Expose for shadows/highlights

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
peripheralfocus Veteran Member • Posts: 4,687
as other said, it's the scan, not your negative
2

brandon77 wrote:

As you know (but the OP may not), if you point a reflected light meter at a black object (shadows), it will recommend an exposure that will reproduce the object as gray (i.e. lighter than it is). To reproduce it as black, we have to reduce the exposure from whatever was recommended by the meter.

Yes this is the part I’m confused by. This photo is a good location of me trying to rate my film one stop more, and looking at the meeting in camera only. I have seen many other people shoot in the same conditions and the subject doesn’t get blown out.

Two things:

First and most important, by looking at lab scans, you are simply not seeing what you and your camera did. You're seeing what the scanner operator did. You cannot tell anything about your exposure without looking at the negative. The scans are essentially useless for that. I don't have my scanner where I am right now, but if I did, I'd run you 3 quick scans of a good negative and show you that I scan the negative to look severely underexposed, scan it to look severely overexposed, or scan it to look like it was shot on Mars.

So again, if you want to see what you and your camera are doing, you need to look at the negative. End of story.

That said, I can see from your lab's scan that the negative is fine. They could have easily scanned it to look more correctly exposed. You can just lower the brightness yourself, in Photoshop or Lightroom.

Secondly, even though your negative is fine, there was no reason for you to 'expose for the shadows' here. You don't really have any, at least not any important ones. Your K1000's averaging meter can handle this scene just fine -- no need to rate your film at a different ISO, or bias your shutter speed or aperture.

But just for illustration purposes: since the darkest part of your subject is his jeans, you could have walked up to him and pointed your camera at his jeans, adjusted the camera settings until the meter needle was at 'zero', and then backed up and shot the picture. That would ensure more than enough exposure for the shadows (i.e. his jeans).

Let's imagine he was wearing black jeans, and you wanted them to render as nearly black on the negative. Then you could walk up to him, point your camera at his black jeans, adjust the camera settings until the meter needle was at 'zero', then adjust your shutter speed one (or even two) stops faster (i.e. reducing the exposure), backed up and shot the picture. On your negative, the jeans would be correctly exposed as dark, but would still hold detail.

But remember: when that negative is scanned (or printed), the scanner operator can drastically alter the way the negative's tones are rendered in the scan. So the scan wouldn't tell you much, if anything.

Just to reiterate, Portra 400 is so forgiving, you don't need to be very precise in your exposures. If you set your ISO setting to 400, walk up to the darkest shadow you care about, meter off of that, then shoot, the negative will be fine. If the scan looks crummy, it's the scanner operator, not you or your camera.

All of the above comments assume that your camera is in proper operating condition -- i.e. the meter works properly, the shutter speeds are reasonably accurate, and the lens opens up correctly to whatever aperture you have set.

Having shot in shade I also get mixed results

What would be the best way for me to metre scenes and know it’s correct before shooting, knowing I have the matte inside. Do I get a handheld one and just ignore that?

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