Looking for advice on shooting welding scenes
As the title says, I've been asked to take some "artistic" shots of a friend of mine (hot rod builder) using an arc welder for an upcoming project. I'm looking for some tips from anybody who has shot scenes like this regarding exposure and safety (for me and for my gear). Looking around online there doesn't seem to be much advice on this topic geared to us film users. I've had a look around here on APUG but I can't seem to find any topics where this has been discussed before; if I am asking a repeat question I apologize.
While I'm generally very comfortable with my exposure skills, I'm merely an artist/hobbyist and shoot mostly landscapes and architecture. I have never had to shoot anything with such a stark lighting contrast (bright welding arc vs. relatively dark shop background). I do not own a flash or any other artificial lighting, so using a fill flash is out of the question. My plan as of right now is to compose and meter each shot for the ambient light in the shop before firing up the welding equipment. Obviously the sparks/arc will be grossly overexposed but it seems as though this is pretty much unavoidable due to the intensity of the light. Does this sound like a reasonable plan, or am I missing something? I will be using 35mm film so I do have the luxury of bracketing profusely.
Other questions: I've seen recommendations on other forums to use a UV filter. Is there an exposure-related reason for this, or can I assume it is just to protect my lens? Would I gain any benefit by shooting through welding glass (besides very long exposure times)?
Some more information on the shoot:
- The shop fairly small and very well-lit with overhead fluorescent bulbs. We also have the option to shoot with the overhead doors open as well, so I can also have outdoor sunlight at my disposal if needed.
- The goal is to preserve as much background detail as possible whilst capturing a long-ish exposure of the welding arc; I'm thinking probably in the 1/4-1/15 range. My subject assures me he can hold still for that long!
- I'll more than likely be using Plus-X, although I also have Pan F and Tri-X as an option, if it matters.
- I will more than likely be using a 135mm lens to put some distance between me and the action, and I will have a welding hood to protect my vision. As I will be composing/focusing ahead of time, I won't need to look through the lens while shooting. Are there any other precautions I should take?
Thank you in advance for any and all input! :)