PDA

View Full Version : Shooting lower light and color film - without flash



Pages : [1] 2

dugrant153
01-21-2011, 01:16 AM
I've been incorporating film more and more into my event (and soon wedding) workflow and I love it. I shoot a lot of natural light and love the look that film gives, especially the black and white stuff.

I've been looking at blogs such as Jose Villa and Jonathan Canlas (true film "inspirators") and I REALLY LIKE the results they get. However, I notice a lot of the weddings are outdoors where there is usually plenty of sunlight and so I can see how they can shoot ASA200 on Fujifilm (or something like that) and get decent shutter speeds.

My question is, when it gets dark and indoors, what do you folks do to compensate today's color films without using flash? I use Kodak Portra 400NC right now and even in a daytime ceremony, indoor church shots are difficult and the shutter speeds get real low. I usually like to shoot at ASA 320 for my Portra, but I usually have to forego the Medium Format (fastest lens = F2.8) for 35mm (fastest lens = F1.7) and bump up to box speed ASA 400 to get a decent shutter speed.

Just looking for some ideas! Thinking maybe pushing/pulling color film?

2F/2F
01-21-2011, 01:25 AM
Fuji Pro 800Z while it is still on shelves, and then Kodak Portra 800 are your choices for pro films. It's a shame that of the two, the Fuji is the one that did not make it. I like it much more than the Kodak, especially for off-neutral or mixed lighting.

Jeff Kubach
01-24-2011, 08:43 AM
I agree with 2F/2F, 800 speed is the only way to go.

Jeff

CGW
01-24-2011, 08:59 AM
I'd run, not walk, to wherever Fuji is sold and buy any and all ISO800 film,even Superia 800, you can. Very few labs can handle C41 push processing now, so fast film, fast lenses, and minimal stabilization(e.g., a monopod) make up one recipe for low light shooting.

Tim Gray
01-24-2011, 09:05 AM
I've had moderate success shooting Portra 800 indoors in nasty lighting. You could always rate it at 2000 and ask for a 2 stop push. I've heard it takes that well, but I've never done it nor seen an example. In my experience, it handles tungsten lighting pretty well, as well as Fuji film. It does show the greens from fluorescents more than Fuji. You'll probably be better off correcting tungsten lighting if you underrate it a bit, like at 640 or 500.

Of course, if you can pull of Portra 400, I think you'll be a lot happier.

Oh, and send your film to a good lab for proper development (including pushing) and scans. Richard Photo is one often tossed around. I've been happy with NCPS and am trying out Precision Camera now - they have a special for RFF members.

dugrant153
01-25-2011, 02:22 AM
I use my local lab for developing and it's turned out pretty good. I've had that lab (Custom Color in Vancouver) push process my Ilford Delta 3200 with pretty decent results. Will have to consider shipping my stuff to Richard Photo Labs soon to see what results I can get... their work looks amazing!

Usually when I'm indoors, I use Kodak Tmax 400 and shoot from ASA 400-800 (Since development times are the same), but usually stuck at 640 ASA and get decent and usable results. Anything above that gets the Ilford Delta 3200, or by then I resort to flash.

I tried Kodak Portra 800 indoors and it was not that great for me. I shoot in a lot of mixed lighting and Kodak Portra 400 can usually take it, but I was surprised Portra 800 sucked in all the tungsten green - maybe not underrating it enough, or perhaps it's my scanning technique? Fuji Pro 800Z seems like a good choice but difficult to find and availability is dropping (will hunt for some soon!). Superia 800 even more so! The more I think about it, the more I realize that my options may be quite limited and I'm guessing change in technique and using more B&W film may be the key.

I can see monopod + Portra 400NC + F2.8 and 1/15th shutter speed being usable for non-actiony stuff. I think this may be the way to go: utilizing Medium Format for brighter or "less movement" situations, and 35mm (B&W film) and digital for all the actiony stuff.

I'll have to try the pull-processing and see what happens. Shoot at 800 ASA and pull process at 800 ASA?

perkeleellinen
01-25-2011, 05:01 AM
You mentioned Jonathan Canlas in your original post and I wondered if you'd seen this blog post were he shoots the new Portra @ 3200:

http://canlasphotography.blogspot.com/2010/12/kodak-portra-400-miami-south-beach-fl.html

markbarendt
01-25-2011, 07:20 AM
I've been looking at blogs such as Jose Villa and Jonathan Canlas (true film "inspirators") and I REALLY LIKE the results they get. However, I notice a lot of the weddings are outdoors where there is usually plenty of sunlight and so I can see how they can shoot ASA200 on Fujifilm (or something like that) and get decent shutter speeds.

When I started doing weddings I took basically whatever came my way. That meant shooting in whatever situation the wedding happened to be in and that was a great way to learn how to shoot in the dark.

Basically that means "how and when to use strobes" ;)

What I did not understand then was that to succeed, I needed a well defined product, like Jose Villa, Jonathan Canlas, etcetera have, AND the balls to say "no miss, I won't do your wedding, it doesn't fit my style (the product I offer).

Jose and Jonathan target a very specific sub-markets and they don't appear to go outside their styles much.

Part of their choice of film is artistic, part is business.

Edward Olive is another guy that uses a lot of film, found him on Flickr, he shoots in the EU. His choice of film is anything but consistent. From XP2 to D3200 to Porta to ... , it just doesn't seem to matter to him what he puts in the camera. A lot of the fun stuff seems to be from seriously "underexposed" frames. I'm not suggesting he made mistakes, just artistic choices.

One of the reasons Jose Villa uses film is that the workflow is efficient. It moves a lot of work off his shoulders and onto the lab's shoulders.

Other successful shooters use strobes, even studio strobes, to light an entire ballroom if that's what it takes.

The point I'm trying to make here is that all the highly successful shooters have all designed products for the markets they wanted to serve and found films/tools/methods that fit that are very reliable and repeatable and well defined to fit that very specific market, they did not design their products around the afternoon sun; their market was probably already having weddings there.

Tim Gray
01-25-2011, 07:27 AM
I tried Kodak Portra 800 indoors and it was not that great for me. I shoot in a lot of mixed lighting and Kodak Portra 400 can usually take it, but I was surprised Portra 800 sucked in all the tungsten green - maybe not underrating it enough, or perhaps it's my scanning technique?

If you were getting green, that's most likely not from tungsten lighting but from fluorescents. Not that that fixes your problem...

Markster
01-26-2011, 12:19 PM
Is Kodak Portra 800 the line you find in supermarkets, or is it a higher-end? I've used Kodak's consumer line of 800 speed and find it quite grainy. It gives you that ability to shoot indoors (which I really like) but sometimes the end product/print isn't very good.

I was just curious if there was another Kodak 800 that I should try or not.

Ottrdaemmerung
01-26-2011, 12:28 PM
Markster: Kodak's Portra line is higher-end. In supermarkets you'll most often find Kodak Gold 100 and 200, and Kodak Max 400. Ektar and Portra are higher quality.

holmburgers
01-26-2011, 01:53 PM
FWIW, my "avatar" was shot on Portra 800. More examples can be seen here... http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceholmburgers/sets/72157623168651497/

I really enjoyed the film; and I'm sad that I might not get a chance to shoot 800z. At least Portra 800 is still around for now.

Markster
01-26-2011, 01:58 PM
That looks about as grainy as the stuff I was using, the over-the-counter Kodak 800 stuff I bought as a Walgreens last December.

holmburgers
01-26-2011, 02:03 PM
Well, so be it. It was expiring as I shot it, but I don't know how it was stored before I got it. I think it provides a lovely pointilist effect personally.

If you hate grain though... go get a Mark II and shoot it at 1600 all day with perfect results.

Tim Gray
01-26-2011, 02:11 PM
I've had good results with it like I said. Yes there is grain - it's 800 speed film. But not too bad. Use fresh stuff, don't underexpose, and get it processed/scanned at the right place.

You can see other sizes here:
flickr example (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgray1/4874063646/sizes/l/in/photostream/)

holmburgers
01-26-2011, 02:26 PM
Yeah, that looks much better. The 3 things you mentioned are all true; and mine probably fell short on all 3 to some extent.

dugrant153
01-28-2011, 01:22 AM
One of the reasons Jose Villa uses film is that the workflow is efficient. It moves a lot of work off his shoulders and onto the lab's shoulders.

Other successful shooters use strobes, even studio strobes, to light an entire ballroom if that's what it takes.

The point I'm trying to make here is that all the highly successful shooters have all designed products for the markets they wanted to serve and found films/tools/methods that fit that are very reliable and repeatable and well defined to fit that very specific market, they did not design their products around the afternoon sun; their market was probably already having weddings there.

This point struck home to me and perhaps I'm trying to grab a big chunk of the market instead of defining myself and picking out a work-able niche for me.
I really like the way Jeff Ascough takes images, and I find I like a lot of B&W. And much like London, Vancouver gets a lot of grey days and rain... hence the necessity for higher speed ISOs. I could probably get away with TMAX 400 underexposed at 800, then Ilford Delta 3200 for further... color... well, I'll have to figure that part out.

Still a work in progress!



If you were getting green, that's most likely not from tungsten lighting but from fluorescents. Not that that fixes your problem...

Yar. I think even my digital gets confused by this lighting. May be best to just stick to B&W for indoors for the most part, or color-corrected digital.


Btw, I did have a chance to shoot 800Z and it's some great film. I shot an expired roll (2006!!) at 400 ISO and got great results! However, ASA 400 is pretty difficult for natural light in some of the darker areas I shoot.

markbarendt
01-28-2011, 06:45 AM
This point struck home to me and perhaps I'm trying to grab a big chunk of the market instead of defining myself and picking out a work-able niche for me.

I'm glad, these were hard won lessons for me.

Deciding what jobs are important for you to do, and which jobs others can do more efficiently, is important. It is really tough to do it all well and efficiently and the tasks don't all pay the same.

Paying a lab "a few measly bucks that the bride is already footing" means I get to spend a week marketing and selling new work instead of processing.

Sales pays more, in fact selling something is the only way to get paid if you are working for yourself. It it the most important job a pro photographer has, bar none.

That's the magic of Jose's workflow, he get's time to go sell.


I could probably get away with TMAX 400 underexposed at 800, then Ilford Delta 3200 for further... color... well, I'll have to figure that part out.

Has the niche you want to sell to actually defined that, or is that a guess?


Still a work in progress!

As are we all.


Yar. I think even my digital gets confused by this lighting. May be best to just stick to B&W for indoors for the most part, or color-corrected digital.

Color doesn't have to be normal to work. http://www.flickr.com/photos/edwardolive/2902284127/


Btw, I did have a chance to shoot 800Z and it's some great film. I shot an expired roll (2006!!) at 400 ISO and got great results! However, ASA 400 is pretty difficult for natural light in some of the darker areas I shoot.

Strobes are fun once you learn how to "bounce". :D

dugrant153
01-28-2011, 03:16 PM
Deciding what jobs are important for you to do, and which jobs others can do more efficiently, is important. It is really tough to do it all well and efficiently and the tasks don't all pay the same.


Duly noted! I find I spend a lot of time scanning (my lab's scans are nowhere near the quality I'm able to get out of my Epson 4990). But otherwise very little time in the "Develop" module for Lightroom.


Has the niche you want to sell to actually defined that, or is that a guess?


I think the look I go for and the types of environments I shoot in require this approach.



Strobes are fun once you learn how to "bounce".

Oh, I've done a lot of bounce flash with my digital. But slowly, that changed to no flash when I realized I was destroying the mood by letting a mini-lightning strike go from my camera ;)

I will use the flash for reaaaaaly dark times (like neither I or the camera can see anything!) and occasionally for other specific effects. But still prefer the natural light look.

Tim Gray
01-28-2011, 03:20 PM
Are you developing at home? If not, how much are you paying? I might suggest you either use NCPS, Precision Camera, or Richard Photo Lab for your developing and scanning. At $10-12 per roll for the first two and big scans, you could save yourself a significant amount of time...

I'm waiting for 10 rolls back from Precision. First time I've used them and am looking forward to seeing what their 4000x6000 scans are like in person. I've seen smaller stuff from them online and it looks pretty good.