I've been shooting 35mm slides lately since my darkroom is boxed up. Mainly provia100, which although produces vibrant slides is not very forgiving in some instances. I wish I had a nice light meter, but rely on my camera's meter and in some cases a grey card. I was just curious if any of you can recommend a good method for bracketing slide exposures. I know it depends on the scene, but general advice is fine. I'd like to get to a point where I can bracket around 5 frames and be fairly confident I got the shot. Thanks!
-the slide newbie
The best meter in the world is the one between your ears. What I use to do when I was shooting a lot of chromes (mainly KC25) was try and find something in the frame that was close to an 18% value. Since you are doing fairly static subjects you could use a grey card. Take one exposure reading in the shade and one in the sun and average them for your center value. Depending on subject matter and effect wanted you then bias it off center from there. Once you apply the appropriate high velocity fudge factor you then bracket in half stop increments.
It will take awhile to train your brain to think in same way your meter does, but once it clicks in you will be able to nail your shots alot easier. At first you may find you might need to bracket a bit more. Once you get your film back have someone else pick out what they think is the correct exposure from each subject. This in itself is very instructive as you may find you are always favoring darker shots but the viewing public wants something a bit brighter. They are not always right but it helps. Personally I find the pictures in the critique gallery to dark. But that may be the scans.
I also found spot meters to be almost useless for chrome work. A good incident meter such as the Gossen or Minolta are required as the reflective meters in cameras are fooled by subject color to much. Again it's a matter of getting to know your camera and/or meter. You have to run the usual tests when using a new meter to find out where you should put the asa.
I hope this helps, but there is no short cut to getting good consistant exposures. It just comes with experience.
And remember ALWAYS USE A LENSHOOD! Even on cloudy days.
Another thing, you should give away the Leica and get a real camera. Just because I like you, I'll take it off your hands.
You've got about 4-5 stops to work with with slide film.
If you've got a relatively low to normal contrast scene, you can meter from a grey card or take an incident reading or from a midrange tone in the scene, color perception being a relatively midrange phenomenon to begin with.
If you've got a wider range, you need to make a judgement about what is important, and what you are willing to lose. If you have a relatively brightly toned subject and want to keep detail in the highlights, you might meter the highlight, for instance, and place it about 1.5 stops above middle grey. If you have a very dark subject, and that is what is important, you might place it 1.5 to 2 stops below middle grey. If you are photographing penguins, wait for an overcast day.
And then, there is a range of exposures that might be "right", but you can get a very different tonal effect by bracketing 1/3 stop up or down. A slight reduction in exposure will give you a little more saturation. You also might find that an image that looks good about 1/3 stop under on the light table doesn't scan as well on a desktop scanner as a slide that is a little lighter.
I posted this in another thread, but it remains relevant:
"Before I had an incident meter I found the exposure value for the palm of my hand. I metered my hand, then metered a gray card, then compared the two readings. I found that my palm was exactly one stop brighter than the middle gray. I'd go around metering my hand, and then opening up a stop. This technique was almost flawless in shade or soft light, but in bright sunlight the natural oil in my skin caused a reflection that led to underexposure. The technique was also difficult to use in side-lighting. Those factors are what began to get me interested in an incident meter. "
I would bracket in 2/3-stop increments (my camera, a Nikon N90S, had 1/3-stop steps). I got to the point where I could bracket 2/3 over and under, and usually feel fairly confident that I had what I wanted. If the scene was lit by bright sunlight (almost never), I would bracket an extra 2/3-stop over and under. Eventually, I got sick of the hassle, figured that I was wasting a ton of money and that an incident meter would pay for itself, and bought a Sekonic L-508 meter.
Because Provia 100F probably isn't as forgiving as what you're used to, calibrating your system to your preferences could be very, very helpful. I'd suggest running at least one test roll, noting the exposures, later deciding which ones you prefer, then choosing an ISO based on those exposures. With my own system, I rate Provia 100F at 80.
Good luck, and please post any more questions you have about this topic. It's very interesting stuff!
I second the hand approach. Used it all the time. Exactly 1.5 stops off 18%.
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Thanks guys! Very helpful info!
"Another thing, you should give away the Leica and get a real camera. Just because I like you, I'll take it off your hands."
Sorry, no way!
I was very skeptical of the M6 when I took the plunge and bought one. I had used a Nikon8008s for years, with nikon lenses. When I got my first roll back from the Leica I couldn't believe the difference. Although my Nikon images were good, the Leica images seemed to be on another level. I use no filters and the contrast is beautiful. Everything is sharp from corner to corner with no light fall off. The slides have a 3-D feel when you see them on the light table, something I never felt with my Nikon slides. I'm sold on the Leica for 35mm, but overall would prefer medium format or large format (just gotta get my deardorf going!.
I use meters in my camera most of the time, and a spot meter with two other cameras. You need to think in Zone System terms.
Look at the subject of interest in your photo and meter the subject. Meter the darkest area where you want detail, then meter the lightest area. Look where your subject falls between the two, and do a mental translation of the entire scene into a grey scale.
Then, decide where you want the subject to be rendered (the same, lighter or darker) than what you metered and you will know what happens to the shadow and highlight areas (will they block up, blow out?).
Some things that are close to 18% grey. Green grass, blue sky at the zenith with the sun to your back, worn asphalt. Learn to see the things that are 18% grey and use them for a check against your calculated exposure.
Provia is almost as hard to shoot as Kodachrome when it comes to exposure accuracy. I have also found that different film sizes (35mm, 120, 4x5) exposures are different with Provia. You can expose nearly 1/2 stop more on 4x5 and still hold texture in the whites. It also blocks up fast and contrast rapidly increases with under exposure.
I would whole heartedly disagree with the statement that spot meters are useless for "chrome work." If used properly, they will provide the most accurate method of film exposure. Exposure of color transparency film is really no different than any other type of film, there's just less latitude for exposure error and the spot meter, when used correctly, helps you reduce the chances of error.
I like the Pentax Digital Spotmeter because of its "TV-IRE" scale. This is a 10 step scale that shows very closely what can be captured on transparency film (although it is for television ligthing evaluation). It seems to be scaled for tube television cameras that do not have the 1:1 gamma response of solid-state cameras, and shows a compression of the top end of the scale equalling highlight compression on film. I find that I can rapidly evaluate a scene by looking at a shadow area (equalling Zone III), and a highlight (equalling Zone VII), and using this scale, find out how they will be rendered on the film.
Once I know the total scene contrast range, I can read my subject of interest and make a judgement as to how I want it placed between the two extremes, and whether I want to push one end of the exposure or the other.
The two cameras I use the most with in-camera metering are a Leica M-6 and a Plaubel Makina. I have learned what the expsosure indicators mean in terms of total exposure range through trial and error and comparisons against the spotmeter. If you do some empirical testing of your equipment on several subjects reading the shadows, highlights, and subject of interest - you should get a "feel" for the metering system's indicators.
Once you learn what the indicators look like and start thinking in "shades of grey" for color exposure, I think you will find you rarely even have to bracket for exposure. I am so sure of the exposures from my cameras, that I only bracket to cover myself in case of processing errors, film scratches, etc. Or, when I want to get a "for sure," and then see if I can push just a little more detail into the highlight or shadows with a very slight (1/4 to 1/3 stop) exposure adjustment.
As always, a little testing and some practice will be rapidly rewarded.
Back when I was shooting chrome it was considered proper procedure, at that time, to meter for highlight detail rather then shadow detail as in the case of negative films. Apparently this has changed from that time. The reasoning was that chrome was a positive medium as opposed to a negative film. I found that highlights were easily blown out by too much exposure and would usually bracket (35 mm) in 1/3 stop increments. First exposure was at the indicated meter reading, second was 1/3 stop lower and last was 1/3 stop above meter reading. When I began shooting medium format the bracketing ceased and I began to meter much more accurately. Since my efforts were being printed on Cibachrome I usually erred on the side of underexposure for purposes of greater color saturation. But as I said at the outset that was some years ago and materials and procedures may have changed since then. It seems that many photographers were actually rating chrome films at higher EI then manufacturers advertised as opposed to lower in the case of negative films. (typically advertised 64 was shot at 80, 50 at 64 etc.)
wow, once again thanks for the wealth of info! I look forward to putting many of these suggestions into practice.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (David A. Goldfarb @ Apr 4 2003, 05:21 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>You've got about 4-5 stops to work with with slide film.
I often read of slide films having so many stops of latitude. But it seems to me that a third of a stop makes a big difference when figuring the exposure to use. What does Mr. Goldfarb mean when he refers to "4-5 stops"? Can a slide film rated at EI 100, such as Provia, be used successfully at EI 3200? Or does he mean that when properly exposed the film can register detail in a range of 4 to 5 stops from shadow to highlight?