View Full Version : Getting colour trannies wrong

Brent McSharry
9-Nov-2006, 04:43
I had a situation today with fading light and arrived 10 minutes too late ... Should have just gone for the easiest failproof technique - spot metered the sky and given 1.5 more stops, but I had a brain explosion and have significantly over-exposed for the sky, under-exposed for the foreground. the mid-ground was in direct light, and may be alright.

I think I will get the shot developed anyway (so what if the guy in the lab thinks I'm a goose who can't expose a photograph?). I thought it would be an interesting learning experience to check my composition for when the light is similar, work out if any parts of the scene have come out well, and possibly crop the hell out of it to get a usable tiny neg (well relative to the dimensions assumed in this forum).

I was interested in what the other non-commercial people who shoot colour tranies do when they realise the exposure is a little off (obviously utter disasters like not closing the shutter excluded).

Do you have the shot developed anyway, and for what reasons, or do you just chuck it and save yourself a few bucks?

9-Nov-2006, 06:05
You could push or pull the development if you remember exactly what was wrong with the exposure.

Walter Calahan
9-Nov-2006, 06:06
This commercial person (HA) would develop one sheet to see just how bad it really is, then consult with the professional at the lab to what his or her judgement is, and finally develop all the other sheet individually in stepped corrections.

The secret is to go to a good lab that has a lot of expertise under their belt.

Then today return to the scene early to reshoot and hope the light plays out the same way.

Neal Wydra
9-Nov-2006, 06:24
Dear Brent,

I don't know the economics of film development in Australia, but where I live it costs less than half a beer at a sporting event to develop a 4x5 sheet of E-6. :>) I would have it developed.

Neal Wydra

Brent McSharry
9-Nov-2006, 06:30
Thanks for all the posts so far.

You could push or pull the development if you remember exactly what was wrong with the exposure.

This had crossed my mind and I have jotted down the readings i remember. Perhaps I should give this a go.

However the range of the scene was really too great for a trannie as it was (hence the reason for my miscalculation - I hadn't had time to put any ND grads on, and usually I would have shot this scene with about a 0.6 to 0.9 ND). light was fleeting and I only got one shot. It might be workable pulled 2 stops. Now I think of it, I have only ever pushed film. I assume however that I still loose some range of contrast which I don't have to give away in this situation.

However, it was by no means a once in a lifetime shot, and I'm not loosing sleep over it - just wondering what others do.

BTW the reference to commercial photographers was in no way a sign of disrespect for the tremendous knowledge, experience and talent posessed by the guys who succeed in such an incredibly competitive industry. I love the time and effort you guys put into answering posts from goofie amateurs like myself. However I believe decisions on how and when to spend money and time are (necessarily) vastly different from us hobbyists.

Brent McSharry
9-Nov-2006, 06:39
where I live it costs less than half a beer at a sporting event to develop a 4x5 sheet of E-6. :>)

costs a whole beer here!! But I can EASILY live with that! (and plan to take your advice).

just wondering what peoples systems are when they have a miscalculated shot, knowing that whatever you do the result will be mediocre:
-try and recover the shot pushing/pulling
-develop as is
-chuck it and drown sorrows with said beer at sporting event!

9-Nov-2006, 07:19
Mistakes are important in the life. We learn by making them (some of us, at least).

Scott Davis
9-Nov-2006, 07:44
For future reference, avoid black drag queens as subject matter. That will solve the whole problem.

Seriously though...Best way to figure out how to fix it NEXT time is to develop it normal and see where it falls out. Not much to do to save it now anyway. Go down to the pub, have just one beer, and pay for the developing.

Eric Leppanen
9-Nov-2006, 09:42
I agree that you should get the shot processed, if nothing else as a learning experience to see how things worked out. As for pushing or pulling the transparency, it obviously comes down to which element you value more: recover the overexposed sky (i.e., pull) or the underexposed foreground (push). If the sky is relatively featureless (no clouds or interesting sunset colors, etc.), then one could argue that the chrome should be pushed a stop or two to recover some of the foreground (how far you push will depend on how over-exposed the center of the image will get), as you can always recreate a blue sky by scanning the chrome and reapplying sky blue in Photoshop. Otherwise you should try maybe a one stop pull and crop out the dark foreground.

You don't mention the particular chrome emulsion you are using, but in general chromes are better at pushing than pulling. Per the manufacturer, Provia 100F can be pushed two stops but pulled only 1/2 stop, for example. In practice one can often get away with a bit more than this, although the colors start getting a little goofy and require correction at print time. I usually push up to two stops and pull no more than one stop in my field work.

I think the positive aspect of your experience is that next time you'll be better prepared to deal with such a situation. There are several methods you can try:

1) Exposure bracket several shots at half stop increments. This addresses the possibility of an exposure calculation error, but does nothing for a situation where scene contrast exceeds the capabilities of the film.
2) Shoot two identical sheets at the same exposure setting, process one at a normal development time, then push or pull the remaining sheet based on how the first sheet turned out. This is what I do when shooting 8x10 chromes where bracketing is not feasible. But again, this still won't help when scene contrast is too high.
3) Always carry a few sheets of print film for "emergency" situations where scene contrast is high or you just don't have enough time for a full setup (ND grad filters, etc.). Print film has an exposure latitude of up to three stops of overexposure (it does not handle underexposure well), so you can quickly calculate exposure for the shadows and take the shot! I always carry some print film with me for this reason.

9-Nov-2006, 10:02
All of the above answers are good... however, if none of the above, go to Photoshop and see if there's anything you can do after scanning the image. :)

Good luck with it.


Brian Vuillemenot
9-Nov-2006, 11:11
Have the shot developed- you all ready paid for the film, and there may be something you can learn by studying it. At the very least, you can learn to avoid shooting transpancy film in similar situatiopns in the future. As for what the person at the lab thinks, do you really care, anyway? Do you even know this person? I shoot transparency film exclusively, and mess up quite a few shots, but if I didn't experiment and take risks, many of my favorite photographs would never have been made!

9-Nov-2006, 12:17
The lab will not laugh at you. They want to help, not hurt.

12-Nov-2006, 13:14
So not to repeat what others already said, I just want to add to it. Decide in the picture what was more important, the sky or the foreground. Likely it is the foreground you want to save because of the unique place....because there are a lot of sky images right near home that you can substitute for the bad washed out sky in PS. This way you will get a good foreground, and a good sky (if the sky is washed out badly, just forget it) from another shot. It won't be the original scene, but it will look perfect, and no one else needs to know. Considering a lot of times skies are not perfect anyways, it is no big deal to improve it by substituting. Of course, some of us purists think otherwise, but I do what it takes to make it look nice. Sometimes you have no choice, and considering the sky is never the same twice, will it really matter that much as long as you don't make it a habit. I say develop for the foreground.

I would never do something like that, it is dishonest, IMO.

Brent McSharry
12-Nov-2006, 17:20
Thanks for all the replies.

I was shooting provia 100f

I would never do something like that, it is dishonest, IMO.

Unfortunately dishonesty has been a part of photography for 100 years! some great shots capturing incredible moments actually involved cutting and pasting of negs or double exposures etc!

I believe a digital image is only dishonest if it is presented to the viewer as a photograph. If it is made obvious to the viewer the photo was manipulated, then it is not dishonest. I do not like the look or feel of heavily manipulated images myself, but each to their own.