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Advanced Film Exposure

Lesson 26 from: Introduction to Black & White Film Photography

Daniel Gregory

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Lesson Info

26. Advanced Film Exposure

Lesson Info

Advanced Film Exposure

Advanced film exposure. Okay I've spent the whole morning, this is where I feel kind of bad. I've kind of lied to everybody for about five hours. (audience chuckles) So, one of the things that happens is, we go back to the very beginning, we looked at the curve response. We had the toe, the shoulder, we had that midpoint of Gamma. And that was the sweet spot of film. And we're like, "Ooh, that's the good stuff." That's where good silver lives. That's where the beautiful silver, we talk about a black and white print, like, "Oh, it has such beautiful silver in there." That's all in that slope of that. Now, put on your digital hat for a second. In the digital world we teach expose to the right, expose to the right. Don't clip, but expose to the right. And then you're like, "But when I look "at the back of the camera, "nothing looks quite right if I expose to the right." They're like, "No, but when you get in the light room, "bring that exposure down, and you bring down "all that tonal inf...

ormation, that right band, "of the 4,096 tones, 248 of them live there on the right. "We pull that down. "If you're over here, you gotta bring up all the noise." Film's kind of like that a little bit. What I want to do is expose a little bit farther up the scale, so if I've gotta hedge my bet, I'm out and I'm metering. It's like, okay, my meter says it could be a three or a four. You know, it kind of bounces back and forth on your meter sometimes, you're like, "Could be three, could be four." You always err on the side of more exposure. With black and white film. What's gonna happen is you're gonna move up that characteristic curve a little bit. You're going to pull father out of the toe, and remember the toe, he ain't got no data. Nothing to see down there. We move up, though, and that three placement actually was a four placement. That gives us a little bit more exposure. Now what happens is you get the bulletproof negative. You're like, "It looks really thick." Now remember the scanner, though, is gonna look at that and be like, "There's your lightest point and there's your darkest point." It doesn't care if you're underexposed, a little overexposed, it just finds that range. If you're printing anything larger, "It was 20 seconds, it's now 48 seconds." Just a matter of time, but I've got more information because I exposed to the right with the film. So if you're in doubt, you always give yourself a little more exposure. I have never seen a negative go bad with a little more exposure. I have always seen people come back and say, "God I wish I had a little more exposure right there." And you ask what happened, they go like, "What'd you do?" And you say, "Well I metered, it said it was an EV of two and two thirds." If you'd given yourself another third or a half a stop, you would've had it. You cannot ever go back and make the same photograph again. Unless you're in a weird studio setting, where like everything stayed identical. Nobody came up and ate the cheesecake, "Oh, we weren't done with that? "Oh, sorry." That doesn't happen. Because photography is those moments. So if your option is (imitating indecisive murmur) 1/45th of a second, or 1/60th of a second, or 1/30th of a second, take the 1/30th of a second. Give yourself the little bit of room. That is a game changer for most people in film. We're so used to underexposing. We so underexpose all the time because our film we bought at is already a stop off probably. And then we got used to looking at those negatives. And they're underexposed. Underexposed is a horrible, horrible sin in the film world. So get yourself up on that line a little farther. Get that advanced exposure in. You will be significantly more happy.

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Ratings and Reviews


I am really fond of Daniel Gregory as a teacher. He does a great job. To me, his enthousiasm, his passion for and his dedication to film photography are infectuous. It's great that CreativeLive makes place for film photography and for such a pro teaching it. It can never do so enough for me. Thanks. I am a fan.

Texas Beauty Photography

Great class!! It's jam packed with usable information for anyone wanting to shoot, process, and print black and white images. There is so much detail presented in this class, I can practically guarantee you'll come back to it again and again. I successfully used this class to capture b/w photographs, process the negatives, capture them digitally, and finally, produce beautiful prints that I'm proud to show my friends and clients. This may well be one of the best classes on all of CreativeLive. Highly recommended!


This is an excellent course and Daniel is a great teacher! I'm coming back to shooting film and darkroom work after 20 years away. I have some wonderful film cameras sitting in my cabinet and I decided I wanted to use them--so I have decided to shoot BW with film, and shoot color with my digital cameras. I will develop the BW film myself and scan and print digitally. This class is perfect for me!

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