Exposure for slide film...

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by AndrewG, May 20, 2008.

  1. AndrewG

    AndrewG TPF Noob!

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    Taking into account the very marginal exposure latitude of colour slide film are there any particular metering rules/techniques that I should be aware of in order to achieve correct exposure using reflected light metering only?
    Many thanks.
     
  2. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Expose for the highlights. Develop for the shadows. Opposite that of negative film. Your exposure latitude is 3-3 1/2 stops. So make sure you place your highlights only one stop above an average meter reading such as an on-camera light meter or a regular wide field (30 degree field) light meter.
     
  3. doobs

    doobs TPF Noob!

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    Expose correctly.
    Make sure to not under or over expose (unless very little for the vanity of it).
     
  4. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I shoot mainly landscape and this is how I do it for contrasty scenes than may exceed the dynamic range of slide films (I am not sure it is the right method but in most cases it works for me). I meter for a mid tone and I filter the highlights to make sure they are not burnt (for landscape it usually means a ND grad filter on the sky) and leave the shadows 'sort themselves out'. This way you may get blocked up shadows under very contrasty conditions but I don't think they are as disctacting as blown out highlights.
     
  5. AndrewG

    AndrewG TPF Noob!

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    Chris, my films will be lab-processed. Would exposing for the highlights leave my shadow areas unacceptably dense with an automated process?
    Would exposing for mid-tones (green grass or grey paving) as I do with negative film give acceptable results with reversal film?
    Sorry for all the questions but, as you can see, slide film is a new area for me!
     
  6. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I find that slide film has a little more dynamic range than the 3 to 3.5 stops that Chris suggested, but the idea of exposing for the highlights that Chris and Steph have already given is how I do it. I either use an incident meter in full illumination or take a reflective reading off my hand, again in full illumination. All similar to using a midtone reading. For green grass I would be inclined to stop down a little from the reading to avoid overexposing the highlights. I find that for many films I can use the reflective reading from my palm with the meter set to the box speed and without any adjustment.

    I hardly ever develop for the shadows - just let them fall where they want to. As Steph says, the main thing is usually to avoid blown out highlights. Many people give a little (about 1/2 to 1/3 stop) deliberate 'underexposure' to slide film to stay away from wishy-washy highlights.

    Good luck,
    Helen
     
  7. KevinDks

    KevinDks TPF Noob!

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    What Steph and Helen said is what I do, more or less. I'll pick a mid tone and bracket a bit from there. Don't think anyone has mentioned bracketing - if you are ever going to need to do it, it will be with slide film.

    You have to be prepared to compromise sometimes (e.g. in contrasty conditions that Steph mentioned), because you simply can't capture the same range of highlights and shadows that you would with negatives, so you have to decide what is important for a particular scene. Graduated ND filters are a must, and generally people think that blocked shadows look better than washed out highlights, but it's important to experiment and see what you like. If you are interested I can post a couple of examples that will show the difference a whole stop can make on Velvia 50.

    I've recently tried slide film (Kodachrome 64 in fact) in a 35mm compact (my 'walking about' camera), which has basic controls and no detailed information display from the exposure meter. The results are surprisingly good, so in general my advice would be not to worry too much if your scene is evenly lit, just do what your camera's meter suggests, but experiment, get used to the film and you will quickly learn what it can and can't do.

    Kevin
     
  8. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Makes my skin crawl, but yeah. When in doubt, bracket. And learn the Zone System, the exposure end of it anyhow. Might be able to gleen some insight into how t make it work better than simple trial and error. Good luck and have fun.
     
  9. AndrewG

    AndrewG TPF Noob!

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    Kevin, thank you; any examples would be greatly appreciated. I have some Kodachrome slides of myself when I was eight years old (1960) taken during a particularly cold, snowy winter here in England. Knowing my parents' general lack of interest in the technical aspects of photography I imagine they were taken using an Instamatic-type camera (although the Kodak was 126 and didn't appear until '63-now I'm curious as to what it may have been!). Regardless they are very saturated and look reasonably accurately exposed seen through a viewer.
     
  10. KevinDks

    KevinDks TPF Noob!

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    Scanning these slides last night I realised that it would be quite difficult to show accurately what I mean - my monitor won't be exactly the same as anyone else's and I discounted the idea of trying to match each scan by eye to the slide as too hard. So, I just used the same scanner settings and have done nothing to these but re-size them.

    Anyway, I think my point is that there are some variables - the accuracy of your shutter speed, the calibration of your meter - and there is personal taste, which is why I suggested experimenting. Lots of people under expose slide film by half a stop, and in the following examples you can see how that helps the colour saturation, but at the expense of detail in the shadows in this particular scene. Personally I prefer the second, "correctly" exposed example, and the lesson I have learned is that in quite contrasty scenes a little more exposure is likely to give me a picture I enjoy.

    Both of these appear quite a lot darker and less vibrant on my screen than the slides appear by eye or when projected. The scanning process has exaggerated the differences a little and on reflection I'm not sure how useful this is going to be:

    1. Velvia 50, f/22 for 1/8th of a second. Camera meter showed half stop under

    [​IMG]

    2. Velvia 50, f/22 for 1/4 of a second. Camera meter showed correct exposure

    [​IMG]

    Kevin
     
  11. KevinDks

    KevinDks TPF Noob!

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    I'm a bit happier about sharing this one. Same film, same camera, exposed as everyone has described by metering from a midtone (in this case the grey paving slabs I was standing on). The highlights are fine, and the shadows have fallen where they will:

    [​IMG]
     

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