Keep Moving Forward… 08.09.10


Emulating Film

Presets, Emulators, Digital equivalent looks to film of old. Many people put a lot of work into this. I tried it out once, a long time ago …when the Earth was green…

The Flickr Group, Presetting Lightroom got off the ground and then collated many free Develop Presets for Lightroom, some emulating old Film Stock.

Recently, I discovered someone doing excellent work on Emulators, outside of Lightroom, Pat David, using open source software called G’MIC, which has now been converted into an online processing possibility at which is worth checking out.

The thing about Patric David’s work, is that on his page with all the emulated look images, we are able to see side by side comparisons of how the different looks appear on the exact same image. This is gold. Especially for those who might wish to develop or fine tune existing Lightroom Presets for similar film stock. This is really worth checking out.

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

The physical print process

And so, experimenting with photo transfer printing using laser printer photo images onto white plastic, transparent perspex and a contact adhesive silver mirror surface.
Technical difficulties to overcome:
applying the paper image smoothly to the substrate;
removing air bubbles;
not tearing the wet paper before it’s had a chance to dry;
proofing the laser printer in black and white to establish the available, printable, tonal range for processed images;
establishing the impact that substrate nature and colour has on final image appearance, sharpness, “glow” and tonal quality.
Things to do….

Currently at the drying phase.on the left, an old flexible silver mirror, made from silver contact adhesive foil and 3mm plastic sheeting – image is a black and white print; in the middle is are my tools: foto potch, roller, brush and ruler, the potch is water soluble but dries fast so the brush needs special care and rinsing after use; in the middle also is the transparent perspex with a b&w image on it (I don’t know yet if the image should be on the front or the back, lets see what it adds to the pic; lastly on the left is a white plastic sheet with a high key colour image. Next step after drying is to wash the paper off. According to instructions, ten minutes drying time should be enough, but others have recommended, particularly for this type of substrate, a longer drying time. So we’ll see later today after a bit of time behind the window and in the direct sun.


Now the clean up, washing the paper off of the substrate and leaving the image (or most of it) still in place…


Finished. My very first 3 pieces of contact printed laser printer image transfer. In some ways I’M happy with the result. Its causing me to ask question about what went wrong and how I can do it better next time, what were the strengths and weaknesses of each type of material, and how should I change my image processing to optimize the printed results? The mirrored image (feet) has a lovely glow to it, that is missing from standard b&w prints these days. I love the transparence aspect of the perspex, I guess that’s why acrylic block is so popular. I also like the white plastic, but oh so soft and easy to damage.


The prints on the wall. It’s a start.

For today, that’s what’s in my,
Line of Sight.

Wood Transfer Prints

So, I was looking at this: and got to thinking:

a) this is really cool
b) the result is better than what I’ve seen for other videos, like this one:
c) nice segue into online editing, and
d) what if the edges were routered after making the picture, and ferous acetate used to selectively stain part of the edge, like at the end of this vid:

This being Germany, my next question was about materials, especially the Gel Medium, which turns out to be called, Malgel. There’s also a different product solution as shown in the above German video, called Foto Potch. Here’re some links:…/Rubens-Acryl-Malgel-seid…/351357531100……/C-KREUL-HOBBY-LINE-Foto-…/251707356271……/Liquitex-Professionell-G…/291420469540…

What strikes me out of all this, is that here is a way to connect back to an older aesthetic involving the actual, selection, contact print creation, support base preparation, substrate selection and actual printing of the image. Its not quite Darkroom Technique 101, but there’s a lot to this that can be challenging in order to produce a single, well made photograph.
Some things to consider, 100% White becomes the colour of your wood – What is the Contrast range for the image, the laser printer paper and ink, the colour photocopier paper and ink, and the wood that you’re printing on to? Is it 6 stops, 8 stops, 11 stops, and how do you modify “your” image for the best print result?

How coarse, grainy, or fine is the wood on which you’re printing and what effect does that have on the sharpness of the final image?

Do brush strokes become apparent in the substate gel media? if so, what creative textural impacts can we introduce? If you press the paper image onto the substrate, are the textural elements lost?
Lastly, I’ve been considering a new project, to review my entire life’s record with photography (some 40 odd years worth) and comparing images that I’ve made with some of those published in Encyclopedias of Photography: not to say my work is as great or better, but to see and compare how I’ve treated similar subject matter with what other photographers in the past have done.

This was to be a digital effort mostly, but I entertained the idea of printing my images more or less the same size as the paper prints of the photographers I would be comparing to.
Perhaps it might be of more interest, at least to me, to take this wood printing idea and apply it to this project, but not just use wood, but also, perspex, slate, corrugated iron, aluminum, etc as support media. That could be a very entertaining idea and way to spend a few months in activity…

Anyway, I think this is a cool idea that is easily implemented in most photographers, home or pro studios, as a side project for playing with. Perhaps it could even add an additional photographic product to your stable?

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Lens Calibration on the Low.

Lens Calibration is doing the rounds again, and is something that should be considered as you get more serious about your photography. While there are some pretty good solutions out there which are worth looking at: links below; please remember there are also low tech/cost ways of achieving the same outcome as some of the so called profi tools.

This video is not in English, but it is detailed enough to combine what you see with other information already out there. Enjoy.

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Motion in Photography has been around for quite some time

If you’ve never seen these before, then it is definitely worth taking the time.

It is interesting to note, that today, more than ever, there is a push for still photographers to also be motion photographers, whether that is via video for weddings or 3D representations of product. Motion is undoubtably rapidly developing photographic commodity, as well as an important bread & butter skill.

With this in mind, consider your personal internal dialogue as you take the time to view these videos made around the 1920’s…

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Having Trouble with Background Contamination?

Background Contamination… This is a curly one…

Switch your main light off.
Leave your background light on.
Take an incident meter reading of your subject, pointed at your main light – this measures how much of your background light reflects off of your main light.
IF it is more than 4 stops below 18% then, no problem – otherwise, you have a light contamination situation…

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Quick Tip – White Wedding Dress

You’re photographing a wedding dress, and its white, right?

So, expose it 2/3’s of a stop below and then pop a light (with a honeycomb grid) on the face of the model and dial it in for the correct diffuse value exposure for the face – Bob’s you Aunty’s New Live-In Lover! and the dress will look right in the eyes of the typical viewer.

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Mussing on comments by Dean Collins

So, I’m watching DC@Brooks – again; and I pick up just a little bit more.

Blowthrough on the background. i.e. in essence you don’t want your background to be brighter than 2 stops above 18% Grey, reflective… or in other words, no brighter tan 2 stops above the diffused value of your subject… I think I’ve got that right…

so, shooting at f/8 then the background should read no brighter than f/16-reflective; f/5,6 -> then f/11 reflective on the background; f/16 -> then f/32 reflective on the background; etc.

Photographic White and Black
Photographic White is 2 1/3 stops above 18%;
Photographic Black is 4 1/3 stops below 18%…

18% being the middle point.

Photographic Black is 4 & 2/3’s … Lithographic Black (for Magazines), however, is 2 & 1/3 … stops below 18% grey. (Reflective)

I want it darker…. “you’ll get it when its reproduced,” because web-press printing increases contrast by 10-15%

Thats Reflective, NOT Incident…

The standard of measure in Photography is?
What is our (photographic) 1 part? => 18%, i.e. changes by 1 stop…

With this we can measure and effect predictable changes.

If a Subject Incident Reading is f/16 THEN the background needs to be measured REFLECTIVE as f/8 for a photographic (reproducibly Lithographic Magazine) Black… etc.

Shooting with two layers of black, cotton tulle (available from Florists) over the lens, to cut base contrast by approx. 10% …
it helps to manage post-production web-press reproduction of the image, which tends to enhance contrast by 10-15%

Catalog Photography: What needs to be consistent? Colour – i.e. The diffused value of the product. Shadows and Specular is used to identify shape and texture – those are going to be (colour) incorrect, But, what needs to be correct is the base diffused value.

Eggshell Crate paint it black, cut it to size and put it on your soft boxes. Will keep the light on the subject but isolate the background by 2 -5 stops… USE IT its good!

How to get your backgrounds to all have the same consistency and brightness relative to the subject?
Light your subject relative to the brightness of the background such that you maintain the same lighting ratio.
i.e. if in the first shot, your background is 1 stop brighter than your subject? then in every subsequent shot, light your subject to be 1 stop duller than your background, however, you still need to expose for the true base diffused value of your subject.

Lastly, What exposure is it? “Its f/Good…”

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Develop your own style.


Core take home message from today,

let emotion into your photography as that is what will give you your signature style.
i.e. your photography reflects the emotions YOU bring to the shoot.
If you are emotionless, your photography will also be emotionless.

This is the first time I’ve heard someone relate something tangible, understandable and identifiable to , “Develop your own style.”

For today, that’s what’s in my
Line of Sight.

Do I Need a Portfolio? Really? Need?


Portfolios. Perhaps the single most daunting and frustrating item in the aspiring professional photographer’s toolbox. I say toolbox, because this item is not a reference, it is not static or fixed, it is constantly changing, getting worn and in need of renewing. That makes it a tool.

And by calling a Portfolio a Tool, we are able to approach it from a different energy perspective, and abandon the anxiety ridden, is right? is it enough? eat your stomach out in worry trepidation that usually accompanies the question of a Portfolio.

So, first off, what is a portfolio? In simple terms it is a collection, album if you will, of what you think is your best photographic work. Most photographers, I think get this. thus it is not so great a cause of contention, however the refining of this definition is what certainly starts the blood pressure rising with self-applied stress.

As we move as photographers into specialisation: Light Painter, Fine Art Photographer, Still Life Photographer, Commercial Photographer, Weeding Photographer, Landscape Photographer, Food Photographer, Fashion Photographer, Travel Photographer, Photojournalist, Radiographer, etc., (well, maybe not Radiographer) then our portfolio becomes a collection of our best work in this specialisation.

As a result, each specialisation, apparently, has its own format for the presentation of one’s portfolio. Frequently, this is not readily known or is so muddled in online chats its difficult to differentiate fact from fiction and evolving change in style.

Often one doesn’t know first time around how to present a portfolio until having presented the wrong format and spectacularly failed on the initial first impression, the caveat in this being outstanding images that stand head and shoulders above anything else seem before or since, but with such failing usually some small feedback or advice will be given to correct the error in expectation and delivery. Another source of information are agencies.

But! You want to go it alone, and don’t want to make that first big fail. Therein you already have. But its from failure that we learn and develop and grow.

So, what formats are there for Portfolios? Lets start traditional and move towards modern: loose photos from 8×10 through to 16×20 held in some kind of Artist’s portfolio Box; similarly mounted photos in similar storage; Photographic prints in clear sleeves and kept in some form of Binder; Photographic Prints in a Bound Book of varying quality bindings varying from paper to cloth to leather; Photobooks, again similarly bound; online gallery, or webpage, an app on a tablet or iPad; similar app on a smart phone.

Which is the right one? OMG, I can’t afford some of those options, Blind Mice! I don’t even have an A3 photographic printer…

Depending where you live in the world these can be significant issues. I currently live in Germany. I used to live in Vietnam, China, and Australia. Until now I have always been concerned with this price issue. Its a Devil’s Choice issue you don’t have the money for the high quality, photographic prints to show off your best work but without them you can’t raise patrons, potential employes or clients. Germany has a number of “Soap” shops, as I call them – Budnikowski and Rossmann are two such stores; where you can download your digital film to a local terminal or upload to an online server and order prints for a ridiculously low price per print, or price per Photobook.

Now, I’ve been dwelling on this for quite some time now… entry level portfolios, entry level… cheap as chips and not as nasty… What’s the quality like? How durable are they? Who cares? They’re every bit as good as photographic printer prints you’d make in your studio at home. They are not printed on gallery grade media and they are not aimed at being a long term investment in limited edition prints for sale or gallery exhibitions. But they’re good enough as entry level tools. To get you started whilst you hone your portfolio and slowly invest in higher prestige portfolio presentation.

Believe me, I sincerely consider such low cost printing services, or online printing services, to be the Procrastinating Portfolio Presenter’s way out. This IS the way to make a start, make low cost, easily remedied, mistakes and still hold your head up high. This is a secure way of building the right photographic portfolio tools for your photographic specialisation, AND, its what I’m doing for me.

For today, that’s what’s in my,
Line of Sight.

More Grey News

What’s the point of using a grey card? We’ve all heard the reasons, better white balancing under specific lighting conditions, but mostly for establishing the correct exposure value for any mid-tones evident in a proposed subject capture. Whatever that means?!?

In essence it’s all about exposure, and deciding the right exposure for a particular situation under the prevailing lighting conditions, be they natural, artificial or a mixture, and being able to reproduce that tonal range using whatever display medium you choose to use. It’s also about colour rendition, but more on that later, maybe.

Now, the first thing to realize is that all this has its grounding and basis in film, specifically black and white film, and in rendering good tonal range and contrast, on a piece of photographic paper. As such, as photographers got more and more into the quality control of their final dark room output, they started to focus on other elements in the workflow, such as chemical strength and age, negative density, and ensuring the best possible negative exposure so as to maximize the image information available to them when it came time to make prints.

Now I remember as a lad, in the dark room, making contact prints and test strips. The contact prints (thumbnails) allowed me to quickly choose which negative I wanted to work with. From there a test strip was made in order to determine the correct exposure of the enlarged negative on the paper being used.  This exposure ruler enabled me to look at my images and make better decisions about how best to print a particular negative.

Photographers like Fred Archer and Ansel Adams took this exposure rule and then applied it to image capture thus developing what is now referred to as the Zone System, (and it seems that the rest of us photographers have been held to ransom over Grey Cards because of it, ever since).

With this methodology and approach to image capture, a scene was evaluated for the range of tones evident. Then the photographer would make a value judgement based on which part of the scene should be put in which zone, what information was important, and what information could be discarded, as not all that information could be captured by the negative, and even more importantly, even less of that information could be presented in the final print.

In order to make exposure easier for photographers, so that they didn’t have to DIY Grey Cards, Adams started advocating Kodak’s 18% Grey Card, as it was the closest match to Middle Grey in Adam’s & Archer’s Zone System. Now this advocacy was so that a photographer could measure the exposure for an average tone, and then look at the scene and adjust camera exposure accordingly. It wasn’t the be all and end of the process, but simply a tool to establish a starting point.

I never actually got that far into it all, to visualize a scene beforehand as to how it might look in print, and to use a standard reference card for measuring exposure, so I never made connection between a zone ruler to my darkroom development exposure ruler. However, in this digital age, I have been forced to re-confront this age old photographic bastion and come to my own terms with it, which I’m finding reasonably comfortable.

The guiding principle rule here with digital photography and using a grey card, I guess, is wysiwyg, and anything that helps to minimize capture errors prior to post-production is worth consideration. But let’s just do a step back for a moment by asking a few questions.

  • How with the final image be presented to the audience? (Screen, Print, Projection?)
  • What is the dynamic range or latitude of that display media?
  • Are the output colours in the same colour space and gamut as your post-production tools? (Computer Display, Operating System, Graphics management, Software?)
  • Has your post-production system been calibrated?
  • What colour management does your digital camera use?
  • Have you calibrated your camera with the rest of your image development and processing system?
  • What is the dynamic range or latitude of your camera’s sensor? (Does this change depending on the lenses you use?)

An understanding of how your system works, how it captures colour & contrast and subsequently treats them and represents them in final presentation is crucial to visualizing how the scene you stand before will appear ‘On Display,’ so to speak.

From there, controlling White Balance at time of capture, influences colour rendition. Determining mid-tone exposure dictates the tonal range that is recorded. Playing with these two factors at various times of day will change the vibrancy, saturation and tonal contrast in your images.

Anyone who has taken a photo on a dull day and got grey, washed out, muted colours will know the disappointment that such images bring, and that because, they’ve made basic exposure compensation errors by not choosing where they want the details to appear on a “Zone Ruler” range. In end effect, all this, “Grey News,” is about, “Think first, Shoot later.”

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.


Addendum [2011.12.08]

Do you love it or hate it when watching or reading something long after reviewing a topic, “the penny drops” and you get that “ah ha!’ moment? Well today I was watching a series of vids from on youtube and during the White Balance vid it hit me smack in the face. just a simple image of a custom WB done with a white card. Why did it look grey? Then Dean Collins joined the chorus of voices in the back of my head.

Of course! “The exposure meter of the camera tries to make everything 18% grey,” so white turns grey, and black also turns grey… How many times have you gone over that statement and said, yeah I get that… but in truth don’t? This is the reason why making a custom WB setting with either a white card or an 18% Grey Card works the same. Plus, these better render colour temperature than using a black card, as the black card tends to absorb everything. “Ah Ha!, I get it!”

Now, back to gazing at the floor…

More Grey

Grey Cards, 18%, 12% Medium Grey ?!?

What a minefield this subject can be.

What is 18% Grey? Middle Grey? A Grey Card? What’s ANSI Standards got to do with it? And, do I need to buy a Grey Card? Is there another way? Can I make my own?

According some luminaries on the topic, the Kodak Grey Card 18%-R27 (new: Grey Card Plus) was designed to have a neutral colour cast and render an 18% light reflectance measurement when measured with a reflectance light meter.

The trouble with modern digital cameras, apparently, is that they measure 12% Grey, a supposedly ANSI Standard for Meter Calibration. Which begs the question, What do our light meters, meter? (An excellent read and counterpoint to the 12% Grey Argument.)

Now, conventional wisdom dictates that it costs less in the long run to buy a reference card like Kodak’s Grey Card because this allows for standardization across the board, one standard, one expectation, no confusion. Yet, confusion reigns supreme! On top of this, in some parts of this world, there is no easy access to such nice, simple things like 18% Grey Cards (or color charts, or printer/monitor/camera/workflow calibration devices, etc…)

Do you NEED to buy one? No. But you might like to look at the Wiley range of Digital Field Guides for your camera – far more useful, and it may come with a free Grey/Color Checker card inside, mine did.

Can you DIY a Grey Card? Well, Yes and No. Welcome to the equally murky world of Workflow Calibration. By this I mean, calibrating your camera, your monitor, your printer, your printer inks and your printing paper. If you can get this consistent across the board so that the colour you see and photograph is the same colour your view when looking at the final print, then printing a Grey Card (or color checker) should not be a problem.

But just for the exercise, what is 18% Grey? Now there is a lot of discussion and debate as to what is the true RGB values for Neutral Grey or 18% grey, just have a read of some of the above linked articles. You could pick one of these numbers if you like. However, if I were to go about Printing an 18% Grey Card, I’d start with matt photo card and a colour swatch that was filled with Pantone Grey82. According to’s Color Codes this would correspond to CMYK (0,0,0,18) or RGB(209,209,209) which is RGB%(82,82,82). Now this last figure is the one of interest, for me at least.

When I took a photo with a Grey Card in the image, and later did an automatic WB correction and auto exposre correction, I ended up with approx. RGB%(64,64,64) which from the same color chart, listed above, would be 36% grey. To bring this closer to 18% Grey I needed to increase the image exposure in Post by +0.82EV. (I mostly use Adobe Lightroom 3 for post-processing).

Now, all that’s quite nice and academic, but what about printing it. Well like I said before, I’d start with RGB(209,209,209) and print that onto matt photopaper, making sure I had fresh, fully charged ink cartridges and that the printer had had a cleaning cycle run through it first. Why such a high, bright, light, grey? Pick a colour space and gamut, then work from there, and see what works, for you. This is what corresponds to 18% black ink. It’s also the perceptual grey that was closest to the grey card I got in my Digital Field Guide book.

Continuing on, I’d redo the swatch with the nearest Hex Safe Grey, which is #CCCCCC which corresponds to 20% Grey, print that and then run some Zone Ruler Trials on them (see an earlier post) to see what colour casts might show up. If one of these cards work out fairly clean, then I’d get on with learning how using this “Exposure Guide” influences my photography, and the results my camera and work flow produces.

The Grey Card issue is quite a murky world but in the end, you will need to evaluate, just how useful a Grey Card would be for your style of shooting.

Further reading:

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.


Measuring Exposure

Now, all this recent discussion about Zone Meters and dynamic range stems from a need to be able to determine Exposure as best as I can with my camera. My camera, the Canon EOS 7D comes with four built in methods of measuring light and hence, determining the correct exposure for a scene. These methods are:

  • Evaluative Metering
  • Partial Metering
  • Spot Metering, and
  • Center-weighted Average Metering.

Of these, Center-weighted Average Metering most resembles how my old, Ashai-Pentax SP500 used to actually work, which I always thought and used as if it had Spot Metering. But, I didn’t always rely on just the camera’s meter, my step-father bequeathed me his hand held, Hanimex-Sekonic analogue Light Meter (with low light adapter plate) which allowed me to start to control exposure somewhat more, although it was best used for portraits.

More recently, not sure if it was functioning properly or if it’s recommendations would match those of my dSLR, I bought a new, Sekonic L-308S Flashmate, so that I could test my studio strobes when setting up a shoot in my studio. Here they are, side by side, so to speak:

The great thing about the Zone ruler Exercise, was that I was able to check exposure using all the various meter methods, and guess what, in the controlled conditions of the test, they all came up trumps, all returning the same recommendation. Not bad, not bad at al. I can be reasonably confident, that in spite of it’s age, the analogue light meter is going to give trustworthy recommendations, and due to its small size, this makes it an excellent pocket meter testing or evaluation ambient lighting conditions.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.

Zone Ruler Redux

So I revisited this, this morning at around 9:30 am, in open shade, hazy blue-grey sky, Hanoi, Vietnam., October 19, 2011.

The quality of light could most be describe, in the shade as, “Cool Blue.”

So I set up in my courtyard, which is walled on three sides and semi-walled on the fourth…

…Placed a 18% Grey Card on a laptop, for support only, and the camera on a tripod. Using a normal lens I then filled the frame with the grey card and took a series of shots at f/8 and ISO 100. I repeated this for ISO 400 and ISO 800. At ISO 800 I needed to increase the f-stop to f/16. AWB setting, Manual focus, Av mode for the 18% Grey shot and the Manual mode for the rest. and fired away.

On loading the images into the computer and collating them into a strip, I couldn’t help notice a distinct blue cast to the images.

Even whilst in camera when each image was examined, the histogram showed a  distinctly separated blue channel, right shifted well clear of the red and green channels which were more closely aligned. Significantly different from last night’s efforts under artificial light.

Studying online, I don’t really have access to my own Prof. Julius Sumner Miller to prompt me with a, “Why is it so?” So, I have to do the job myself. The issue here is one of white balance and it is clear that the Canon 7D, in this situation is not so good at guessing the correct lighting arrangement.

It took a correction of color temperature in Lightroom, and a minor tint tweak to bring all three channels in line with each other. I then applied this correction to all images taken this morning and this was the result…

I’m sure you’d agree that this is quite a difference. Now, I’m not new to this stuff. I’ve listened to Dean Colins on Lighting; watched Photoshop Cafe‘s “Perfect Exposure for Digital Photography” – The Zone System for metering and Shooting; and read through George Seper’s study notes for The Photography Institute‘s, “Professional Photography Course,” an a myriad other books, online sources etc. but I’ve never really “Got It.”

It wasn’t until I did this experiment, see the results under differing lighting conditions and make the connection with how my camera was actually functioning and why the images, sometimes were not what I wanted. Sure I’d post correct WB as a matter of course, but, it’s always so much better to get it sorted in camera before moving onto post production. the, “Ah ha!” moment has finally hit.

Moving onto ISO 400 and ISO 800 did not reveal any noticeable artifacts due to noise, or appreciable shifts in color, although Zones II and IV seem lighter than at ISO 100 and Zones VI-VIII seem somewhat darker, especially Zone VIII. Here…

This leaves me then with the following thoughts about my camera. The usable dynamic range is 10 stops from black with no detail to white with no detail. The camera favors, detail in shadow, but is fairly unforgiving with the details in the white zone, so highlights an bright detail needs to be carefully considered, whilst the shadows, will pretty much take care of themselves. the other thing that come to mind, is that I need to be mindful of how images might reproduce on paper, especially in print, which means that I may need to shift white with detail into Zone VII as opposed to Zone VIII due to the reduced latitude that paper has compared with camera/screen display.

Lots to think about, lots and lots. But the good thing is that now that I have a better grasp of this, revisiting the above mentioned luminaries means I’ll more fully understand the advice they are giving.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.

Zone Ruler for Canon EOS 7D

Was playing around tonight with a grey card and decided to mock up a Zone Ruler. This is what I came up with for my camera. Canon EOS 7D, EF 35mm f/2.0 Lens, ISO 100.

What’s interesting about this is that 18% Grey, Zone 5 is 4 stops from White with no detail and 5 stops from Black with no detail. The dynamic range is apparently 10 stops, nice.

Interestingly enough, looking at the RGB numbers, there appears to be a slight colour cast. I wonder if that is an artifact of AWB’ing artificial light – a mix of CFL and Tungsten. I guess I’ll have to try this again tomorrow with natural light and see if there’s a difference.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight

Thinking About Film

I’ve been having a bit of a think about film, and the way I used to approach exposure. As a result I’ve come to realize that Digital has given us so many options that were not even available with film.

When I was a lad, the typical range of film that was available to me, ranged in ASA (now known as ISO) thus,

ASA 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600

Thinking About Film

Much of the time, ASA 64 and ASA 1600 were waaay outside my budget so basically I had four choices of film speed, in either colour or black and white. A total of 8 film choices.

my camera was an Asahi-Pentax Spotmatic SP500 which ranged in shutter speed thus,

B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250, 500

these being the denominator in fractions of a second, e.g. 1/125 sec, 1/2 sec etc.

Lastly, the other options available for exposure control was aperture and this basically depended on the lens. My favorite lens was the Super Takumar 55mm f/2.0 lens which had a range of F-Stops thus,

2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11, 16

A total of 23 possible exposure control choices for either, black & white or colour film.

The first choice I’d make, like any other photographer of the day was, “Black & White or Colour?” Next, I’d decide, “What ASA am I going to shoot at and do I want to Push it, Pull it, or use it as rated?” Having made these choices before even picking up the camera I’d then go to the pharmacy and buy my film, one roll, two rolls etc. if I hadn’t made the choice over the free roll of film, at the time when picking up my developed photos. Our pharmacy used to send the film to the Kodak Lab in Coburg for development.

Having sorted my film out, I was left with selecting a combination of 7 Aperture settings or 11 shutter Shutter speeds. Thats 77 different combinations of which there are only seven equivalent exposures, e.g. ASA 100: 15@f/16, 30@f/8, 60@f/5.6, 125@f/4, 250@f/2.8, 500@f/2.0

From the Sunny Sixteen Rule, if I set my shutter speed for ASA100 to 1/125 sec and aperture to f/16 then, as the light faded off or tended to Patchy Cloud, Overcast, Rain, Night then all I had to do was Open Up the aperture, something like this:

Seashore or Snow Scenes under Bright Sunlight

Bright Sunlight

Hazy sunlight

Cloudy Bright

Overcast or Open shade

Rain or Street Light








So basically, all all these choices reduced down to evaluating the light and deciding change the aperture in line with the Exposure Table advisory, or change the shutter speed and adjust the aperture accordingly. i.e. Av mode (mentally) was the default shooting mode even though the camera was fully manual. Tv mode was a mental shift, in order to deal with fast moving subjects.

The only questions left to answer then were, “Is there enough light?” and, “Is this scene to troublesome to shoot?” All in all for most scenes I had 7 choices,plus the option to change speed if warranted. Almost all my attention was directed towards, Depth of Field issues. At the time, for me, film was that simple.

Nowadays, with Digital, all these choices are in the camera. This is great for flexibility, ISO settings from 100 to 12800, shutter speeds from 30 sec. to 1/8000 sec plus a Bulb option, aperture setting depending on the lens but on my ‘Normal’ lens (35mm, f/2, on APS-C) it ranges from f/2.0 to f/22 with 1/3 or 1/2 stop increments.

ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed form the points of an Exposure Triangle and an in-depth understanding of their interelatedness is essential to just getting the that damned camera thingie to work. Added to this the camera’s exposure meter has four distinct exposure modes for determining exposure, unlike my old Pentax that only had a match needle exposure metering that relied on an “Average” metering method.

So, all these options, the choice to change aperture or shutter speed in 1/3 or 1/2 increments, ISO up the wazoo and four different ways of measuring light makes “Digital” conceptually, far more complex than film ever was.

So, these musing have got me thinking about how I might be able to decomplexify “Digital Photography” at least for me with regard to approaching the camera as a photographer that needs to use it as a creative tool.

One way to clear all the clutter is to minimize the options. With the Canon 7D, Exposure and ISO can be custom set. I’ve set this to Half Stop Increments for exposure and full increments for ISO as well as disable ISO expansion. Next was to set the high ISO in-camera noise reduction to strong, and the long exposure noise reduction also to On. The idea here is to get the best possible exposed image in the camera before going to post-production/digital development.

Hopefully, this will force me to think more carefully and deliberately about exposure and  how I use a camera.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight