I kind of agree with this....
Knowing OP is not familiar with precise metering methods, it might be better to use whatever the metering method his camera provides and just concentrate on subject and composition. Only compensate for condition like backlit scenes and some known extremes. Color negative film has this amazing exposure latitude anyway. Vacation and trips are awful place to learn new techniques. You either have it before the trip or you run the chance of not having very many image to remember your trip by.... Unless he learns quickly with some hands-on expert guidance, there's more chance of messing up badly than doing better than camera would meter.
In other words, set it at box speed and enjoy!
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Thanks everyone for your help. I think I will try to keep things simple. I am going to take a light meter with me. I'll use incident for most situations and use spot for dark or light subjects. For wide dynamic ranges I'll probably just average the high and low spot ranges and hope for the best. I've got a little time to practice before I leave. I certainly don't want to be fumbling with the equipment the whole trip. I'm only taking enough film for two rolls a day. One of the reasons I want to take film, over digital, is with digital a lot of my vacation is spent looking through a viewfinder. At least with film I'm forced to look and think about my subject, before taking the picture.
One thing. F/1.4 suggests shooting at 1/2 box speed. Tkamiya suggests box speed. If I shoot at 1/2 box speed, that would overexpose the film, if I'm thinking about this correctly. Would you do this because it's better to overexpose than underexpose and the 1/2 box speed is kind of a built in fudge factor?
You lost me on this one. It suggests other things to me.
Originally Posted by kbrede
But to add to the good advise you just got... let me suggest that you not go on vacation with either a camera or a film that you are not familiar with. Otherwise, use Portra, box speed, meter with your camera... and forget all of "the fancy stuff". Focus on the image and the memories.
p.s. don't stress yourself by limiting to 2 rolls per day. Bring enough for 4/day and shoot what you want.
This post should clear it up.
Originally Posted by BrianShaw
Well it was either digital which I'm familiar with but sick of, or film. I've thought about it a lot. I know I can come back with good images if I go digital. But with digital I feel this compulsion to just keep shooting. I'm on a whale watch boat and end up looking through a tiny viewfinder at the whales practically the whole time. With film I don't do that, I can't. Even though I don't know the camera well, or any film well; I think I'll have a better overall experience on the vacation, if I go with the unfamiliar in this case.
But to add to the good advise you just got... let me suggest that you not go on vacation with either a camera or a film that you are not familiar with.
Will do. I have no expectations of bringing back great photographs. Hopefully I'll have a couple keepers though.
Otherwise, use Portra, box speed, meter with your camera... and forget all of "the fancy stuff". Focus on the image and the memories.
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F/1.4: You are the one overcomplicating things by giving out incorrect generic advice. If I was going
to spend a lot of money on a vacation with an unfamiliar film, I'd certainly want to do a little advance homework, then do a variety of test shots before leaving, and have them processed to
review the results. "Winging it" based upon alleged exposure latitude and old-wives tales about ASA
speeds doesn't work all that well with these newer films. Yes, you'll get "something" printable. But
why waste money on Portra if you just want smudgy drugstore prints. Any amateur color neg film
will give decent skintones, as will poorly exposed Portra 160. But what about everything else
potentially in the scene? If the shot is in deep shade, and you rebalance the film to warm in printing
to preserve the skintones, the other hues will be way off. Maybe this doesn't matter to the individual, maybe it does. He can decide. But the film won't cure this issue by itself.
Oh, yes. I'm red with embarassment. I thought you were refering to the aperture, not the member.
Originally Posted by kbrede
If it were me and I wanted to keep things real simple, I'd simply leave a slightly warm skylight filter
on the lens all the time, or better yet, an 81A, and expose at box speed (160, internally metered
with the filter attached). This way the lens is protected, and it's a lot easier to correct for a bit
too much amber if needed than for excess blue (which is almost certainly going to be the case at
higher elevations). In the old days, folks would rate the ASA way down, and this would at least give
sufficient exposure to the yellow dye layer, but at the expense of unecessarily cross-contaminating
the dye layer lower down the curve. Portra will give better color purity at rated speed, and it's so
much easier just to correctly filter in the first place. At least, when I'm personally out snapshooting
with a Nikon and don't want to fuss with a bunch of different filters, I just leave the 81A on the
whole time whenever bluish lighting conditions are a risk. With tripod work and bigger cameras, I'm
a lot more specific in procedure.
Unless you are printing onto paper, you don't need to use filters (maybe the UV is worth it if you are really high).
Originally Posted by kbrede
As for exposure, I've done quite a lot of testing and the dynamic range is immense in the highlights, up to +14 stops
I exposure Portra for the shadows and let the highlights go. Portra 400 place the darkest shadow with detail at -3, Portra 160 I would expose the shadows at -2 stops. The advise to shoot at half box speed isn't a bad one as long as you know why :-)
Because of this, my Portra 160 landscape exposures very often end up as exactly the same as my Velvia exposures... that tells you a lot about exposure rating..
Portra 400 copes OK at box speed because it has more scope in the shadows..
Here's a portra 400 shot..
This was reading from 4EV to 19EV and nothing is blown or blocked
here's another scene with the same dynamic range where I've opened up the shadows and burned the highlights to show what real data is there..
I tend to only use a grad if I want to reduce the grain or get smoother colour when I know I'm going to burn in skies a lot.. Even then I tend to only use a soft grad instead of a hard one - completely optional for most work though.
p.s. As a good example of how much dynamic range it has - I was shooting a job on my new GX617 where you have to lock the cable release wide open to use the ground glass. I forgot to close the shutter before loading the film and hence my first exposure got about 30 seconds at f/5.6 instead of 1/15 at f/16. Now most people would say 'yep, that's blown out now!!'. I scanned it for a laugh as I thought I could see something - amazingly the scene was all there!! It was grainy as hell but it was there never the less!! That's a 12 stop overexposure!!
Some of this is probably not suitable info for the original poster (overly complicated) ... but in terms
of factual quality, there is a huge distinction between dynamic range of a film ("latitude" per scene
contrast), and that point at which the dye curves start to overlap and contaminate each other.
In many landscape or enviro portrait applications, Portra 160 is going to look undersaturated - it is,
after all, mainly a portrait film - once you boost contrast, either PS or via masking, those otherwise
"minor" color repro errors in non-skintones are going to get exaggerated too, mostly irremediably.
Correct exposure with appropriate color balancing for the actual K temp is going to significant improve (or optimize) what these films are actually capable of. Usually with negs, people just expect
a degree of off-tone mud, so when a "better" film like Portra comes along they yell "Yippee", even
though they could do a lot better job with it if they paid attention to certain details. All you've got
to do is study the published dye graphs to see the truth of this statement. Photoshop won't fix
a serious exposure error, even if the general subject is all there. Two differerent problems.