Film Photography with Strobe Lighting


Lesson Info

Why Strobes & Film?

Okay, you guys. So, really quick, before we dive into all of this. I do want to take a second to answer this question, why are we teaching a class on strobes and film specifically? Isn't it just the same as shooting strobes in digital? This is a question I get a lot, and the answer is, kinda yes and kinda no. There are some things that you can learn about lighting that will absolutely apply to either your film cameras or your digital camera. So if you were to take a class, for example, on light modifiers, and you wanted to learn about what different size light modifiers do and what the shapes do and all that. All of that's gonna translate in from digital or film, no big deal. But, there are some fundamental differences between film and digital that do come into play when you start talking about lighting in particular. And so that's why we're having this specifically for film photographers. So, as we know, the biggest difference between film and a digital sensor is an exposure latitude,...

right? And we talked a little bit about this in the intro class, but I think it's important to bring up again. So, with a digital sensor it is easy to overexpose your image or parts of your image where you can blow your highlights and that sort of thing, and, because of that, most digital photographers are taught to actually err on the side of underexposure. Whereas the opposite is true with film. So with film, most professional grade film stocks, and even some of the over-the-counter consumer grade film stocks, have tremendous exposure latitude. And so it's actually preferred to err on the side of overexposure with your film. And if you do underexpose your film you kind of end up with this big, muddy mess situation. So this is the example I love to show because this is a seven stop exposure test done with the digital and done with Portra 400 film. And this is what I'm talking about. So here, as soon we get to, we start kinda losing some highlights even at plus one, and by the time we get to plus three we're completely blown, there's no detail in those highlights. But in the film we still have plenty of detail in the highlights. Whereas down here, on the underexposure side, these are still pretty usable frames, but down here with the film by minus two, minus three we do start getting unpleasant color shifts and extra grain in the image. And the same is true with most black and white stocks. Black and white, there's a little bit more nuance in the stocks than there is with the color ones, but the same basic rules, right? Where loss of detail here in our digital image, but down here at plus three we still have plenty of detail in that exposure. And even down here at minus two we have some nice exposures that you could work with. So black and white film, again, tremendous latitude compared to a digital sensor. And this comes into play particularly with strobes when we start talking about metering and light settings and all of this. This is a really important difference and why it's so good that we're having a class just on film and strobes. So these images were both shot with studio lighting and they were metered for the film. I metered them for the film, which means this image for digital is about two to three stops overexposed. So if I were to treat my film like I treat my digital, so let's say I came in metered like you do for a digital photo, I'm gonna go into that in a minute, then this necessarily wouldn't be at the right exposure. So there're certain differences between the two mediums and how they work with light that you have to know when you start introducing light. Cause I've made all those mistakes. I don't want you to make them too. Another great difference, which is wonderful, is that strobes are daylight balanced and film is daylight balanced, and I talked about this a little bit already. But this is a huge difference, again, between shooting strobes with film and shooting strobes with a digital sensor, because when you're working with studio lighting and your digital sensors, white balance is something you have to be concerned about and work with and all that. It's really a nonissue with film, which is great. It makes life much, much easier for sure. So you're just getting beautiful tones all the time, which is nice.

To get the best portrait straight out of camera you need to control your light. Family and Newborn Photographer, Sandra Coan, walks through how easy it is to use lights with your film camera for the most control over how your image ultimately looks. In this course, Sandra will talk about how to approach your photo shoot by thinking about not only your subject but also the film and the light you want to create.

You’ll learn:

  • How to sync the flash with your film camera
  • How to meter for your subject and the light you’re adding to the image
  • How to choose the best film based off what you’d like the final image to look like

Throughout history, photographers have been using flash with film cameras. In this course, Sandra will cover everything to give you the knowledge to start taking portraits with your camera and strobes.



  • Out of all the classes I own on Creative Live, Strobe Lighting with Sandra is my FAVORITE! She is an incredibly kind and gifted teacher. She explains everything on a simple level and then gradually build to more complex issues. I am 100% happy with this course. Thank you Sandra!!
  • Sandra Coan is a lighting genius! I loved watching her high-energy and super informative class. I learned way more about studio lighting than I ever thought was possible. I'd definitely recommend this class to literally any person in photography, not just studio photographers. Thanks Sandra!!
  • Do you own a film camera? Then you NEED this class. I knew I *kind of* wanted to try shooting with a strobe, so I bought this class as some encouragement. But honestly, I half expected to do the class and not actually buy the strobe (because strobes are scary!). But as soon as I finished this class I IMMEDIATELY bought a strobe, umbrella modifier, a backdrop, and seamless paper (in Storm Grey because I basically want to be Sandra.) I felt so empowered to shoot with strobes and film and suddenly what had seemed terrifying now seemed doable. My very first test roll turned out great after following Sandra's easy tips. Now that we're in the winter months, I can shoot indoors with my film camera and strobe! Thank you, Sandra, for so generously sharing your knowledge with us and for being such a great teacher! And to anyone even remotely considering this class, DO IT. There's no way you'll regret it.