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  1. #1

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    flash: overexposed foreground, underexposed background

    so I got a new lens and decided to give her a run on some poopy old walgreens color dx 400 film. I used the film because it was the only color I had and it happened to be from the same batch of film I shot with on my old lens, and I wanted a fair comparison in color.

    sooo....

    I had walgreens do both rolls of color, same batch of film, same equipment, same environment, (rock shows) but 2 different lenses.

    Both rolls had the same problem:

    from walgreens and their film - terrible contrast. Waaaay too contrasty.

    from ????: overexposed foregrounds and underexposed backrounds. My whites do have plenty of detail but all I've got is a main subject with a detailed neon white t-shirt and invisible black pants. The shirt is so bright, in fact, that it has a little glow ring around it. But you can see every wrinkle... doesn't that mean it's not blown? the backround is sort of vignetted around the subject black. same thing in both sets of prints.

    On crowd shots I've got slightly better background light, but it still drops off a bit much and is practically black at the farther back areas.

    the negatives are pretty true to the prints. could walgreens have underdeveloped them???

    both rolls and therefore lenses had the same problem. I'm shooting with a canon elan iie and dedicated speedlite 380ex (set to the green dot mode). The lenses were the standard zoom kit lens and a wide angle prime, both canon. I pretty much shot everything with the autofocus it/keep those settings/switch to manual method, with both lenses. The film is walgreens brand dx 400 iso.

    I have hp5 rolls all over the place that I can't develop at the moment, so these color things are all I really have to go on for right now. I'm used to using 400 iso in this environment but I have no idea how the b&w is coming out. This didn't used to happen. I borrowed the exact same equipment from someone once and it turned out great, with the difference that it was hp5 film and the iso was pulled on that roll.

    this particular camera is a used one I just purchased (because I liked that camera so much) and I don't have any other negs to compare it too from this exact camera yet. the flash unit is the same exact unit I used then, so I know for sure its not the flash unit itself (unless of course pulling film in this camera would make that difference, because I didn't pull it this time).

    sigh.

    wth is goin on? film? camera? walgreens? or me?

  2. #2
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Light has a tendency (grin) to drop off geometrically as the distance increases arithmetically. With color film, you don't have much laddytood, either.

    When doing wedding tables, we always shot down from a small step ladder to minimize light fall off. Hard to do with rock crowds, tho.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Try slow sync. If you're using a dedicated flash unit, you may have to override its settings.

    Set the aperture for the recommended auto flash setting. Take a meter reading with your camera for the background without flash and that will tell you what shutter speed you need to get a normal exposure in the lighting you have, at the aperture required by the flash. Now practically, the sync speed is likely to be too low to stop camera motion, so your options are to use a higher speed and accept that the background will be dark, but not as dark as if you had used the X-sync speed, or you allow for some motion blur, which when used creatively can add some dynamism to the shot.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  4. #4
    rmolson's Avatar
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    On camera flash is probably the worst offender of light falloff. If you can remove your flash unit and hold it above yoru head and angle theunit yocan feather theforeegroundlight a bit. IT's an old press camera trick witha little experince youan get g=q

  5. #5
    rmolson's Avatar
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    whoops hit the wrong key You can get quite good at aiming the flash gun

  6. #6

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    I think you have multiple things going here.

    Bad contrast and lack of details in highlight and shadow can easily be film and/or processing. I had similar experience with inexpensive Fuji film with store mini-lab processing. My result showed very fuzzy focus, cartoon like color, and lack of details.

    Over-exposed foreground and under-exposed background are nature of flash photography. Especially smaller flash units have tendency to show this problem. Light fall off at inverse of square of distance, meaning twice the distance, 1/4 of light... If you have another camera, you can replicate this condition easily.

    I don't think your test were good enough to determine the condition of your camera/equipment. My suggestion would be to use better quality film and redo the test. I don't know where you are, but if you'd like to test with B&W film (such as Tri-X, Plus-X, Tmax, etc), I'll be glad to process it for you. (I'm in Florida)
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Use larger apertures, bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling if you can, and slow the shutter down; these items allow the background to get onto the film better. If you are using a smart flash of some sort in A or ttl mode the system should balance better.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8

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    that's normal for on camera, straight ahead flash.

  9. #9

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    It's typical of direct flash regardless of the flash, film or processing.
    Unless you change the direction of the light you're going to get the same result every time.
    Bounce is the most forgiving, assuming you have a powerful enough flash. Off camera assuming you have a sync cord you can do it with. Another method, if you can do it is turn on more ambient light. Obviously if it's a large room or large crowd, you're hosed.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  10. #10

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    wow, thanks for all the responses!

    appreciated...

    so I see most of you think its typical and it is in a sense, I mean clearly thats a common problem for people that arn't used to the environment. but for me its kind of atypical because I shoot this all the time, (I mean, this is what I shoot) so i've been able to sort of make it work and avoid the whole not used to the environment problem. I've had a few random frames where this problem occured but I never did figure out what I was doing differently...

    I am very tempted to say it somehow got itself in a center wieghted metering mode now that I've done a little research... probably just the dial getting switched without me noticing somehow. my plan is to play with the metering modes over the next roll and see if center wieghted shots are when this happens. I'll let y'all know if that was it!

    film scanner's on its way so I can finnally see what to expect from my b&w negatives from the last few weeks... hopefully those come out a little bit better, but they do look hopeful

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