Still I can't kick the idea of using spot-meter out of my mind for roll films.

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by baachitraka, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    The theory of zone-system has indeed helped me to understand the exposure a little better than anything else. But now I'm too compelled to use spot-meter for placing exposure value on zones even for roll-film, for which I will be very happy with a decent incident meter.

    One thing which is not so clear for me is how incident metering can ensure good shadow detail or am I confused/worry little too much?
     
  2. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    I take two readings in the highlight and shadow and average them, kind of like placing the values.

    it's kind of like duplexing i think that way
     
  3. ROL

    ROL Member

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    You absolutely can use spot metering for roll film (if that's what your concern is), although its more useful in shorter rolls, as in 120 (MF). I'd go as far as to say that well over half of the ZS potential can be exploited in the exposure (and pre–visualization) stage alone. Most 120 shooters, for instance, will expose a number of shots for one scene, which is likely to be the same exposure. With a little forethought, you can group these similarly exposed scenes together on one filmstrip, or its halves – separately exposed, particularly with 6X7, which results in only 10 exposures per roll. You can then develop them separately by cutting the film in half or, less destructively, average development for the entire roll, if the individual exposures vary by no more than say, 2 stops (take notes!). Most B/W negative films are more than tolerant to this spread in latitude, and VC papers can assist you in fine tuning the print.

    The same procedures may be used with 135, but with a bit more care and potential wastage. Don't let that stop you!
     
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  4. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I use a spot meter most of the time with roll film. It's all a matter of learning to use a tool. I meter for standard development.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Yes you are worrying too much.

    As long as your incident metering technique is correct, you will get good shadow detail.

    The trick is knowing the circumstances when you can rely on a simple, single meter reading, as compared to those circumstances when you need to take multiple readings and interpolate between them.

    The former is most common.

    A spot meter requires you to pay more attention to the reflectance of your subject, so it adds more potential sources of confusion.

    Of course the really skilled and knowledgeable photographer can use both, even if they may choose to prefer one over the other.
     
  6. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    I seldom use incident metering preferring either average or spot reflectance. I grew up with the Zone System so it is more natural for me. My meters both have incident domes but almost never used. 1 is permanently on the meter and the other is a snap on.
     
  7. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    I am reading "The Incident System" from BTZS article. Hopefully, it will bring some more understanding in me.
     
  8. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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  9. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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  10. JCJackson

    JCJackson Member

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    I like to spot meter the shadows, and assuming I want some detail, this is zone 3. Then I check the highlights, to see if they extend beyond zone 7. If all is well, I shoot at the indicated exposure. If the brightness range exceeds 5 stops, I bracket so I can pick my compromise when printing. In general, I am finding that a bit of underdevelopment and associated reduced contrast seems easier to correct with VC printing than working with negatives that have too much contrast. The 3 degree spot meter built into my Pentax 645N works well in most circumstances to support this technique.
     
  11. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    I've been using a spotmeter and the zone system for black and white roll films, even 35mm, for 15 years now, and it works perfectly.
     
  12. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Incident metering will not ensure good shadow detail. In diffuse light with soft shadows, it will suffice for a good overall exposure, particularly for reversal film. But where shadows are strong they need to be spotted and evaluated then balanced with a midtone checkpoint and highlights. Essentially, with a spot meter you meter for the darkest place where you want to see detail, but not total black shadows, then a midtone checkpoint then highlight value. Average this. Only a spot meter takes into account individual illumination variations. The Zone System is an unnecessary hindrance when introduced with spot meters: many beginners are best started with metering essentials and the ZS left out until much later when skills are stepped to understanding.
     
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I have become use to determining development of the film based on the brightness range of the scene. A spot meter certainly helps me to get those readings, as sometimes I can not walk up to them. I develop the negs to fit what I consider optimal contrast for how I make my carbon tissue, or if I am developing negatives for pt/pd printing, I aim for a negative contrast that requires no contrast agent in my coating mixes. So when my Pentax spot meter reads just above "1" in the shadows where I want info and the highlights read "9", I think, "Alright! I won't have to bump the contrast up much at all with this neg!" Quite a bit different than one's needs with roll film.

    When using roll film (120), I usually use a Luna Pro SBC and go with an average reading unless the scene has significant info in the shadows or the scene has more contrast than normal, then I will try to take a separate shadow reading. But that is what's nice about roll film, if I am not sure, I can take another exposure one stop in the direction I might be erring on. And I like the sensitivity of the SBC for when one can use a meter the most, when the light gets very low. I think the only time I have used the SBC in incident mode has been copying flat work.

    Good luck, I figure that everyone eventually finds an system that will give them good exposures under average conditions and a way of figuring things out when things are no longer average.

    Vaughn
     
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  15. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    For B&W, in BTZS, you take two readings, one where you "simulate" shaded part of your subject (to guess the amount of light "incident" under the tree for example). Then you take a reading in the sun. You use the difference in readings to estimate the subject luminance range, which you then use to decide development.

    The BTZS book explains how to simulate shadow lighting effectively without carrying it too far. So it would be worth picking up if you plan to use this method. Then you won't have to rely on distorted translations (which this is probably a good example).
     
  16. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Using an incident meter to determine low-luminance placement has always been a step or two too many for me. When I shoot roll film (rarely these days) I like to use my in-camera meter if I have one. If not, I carry the spot meter. If you only have the incident meter, then do some reading up and learn how to use it to find a usable reading in your situation.

    In any case, there are several approaches you can take to applying the Zone System to roll film. I find that carrying separate camera bodies or film backs is a hassle and slows me down, thus defeating the whole purpose of smaller cameras. I advocate not trying to develop to different contrasts for roll film, but rather to standardize development and use different paper grades to adjust contrast.

    The trick for metering then, is making sure you have adequate exposure for the shadows. With a spot meter, directly reading a shadow luminance is no problem. Place, shoot, develop to your standard and deal with the contrast in the darkroom (that said, I find that it's easier to standardize to a bit lower contrast and then increase it in the darkroom. My roll-film negative "normal" is tailored for grade 3).

    With an averaging meter/in-camera meter, you can shoot without worry for most scenes once you have determined a personal E.I. The only pitfall here is a high-contrast scenario. In this case, an averaging meter will dump the shadows. Therefore, (counter-intuitively) one has to give contrasty scenes more exposure when using an averaging meter. One stop usually does the trick. If you are in situations that would require an N-3 contraction or more, then 2 stops, or just forget it and get out the big camera :smile: In any case, if your "normal" development leaves enough latitude for over-exposure, then printing on a lower grade paper takes care of the extra contrast. Most modern films hold detail well into Zone X or XI.

    Incident metering presents another bit of complexity due to the nature of the meter. If the light is even from one source, simply use it as an averaging meter. However, in real life, such an evenly-lit scene is rare. For scenes with both lit and shaded areas, you need to use the meter to determine either a shadow placement or an average value. Reading in the shade and then placing the shadows by over-exposing two stops from the meter reading will ensure adequate shadow detail, but may be overexposed, since the shadow you are exposing for (two stops down from "middle gray" in the shade) may not be that important... Reading in shade and light and splitting the difference will get you a fairly good average reading, but may dump the shadows some in really contrasty situations. Determining luminance range using BTZS is accurate, but time-consuming and, IMHO, overkill for roll-film and small cameras (again, defeating the purpose).

    So, assess your needs and available equipment and pick a method. If you only have the incident meter, learn to use it with the best method for your situation. If you have a spot meter and the time to use it to place shadows, I would do that (simpler than the incident meter for me, and I can check the rest of the scene easily and make a note about what paper grade might be suitable). If you're shooting from the hip in rapidly-changing conditions, use the in-camera meter if you've got one.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
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  17. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hi Doremus,

    Usually you are spot-on with your advice, but I think you overlooked that when you take an incident meter reading from within the shady part of your picture, then the meter already recommends the correct placement for the shadows in that part of the scene. You don't open up from the calculator dial.

    For a moment you pretend that you are planning a picture of a smaller evenly-lit landscape. You set exposure based on that less complex, dimmer lighting. Then you actually take the picture of the larger scene with its wider subject luminance range.
     
  18. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    There was a discussion about incident metering where they managed 8-9 stop range in one photo. But, I do not find that thread. Hints: That photo is with a man standing next to Hasselblad in front the lake during dusk.
     
  19. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    Hi baachitraka...I think I know what you are talking about. It was a photo of Bill Schwab taken by Don Cardwell. I'm sure the thread can be found.
    Here is my own example of incident metering within BTZS. This was on TMY2 sheet and developed in DDX as per tests. Brightness range here was over 8, with highlight reading taken outside and shadows taken behind his head. There was no lighting inside the room. Printed down a bit for contrast, but negative has detail in zone 3 and retained all highlights. No burning in of highlights was required and it was developed to fit on grade 2 paper.
     

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  20. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    I will get that BTZS book and learn it soon. I was reading the paper "The Incident System" but I do not understand how they plot that graph esp., dev times vs SBR. Hopefully, that book will bring some more understanding.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The range of tones, assuming correct exposure, will depend upon the development. The zone system is a quantification of the old saying,"expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights". If you are developing for an extended tonal range you must choose an exposure to take advantage of the extended range, but that could be spot, incident, or reflected measurement. The only problem with rollfilm vs. sheet film is that sheets can be given custom individual development, while all exposures on a roll will receive the same development.
     
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  22. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    Thanks, I found that photo but still searching for the thread. ;-)
     
  23. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Bill,

    Of course, you are correct. I was a bit distracted for a moment... :smile: You don't open up from an incident shadow reading to "place" a shadow; that's what you do with a reflected-light meter. Thanks for the correction; I wouldn't want to mislead anyone.

    What I wanted to point out is, if you just take an incident reading from the shadows, you will certainly get enough shadow detail. The question is: do you really want it? Many times you want darker areas in the shadows to be completely featureless, and the incident reading wants to place them higher. For me, this is "overexposure," which with LF B&W may not make much of a difference, but may be a consideration with smaller formats.

    I can envision a scene with deep shadows that contain gray objects, maybe a darker brown or something, that would fall on or above Zone III with the incident shadow reading, but which I would really want to be rendered black in the final print, since they are the darkest areas in the scene.

    I guess that's the real drawback of incident metering in my opinion, the inability to use the meter reading as a visualization tool. I use a spot meter primarily, and, despite all the inaccuracies inherent in the whole system, can fairly well determine where print values will be. Often I depart from "correct" exposure for expressive reasons. I just can't do that easily with an incident meter.

    Also, one poster suggested taking an incident reading from the shaded and lit portions of the scene and averaging these. This would also be less than optimum, and, depending on the scene, could result in either over- or underexposure.

    If I were using an incident meter, I would be using BTZS meter techniques for sure.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  24. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    it's a great book from s great educator. it taught me all i needed to know.
     
  25. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    When using colour slide film you would place the incident light meter in the high light and obtain a correct rendition of highlights without burning them. The shadow will fall where they may and will block under a certain threshold.

    When using colour negative film you would place the incident light meter in the shadows and obtain a correct rendition of the shadows. Due to the very large exposure latitude of negative film you would very likely get most highlights properly in any case. Just meter for the shadows when using colour negatives. Set your light meter to the nominal film speed, and meter for the shadows, that is.

    When using B&W roll film, do as above with colour negative film.

    When using slide film in a high-contrast situation where the highlights must (obviously) not block or be overexposed and the shadow detail is important as well, you can either use the incident light meter in both lighting situations and see how far "apart" they are to try to estimate what the final image will look like. You will meter in any case for the highlights as indicated by the instrument, the second reading will only give you and idea of where the shadows will block. In these situations a negative film would typically perform better due to its much broader exposure latitude.

    As an alternative in the above case (slide film, high contrast) you would use a spot reflected light meter, "placing" the highest light on top of the characteristic curve of your slide film (let's say 2.5 EV above middle grey) and check, with the instrument, what happens to the shadow areas and where will they block.

    This is not so easy as it sounds though because, being a reflected light meter, for each measure you have to notice if the reflectivity of the subject, on the measured spot, is way apart from "middle grey".

    Fabrizio
     
  26. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    Are you suggesting to open up to "place" a shadow reading with a reflective meter? You don't open up to "place" a shadow reading, you stop down.....................