I myself when I am confronted with this kind of situations in night shots do the following:
with a reflected light spot lightmeter take a measure of the highest light zone that I want to have detail in the picture. That means all light sources, which will be brighter than my last highlight of interest, will be left to go white, and I will concentrate on surfaces which I want to appear "almost white" on the picture, which in your case is the brightest part of the house which is lighted by the light source. Ideally you should have only the light source to go burned.
Take a measure there, i.e. on the brightest part of the wall, which we call exposure R, and open another 2.3 EV, which we call exposure C. Actually, you could try several "R" points and should retain the brightest and calculate C after it.
That should put the measured spot near the bright end of the linear curve of the (positive) film, just before the "shoulder" (or the "foot" depending how you trace the characteristic curve of a slide film).
Check with the spot light meter which are the shadows that are still legible, i.e. that do not close completely, i.e. scan with the lightmeter to check various zones which should be let's say no more than 2.7 EV below your calculated exposition, a point that we will call F, below which level of brightness the "foot" begins and details become to be lost.
After doing this, "visualize" your picture, imagining how the highlights and the shadow will fall on the negative, and zones where the highlights will be burned and the lowlights will be blocked.
Adjust composition if you have an excess of blocked lowlights. Close exposure a bit if you see no problem with lowlights. Adjust composition if light sources create flare which you can detect, or try to place flare into uniformly dark areas so that you will be more easily able to correct them afterword.
If the highlights are of interest to your composition (and are not only let's say street lamp light source) then I would anticipate shooting at dusk, when the intensity of external light is more or less equal (probably an EV less, so that you can put dusk light on middle gray and inner lights one EV above) than the artificial highlights you are interested in.
In this case I would also bracket in time (shooting with several degrees of dusk, at let's say 10 minutes intervals).
Sometimes, or oftentimes, the contrast of illumination is too strong for any material, so you have either to accept that you will have some degree of burned highlights and blocked lowlights (and try to "place" those in the less harmful way to the image) or try some composed capture such as the one suggested by 2F/2F. In this case I think it is better to use the same aperture for the two shots, and only change exposure time.
Colour material might give you problems of colour shifts due to the defect of reciprocity, you will also have weird colour balances anyway when you mix the sky light with artificial sources of light. Fujifilm Astia is very good as far as reciprocity is concerned.
This is an example taken with this tecnique, with Astia slide film:
(scanning exaggerates contrast further).
As you can see, inevitably the highest highlights are burned and the lowest lowlights are blocked. The overall effect is, I think, pleasant. If I had tried to salvage more highlights or more lowlights, the picture would have been entirely different. The carpet is short and one has to place it carefully. I don't have experience with negative, but trying to exploit all its latitude I suppose might generate an image a bit too flat, lacking contrast. Contrast in these pictures can be nicer than detail everywhere. It's your aesthetic choice anyway...
I did not bracket this exposure, just followed said calculation.
Another thing you could do is to visualize where you want your "middle grey" to fall. Measure on that spot. The exposure read, R, will be the one you use for the shot, C. Scan the image with your lightmeter to check, again, which highlight go burned and which lowlights block.
It is likely that your lowlights, during "scanning", will fall below the minimum light value that your light meter can measure. Just concentrate on control of highlights and let the shadows "fall where they may".
PS Black and white for this kind of shots is easier because you have to fight less with weird colour balances and because B&W films maintain "reciprocity" for longer exposure.
Last edited by Diapositivo; 11-27-2010 at 06:23 PM. Click to view previous post history.