Visiting Colour Landscapes after specialising in B&W portraiture

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Nicole, Sep 24, 2005.

  1. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Hi everyone, my first love will always be my black and white (environmental) portrait and street photography work.

    But... I have a perfect opportunity to take photos in an incredibly romantic landscape in a couple of weeks time (first getaway for hubby and myself in years - it's our wedding anniversary) and so I thought I'd work with a little colour. It's spring time here in West Australia at the moment. My favourite time of year.

    1) I'm after a film/transparency (120 & 35mm) that produces crisp, clean and strong colours which capture lots of detail.

    2) Which colour film/transparency have you found is best for such work?

    3) Please convince me not to buy a digi for my colour work! I don't mean just a spanking ( :D ducking for cover ) but good reasoning please.

    Thanks very much for helping - again.
    Kindest regards, Nicole
     
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  2. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I'll vote for Agfa RSX11 50. If you can still find it. You may have to settle for the 100.
     
  3. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Hi Nicole,
    I would recommend Fuji Velvia 50 in both 35mm and 120, or the new Fuji Velvia 100,( soon to replace the 50) it's excellent film, and the one that many landscape photographers seem to prefer for their work.
     
  4. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I think I would also vote for Velvia as a transparency film, although as I shoot film for scanning I go for Kodak Portra 160 VC negative film.

    If you are an infrequent landscape shooter, I would remind you of the saying "Don't shoot the landscape, shoot the light!" Any attempt to follow this principle will involve getting up EARLY - how this will sit with your first romantic break in years, I don't know!
     
  5. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Nicole,

    I myself have switched over to Fuji Reala (Superior) since it’s inception to Australia. I think it is on it’s 5th, incarnation currently. Prior to that I mostly used transparencies for colour work. But this film is nearly grainless, so to speak, especially if you expose it at 80 ASA. I think it’s true speed is 100 but you can get away with 125 or even 160 at a real pinch

    I run Nikkor lenses using F3 bodies, plus a Russian Horizon swinging lens camera (35mm format) with a 28mm lens. These relatively high contrast lenses (not the Horizon) coupled with the low contrast film, work beautifully. It's detail catching ability is very good, especially if you wish to make prints as an end product.

    Flowers are a hard subject for film, quite a few flowers have colours that are hard for film to capture. The Reala with it's 4th colour layer, is able in most instances, to capture and let one print the subtle colours well. In 1991 I did the wildflower thing heading south after a trip to the Gascoyne, Mt Augustus, Hammersley, Mt Newman area. As rain had preceded us by a couple of weeks it was glorious.

    I also have used bulk loaded Kodak Portra 160NC (natural colour) running it at 125 ASA for finer grain and good printing negatives.

    Latitude wise, negative film will allow you to cover any slight exposure mishaps, compared to a transparency that is.

    If you do go the negative route, I would strongly recommend you to get either dip n dunk, or, rotary development. Roller transport developing can lead to tram tracks down the film sometimes.

    You mentioned romantic:- what about climbing the Gloucester tree and having lunch in the cubby house on the top, rolling around in the breeze at 64m high is something to experience. It's pretty much the ultimate tree top experience!

    Mick.
     
  6. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Provia 100 is also a good slide film too. It doesn't have as much saturation as the Velvia film. I've heard that Astia 100 is also a good slide film, but I think I've only used it once and don't recall how well it worked for me. Provia has pretty much been my staple for my color landscapes.
     
  7. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    Nicole,

    There are a few factors to consider, assuming you go for film :

    Scanning at home?
    Printing via lab
    Contrast of your locations?

    If you are scanning at home, a home scanner normally struggles to pull detail from very contrasty films such as Velvia, if the shadows are dense. Therefore Velvia, the most popular choice amongst landcsapers might not be a good idea. many swear by Astia for scanning, which is less contrasty by far. It is also less saturated, but this is an easy fix on the computer.

    If you are printing via a lab, then you can choose a contrasty saturated film such as velvia with no issues as their kit will glean all the shadow detail that your home kit could not...assuming the film is not too contrasty for the scene.

    If you are going to shoot in average or low contrast scenes, Velvia IMHO is without parallel. I personally far prefer the look of Fuji chromes and would choose velvia 50 (not used much velvia 100f and none of the new velvia 100) 100% of the time. One other bonus of the old velvia 50 is that when shooting at long esposures, it has poor reciprocity and colour shifts which can be rather nice! If the contrast is really high, steer well clear of Velvia and go for Provia or Astia.

    My Choice? Take some Velvia and Astia covering both ends of the scale. IMHO print film is miles behind in terms of image quality.

    Tom
     
  8. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    I'll also throw my vote in for Velvia or the new Velvia 100. I've tried other films but keep going back to velvia because it does have a unique look that gives more "pop" and drama to landscape shots. Some say the velvia look has been overdone but oh-well guess I'm a junky! lol Kodak E100vs is very comparable but with a slight increase in grain over Fuji's offering. With 120 it won't be much of a problem though. I was sad to hear that velvia 50 was being replaced but after trying the new velvia 100 I find it to be a beautiful film with excellent reciprocity characteristics and commend Fuji for actually trying to improve E-6 films rather than kill them.
     
  9. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    Quite a tricky one and some excellent advice given above.

    Tom is right about the ability of lesser scanners to extract the full glory of Velvia 50.

    Here is something I did a while ago to evaluate Velvia 50 against the then new Velvia 100F and also Astia 100F. They were all scanned with a low tech Epson 'perfection' 1200 flatbed and so are not nearly as dynamic as the originals, but at least a level playing field. The films reacted very differently and each can have its place in your camera bag. If you want pink sunsets and dawns, Velvia 100F will not render them very well.

    You will need to click on the "tried and emulsional" link at the bottom of the LH frame, sorry, I cannot link directly to this.
    http://www.baxterbradford.com/pages/frameset05.html

    As for the now new Velvia 100, I did some comparison shoots and posted them in the technical gallery here I think (scanned with an Imacon, so better representation of colour).

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=8143&cat=500&ppuser=3346
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=8142&cat=500&ppuser=3346
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=8141&cat=500&ppuser=3346

    Being less than enamoured with the results, since Velvia 50 is being discontinued, I am now looking at using Fuji NPS colour neg, which is giving good results, but seems more grainy.
     
  10. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    The current fashion tends toward outrageous, highly saturated color that seemingly only Velvia can produce.

    Personally, I prefer Kodak E-100G or, Fuji Provia.

    Surely, you jest.

    Seriously, all the usual reasons apply....
     
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  11. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    This is all very interesting!! Thank you and please keep them coming.
    Brad - the spanking is in jest of course! :D

    And which one would you (from experience) suggest represents a 'warm fuzzy feel type film' lol - I am so verbally challenged.

    Do you have any landscape or environmental, still life photos you can share as examples of these films?

    Thanks again.
    Kindest regards, Nicole
     
  12. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    What Brad said (except I haven't much experience with kodak's newer films, G and GX)

    Provia produces stunning tranies that are bit truer and less contrasty than Velvia.

    The e100 (my references are a bit out of date S, SW and VS) films by kodak are bit more true (at least with S now G) than Provia and (especially in the case of SW now GX) warmer and capture better shadow detail. Kodak VS is somewhat similar to Velvia, but is much better on longer exposures.

    Oddly, I really like older kodak tranies EPN and EPP for big tranies. Both films are pretty much spot on in colour and contrast and offer the best shadow detail. They suffer from larger grain (who cares at 2 1/4 or larger) and tend to buck the current trends.

    Fuji Astia is very similar to EPP.

    In 2 1/4 e200 is the sleeper film. It is very pushable (as well as pullable) the extra stop and push option allows for greater opportunity to filter and and makes for an extremely easy film to use. The images it produces, belie the speed.
     
  13. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Nicole, I have some examples posted here (look in the June and July archives). I don't shoot much slide film in 35mm anymore - only in 4x5.
    When shooting color 35mm outdoors, I like Fuji Superia Reala for just about everything. Reala is color print film. It is fine grained, gives very realistic color, doesn't do violence to flesh tones and, the clincher, it has a nice wide exposure lattitude (I need that).
     
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  15. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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  16. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Got it Baxter. Very nice colours and great shot!!! NPS looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.
     
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Fuji Velvia 50 - it is the standard by which landscapes are measured.

    I am starting to work with the new Velvia 100, but haven't formed an opinion of it yet. A good alternative to Velvia is Kodak VS100. When shooting the color landscape, as someone has already pointed out, pay attention to the light and how it "flows" across the landscape. Velvia does the best job of enhancing the warm light, which has the add effect of bringing warmth to the image. As an aside, it would be good for you to also get an 81A and 81B warming filters, as well as 1 and 2 stop split neutral density filters.
     
  18. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Fuji all the way;

    Tranny film.

    Provia 100F, 400
    Velvia 50 and 100
     
  19. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    I like the exposure latitude of neg film for landscapes - and that is one very good technical reason to use film for landscapes rather than a digital camera. It is the same reason that I use neg rather than slide film. You'll never have to use a graduated filter again, unless you are into that kind of thing of course. Thirteen stops of usable latitude solves problems that graduated filters can't.

    The two outstanding colour landscape films at the moment, in my opinion anyway, are Kodak Ultra Color 100 (also known as Portra 100 Ultra in some countries, I think) and the recent Fuji Pro 160S, the replacement for NPS, which appears to be in the same league as UC 100. They are both extremely low graininess films. Ultra 100 is about the same true speed as Portra 160 NC, according to my tests, and the 'Ultra' is a bit misleading.

    The attached snap was taken with Ultra 100 inside a glasshouse. Though it may not be obvious in the little jpeg, there is detail all over the shades (effectively the same brightness as the light source) and under the shelves.

    Best,
    Helen
     

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  20. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    When I wanted to find a tranny film I went to the photo section at the local B&N and Borders and went thru the photo book section. What I saw was alot of Velvia 50 and Provia shots, especially by the Muench's. I chose the Provia because it's speed was higher at the time and the Velvia, although very nice, didn't have the reciprocity characteristics of the Provia. Provia is waht I shoot with some Velvia, but Provia's color temp is lower then Velvia's. Also watch it especially around water at dusk. I shot alot of Astia, even pushed +1, and I liked that as well. Eventually it just comes down to trying one and going from there. You'll get good results regardless of what you use. In neg film I found that I don't like Kodak Ultra 400 for contrasty scenes as it killed some of my red rock shots in Sedona AZ. Of the ones I remember that I liked, Reala was ok for some things, definetly not overcast conditions and in very briught sunny conditions I found it lacking in punch. My best earth tone shots actually came out of Agfa which is dead I guess. If I were to buy something right this minute it would either be NPH (i've seen some nice landscape shots with this film), or 160 NC. Kodak VC was always muddy to me, but alot of people like it. My early rolls were very poor and I haven't gone back.
     
  21. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Nicole,

    The latest issue in Photo Techniques had a detailed review of the two new Fuji professional films. Both NPC 160 Professional and NPS 160 Professional were considered to be dramatically improved. Kodak UC100 got a nice mention in the review as well even though it wasn't reveiwed specifically.

    Neal Wydra
     
  22. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    The improved versions of NPC 160 Professional and NPS 160 Professional are called Pro 160C and Pro 160S, so they are easy to spot. Unfortunately Fuji appear to have done a simple renaming job on NPH and NPZ, now called Pro 400H and Pro 800Z, with no change in the film itself, as far as I know.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  23. roteague

    roteague Member

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    The Fujicolor Pro 160S and Pro 160C are new films as Helen points out. They are optimized for digital scanning and printing systems.
     
  24. highpeak

    highpeak Member

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    If you want to shoot slide, try Fuji Astia 100. Very good skin tone and latitude.
    If you want to shoot film, try Fuji Reala 100, but make sure send your film to pro lab to process and print. You won't be disapointed.
     
  25. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    As you can see, the choice of a film is a very personal thing. Your desire for very strong colors would lean toward Velvia, but that film can be tricky to use. I understand that the new Velvia 100 is easier and more predictable than the old Velvia 50 (which Fuji claims should disappear completely by around the end of the year). Kodak Ektachrome G100 is also a possibility. You failed to mention the format you will be shooting. If you are using 35mm, the amateur films are often more colorful than the professional ones. In 35mm you also can use Kodachrome, with its supurb color richness and accuracy.

    Coming from black and white, be sure to take into consideration the restricted latitude of color transparency films. Highlights will block up and shadow detail will be lost unless you can control the light (which you can't in landscapes). You lose about a zone at each end. You may want to consider using a color negative film if you do not really need transparencies. These have huge latitudes and still retain excellent color rendition. The Kodak Ultra series of color negative films may be just what you need - high color saturation, excellent accuracy, wide exposure range. You can even have the lab make transparencies from the negatives. For high saturation, the amateur color films negative may also be interesting. They are very high quality, but they don't quite have the look may commercial customers want.
     
  26. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Nicole:
    The photograph I just uploaded to the Critique Gallery was shot in 120 on Kodak Portra 160NC - its a scan (from a cheap scanner) of a 4x5 proof print, but I think it captures the subtle tones reasonably well.

    Gabriola 01