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sperdynamite
9-Jul-2015, 13:43
Soooo I am actually fairly experienced within photography and large format. I've been a pro since college and got a BA from Southern Illinois University in 2007, doing my graduating portfolio on 8x10 160 and 400NC (those were the days). But I am getting back into shooting large format for landscape and documentary work and I'd like to hear some best practice information about metering for a landscape scene with color negative film. I use a Sekonic L558. For a given portrait I meter incident and over expose by at least 1 stop, but it's a bit different because skin tones are the priority there. With a landscape you might have a huge range of tones, and an incident reading can be unreliable. I've also tried spot metering off the back of my hand (rough 18% grey spot) or grey card. I haven't had a ton of success bringing in creative exposures though... I really want to improve and generally be more confident with my metering. Especially considering the cost of 8x10!

For instance, I'm heading up to Maine in a couple weeks and I'll be bringing P400 and Ektar 100, and i'll likely be shooting 8x10 and 4x5. Any general words of wisdom, or articles I could take a look at would be helpful.

For a piece of wildcard advice, would my D750 be of any use when metering a landscape, if I use it's live view mode to judge exposure?

Sirius Glass
9-Jul-2015, 15:38
Welcome to Large Format Photography Forum.

For landscapes, I mostly use reflectance meters aimed down so that I do not meter the sky. That has only worked for me for the first fifty years.

When appropriate I use an incident meter.

Drew Wiley
9-Jul-2015, 16:04
With Ektar I carefully spotmeter everything just like a chrome. I've come to understand this film quite well, and it's a gem of a film for landscape IF you understand it and don't try to shoot from the hip exposure-wise like people are accustomed to with color neg film

Preston
9-Jul-2015, 16:04
If the L558 is a spot meter, you might try exposing your brightest significant high values at Zone VII (two stops over the indicated meter reading. Doing so will give full detail in those values and will give nice blacks in the darks. Given the dynamic range of color neg, you could also try placing those values at Zone VIII.

If you use your D-750 in live View mode to judge exposure, be certain the screen brightness is set to the default. Personally, I don't use Live View as a critical decision maker for exposure, because it could be off slightly. I always view the image on the card after exposing and look at the image and its histogram.

Regardless of the meter you use, you made need to adjust your exposures because shutter speeds of your LF lenses may be off from their stated values.

--P

sperdynamite
9-Jul-2015, 16:26
For Ektar 100 in 120 I always rate it at box speed. But results are still a little inconsistent. I'll be more careful.

sperdynamite
9-Jul-2015, 16:31
The 558 is dual incident and spot. So assuming my brightest area is the sky, I would basically expose for the highlights? Would this mean literally taking a spot reading of likesay, a cloud? Or even blue sky? Lets say I'm rating P400 at 200. Could I apply general zone techniques to it? Like, exposing a shadow area at Zone III, or like you say, highlights at zone VII/I.

Also, I'm probably going to be scanning these on a V700, FYI. I know it's a PITA, but it's what I got for the moment. I've never really tested it with over exposed color negatives....

sperdynamite
9-Jul-2015, 16:35
Welcome to Large Format Photography Forum.

For landscapes, I mostly use reflectance meters aimed down so that I do not meter the sky. That has only worked for me for the first fifty years.

When appropriate I use an incident meter.

Sounds easy haha! I only have a spot and an incident at the moment so I gotta be a little picky with it. :-)

Preston
9-Jul-2015, 17:19
If your sky is clear blue, and above the horizon--no clouds, then you might consider placing that value at Zone VI. Closer to the horizon, the sky will be brighter. A clear north sky will be about Zone V. If there are clouds, place the highest values at Zone VII, to start with.

Yes, you certainly could place a significant low value on Zone III, but you'd have to check your significant highest values to see where they fall. Color neg film will hold detail across a very wide range, but the limiting factor will be what you could pull with a scan. In my own color neg work, with my Microtek scanner, I can hold detail from Zone III to Zone VII-1/2 on Portra 160.

--P

RSalles
9-Jul-2015, 17:24
Man,

Given the fact that:
- negative color film is "supposed" to have a bit narrow dynamic range then b&w,
- it's sort of un-usual to develop for minus or plus developing times as per Zone System expansion & contraction,

I would start the work with a pair of ND filters, a linear polarizer and eventually some color correction filters - UV & skylight for instance, which will make part of my bellows extension factor in exposure calculations one at a time, not all together ;)

Even if it's possible to work only with an incident light meter, my bet would use a 1 spot meter, trying to make accurate exposure for the shadows - all you already know and open shadows to zone IV - and try to contrast control the scene with ND filters when needed. You'll probably have a higher success rate dealing with sun at 60 or less, so better arrive in place until 10AM or before 4/5 PM for preparation, camera setup, composition studies and decisions, etc.,

Finally, it's crucial to really know the real ISO speed rate of the film you'll work with, to not be surprised later,

That's my $0.02 cents , i wish you luck and a bunch of nice pics,

Cheers,

Renato

sperdynamite
9-Jul-2015, 17:55
Man,

Given the fact that:
- negative color film is "supposed" to have a bit narrow dynamic range then b&w,
- it's sort of un-usual to develop for minus or plus developing times as per Zone System expansion & contraction,

I would start the work with a pair of ND filters, a linear polarizer and eventually some color correction filters - UV & skylight for instance, which will make part of my bellows extension factor in exposure calculations one at a time, not all together ;)

Even if it's possible to work only with an incident light meter, my bet would use a 1 spot meter, trying to make accurate exposure for the shadows - all you already know and open shadows to zone IV - and try to contrast control the scene with ND filters when needed. You'll probably have a higher success rate dealing with sun at 60 or less, so better arrive in place until 10AM or before 4/5 PM for preparation, camera setup, composition studies and decisions, etc.,

Finally, it's crucial to really know the real ISO speed rate of the film you'll work with, to not be surprised later,

That's my $0.02 cents , i wish you luck and a bunch of nice pics,

Cheers,

Renato

Filters are probably outside of my budget for now, considering I;d have to go Lee, or large 86mm plates for my Sinaron 300/5.6. As for the 'true' ISO, I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to establish that prior to the trip. In a perfect world, I'd have done a test box. :-) I'm going to pretty much have to rely on my metering ability and over exposure from box speed with the Portra. In 120 I've had success over exposing P400 up to 5 stops! I really wanted 400H, which I frequently rate at 100 and slower, but no sheet film! I'm guessing 160NS is similar but I don't think I'll have time to get it from Japan. Thanks for your tips! Down the line I'll do more testing and try to pick up some filters. I've wanted to get some NDs for a while now.

sperdynamite
9-Jul-2015, 17:57
If your sky is clear blue, and above the horizon--no clouds, then you might consider placing that value at Zone VI. Closer to the horizon, the sky will be brighter. A clear north sky will be about Zone V. If there are clouds, place the highest values at Zone VII, to start with.

Yes, you certainly could place a significant low value on Zone III, but you'd have to check your significant highest values to see where they fall. Color neg film will hold detail across a very wide range, but the limiting factor will be what you could pull with a scan. In my own color neg work, with my Microtek scanner, I can hold detail from Zone III to Zone VII-1/2 on Portra 160.

--P

Right, it didn't occur to me to try and relate the color tone to grey. Of course a darker blue would be more like Zone V. Great tip!

Kirks518
9-Jul-2015, 19:20
Sounds easy haha! I only have a spot and an incident at the moment so I gotta be a little picky with it. :-)

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a spot meter a reflectance (reflected light) meter?

jp
9-Jul-2015, 19:41
I incident meter everything (color and BW). It's not like slide film, you've got plenty of latitude especially if you're scanning the negatives. You can adjust the colors so much you don't remember what you started with too. For that reason, a DSLR reference shot with a manually selected white balance is a nice reference to have, even though it does not have the style of LF qualities or big dynamic range you are after.

Where you headed in Maine? Most of my photos are in Maine. Feel free to search my photostream for things like Portra https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/ A LF photographer who did color well in Maine was Eliot Porter, but you wouldn't know he did it well unless you see a first edition of one his books (sometimes found at libraries) or the dye transfer prints he was known for. I think his kodachrome style can be replicated by taming the contrast of Ektar in or post scanning, or slightly boosting the saturation of Portra once scanned.

Bill_1856
9-Jul-2015, 20:13
f:16@1/ISO.

sperdynamite
10-Jul-2015, 06:24
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a spot meter a reflectance (reflected light) meter?

You're right that it is a reflected reading but just generally pointing a 1 degree spot at the ground would be not as reliable as a general reflected lightmeter with a wider reading area. At that point you're just picking zones anyways so just go all the way.

sperdynamite
10-Jul-2015, 06:25
I incident meter everything (color and BW). It's not like slide film, you've got plenty of latitude especially if you're scanning the negatives. You can adjust the colors so much you don't remember what you started with too. For that reason, a DSLR reference shot with a manually selected white balance is a nice reference to have, even though it does not have the style of LF qualities or big dynamic range you are after.

Where you headed in Maine? Most of my photos are in Maine. Feel free to search my photostream for things like Portra https://www.flickr.com/photos/13759696@N02/ A LF photographer who did color well in Maine was Eliot Porter, but you wouldn't know he did it well unless you see a first edition of one his books (sometimes found at libraries) or the dye transfer prints he was known for. I think his kodachrome style can be replicated by taming the contrast of Ektar in or post scanning, or slightly boosting the saturation of Portra once scanned.

I am going to rely a bit on the forgiveness of portra. I just wanted to do a better job from the get go of metering and placing my exposure for my desired look. Great work in Maine! I can't wait to get up there and see what I can do.

sperdynamite
24-Jul-2015, 13:45
So I just want to say thanks for all your replies. I got my film back from Maine and my exposures look great! I did run into some out-of-coverage range with my 300mm Sinaron which surprised me, because I was only using the slider on my Deardorff's front standard, but I'll just have to be more careful in the future. Ektar 100 in large format is really a dream film! I ordered my mounting station for my V700 from better scanning and I'm working on building an 8x10 frame DIY. I haven't shot much LF since college, but after these results, I'm happy to be back!

137470

Speedgraphic - Fuji 150/6.3 - Ektar 100 - V700 quick n dirty scan.