Negative or Positive?
As part of an ongoing two-year project photographing life on Vancouver Island, I will be shooting the 150th Highland Games in May, in Victoria. Most of the activity is scheduled during daylight hours on the 18th and 19th of May; however, a torchlight ceremony is to be held the night before the games commence (Friday the 17th, beginning at 8pm, and lasting until?). As per usual, I will be shooting in both black and white and colour. For the former, I will be shooting HP5/Tri-X and Delta 3200 (HP5/Tri-X during daylight hours, Delta 3200 when the light begins to fade), but for the latter I am still undecided. Daylight colour will be E100G/E100VS in a 90/10 ratio; for the late-in-the-day/evening work I am debating between pushing Provia 400X to 1600 (this was a recommendation, I have never shot the film before) or using Portra 800, pushed one stop. Which is likely to give better results (i.e. a balance between better neutrals/less grain/better sharpness)?
Negative films are always more tolerant to lighting level and type. If this is varying, use negative film.
It is also more tolerant to over and under exposure.
You generally do not need to push color negative films if you give a one stop over or under exposure.
I take it that you know that the trad darkroom method of producing prints( Ilfochrome) from slides is to all intents and purposes gone so no chance of ever trying print production at home whereas home darkroom print production is still possible and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Yes. It's important to select your color film and practice first, right up to the chosen output (scan or
whatever). I don't quite understand the relevance of the Ilfochrome remark - nobody in their right mind
ever did use something that expensive for event photography in the first place. But back then Agfa did
have some wonderful high-speed transparency films with a special look. No more, of course. If it was
me, I'd be fooling with Portra 400.
OK, here's what you really should do: practice with it right now. Just shoot a roll of the film a stop fast, develop as normal, and see what you get. We can say one thing or another out here, but you'll have to be the final judge. Take a look on the Twin Lens Life blog, about 2010 or 2011, and see what they posted about their own experiments with Portra.
Originally Posted by BradleyK
Just wing it! That's what I would do. I'm kind of a slob though.
I would submit that color photographs lit only by torchlight will be really orange; tungsten balanced film might make it look good. I'm always recommending tungsten balanced film to people though.
The only current tungsten film is Fuji 64T E6 in 135, which is pretty slow for night shots, and is a slide film, which has a narrow range.
The lighting at night will be all over the place, so color balance is completely out the window.
I have only pushed one roll of Fuji Provia 400X and it was a stage dance performance. Lighting was typical for a musical or dance stage performance with a wide dynamic range and lots of colors. Here are the results.
I could probably do a bit better with another try. I feel I lost too much in the shadows but I was trying to protect the highlights so I pulled it just a bit early. In retrospect I would probably have been better off increasing the developer time a bit over recommended. I like the colors and texture of the pushed Provia 400X but Portra wins for overall IQ, shadow details, and exposure forgiveness.
Here is some pushed Portra 400 for comparison: