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Thread: Indoor Still Life Question

  1. #1

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    Indoor Still Life Question

    Before moving over to 4x5 film, all my still life subjects were taken on digital using just the modelling lamp inside a soft-box and an occasional grid. Just by adjusting the ISO / Shutter speed, I could more or less get the low key effect I was aiming for right out of camera.

    4x5 Film is a different ball game
    Apart from not been able to see the exposure ( I don't own a polaroid back) I am finding that the negatives are not quite producing what I want. To give you an example, at f/32 the light meter is reading in the region of 15 - 30 seconds when using the soft-box. At these long exposure times, I am running into reciprocity which is also another headache.

    Rather than try to get the low key effect out of the camera, on film, would I be better creating an average exposure (increasing the light intensity) and then trying to re-create the low key effect in post production through dodging and burning ?

  2. #2

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    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Brush up on your bellows and reciprocity factors (not hard to apply compensation that works well after you get the hang of it)... Increasing intensity means a lot more light output is required, with more heat and current, but not needed for still life subjects (in a dark shooting space)...

    Better to get a normal, well exposed negative that gives you the greatest choice of printing/scanning options than a narrow range neg which might barely give you a single range to make a (barely) passable result...

    Steve K

  3. #3

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    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Better to get a normal, well exposed negative that gives you the greatest choice of printing/scanning options than a narrow range neg which might barely give you a single range to make a (barely) passable result...
    Thanks Steve. Somehow I thought this was going to be the case but just wanted to ask the question. Rather than trying to get a low key effect right out of camera and wind up with like you say (a narrow range negative) I will attempt to get a well exposed negative and then result to building the mood in post production.

  4. #4

    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Quote Originally Posted by IanBarber View Post
    Thanks Steve. Somehow I thought this was going to be the case but just wanted to ask the question. Rather than trying to get a low key effect right out of camera and wind up with like you say (a narrow range negative) I will attempt to get a well exposed negative and then result to building the mood in post production.
    Might you be better served using the flash rather than the modeling bulb, the effect you have with the continuous light can be replicated with the flash, the word modeling bulb is a bit of a clue. You just need a flash meter, it should not take too long to be able to judge the correlation between the two light sources.

  5. #5

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    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Quote Originally Posted by aluncrockford View Post
    Might you be better served using the flash rather than the modeling bulb, the effect you have with the continuous light can be replicated with the flash, the word modeling bulb is a bit of a clue. You just need a flash meter, it should not take too long to be able to judge the correlation between the two light sources.
    Thanks, I will expose a few sheets later today and experiment with the flash

  6. #6

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    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Quote Originally Posted by aluncrockford View Post
    Might you be better served using the flash rather than the modeling bulb, the effect you have with the continuous light can be replicated with the flash, the word modeling bulb is a bit of a clue. You just need a flash meter, it should not take too long to be able to judge the correlation between the two light sources.
    I generally use my digital camera as a 'meter' in cases like these. With the added benefit that you can easily see how different light sources relate to each other.

  7. #7

    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    When I work with controlled light and film, I use a flash meter (Sekonic L308), test exposure on a good old fashioned non-ISO-agnostic DSLR, then shoot some FP100C or just normal sheet film. Best of all worlds for me, personally. I'm not good enough with dodging and burning in the wet darkroom, and don't want to spend a bunch of time scanning 300MB files and working with them, so nailing it OOC works for me. Plus, relying on post in a wet darkroom means replicating the dodging and burning each time. Get exposure, and more importantly the dev, right and it is easier. Of course, that's also the trick, ha. YMMV, of course. Please post examples!

  8. #8

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    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Low key images begin with lighting.If the light is low, the effect will be the same if exposed correctly. Light so there are no bright areas. The brightness range should be 3 stops or less. if you use an incident meter, read the meter and then give the scene 1 to 1 1/2 stops less exposure. If a spot meter, place the highlight on Zone IV1/2 or V.

  9. #9

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    Re: Indoor Still Life Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    Low key images begin with lighting.If the light is low, the effect will be the same if exposed correctly. Light so there are no bright areas. The brightness range should be 3 stops or less. if you use an incident meter, read the meter and then give the scene 1 to 1 1/2 stops less exposure. If a spot meter, place the highlight on Zone IV1/2 or V.
    Thanks Jim.

    On my last experiment, I used an incident meter reading and looking at the negative, I would have said 1 - 1/2 stops less exposure may have curtailed the bright areas a little. Something to try next time

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