My first year of shooting film Part 5
In my last post I shared the results of the first roll shot with my Leica M2. I had mixed feelings, mostly missing colour, and was not sure if exposure was right. I got some useful feedback, but as you all know, the turnaround time of film is quite long. So my second and third roll were already sent to a lab when I read your suggestions. However, I was able to put some advise into practise: reading the negatives. A couple of people recommended studying the negatives to learn about exposure.
For example the photo on top of this post: I think this is my favourite of the roll, but I have the same reservation with it as I had with my last roll. I remember that there were a lot of pretty colours in the sky (pink/purple and blue), which I don’t see in the photo. I don’t know if it’s overexposed (making the sky too white), underexposed (washing out colours), or a film type that has little saturation. So let’s check the negative of this photo.
Small intermezzo: I did not know what to look for, so I started with a google search and found this website with a short explanation in how to read your negatives: http://www.theonlinedarkroom.com/p/how-to-read-negative.html. Most of you will probably know all of this, but for a newbie like me it was pretty useful. Very short summary: to evaluate exposure check the shadows:
- Overexposed photo’s lead to very dense/dark negatives with hardly any clear parts.
- Underexposed photo’s lead to very thin/light/transparent negatives, with no detail in the shadows.
Furthermore I downloaded the free app ‘Negative Viewer’ to my iPad to help watching the negatives. The app basically turns your iPad into a light box.
So, here are a few of my negatives from roll #2, which was Fuji Pro 400H (as was roll #1), the top photo is nr 30, bottom right:
The top row of the negatives, being very light, are clearly underexposed. I expected that since they were shot in a restaurant with dim light (I used my maximum handheld exposure: f/1.4, 1/30 s). Photo nr 30, the photo on top of this post, seems pretty ok to me though, not too dark and clearly not underexposed.
Some suggested to evaluate the density of the negatives by checking if you can read a newspaper through it. As I didn’t have a newspaper at hand, but already had the negatives on my iPad, I switched to iBook to get some text underneath the negatives.
Again, photo 30 seems dense enough, but not too dark to be over-exposed. I tried some different setting in post-processing, but that didn’t improve it all that much. This would lead me to the cautious conclusion that the film type (Pro 400H) is the main contributor to the lack of colour. Here are some more photos from that roll:
I also shot a roll of Fuji Superia 200, the negatives are shown below on the iPad. More colourful images here as I visited an amusement park with my niece. You are bound to find colour there, and on top of that it was the most sunny day of the entire winter so far.
Btw, I also found a nice trick that some might like (and for sure some will absolutely hate 🙂 ): if you want to view your negatives in positive color, you can view them through your iPhone camera by using the ‘Invert Colour’ option. You can assign this function to the triple-home-button in Settings/General/Accessibility/Accessibility Shortcut. This enables easy switching between normal and inverted colours. My negatives would then look like:
Definitely more colour here! My favourite of this roll is the roller coaster. In this image I absolutely adore the colours. I must say that this photo was made almost mid-day, and like I said on a very sunny day with clear sky. So the light was completely different then with the photos above, which were made in the early morning.
I made another photo of this roller coaster, and here the colours are much different, and I don’t like them at all. I metered with an iPhone app before I made the first one. This second one was made shortly after, and probably with a different angle towards the sun. This lead to over-exposed image. Again I learned this from the negatives, this one is photo 3A, and the negative is clearly darker. Without looking at the negatives I might have thought they were underexposed because of the greyish colours and some grain. But the negatives clearly show that it was not under-exposed. I guess Superia is not that flexible when it comes to over-exposure. Or the development was wrong, but for now I am going to assume that a professional lab will do a good job here.
Some more photos from this roll:
The two photos below show that is difficult to catch colour in the sky in the early morning (it’s photo 15A and 18A, the negatives seem dense enough to me so exposure must have been about right):
Two photos made in the evening, which I am fairly happy with. The top one is clearly underexposed, it also shows in the negatives, but I like it anyway. It was dark, and the image captures what I wanted to show. In the bottom photo the colours are not as full as I remember them, but I like how they turned out on film.
One thing that happened to both rolls this time is that the first two photos had clear light stripes in them. I guess I need to advance some more film before I start shooting? However with this next photo where the light goes straight through the middle of my nieces face, I still like the result. I think it adds some cool colours 🙂
Both rolls were developed by MeinFilmLab.de. I tried this lab instead of AG photo lab because the mail between Germany and The Netherlands is slightly faster than between the UK and The Netherlands. They use a Frontier scanner instead of a Noritsu, which might lead to cooler colours. I have one more roll of Fuji Pro 400H at the lab, but my M2 is now loaded with Kodak Portra 400 like some of you suggested. Can’t wait to see the differences!
Thanks for reading, and Hamish thanks for having me!
If you’re interested, you can find my digital photos on www.whataukjesees.com
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