View Full Version : Velvia Color Shift

Dan V
23-Mar-2005, 20:19
I recently shot my longest-yet exposure on Velvia 50 on a sunny afternoon - but in deep shade under forest canopy. Photo is of small plants taken at f/45 and 20 seconds. Plants came up green alright but there is an overall nasty blue cast to the film.

After searching this and other forums, I was reminded about reciprocity failture, and learned that Veliva supposedly shifts to green, not blue. So my question is: how much of this color shift is due to the deep shade versus reciprocity failure; or was I knee deep in both problems? Aside from waiting for better light or using a flash, would the solution have been a magenta color correction filter for reciprocity failure or a yellow warming filter? Have neither filter at present, so I cannot run tests anytime soon; but your helpful comments appreciated.

Dave Moeller
23-Mar-2005, 20:28
I'm afraid I can't help you solve this problem, but I will tell you that once I was taking a macro shot of a mushroom in deep forest shade (approx. 30 second exposure)...the tan mushroom with the red spots came out purple on my slide. I expected a color shift, but not quite in that direction. The picture is interesting nonetheless, but if I'm going for longer exposures these days I shoot with Provia instead.

Jim Galli
23-Mar-2005, 20:37
Dan, according to a hoary cheat sheet that has been in my wallet for 10 years now, for a calculated 20 second exposure you would need 35.5 seconds and an 812 filter. An 812 is 10M magenta correction and an 81A combined. It tames some of the blue from the open shadow light and corrects the green / mud shift. I forget what the filter factor for the 812 is, I always just used to meter through it.

Kerry L. Thalmann
23-Mar-2005, 20:43

What you are seeing is NOT a color shift caused by the film. Open shade has a strong blue cast. For the "best" colors, shoot on an overcast day, instead of a sunny day. The high overcast acts like a huge soft box and gives the best colors with no harsh shadows.


brian steinberger
23-Mar-2005, 23:40
at 20 seconds, this could be reciprocity failure, but the shadows further shift the color. definatley use an 81 series warming filter or an 812 next time. i think that even shooting on an overcast day requires a warming filter. but shade on a sunny day is definately more blue, because the sky reflects blue. there is no filter factor on the 812.

Daniel Geiger
24-Mar-2005, 00:03
This is a problem with color temperature (the "Kelvins"). Velvia is a daylight balanced film for 5500 Kelvin, whereas shady areas have much higher color temperature (I would guess something like 8000K: a color meter would tell you exactely what the temperature is). These high color temperatures translate to a strong blue cast. Possibly more familiar is the yellow/orange cast when you photograph inside with normal house hold lamps (incandecent lamps ~ 2600 - 2800 K) using daylight film.

Most basic photo textbooks (e.g., Struebles Photographic material and processes) explain the color temperature in more detail.

The 81 series filters will help to solve that problem. Knowing exactely which filter to use is very difficult without a color meter, because the human eye/brain is good a making "custom white balance" on the fly. Color meters cost about US$1K new, about $600 on ebay. They tell you about the balance between red and blue component of the incident light and how to adjust it with filters for a particular film (see also mired shift values: Mired = micro reciprocal degrees).

The above will account for about 90% of your color shift. The remainder is due to long exposure and unequal reciprocity error in all the layers of the film. I recently did a 16 s exposure with an 81A for some mushrooms in the understory of California oak trees using Velvia 100F, and looks fine to me, whereas the non-filtered images is decidedly off.

Doug Meek
24-Mar-2005, 06:54
The 812 has a 1/3 stop filter factor.

Dan V
24-Mar-2005, 09:12
Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. Knowing that I will likely encounter similar lighting conditions in the future, a warming filter is now on my want list.

BTW, in my earlier readings, I came across an uncomplimentary comment about Tiffen filters that I wonder if any of you can confirm: that they're made of "green glass" - the implication being to select another brand.

Found a good write-up on warming filters at http://www.2filter.com/faq/warmfil.html

Daniel Geiger
24-Mar-2005, 16:00
Re Tiffen filters, I would second the concerns about quality. If you spend some serious cash on LF equipment, why skimp on filters? Remember, the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. So why degrade the performance of a system by using cheap filters?

B&W is made by Schneider (well-known for LF lenses) and Heliopan is made from Schott glass also used by Zeiss (you may have heard of Zeiss). As far as I can see from the forum postings, if you need graduated filters, or resin filters, then Lee is the choice of most, including my own. I have grad ND as well as 81 series filters (81, 81A, 81C [81+81A = 81B]) filters from Lee and am quite happy with them.

25-Mar-2005, 00:36
Hi Dan,

I'm also a LF beginner and would like to share what I've learned FWIW. Some of my comments are based on my experience with shooting Velvia 50 with 35mm.

Jack Dykinga writes in his book, Large Format Nature Photography (recommended), "...5CCM (color compensating magenta 05) filter is recommended by Fuji for long exposures..." and he uses Velvia 50 a lot. I haven't confirmed the Fuji source, but a couple of warming filters would be nice additions for various puroses in your bag. As to which ones to have, there would be as many recommendations as the number of possible filter combinations, including "none." Personally, I like a little blue shift/cast of a long exposure or on a hazy day when it seems more like how I saw them and remember them in my mind. I guess it depends on your artistic interpretation. To find out what you need or like, I strongly encourage you to FORCE yourself (I often find it hard in fleeting moments) to take good notes about the light condition and your intentions so that you can compare what you tried to do and what resulted.

Regarding Tiffen filters, the concern seems to be widespread. B&H has a TIFFEN FILTER FAQs page here (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=getpage.jsp&A=getpage&Q=Product_Resources/filter_faq.jsp). Although I tend to avoid Tiffen's standard (uncoated) filters, it's like the perpetual debate on which lens is the best. I've been trying to convince myself that, with a limited budget, the money best spent would be on another box of films.

Funny I didn't think about these things carefully when shooting 35mm...


John C Murphy
26-Mar-2005, 13:14
Typically, I like to shot my forest scenes on overcast days because sunlight through trees produces a contrast nightmare. It is shocking how much color correction is necessary in this setting: usually warming filters stronger than 81B are mandatory! For Velvia, I use at least an 81C (or B+W KR3) too make the green stuff look natural, and 81D or 81EF or even 85C to add increasingly stronger amounts of "yellow" to the foliage (the filters are not yellow, but their effect on foliage looks yellow to me). Note also, the polarizer is a good idea to eliminate some of the reflections from the foliage, thereby "deepening" their green color. Incidently, unless you are under a heavy canopy of foliage, the usual exposure for Velvia on an overcast day is around f/22 for 1/2 to 2 seconds. Hope this helps.