Pale and dark couples

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mirai, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. mirai

    mirai Member

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    Hi all, just a query about exposure for portraits of couples who have pale and dark skin.
    I know generally for a pale skinned person you overexpose by about a stop and for dark skinned underexpose the same, but what if you have a couple one of which has pale skin and the other dark....
    I'll probably be shooting with natural window light, any help would be much appreciated.
     
  2. mark

    mark Member

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    Hey, an exposure question I have experience with. but only with color. You don't say what type of film; BW or Color

    I metered the light coming in with an incident meter not off either of the subjects. The results were nice.

    your milage may vary. No clue how to do it with BW.
     
  3. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Use an incident reading or a reflective from a grey card. The brighter skin is overexposed relative to the reading, and the darker skin is underexposed. Which is what you want.

    The only thing to watch with window light is the contrast due to light fall-off. Unless your subjects are facing the light (with little modelling) you will need some sort of a reflector. It pays to keep both people at the same distance from the light if you can work out a pose.

    The window light is a good move. It should avoid any extremes of contrast. You should not have any trouble with negative films, anyway. With my extended family ranging from almost Nordic blonde to dark African-American, family gatherings are always a challenge (photographically, that is...).
     
  4. Troy Hamon

    Troy Hamon Member

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    You may want to position so the individual with darker skin is slightly closer to the light. They will still appear to have dark skin, but they will not get lost in shadows. If you have the lighter skin closer to the light (window), the difference in skin tone can become the dominant theme of the image.
     
  5. Clueless

    Clueless Member

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    How about considering using a filter to encourage the darker tone -say, 85C ?
     
  6. mirai

    mirai Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions, to clear things up I'll be shooting B&W, and using a reflector.
    Using a grey card and taking an incident reading which will then over expose pale skin and underexpose darker skin sounds like the easiest plan...
    Cheers
     
  7. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Depending on how dark and how pale your subjects, you might also consider variations in the lighting. It's sometimes helpful, for example, to use more-specular lighting with dark skinned African-Americans, so as to create specular highlights on the skin. Just the opposite is true with very pale caucasians - softer light helps control blocked-up highlights.
     
  8. jgoeden

    jgoeden Member

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    I just learned this the other day but it's not the amount of light for dark people but the angle of the light. throw a kicker on the dark person.
     
  9. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The simple answer is to expose generously for the dark tones.

    The main problem is contrast: you want the range of tones to fall where they can be printed easily, and with control. This is going to be determined primarily by the choice of the COMBINATION of film and developer.

    We often think of a film separately from it's developer, but it is how they function TOGETHER that detemines the relationship of specific tones.

    My own preference for this kind of picture is a 400 speed film ( ANY Kodak, Fuji, or Ilford 400 film would be excellent ) with Xtol developer. Avoid Tri X Pro ( great film, but reduces shadow contrast, increases highlight contrast ).

    Other good dvelopers for this picture include D76, FX39, Microdol, and Ilford DD-x.

    You will want to avoid HC110, DK50. They are magnificent for another type of portraiture, reducing the shadow contrast and building brightness in the highlights.

    have fun: do a test. it wouldn't hurt to use half the box speed of the film as a starting point.