On related topic, how many stops of exposure difference can one expect from a lightest skinned person to the darkest? ...and when metering, do you place people's skin in zone 5 to get the most detail and compensate when printing for proper representation?
I am an Asian and by definition, "colored." I really don't see a need to pick a part someone's expression or use of the word "black", "white", or "colored." This whole thread is about bringing out the best out of person's features when photographing - in other words, representing people the way they are. We need not complicate the matter by merely swapping words. Personally, I feel so awkward if someone referenced me as a person of medium complexion.... I can pick up malice no matter what words were chosen. Likewise, I feel no offense being called "yellow skinned" in a friendly conversation.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Back in the 70's I worked regularly with a Birmingham (UK) Reggae/Ska band and the challenge of photographing a group of West Indians and their English guitarist at first appeared to be a problem, but in practice it never was, it's about good exposure control & processing regardless of skin colour.
But to answer the OP's question choice of film isn't related to skin colour but rather to the tonality and look you want.
I recall seeing what the scala/dr5 process does for dark skin tones and being amazed. Yes it's not colour but it is gorgeous, look at the dr5 site. Unfortunately you have to poke patiently through several individual films at the bottom of this link to find examples.
My guess is that astia would work very well on darker skin.
Huge, even light sources help greatly--whatever the film. A very flattering shot of Gabourey Sidibe, star of "Precious," ran in the NYT Sunday mag some months back. Her dark, even skin tone was made radiant by what I'm guessing were garage door-sized soft boxes or diffused light banks. I like Ilford XP2 Super rated at ISO100-200 or TMY-2 for medium/dark skin tones over colour.
I know you're trying to look liberal and enlightened, but by ignoring the observable reality that people from different parts of the world do indeed look different from each other (while looking similar to others from their part of the world) you just end up looking foolish. You're confusing race and species. We are not all the same race, but we are the same species no matter what our race.
Originally Posted by lilmsmaggie
Race is more than skin color anyway, it encompasses a number of aspects of physical appearance, like hair color, hair texture, shape of eyes and other facial features. There are medically important biological differences between races too. Some inherited medical conditions only affect people of certain racial groups. Sickle Cell Anemia, for example, is never found among Europeans or Asians. It is a genetic trait found only among Africans from south of the Sahara (blacks).
Instead of trying to lie and claim that races do not exist, you would be better off promoting understanding and tolerance of cultural differences and different appearances. Despite the very real physical differences between different races of mankind, we are all still brothers and sisters.
Anyway, as others have pointed out, this is a technical discussion of how to ensure good rendering of dark skin,which is a real issue. I've seen way too many photos of African American friends whose faces are so dark in the photo that all you see are eyes and teeth, and there's no excuse for such a stupid technical blunder when one can, through correct exposure, ensure that dark skin is rendered beautifully and with full detail.
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What a good post Chris, I personally when photographing dark skinned people use a method of assessing the exposure compensation for the skin tone, I take a close up reading of the face and check it against a reading of a Kodak 18% Grey Card in the same position, the difference gives me the amount to compensate for in the exposure.
Originally Posted by chriscrawfordphoto
Use any film, but if metering direct from face, add in —1 to 1.5 stop.
Remember the old bogey? Your in-camera meter might just think it is another colour to be rendered as Zone V. The deeper the black, the more striking the effect.
Other than that, Fuji's Velvia 100F or Provia (rated at EI80) would give quite pleasing blacks and whites without making it too extreme like Velvia 50 (or its ghastly 100 stablemate). Astia too, is worth a try.
If you have the light and film speed, always go with over-exposure. It's a heck of a lot easier to work with beneficial shoulder compression than it is trying to extract nothingness out of underexposed negs.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
A few observations from this discussion:
1. Lighting, exposure and process control are paramount: Robert Mapplethorpe managed to photograph white and black people in the same frame. Both subjects had luminous skin tones.
2. I remember reading something about photographing people of African ancestry once that emphasized the importance of rendering facial highlights properly to help give shape and luminosity to facial features. Again, lighting, exposure, process control.
3. Benjiboy's comments above about using the gray card really is a good, quick, simple method of getting the exposure right. Average caucasian skin tones will read about 1 stop higher than the card, average dark skin tones will read somewhere within a stop below the gray card. Most films will record both skin tones with plenty of detail. Lighting and process control.
4. A friend of mine has traveled and photographed in Africa for many years. His favorite camera is a Fuji rangefinder with a little pop-up flash that gives just enough fill to emphasize African facial features in average-to-contasty light. Lighting and process control.
That's right Peter by seeing how much the reading of the skin differs from the Grey card I know how much to compensate, and also find with Afro - Caribbean skin tones its also is a quick simple fix with negative film to take an incidental reading and increase the exposure a half or a full stop depending on how dark the skin is, and with reversal films reduce the exposure by a third to two thirds of a stop and with Caucasian skin just use the meter reading unless it's a pales skinned blond in a white dress against a light background then increase the incidental exposure by half a stop, but I haven't had too many of those to shoot lately, damn it.
Originally Posted by pgomena
Last edited by benjiboy; 05-27-2010 at 02:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.