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Thread: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2011
    San Diego, CA

    4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    Hello Folks,

    This is a follow up to my original thread asking for advice on how to shoot with Velvia 50 RVP:

    I went out last weekend and shot my first 4 4x5 Velvia slides (which incidentally was also my very first foray into 4x5 color). I wanted to post the pictures here and get your valuable feedback, so that I can fine tune and improve my exposures in the next round, especially since my first results are far from perfect. I have the exposure conditions labeled in the pictures. Detailed info:

    1. Shot on Pacemaker Speed Graphic and 135mm Optar: Ground Glass focusing either with my Toyo loupe or with the Polroid MP4 reflex viewer. Used a Bogen 3021BPro tripod and a 488RC0 ball head. Used a cable release screwed into the shutter. the 81A filter (when used) was a Tiffen 55mm filter that I simply held in front of the lens. Not the ideal solution, but I don't have filter adapters.
    2. Shots metered with my Gossen Luna Pro F meter with Vari Angle attachment set to 7.5 degrees. I compensated the meter in accordance with the instructions. i am very confused about the metering though and I have a lot to learn here. In all the shots, I metered off the read leaves. All in REFLECTED mode.
    3. Developed at E-Six labs in Atlanta
    4. Scanned using Epson Perfection 2450 at 2400 dpi using Vuescan. Note: I did not attempt to tweak the pictures after scanning.....I am still learning the nuances of scanning.
    5. I have also conducted a scan with the emulsion side UP (by default all scans were the Emulsion side down)....would love to hear your comments on any perceived differences. (this picture is available as part of the link to the set I have up above)

    All the pictures are links to my Flickr page.

    The questions I had are as follows:

    1. Are these pictures a complete insult to the capabilities of Fuji Velvia? These were shot at about 10AM and it was a tad bright. I did realize that these were not the best conditions to shoot Velvia though.

    2. What can I do to improve the exposures? As I mentioned....I have a long way to go to master metering. Having learned what I know of photography using a DSLR, I think I have becoming heavily dependent on auto exposures.

    3. Are these pictures as sharp as they get with Velvia (at least for the ones that are properly focused) or they can be improved? I shot all the pictures stopped down to f16. the final picture could possibly be used to judge sharpness. They are 1000 px crops.

    4. This is regarding the focus issue that is apparent in the final picture. It seems to me that the act of inserting the holder into the back is shifting the camera focus. I am quite careful in holding the setup steady, but I inevitably end up with some shift and that in turn really screws up the picture. Any suggestions here?

    I would really appreciate your advice. I apologize for the lengthy post, but I wanted to ensure that you have all the details.

    Thanks a lot.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Flagstaff, AZ

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    On sunny days with Velvia, you are pretty much limited to the golden hours and possibly a bit more with the use of graduated filters. It is definitely not a mid-day film except on overcast days or deep in the forest.
    Jim Cole
    Flagstaff, AZ

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Santa Barbara

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    Your metering looks pretty good. As Jim nicely summed up, Velvia is not a film for harsh light conditions. The shadows block up fast. Under these conditions, try Astia or some color negative film. I think you will find it works much better for brighter light.

  4. #4
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Seattle, Wash.

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    I think the exposures look okay, too (though image #3 may need additional light).

    And the black shadows look normal for velvia-50 in such contrasty conditions.

    Those small, overhanging, exposed leaves (and their slender branches) are above a flowing creek and its air currents – maybe I’d crop something more stable for a “sharpness” test since you used 1/10th and 1/30th second. The shivering can differ from shot to shot.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    Sometimes I shoot RVP at EI 40 to open the shadows a bit. Of course the white highlights could get blown out. The deep shadow on your second shot probably is too deep. But I still like your pics.

  6. #6
    aka Tyler MumbleyJoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Santa Clara, CA (formerly Seattle)

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    To essentially repeat what others have said, exposures look fine, but you will run into trouble with high-contrast scenes. As a rule of thumb, I almost never include the sky in a photo taken on Velvia, as it almost inherently gets into too broad of a contrast range. I prefer to use it on isolated parts of a scene in which the lighting is more even. (Exceptions abound, but looking back at my own Velvia shots, the ones that work best fit that rule). If you're not fighting to squeeze the scene within the bounds of the Velvia's narrow exposure latitude (worrying about both blown highlights and black shadows), but instead can put your important details in the middle of the range you'll find Velvia really shines.

    Or to put it another way, I find Velvia 50 has about 4 stops of working range (Zone III (black) -Zone VII (White)), or at least I find that a good guideline to work within when I can. If you're trying to preserve details on Zone III and to not blow out the sky in Zone VII, both will be compromised. If you focus more narrowly on a part of that scene (or shoot in flatter light) and can put your details in the middle of the exposure range (Zone V) then I think Velvia comes to life.

    /I'm constantly revising my own guidelines, but that's where I'm at now.
    Last edited by MumbleyJoe; 25-Oct-2011 at 11:50. Reason: garbled words, hopefully clarified
    Go to Yosemite!

  7. #7
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Santa Barbara, CA

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    Agree with Harley and Tyler. Conditions and lighting must be perfect for Velvia to shine. I never use it any more. Too restricting.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    Personally, I really like your shots, and after shooting my first Velvia 50 last week, I like the film. But I like contrast, and seeing some color is always fun after only doing b&w for a few years. I didn't find my shadows too blocked up, but I was shooting 35mm and could bracket to get the best exposure.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2010

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    See Christopher Burkett's work as an example of what type of light/scenes work with this type of film.

    He almost never includes the sky, and focuses often on details. He prints Cibachromes so he must shoot transparencies.

    Here's a good example of his:

    totally flat light, but the impact of the image is carried by the reproduction of colors.

  10. #10
    Giovanni Sinico gsinico's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009

    Re: 4x5 Velvia 50-First Outing

    I do shot Velvia 50, and also Velvia 100 and Provia F 100, in the past I used Astia 100 and kodak 100 G.
    the best thing about shooting LF slides is that you can choose every shot the film you want. So I try to have a bounch of velvias with me if I cannot know the light it will be during the day/trip.
    I know that velvia 50 has this kind of magic (somebody call it disneycolors), but I allways meter with a spotmeter 1°degree my pics, and I trust my meter (at 50 iso) that +1 2/3 is the maximum if there is texture in the higlights for velvia.
    Also during the day if I want to use Velvia in bright day, I put one o more NG grad filter (lee filters), and I show you here what I mean:

    here I put two NG grad in the white areas from top corner on the left+ SA 58XL
    Universitas of Catania, Sicily, a bright sunday of january.

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