View Full Version : Slide film and out door portraits

04-28-2010, 09:02 AM
What kind of general purpose filter do you use when you take out door portrait shots in overcast wheather? I love the colors of E100VS and Provia 400X, but only as long as the sun shines. As soon as the subject enters the shade or the sky gets overcast, skin colors end up somewhere between poor and downright awful. Since slide film has so little latitude, not even filtering in the dark room or even a hybrid work flow can save these images.

Is this possible? Is there such a "slap it on and the result will be in the ball park" filter for these light conditions? Would a KR6 filter do the job? Or is slide film just not an option unless one puts in great effort into color balancing?

04-28-2010, 03:39 PM
I think a general warming filter, like the KR6, would go a long way towards fixing this. When you say "poor & downright awful", what exactly do you mean? Since these are totally subjective terms it's not very descriptive of your problem.

I recall being kinda surprised at how blue some slides I took turned out. It was overcast, so similar conditions. My theory is that if something's blue, make it a bit more yellow, if it's too yellow, make it a bit blue. Moving towards the right color, even a little, will make it look better.

04-29-2010, 02:46 AM
What do I mean with poor & downright awful? It's not just a blue cast in my opinion, but really pale skin colors. I attach two images, taken on the same day, once with the sun shining, once with the sun behind a cloud. Note that I already did some digital postprocessing with these images (just color & contrast, so please APUG don't kill me for posting them;))

I understand there is the 81 filter series as well as their supposedly german KB/KR couterparts. In an ideal world I would get one kind of filter for all the filter thread diameters I regularly use and be done with it. My main question was whether there is such a silver bullet like filter which corrects these ugly colors for 80 or 90% of these cases.

Mick Fagan
04-29-2010, 06:27 AM
My general purpose filter is an 81C, you lose 2/3 of a stop, it increases the temperature by 400 Kelvin.

Wouldn't be without it when doing outdoor portrait work with colour film, be it slide or negative.

The 81A and 81B do warm slightly and more slightly, but the really pleasing colour that the people whose pictures I have taken like, are ones with the 81C.


04-29-2010, 10:30 AM
Yep, just use a warming filter me thinks.

Look at the concrete in the second picture, it's incredibly blue. Blue cast with pink skin, two "conflicting" colors, leads to pale skin colors. I think Mick is spot on, 81C is a nice compromise.

BTW, cute kid, she looks pretty unhappy in that second picture though.... ;)

04-29-2010, 03:33 PM
I guess I will start looking for 81C filters then. Thanks for your input, but here and via PM! I did notice the blue cast (was much stronger in the direct scan), but I couldn't fix it easily by filtering the scan, since adding more red just turned the white parts of the marble pink. As soon as some parts of the scene saturate/blow out, simple filtering won't do it any more.

PS: that's stone, not concrete. They had no concrete when that theater was built ;)

PPS: Yes, she was quite tired and exhausted that afternoon. Which is not really a surprize after a bus trip from Foca to Pergamon + whole day sight seing there :p

04-29-2010, 03:45 PM
Rudeofus, is your output analogue (ilfochrome)? Or are you planning to project these? Otherwise I'd shoot normally on astia and slightly adjust warmth afterwards.

Oh and provia 100F blues up on me all the time, if the colour temp is the slightest bit off of 5000K. Astia does much better for me in mixed light and when skin tones are involved. Provia 400x does better than 100F for skin tones, but still not as well as astia. Just my experience.

P.S. there is no issue in your shots that I cannot correct in about 5 sec. We can't discuss the means here but... no big deal at all.

04-29-2010, 03:58 PM
You need to experiment, as there is tons of variation from location to location, but to start, consult something like this: http://bermangraphics.com/digital-jury-resources/images/color-temperature_small.jpg, and filter accordingly. According to this, you should warm filter your lens by 2000K, so I would try some sort of 85 filter. The 85B warms by 2300K, the 85C by 1700K, and the plain 85 by 2100K. The best option is a color meter, but how many of us actually own one? Not many.

This is by the book, but IME, a heavy 81 series filter (C or D) does the trick OK.

04-29-2010, 04:00 PM
How well do skylight 1A filters correct the blue cast of shadows and overcast? I shot quite a bit overcast and shade portraits with one of these in my last roll, which isn't still finished.
Sometimes it's hard to decide whether go with shade and get pale colors or go to the sun that gives nice colors but has higher contrast. Well, then there is overcast, that can't be decided by no one aside of the weather itself.

Marco B
04-29-2010, 04:14 PM
PS: that's stone, not concrete. They had no concrete when that theater was built ;)

You may be surprised to hear it, but at least the Romans DID have concrete. Just not reinforced with steel wire. It is one of the things that made the marvelous Pantheon dome possible, and many, many other buildings. In fact, many Roman structures, even looking as build from bricks, contain some interior concrete reinforcement.

Their invention went lost though during the dark middle ages here in Europe.

Here is site dedicated to Roman concrete:



04-29-2010, 04:14 PM
A basic issue is that the colour temp in the shade is different from that in the sun. If you have a mix, you are not going to solve that problem with any filter. It will shift both. The best slide film for mixed light, hands down, is astia. Hear me now, believe me later.

Other than that, you shoot one of the 160 or 400 speed print films.

04-29-2010, 04:18 PM
That goes without saying, Keith. When you have two color temperatures of light in the shot, you balance to one or the other, or something in between. It's your choice, but you obviously cannot balance both to match each other without using special black magic.

IMO, filtering for the shade is the most aesthetically pleasing option in most cases, but that is up to the shooter. No biggie if the daylit areas go warm...in fact, it might be very nice.

04-29-2010, 04:20 PM
Shoot Velvia!

Going back a few years when I used to shoot color transparency all the time we found that Kodak films tended to be blue whilst Fuji tended to be warmer.

It may be counterintuitive but when things got a bit overcast we would always turn to Velvia as it really warmed/punched the colours up - to the extent that we would end up shooting sports on 400mm lenses at 1/60 or 1/125 sec, loads of waste but great colours and no blue faces!

Ooooh, have you thought of a UV filter as that can cut out some of the reflected blue comng from the sky when its overcast. Otherwise 81A, B or C is the way to go or gold colored reflectors.

04-29-2010, 04:22 PM
That goes without saying, Keith.

Well then I apologize for saying it ;)

The thing is, direct sun portraiture is rarely attractive even with print film; with slide, yikes.

Maybe that also goes without saying.

04-29-2010, 04:23 PM
No need to apologize, Keith! I am just sayin'....

As for your other statement, I think if the goal is only to make an attractive picture of a person, then it is glamor, not portrait photography.

If the goal is really portraiture, i.e. to make a picture about a person, then any sort of light which allows you to say that which you want to say is the light to use.

Portraiture is not simply photography in which a person is the main subject.

04-29-2010, 04:43 PM
I certainly agree, for environmental portraiture (usually the most effective in my opinion), there are many successful approaches. Hell, I have seen EIR portraits that were hauntingly beautiful, and I've seen some x-processed portraits that were also quite amazing. But my comments were directed more toward the O.P.s issues.

Human skin tones are an tricky issue in any light; I am just saying that astia has been the only slide film I've used that delivered the skin tones that *I* look for... even in tricky light e.g. dappled shade. In contiguous shade (cloudy overcast) then yes, sure, filter a bit to warm things up a bit if you like. But even then, astia will do the better job.

And no, I am not an astia salesman ;)

05-03-2010, 02:01 PM
Sorry for getting back so late! Again, thanks for all the interesting and informative replies. It goes without saying :p that one can only reasonably balance one color temperature at a time and that sceneries with sunlit areas and shade have at least two distinct color casts. Still, the area where color casts seem to have the worst effect are skin colors, where a blueish cast can ruin the whole shot for me (unlike I want a sad and dramatic look like in the image of my crying daughter in the theater).

The reason why simple filtering of the developed slide doesn't help is the small latitude and the saturation characteristics of slide film. While the medium tones clearly exhibit the blue color cast, the bright tones show it to a much lesser extent, since the excess blue simply saturated. Skilled post production workers can surely save that frame, but that's not the point of shooting film imho. Yes, Ilfochrome is certainly a thought worth pursuing eventually, depends on whether I can locate a dark room nearby where they are at least willing to let me store the necessary chemicals.

If an 81C filter can get me in the ball park then that's what I should probably look into rather quickly, as the weather still isn't all that sunny around here :mad:

Allow me few more comments:
@2F/2F: My shots are neither portrait, and certainly not glamour (it's my baby daughter, not some random chick showing excessive skin). They are holiday shots including the surroundings and members of my family. My ambition is to eventually achieve nice landscape shots with members of my family included as compositional elements. The reason this whole thread ended up here is because the main subject was skin color.

@keithwms: I started shooting Astia recently, for the very reason that skin colors tend to go haywire in other films if the light is less than perfect. But I sure do like the bombastic colors that E100VS gives me in sun light and I also sure like the at least 2 extra stops Provia 400X affords me. If an 81C filter allows me to get similar results in slightly overcast weather (plus the clouds avoid the nastly shadows in the faces) I'd be happy as a clam.

@Sim2: My problem appears in both E100VS and Provia 400X, so it doesn't seem to depend on which vendor makes the film. And it's not black magic either: in overcast weather the light has a strong blue cast which of course shows up in the resulting slide. There may be a slight difference in Kodak colors vs. Fuji colors, but it's not nearly enough to offset the blueness of that light.