the way to go - Velvia has little latitude.
     
  25. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    I actually did do that! I generally use a Polarizer for that exact purpose.. It brings down the light intensity of the blue sky to a more manageable mean.. Thus reducing contrast however, Bright white clouds remain unscathed by it's effect.. :sad:

    GNDs really seem like the only solution to aptly control that.
     
  26. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Velvia pulls poorly. Flashing will muddy the shadows. If you use neutral grads they it will probably look just as
    corny and phony as when Galen did it, but whatever. I'd carry more than one film so you can match the lighting
    of the specific scene. If I had to use it in bright sunlight (and have), you often just have to let the shadows go
    black and compose accordingly. Generally a lesser evil than blocking up the highlights. I prefer Velvia in diffuse
    lighting where its higher contrast and saturation is warranted. Can't imagine using it without a spotmeter, however.