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Thread: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

  1. #1

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    First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    I have owned this camera for a couple of months and every time I go out to shoot its either very cold or snowing, the weekends are the only time I get to learn about how to operate this camera.
    Now to what I got frustrated about, Iím not a rocket scientist and frankly the metering has me going in circles, I have read much online and have a few fine books to guide me.
    Todayís event: went to a favorite place just to play for awhile and learn Ö Ok! Snow, mountainous, and clear blue skyís Ö here is my deal the lens that I have itís speed or timing only goes to 400, took a reading with my meter (off the snow) using f/16 for a stop to learn from, it came up with a speed of 500 @ f/16 so that gave me my first thinking trial, but that was easy just went to f/22 @250 to help with the lens speed. Now I know that I have to stop up to make the snow white so, using the thinking from Steve Simmons book that goes
    f/16@500
    f/22@250
    f/32@125
    f/45@60
    Are all the same so to say except for the diameter of the f/stop.
    So having the f/22 @250 and wanting to be smart (ha) went to f/32 @125 I think that would give me 2 stops (right?)
    Now what if I just went to f/45 @250 would that be the same Ö Iím I on the right track?
    Light meter that I use is a Sekonic 558, I know itís too much for me but E-bay and the price (devil) drove me to it. Ha
    Oh! And the film used was Provia 100 F
    And one more thing I had a blast with this format at least today, Iím sure knowing the person that I am. It will be for awhile.


    Books are:
    Brian Lav, Zone system step by step guide
    John Shawís, Close-ups in nature
    Steve Simmons, Using the view Camera

    Online resources:
    Large format Photography forum
    Photonet.com forum
    And what ever else I find from these sites
    I guess thatís about it for me, now
    Please excuse my bad grammar and punctuation, like I said Iím no rocket scientist
    Lynn

  2. #2
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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    Read more on metering. That list of aperture/shutter combinations are all equivalent exposures. f/32 1/125th is the same as f/22 1/250th in terms of exposure, because the shutter speed change compensates for the aperture change. Also remember that f/32 is a smaller aperture than f/22 (the numeric part is sort of the denominator of a fraction).

    Secondly, you need at least two stops more exposure relative to your meter reading for snow. So, if I meter snow and it meters f/22 @ 1/250th I'd go f/8 @ 1/250th (two stops more with the aperture) or f/22 @ 1/60th (two stops more shutter speed).

    I'm fairly inexperienced with shooting film but I think you could actually give snow 3+ stops over and still have detail on a good B&W negative film. From my more extensive digital experience ~two stops over middle grey will give pretty decent snow without losing detail to overexposure.

  3. #3
    Sheldon N's Avatar
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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    I use a Sekonic 558 and it's a great meter. In your specific situation, there are two approaches. You will want to make sure that your meter is set in aperture priority mode first before trying either.

    Option 1
    Set the meter in ambient mode, point the little dome at the sun and take a reading. I'd bet that it would say something very close to f/16 at 1/100 (which is the sunny 16 rule - at f/16 in bright sunlight your shutter speed should be 1/film speed). Go with that option and you will be very close.

    Option 2
    Set the meter in spot mode, and visualize the scene you are about to photograph. Take a spot reading from the brightest spot in the scene (push the button with your thumb right below the eyepiece) then lock it into the memory (push the opposite button on the other side of the meter, likely where your index finger is right below the spot meter lens). Repeat this process with the darkest item in your scene, then with a few middle toned items.

    You'll notice that a couple of tick marks appear along the shutter speed scale at the bottom of the display. Each tick mark represents a reading, and each number on the scale represents one full stop (doubling of shutter speed).

    Push the Ave/EV button, and the meter will give you the exposure that it thinks is most accurate for your scene. You will want to double check that it is not more that two stops below the brightest thing in your scene, or more than two stops above the darkest thing in your scene. Otherwise that part of the scene will go pure white or solid black. If there is too much brightness range for the film to handle, then you have to make the decision about whether you want to lose the highlights or the shadows.

    If you try both options on the same scene, you'll often find that the readings are very close.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #4

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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    Thanks Walter, that was quick, I thought that I was wrong but it was cold and windy today and my thinking was the same. Having used digital also, making mistakes doesn't mean you learn you just delete it and try again ... that's why making this mistake isn't going to detour me from doing this, I have a note book and right down all my info so that I can remember my mistakes instead of just trying another combination to do better without learning
    I believe that this will teach me more in two shots than all my digital experiences, it was the first time using a light meter not inside the camera that threw me off when I look inside a SLR I know which way to go.

    Oh Wow, Sheldon that's something I read but not tried yet, might be my other lesson

  5. #5
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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    Quote Originally Posted by Wanderon View Post
    I believe that this will teach me more in two shots than all my digital experiences, it was the first time using a light meter not inside the camera that threw me off when I look inside a SLR I know which way to go.
    If you have a digital with manual controls (e.g. an SLR) you could use it as a great learning tool to really figure out how metering works. Set it to "M" and start using your light meter just as though you were using your large format rig. You'll figure it out in no time.

    The other, much more expensive, option, would be to use polaroids. The advantage of shooting polaroid (e.g. type 55) is that your metering has to be pretty much dead on - you must know exactly what you're trying to do - because it's pretty high contrast and very low lattitude. Like slide film.

    However you go about it, I would suggest that learning exposure fundamentals with large format is not the best route unless you've got endless time, money, and patience There are much better ways. A good book on general photography (need not be view camera specific) should be step 1.

  6. #6

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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    "So having the f/22 @250 and wanting to be smart (ha) went to f/32 @125 I think that would give me 2 stops (right?)
    Now what if I just went to f/45 @250 would that be the same Ö Iím I on the right track?"

    Assuming that the snow was the only element in the scene that you cared about exposing correctly, you're on the right track but going in the wrong direction. If you metered the snow at f22 and 1/250 and wanted it to appear a bright white but still with some texture then you would open up two or three stops from your meter reading (i.e. go from f22 to f11 or f8) and leave the shutter speed at 1/250 (or you could leave the aperture at f22 and reduce the shutter speed by the equivalent of two or three stops, which would be 1/60 or 1/30). When you changed to f32 you did the opposite of what you wanted to do, i.e. you stopped down (went to a smaller aperture) and it was by only one stop not two.

    That's the theory, in practice you probably wouldn't want to photograph at f8 or f11 with a large format camera because apertures that wide often would produce insufficient depth of field. In real life you would have started at probably f45 and a shutter speed of 1/60 (same exposure as your f22 at 1/250). Then when you opened up two stops you'd be at f22, which is a more realistic f stop at which to photograph with a LF camera. Or as noted above, you could have left the aperture at f22 and decreased the shutter speed by the equivalent of two or three stops, i.e. from 1/250 to 1/60 or 1/30.

    Opening up and stopping down can be confusing at first because the larger the number the smaller the aperture, which is sort of counter-intuitive. It might help if you mentally make a fraction out of the numbers by putting a "1" above them. Then f8 becomes 1/8, f11 becomes 1/11, f16 becomes 1/16 etc. etc. Since it's obvious that 1/8 of something is bigger than than say 1/16 that might help you remember that f8 will be a bigger aperture than f16 or whatever. Or maybe that's more confusing than just remembering how the aperture numbers work. When I used to suggest the fraction idea to my Beginning Photography students (who were fine art majors and not mathematically gifted to say the least) about half threw up their hands in dismay as soon as they heard the word "fraction" and the other half thought it was really helpful.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  7. #7

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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    Many thanks Brian, I get the fact that I went the wrong way now, and that was the reason for going with the f/45 was toget more dof. I just find that having numbers that go against each other or seem too makes my head hurt ...
    (f/22 @250 and wanting to be smart (ha) went to f/32 @125 I think that would give me 2 stops) I'm still not sure if I'm wrong here. losing one stop of speed and losing one stop of aperture is that not two stops? I'm not arguing I would really like to understand my thinking with all the help that is here, if there is anyone that can help.
    Brian the fractions idea is great I'm in construction and it will be easier to remember (later) not right now
    Thanks

  8. #8
    Rio Oso shooter
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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    I was going crazy like you in the beginning. Not to be confusing, just a suggestion, try the EV scale. When things are given in f-stops and shutter speeds it gets confusing very rapidly. With the EV scale, when you meter one part of the scene and another part of the scene all you have to do is subtract the 2 values to find out how many stops they differ by. With Provia you only have 4.5 stops from the darkest to the lightest to work with. At first things are overwhelming because there is so much information. It took me about 2 months to get on top of it. It helps if you have a local shop who will do 2 or 3 frames at a time in one day to really get going. Winter is a tough time for a beginner because you only have 1 feedback cycle per week. Work with your meter during the week to understand how the thing works.

    Kick back and enjoy it!
    Richard Adams

  9. #9

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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    "(f/22 @250 and wanting to be smart (ha) went to f/32 @125 I think that would give me 2 stops) I'm still not sure if I'm wrong here. losing one stop of speed and losing one stop of aperture is that not two stops? "

    Assuming that by "losing one stop of aperture" you mean stopping down by one stop (i.e. making the aperture smaller), and that by "losing one stop of speed" you mean decreasing the shutter speed by one stop, then by doing that you actually don't change the exposure at all. Going from f22 to f32 means you stopped down by one stop, which cuts the exposure by half. When you decreased the shutter speed from 1/250 to 1/125 you increased the exposure by half. So the two changes offset each other from an exposure standpoint and left the exposure the same (though depth of field was increased a little, assuming you made no other changes).

    When you get a meter reading and then wish to change the exposure from what the meter is telling you is a "correct" exposure to the exposure you think you need to get the effect you want, you have to leave either the aperture or the shutter speed the same as the meter reading. When you change both in opposite directions by an equivalent amount (which is what you did in the above example) you actually don't change in the exposure. For example, you metered the snow and got a reading of f22 @ 1/250 but you presumably knew that such an exposure would produce snow that looked kind of gray in the print. And you didn't want the snow to be gray, you wanted it to be white. So with negative film you knew you needed to increase the exposure (i.e. let more light fall on the film, which would produce a denser negative and a whiter print). To let more light fall on the film you would need to either open up the aperture (make it bigger) or decrease the shutter speed (or you could use a combination of the two but that's getting too confusing).

    With snow the usual practice would be to gain two additional stops of exposure over and above the meter reading in order to get a print with snow that looks bright white instead of grayish. So instead of going from f22 to f32 (which cuts your exposure by half and therefore is doing the opposite of what you want) you would go the other way, i.e. from f22 to some wider aperture, usually two or three stops for snow, while leaving the shutter speed the same. Or you could leave the aperture at f22 and gain the additional exposure by decreasing the shutter speed by the equivalent of two or three stops, i.e. from 1/250 to 1/60 or 1/30.

    It definitely can be confusing at first because with negative film you have two things going on that I think are counter-intuitive. You use a smaller aperture "number" to make the aperture bigger and you make the negative darker to get the print whiter. But don't be discouraged, eventually it becomes second-nature and even begins to make a kind of convoluted sense. Also, there is some oversiimplification involved in what I've said but I've tried to stay away from complete technical accuracy in order to hopefully illustrate the relationship between apertures and shutter speeds and how they relate to one another from an exposure standpoint.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: First shots with a 4x5 frustration

    There are some advantages to an old-fashioned analogue light meter: You measure the light in EV, set the dial mechanism to that value, and can immediately see all the combinations of speed and aperture setting that will give the correct exposure based on that reading. The way the pointer moves when you point the meter around also gives you the span of the readings in a more obvious way.

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