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Richard Sintchak (rich815)
07-15-2012, 11:06 AM
As others mention will depend on just how dark it is and how many street lights might be around. Wet nights make a difference too, as does the camera's hand-hold ability. I've been surprised how nice many night shots have come out using 400 speed film and shot with my Contax G2 with my 45/2 Planar wide open at 1/15th. Other times, also as mentioned above, Tri-X at 1600 developed in Diafine is really nice, this shot with my Rolleiflex TLR:

http://img.tapatalk.com/456b65f0-eae4-1b33.jpg

To do it best maybe do not mix day and
night shots on the same roll...

Steve Smith
07-15-2012, 11:49 AM
You might not need as much exposure as your meter might suggest as it is trying to translate the scene into an 18% grey average daylight scene whereas you actually want it darker. i.e. to look like night time.


Steve.

markbarendt
07-15-2012, 12:03 PM
I think it important to remember a few things.

1-that the real speed of the film doesn't move near as much with a change of development as the typical EI change that gets applied. Shadow detail is lost.

2-that as the film curve gets steeper tone changes get more abrupt. Mid-tone transitions get grittier.

3-that printable whites are closer to the toe too. Detail is lost in the highlights too.

Pushing has become a technique of last resort for me because night street scenes are actually high contrast affairs.

If you apply classic Adams/zone system logic it is likely a pull is going to be indicated rather than a push.

rich815's shot above is a good example. The detail in the street lights didn't print and the detail in the coat is really limited. That's not a critisism, it's simply a choice based on the result wanted.

Thomas Bertilsson
07-15-2012, 12:14 PM
And something to remember is that at night we see mostly tungsten lighting, which usually means about a stop less sensitivity compared to daylight.

choppastyle
07-15-2012, 04:05 PM
You might not need as much exposure as your meter might suggest as it is trying to translate the scene into an 18% grey average daylight scene whereas you actually want it darker. i.e. to look like night time.


This. If you want a dark nighttime look you probably should underexpose according to your meter. I've shot 200 at night with a f1.8 lens and not had too many problems. Autofocus is pretty much useless though... For B/W I like the look of Neopan 400 or TriX at 1600 anyway.

53977

Sirius Glass
07-15-2012, 04:54 PM
I have had very good results using http://www.scribd.com/doc/2604955/jiffy and only shooting one exposure with slide film. If you can nail the exposure with one exposure on slide film, you can't get much better than that. In fact for night photography, I use this rather than my in camera light meters [Nikon SLR] or Hasselblad, or even my Gossen. Light meters end up over compensating for the unlit areas, unless one uses a spot meter.

Steve

Pioneer
07-15-2012, 05:08 PM
Just as a quick comment, some of these shots are gorgeous. Great work.

oneANT
07-15-2012, 08:20 PM
I have had very good results using http://www.scribd.com/doc/2604955/jiffy and only shooting one exposure with slide film. If you can nail the exposure with one exposure on slide film, you can't get much better than that. In fact for night photography, I use this rather than my in camera light meters [Nikon SLR] or Hasselblad, or even my Gossen. Light meters end up over compensating for the unlit areas, unless one uses a spot meter.

Steve

Its available as public domain Steve http://www.southbristolviews.com/pics/Cameras/JiffyCalc.pdf so no dload fees.

Instruction for using it can also be found here ...
http://photocamel.com/forum/camera-accessories-forum/45836-manual-exposure-challenge-jiffy-calculator-can-help.html

Sirius Glass
07-15-2012, 08:33 PM
Its available as public domain Steve http://www.southbristolviews.com/pics/Cameras/JiffyCalc.pdf so no dload fees.

Instruction for using it can also be found here ...
http://photocamel.com/forum/camera-accessories-forum/45836-manual-exposure-challenge-jiffy-calculator-can-help.html

Thanks for the update!

Leighgion
07-15-2012, 09:45 PM
Sure, as others have already said, all depends on how dark our streets are, how fast your lens is, how steady are your hands and what your subjects are.

If I shoot B&W at night, I push. However, I once decided to walk my (very dark countryside streets) at night with color 400 speed and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 to see what was possible. I didn't shoot moving subjects, but did quite alright with still ones handheld.

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2740/4196415336_a66abb4a2e_m.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/leighgion/4196415336/)
Upside Down Ultramax (http://www.flickr.com/photos/leighgion/4196415336/) by Leighgion (http://www.flickr.com/people/leighgion/), on Flickr

Diapositivo
07-16-2012, 04:12 AM
I've been surprised how nice many night shots have come out using 400 speed film and shot with my Contax G2 with my 45/2 Planar wide open at 1/15th.


This is also my experience. Well-lit urban zones or monuments usually require EV4 @ 100 ISO. That corresponds to 1/15@f/2 @ 400 ISO. As Mark says, inevitably you will have both blocked shadows and some burned highlights, but the scene will be rendered as a night scene with a well described subject matter. If one wants to nail the exposure better the only* possibility is a spot light meter.

The first picture, Saint Peter's clock, had such sharp lighting that even while using a spot light meter (which was not so spot as I was several hundreds of meters away so the 1░ angle covered a "large" area) I had to bracket some 0.5 EV to be sure not to burn the highlights. This is one of the few occasions, and the only one I remember, where I did bracket exposure. I remember I always was quite in the vicinity of EV4@100 ISO.

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-saint-peters-clock-fabrizio-ruggeri.html

http://fineartamerica.com/featured/st-peters-square-fountain-by-night-fabrizio-ruggeri.html

* Besides bracketing, that is.

The general experience I have now is that EV4@100 ISO is very likely to work well with slides. Walking around with a negative film I would use EV4@100 ISO without using any light meter.

markbarendt
07-16-2012, 05:15 AM
As Mark says, inevitably you will have both blocked shadows and some burned highlights, but the scene will be rendered as a night scene with a well described subject matter. If one wants to nail the exposure better the only* possibility is a spot light meter.



Actually my point is that pushing is a choice (one of last resort for me), not a given. Detail need not be lost without thought and mid-tones need not be gritty unless you want them that way.

Street scenes at night, can be photographed quite nicely when film is used at it's ISO speed and developed normally.

That choice just means that we may need to adjust how we shoot, that we may need to carry a little extra gear, and even break the stereotype. Adding a touch of fill flash is a helpful thing used by pros, as are: bean bags, posts, walls, monopods and other camera supports.

Also spot metering isn't the only choice either. Yes for many shots, like your clock, it may be quite practical but where ever you can get into the scene, incident metering works just fine. The Jiffy Calc oneANT and Sirius talked about above works well too, the Ultimate Exposure Computer (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/69325-fixing-single-vs-double-bath.html) works nicely too.

Diapositivo
07-16-2012, 07:07 AM
Incident metering and night doesn't necessarily work very well and I personally would advice against it. In sun light the sun is so to speak always the same, one has a value for sunlit areas and a value for shadows.

With artificial light, and floodlights in particular, the sources of light is ambiguous and/or not reachable - think the dome of a church lit by floodlights, one cannot go up the dome to measure what's the light there - its distance from the subject is important for exposure and any kind of "averaging" can be very misleading because of the great brightness range.

Imagine a street lamp on a house, projecting light on the house (an awful lot, but diminishing very fast) and on the street. In this situation an incident light meter is basically useless. Besides, light sources at night are often in the frame and they must not be counted as far as exposure calculation is concerned, and with an incident light meter one ends up always calculating, in the exposure, also the brightness of the street lamps.

"Table" exposure is as we agree quite reliable in this situation.

markbarendt
07-16-2012, 08:47 AM
Incident metering and night doesn't necessarily work very well and I personally would advice against it. In sun light the sun is so to speak always the same, one has a value for sunlit areas and a value for shadows.

With artificial light, and floodlights in particular, the sources of light is ambiguous and/or not reachable - think the dome of a church lit by floodlights, one cannot go up the dome to measure what's the light there - its distance from the subject is important for exposure and any kind of "averaging" can be very misleading because of the great brightness range.

Imagine a street lamp on a house, projecting light on the house (an awful lot, but diminishing very fast) and on the street. In this situation an incident light meter is basically useless. Besides, light sources at night are often in the frame and they must not be counted as far as exposure calculation is concerned, and with an incident light meter one ends up always calculating, in the exposure, also the brightness of the street lamps.

"Table" exposure is as we agree quite reliable in this situation.

Why?

Seriously, if you do as is normal for incident metering and stick the meter "against the subjects nose" or you are "in the same light" incident metering works perfectly.

If my subject is under a street light and I'm under the next one down the street, I can even meter right where I'm at because the light is equivalent.

If my subjects are going to be walking by a certain spot: on a sidewalk past a street light, store front, whatever; I can walk into the scene (like the one you describe) and meter "the spots I want" then walk back to my chosen vantage point.

As to distance from subject, that actually doesn't matter. Correct exposure for a given subject within a scene, and I'm using the word "correct" very loosely, is the same regardles of distance; your clock or church tower should get the same exposure at 5-meters or 50, as far as the film is concerned it's luminance doesn't change.

What does matter is the subjects size within the composition, that is a real factor in determining camera exposure. At 5-meters the clock may define the exposure fully, at 50-meters with the same lens in play there are more things in view to consider.

Diapositivo
07-16-2012, 01:11 PM
It depends on the composition, but generally in a night shot you might have, in the frame, one or several street lamps, or some details such as walls near the street lamp which are very bright, and then all shades of grey down to absolute night black.

The problem here is that although it is perfectly acceptable to have the light source itself out of the film's dynamic range, I personally consider that for the picture to be nice all the highlights which are not light sources (or specular reflections) should not be washed up.

My normal way of operation would be to measure those important highlights (the wall near the street lamp) and try to capture it correctly, letting the shadow fall into black where the film dynamic range dictates.

You can repeat the example above with a white marble fašade possibly lit by a spot flood lamp, a statue on top of a fountain lit by a spot flood lamp, that kind of stuff.

Sometimes historical buildings are lighted in a way which highlights certain architectural features. For instance some flood lights are pointed upward to make a chiaroscuro play with the tympani over the windows, or the lower decoration of the cornice.

In the pictures shown above, Saint Peter's clock and Saint Peter's square northern fountain, from the place where I was (Piazza Pio XII, that's actually in Italy, the place where I was was obviously less lighted than my subject) I couldn't walk to the fountain (Piazza San Pietro was off-limits) and couldn't walk inside the colonnade to try to measure the light with an incident light meter. I also could not fly to the clock which is lit by some spot lights and you have to be there to use an incident light meter. In that clock case using the light meter in the camera would give a useless average between black night and lighted architectural elements. A "table" exposure with some bracketing would have been the less-worse option.

To sum it up in one line, the bigger problem while taking pictures at night might be not your subject but the strongly lit wall behind it. Incident metering will not help you avoid washing it or understanding what might happen there.

I can propose an example which, being taken with a digital camera, it's even more telling of how disastrous can digital be in a high contrast situation:

http://www.imagebroker.com/media/1/2010/08/02/fbr/1631368/1631368-3.jpg

http://www.imagebroker.com/media/1/2010/08/02/fbr/1631369/1631369-3.jpg

As you can see there is a "white hole" in the picture which I personally find quite unfortunate. And unfortunately enough, that square has street lamps strategically fixed on buildings so that it is impossible to take a picture without a street lamp in the frame :(

Even if the picture is digital, it shows a situation where incident light metering would not help avoiding the problem. With a spot meter one could measure the wall near the lamp, place it on the "top" of the film curve, and examine where would the shadows of the fountain fall. Some recesses of the fountain would be sacrificed (falling into pure black) but the background would be much more gracefully rendered, with the tone of the building being preserved behind the fountain, and only the light source itself being blown up. Which means I have to go back there with film and a spot meter.

For the architecturally curious, the subject is the Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fontana_delle_Tartarughe

Richard Sintchak (rich815)
07-16-2012, 02:02 PM
I think it important to remember a few things.

1-that the real speed of the film doesn't move near as much with a change of development as the typical EI change that gets applied. Shadow detail is lost.

2-that as the film curve gets steeper tone changes get more abrupt. Mid-tone transitions get grittier.

3-that printable whites are closer to the toe too. Detail is lost in the highlights too.

Pushing has become a technique of last resort for me because night street scenes are actually high contrast affairs.

If you apply classic Adams/zone system logic it is likely a pull is going to be indicated rather than a push.

rich815's shot above is a good example. The detail in the street lights didn't print and the detail in the coat is really limited. That's not a critisism, it's simply a choice based on the result wanted.

I'd agree, yes. However the online JPEG version and the printed or full res scan version show quite a bit more detail, at least in the coat and some shadow areas. Lights are burned out to pure white but was not looking for much detail there. It's all choices. I was able to hand-hold that because I used Tri-X at 1600 in Diafine. With the luxury of a tripod I can use Acros at 100 (great reciprocity characteristics on that film BTW), expose differently and get MUCH better detail. Like so:

http://farm1.staticflickr.com/60/222902863_0cd9b5f24d_o.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rich8155/222902863/)
Portero Hill, China Basin ContaxRX 35PCDistagon Acros @100 Diafine 5min 20C 08-2006 26 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rich8155/222902863/) by rich8155 (Richard Sintchak) (http://www.flickr.com/people/rich8155/), on Flickr

That was take at 11pm at night.

But for when a tripod is not possible or convenient or the subjects are moving then faster shutter speed and the trade-offs of accomodating such come into play. Pretty much Mark's point, just adding to it.... :-)

markbarendt
07-16-2012, 07:58 PM
Diapositivo,

I said above that spot metering has its uses. I fully agree that if you can't get into the scene/sme light it can work fine.

Otherwise You seem to be making my case for me. :D

Diapositivo
07-17-2012, 04:11 AM
Yes we don't disagree in fact, I just wanted to point out that I find night pictures to present often the kind of situation where incident light metering is impractical.

The Old Pharaoh
01-10-2013, 04:46 PM
This might be slightly off the topic because I see that it is mainly discussing B/W while I use slides. I have taken a few night shots of London street Christmas Lights lately with a hand-held camera using a Provia 400 film. Using a tripod in such crowded streets would have been rather difficult. There is evidence of camera shake, so I can't say the photos are exceptionally good. Here are three examples from my flickrs page, if anyone is interested

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32038542@N07/8360588297/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32038542@N07/8357457786/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32038542@N07/8321418103/in/photostream

The Old Pharaoh
01-10-2013, 05:08 PM
As I mainly use slides, this might be a slight deviation from the main discussion. i have taken a few shots of the London street Christmas Lights using a hand-held camera with a Provia 400 film. Using any form of camera support in such crowded streets at night would have been rather difficult. Camera shake is evident so I can't claim that the result is exceptionally good. But I can say that it can be acceptable. Here are three examples from my flickr page for anyone interested

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32038542@N07/8360588297/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32038542@N07/8357457786/in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/32038542@N07/8321418103/in/photostream