Noob: Pulling 400 ISO film (overexposure)

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by davidmacvicar, Sep 18, 2010.

  1. davidmacvicar

    davidmacvicar Member

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    Hey everyone!

    I am a new member to the board and I am a 100% digital shooter; well I was until this weekend when I picked up my first 35mm EOS 1V.

    I shoot primarily weddings, and to experiment I was looking to shoot some Fuji 400H film. I am very inspired by Jose Villa's work (film wedding photographer based out of California) and he talks openly in podcasts and blogs how he shoots: fuji 400H film rated at 200 ISO which will pull or overexpose the image to create very pastel/creamy colors, skin tones, etc.

    Now, this is the very noob question. Can someone explain the logic of this to me; since the film was rated 400 ISO film, I thought to control the overexposure through the ISO, you would raise the ISO to 500 or higher, not the other way around (ISO 200). I personally thought that was going backwards. To add to my confusion, on the EOS 1V body, if you have 400 film in and override the ISO to 200, it shows a -1.0 on the top of the screen.

    Can someone just explain this to me in the simplest terms possible! ahhaha....I am sorry but the film world is new to me and I am very excited to explore it and to learn as much as possible!
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    It is quite common to over expose a black and white film by one stop in order to increase the amount of shadow detail. In order to preserve the highlights though, development is normally reduced by around 20%.

    As far as the Canon is concerned, it knows that it has ISO 400 film in it from the DX coding but you are telling it that it is working at EI 200. I think it should say +1 rather than -1 so that bit is a mystery to me.


    Steve.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I have found that for 35mm and MF the latitude of exposure is wide enough that I shoot film at box speed.

    I have been told to shoot 4x5 at a lower speed to have a denser negative, but at the moment I am using the box speed and will increase the development time if necessary.

    If you light meter is accurate and the camera shutter speeds are accurate, I see not reason for me not to use box speed.

    Steve
     
  4. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive it is to light. So a higher ISO needs less light to make a good photo.

    If you shot your roll of 400H at ISO500 or higher, the camera will think you've got a more sensitive film loaded and it will give you less light than is needed and you'd get under-exposure.

    You want the opposite, so you must tell the camera you've got a less sensitive film so that it gives you more light. Thus tell the camera that your roll of 400H is actually ISO200. This will give you more light and produce those colours which Jose Villa is famous for (maybe!).
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'd stay away from the word "pull" unless and until you are to the point where you are getting a lab to customize their development for you - "pull" actually refers to adjusted development.

    You've decided that you want to adjust the meter in your camera so that the film receives one more stop of light than the standard or "box" speed. This will result in more detail in the shadows, and highlights that "might" move up into that part of the film curve that results in lower contrast.

    To get more light on the film, you tell the meter that the film is less sensitive - ISO 200 rather than 400.
     
  6. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Simply over-exposing by one stop will not axiomatically give you those results. A single stop over will be barely distinguishable from from box speed--given the huge latitude of print film for over-exposure. The trick--and here Villa is being a bit disingenuous--is in skillful printing and/or PS manipulation, just as it always has.
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I too like his work/style.

    Some of the terms used in some of those podcasts are IMO wrong.

    Jose is not using a pull because his lab develops his stuff in the normal C-41 process at normal time. The videos I've seen typically mention this too.

    All Jose is really doing is overexposing for effect, normally 1-2 but sometimes as much as 3-stops by his word. I don't know how he measures that though, spot, matrix, CW, shadow point, mid-tone?

    C-41 films have a huge exposure range that they will work nicely in. For example disposable cameras from the local grocery store typically use 800ISO C-41 film with fixed exposure settings. They provide nice results from mid-day to sunset because of the latitude of the C-41 film.

    One thing that you need to keep in mind is that the back end process is just as important to the result.

    I use the same lab he promotes for my paying gigs, Richard Photo Lab, and they really do stellar work, but it isn't a cookie cutter setup because you have your own "eye" and metering technique.

    Richard Photo Lab's work has always been great for me, right from the start, but they also work hard to fine tune their service to your preferences which takes the result to a whole new level. That takes a job or two.

    The thing I like most about Jose Villa's work is the process!

    1 - Shoot, give the film to the lab, show the results to the client when the stuff comes back.
    2 - When the client decides on what's next just tell the lab or the album company.
    3- Next please!

    This is a very efficient business model.

    ISO is a measure of sensitivity. Films with bigger numbers (say 1600) are more sensitive than films with smaller numbers (say 100).

    By telling your meter that you are using a less sensitive film (by setting the meter's ISO to a smaller number) you are telling it you need/want more light.
     
  8. Galah

    Galah Member

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    For what its worth.:smile:

    I recently exposed half a film at 200 ISO, istead of the box rating of 400 IS0: as far as the prints went, you couldn't tell.

    On the other hand, using the EC button (with a different camera, but the same film), down at the beach last summer, I set the EC to +2 stops and let the camera decide the exposure (in "P/Auto" mode). I got some very fine high-key shots as a result.:smile:
     
  9. mabman

    mabman Member

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    As was noted in the recent "new Portra 400" thread by "jpberger":