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  1. #1
    Ambar's Avatar
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    Lowering contrast on Velvia 50

    This weekend I went to a Park/Art Gallery and took 3 rolls of Velvia 50 with me..
    Results came out fine but for the first time I was a little disapointed with the latitude on Velvia 50. They were almost all bright scenes (as expected to go well with velvia) but for some reason I was bothered by how quickly detail broke down in the shadows and highlights. A small (maybe 1/3-1/2 stop) underexposure sends shadows into the blackest depths! And detail on clouds were completely lost when the blue sky was correctly exposed. I'm going to do a more critical comparison with previousely shot Velvia 50 that were processed in the same lab to see if they mucked something or if my taste is simply changing a bit..

    But my question is none the less worth being made.. Following my B&W rationale of shooting film at a lower rate in order to lower contrast (ex. Tri-X 400 shot @200). Would this hold true for positive as well (Ex. Velvia 50 shot @25)??

  2. #2
    Poisson Du Jour's Avatar
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    I imagine that Velvia 50 would probably not be the right choice for art gallery photography. Velvia 50 is not designed for use in point light where it will block shadows completely. It's latitude is very narrow, certainly nothing like the 4-5 stops of negative film, so your exposure must be spot-on. Pushing or pulling is not the answer as either will have some detriment to one of highlights or shadows. It is best exposed in diffuse light. Rating Velvia 50 at EI40 will deliver a slightly less enriched palette (but one nonetheless characteristic of this film) and marginally better shadow detail but sometimes at the expense of highlights during long exposures, so your scenes need to be chosen carefully. It is a testy film to use and you might wish to try Velvia 100F, although the palette of that film is far removed from the gold standard set by RVP 50.
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  3. #3
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    There was a photographer in Minneapolis in the early 2000s, by the name of Jeff Kreuger, who received grant money to travel around the United States to photograph famous trees.

    He shot Velvia if I remember correctly, over-exposed it, and drove the guys running the film line nuts by asking them to use minus-development. With the Refrema you only had so much play regarding the time in the developer, which meant they had to run into the dark processor and manually lift the hanger back a couple of notches.
    He did, though, bring out an astounding range of tones from those sheets of 4x5. I can't recall seeing Velvia ever look quite like that again.

    It may not be perfect, but it entirely altered how Velvia looked.

    With that said, my recommendation would be for Provia (or Astia, were it still available).
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  4. #4
    Ambar's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick reply Poisson Du Jour!
    Just to be clear.. I wasn't taking pictures of the Art persay.. I was hanging around with friends enjoying the day!

    The narrow latitude of velvia was never a problem until today! I like the color pallete of Velvia 50 and I was also aware that color would be one of the coolest factors of the scenery so that's precisely why I choose it to take with me. I had used it before in very similar conditions (same amount and kind of sunlight, in a town close by) and achieved some very happy results. I just wish it gave me a single extra stop of latitude (half above and half below), or at least a smoother/rounder shoulder/knee when transitioning to it's up/lower limits. Is that at all achievable by playing with the exposure/developement without completely destroying the films qualities?
    I've tried E100VS which was quite nice and rich however it always swayed too much toward red for my taste. I quite enjoy the coolness of Velvia 50. Provia 100 has also been a choice of mine but it never quite gave me the color punch I was looking forward to in this trip.

  5. #5
    Ambar's Avatar
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    Thanks Thomas! Great tip! I'm definitely going to look into him!!

  6. #6
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    With that said, my recommendation would be for Provia (or Astia, were it still available).
    If the goal is mainly just lower contrast in a current production film, use E100G. But the color is diverging far from Velvia. It's much closer to Astia, but of course more Kodak look.

    But if you want neutral color saturation with more moderate contrast than Provia in a current production transparency film, E100G will give you that. But if Provia doesn't give "quite the color punch" one is looking for, E100G certainly will not (nor would Astia.)

  7. #7
    Ambar's Avatar
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    Thomas, I quickly looked into Jeff Kreuger's stuff and he seems to have taken it a little over what I'm looking for but definitely in that direction! Would you by any chance have more detailed info on his process? As in how much over exposure that was?
    Still.. he got some very interesting results!
    Thanks!

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ambar View Post
    Thomas, I quickly looked into Jeff Kreuger's stuff and he seems to have taken it a little over what I'm looking for but definitely in that direction! Would you by any chance have more detailed info on his process? As in how much over exposure that was?
    Still.. he got some very interesting results!
    Thanks!
    I'm sorry, I don't remember. More than a Refrema could manage automatically, that's for sure, or the lab guys would not be swearing...
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Pre-flash it. I think you can first shoot something called a "whi-bal" or put a semitransparent white object (tupperware lid!) over the lens, where it is out of focus and provides a good even light. You then expose the slide ~4 stops faster than your metered exposure. And voila, lower contrast slide film.

    Slide shooters also tend to use GNDs and such just to rein in the contrast of a scene.

    I would recommend using astia...
    Last edited by keithwms; 01-24-2012 at 03:38 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  10. #10
    Ambar's Avatar
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    Thanks Keith!
    Pre Flashing the film seems like an interesting idea I will most definitely try..!!
    However what do you mean with GNDs? Neutral Density filters?

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