Shooting lower light and color film - without flash
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?
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.
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I agree with 2F/2F, 800 speed is the only way to go.
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.
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.
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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?
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:
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.
Originally Posted by dugrant153
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.
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
If you were getting green, that's most likely not from tungsten lighting but from fluorescents. Not that that fixes your problem...
Originally Posted by dugrant153
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.
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