Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

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neal.niemiec
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Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

Post by neal.niemiec »

I'm seeking confirmation on proper exposure practice for transparency film.



is it simply metering your palm in the brightest light (assuming subject is in same light) & placing it in zone VI? Or is there something more subtle to it that I should be considering in terms of "exposing for your highlights." This is new to me!



Lastly - Is incident metering for portraits (with transparency film) simply an average reading off the subject's chin?





Thanks! deeply value your expertise.
darkroommike
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Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

Post by darkroommike »

Use an incident light meter. You use it to measure the light falling on your subject, not reflected, and that means that the meter and operator can't be fooled by subjects with unusual reflectances.
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perfesserkev
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Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

Post by perfesserkev »

Hi Neal. I shot chromes for years as a magazine journalist. I didn't tend to carry an incident light meter with me just because of the limit on stuff for mobility. I used a center-weighted camera meter and usually read off a flesh tone for the exposure. That could be my hand or the subject's face, and I accepted that reading (placing it on zone V in essence). Transparency film has a tolerance for slight underexposure, and pretty much no tolerance for overexposure.



With chromes just think in reverse. With a neg, best results come from being slightly on the dense side in many circumstances. With chromes it's the same thing. But to get a touch or extra density on a neg requires a little overexposure (putting flesh tones on zone VI) and to get a touch of extra density on a chrome requires a little underexposure (put the flesh tones on V-V.5)



Since transparency film is very fussy stuff I would do some testing. Use the meter you're comfortable with and then set up some brackets in 1/3- to 1/2-stop increments, aiming at a scene with a full range of zones -- have a model hold a color and zone chart. You could shoot a set of frames and if using long 35mm rolls, just take the camera into a darkroom and clip the exposed side of the film out, pull it, roll it and stick it in an opaque film can with tape and label to only open in the dark. Since it's just a test, fingerprints, dust, scratches and such won't matter. Then have it developed only, not cut, so you can see the shot order. This will give you a confident understanding of how your meter and your technique read the scene so you can make any slight needed adjustments.



If you're developing yourself, make sure that your process is under tight control. There's a lot of density and color variation that can come from temperature, time and agitation. I'd recommend a Jobo or equivalent and a water bath tempering unit to hold your chemistry at precisely 100 degrees (you can often find used ones on fleabay). Running 100-degree water in a tub surrounding the chem bottles or tanks works, too, though it is wasteful. If no Jobo you can use a roller base and Jobo tanks, or you can just lay a tightly-sealed tank down sideways and roll it yourself, moving it about two feet each direction, back and forth every couple seconds. Standard intermittent works too, though color processes were mostly designed around machine processing uniformity.



There is nothing quite so beautiful as a perfectly-exposed chrome glowing at you on a light box or projected onto a good screen...
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas
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sanchell
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Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

Post by sanchell »

Good advice. Bear in mind that most chrome film only has a 5 stop range. So, when you read your palm and underexpose don't be surprised (through testing) that you only need to underexpose by 1/3 to 1/2 stop (as opposed to a full stop of overexposure for both color and b/w negative film).



Also remember that dense shadows lacking detail are acceptable in chromes (see the work of Peter Turner http://www.peteturner.com/) but pure white is usually considered anathema.
Do it in the Dark,



Steve Anchell
neal.niemiec
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Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

Post by neal.niemiec »

Funny you mention Pete Turner - the 1st photographer I really gravitated towards as a kid - he shot all the great CTI album covers & had incredible technique in the darkroom. I'm continually impressed by pro's use of Kodachrome that was <100 ISO. I seem to think the lower ISO E6 emulsions were/are particularly vivid in their color reproduction, though I have to assume they had to be on a tripod ALL the time, which requires a ton of discipline. I'm just starting to use it more thoughtfully outside of shooting a stereo realist in the past. Thanks for all the tips. This forum has been invaluable.
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sanchell
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Proper Reflective Metering for Color Transparency Film

Post by sanchell »

Turner participated in Alexy Brovovitch's design lab, along with Avedon, Penn, Arbus, and many others. When he graduated from college he accepted his first assignment photographing Africa for Air Stream camping trailers. He created his first great body of work on that assignment. It was all recorded using Kodachrome 25 handheld.
Do it in the Dark,



Steve Anchell
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