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Introduction to Film Photography

Lesson 7 of 20

Metering for Black & White Film

Sandra Coan

Introduction to Film Photography

Sandra Coan

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Lesson Info

7. Metering for Black & White Film


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:11:53
2 Why Film Duration:10:59
4 Importance of Metering Duration:04:08
6 Metering for Color Film Duration:14:31
9 Metering for Indoor Shooting Duration:18:39
10 The Differences in Film Sizes Duration:11:05
11 Purchasing Film & Care Duration:05:04
12 Professional Color Film Duration:16:39
14 Consumer Grade Film Stocks Duration:06:31
15 Pushing Film Duration:18:44
16 Know Your Lab Duration:03:41
17 What To Look For In A Lab Duration:25:35
18 How To Find The Right Lab Duration:13:10
19 How To Safely Ship Film Duration:16:46
20 Get Started Using Film Duration:06:47

Lesson Info

Metering for Black & White Film

So metering for black and white. Is it different? Yes. (laughs) It can be kinda different. So in some ways, so when I'm shooting color film, I am looking at color tones of the film that sorta thing. What do I know about color film? Well I know that color film does really well when over exposed and doesn't do well when underexposed. So those are characteristics of color film that I know. And so I make sure that my, my shadows, darkest part of my image are always at perfect exposure with color film. With black and white film, there are no real rules like that. I feel like black and white film is a little more nuanced. So it has a lot to do with the film stock that you're shooting, the latitude range on the film stock, it varies with different black and white stocks. More so than with color stocks. And also, you know, for what kinda story you're trying to tell. Do you want a lot of contrast? Do you want bright highlights and deep dark shadows? Which is beautiful with black and white film.

Do you want more even tones? And all of that can be controlled with your metering. So with so let's just, let's just have a look here. This is what I'm talking about. So we're back to this example again. So one thing about black and white film, people always say color film has this tremendous exposure latitude, right? But black and white doesn't as much. I have found, and I like live for doing exposure tests, like it's like kinda all I ever wanna do, and I have found that with these modern film stocks they actually, black and white really does have pretty good latitude. And in a different way than the color film does. So again, here we have exposure latitude, (laughs) by the way this is my son. Doesn't he look thrilled to be doing this for me? So, but with the digital, right like blown out. We've seen this before. And here we are here, this is the Fuji Acros 100, And at plus three, it still looks great. And what's interesting with black and white film, is that even down here, I mean, this I feel like could be a usable exposure. You could bring up your blacks a little. You could push it in processing, which would rich up those blacks, we'll talk about that in a minute. But that's a pretty amazing latitude. That's a pretty amazing exposure range. And so you can control the look of your black and white with your metering. As long you know what your film is capable of doing. And we're gonna get into film stocks in just a second. So what I always say with black and white is it doesn't have the rules that color does. So instead of like always meter for you shadows, make sure that dark part is exposed, with black and white film, I meter for where I want my detail to be. Right? So if I want detail in my shadows, I wanna make sure that everything in that shadow is something I can see, I meter for my shadows. And then highlights get a little over exposed, but black and white, most black and white film has a good enough latitude that that's fine. If I want darker shadows and I want more contrast, I meter for my highlights. I want somewhere in between, I meter for my mid tones. Alright? And so again, what does that look like when you're metering? Would someone like to be my assistant again? Do you want a different, or do you wanna come back up? You're so go at it (laughs). So this is what I mean. So I'm just gonna, I know we just did this, I just wanna show you one more time. So we're pretending that our window is here, wooom. And our pretend widow is giving us highlights here, and giving us dark shadows here. So with black and white, if I wanted detail here, brightness here and I wanted that kinda more dramatic look and darker in the shadows, I would meter, bulb out towards the light, meter for the highlights. Right? I want more shadow detail, I meter in my shadows. Somewhere in between? There. Thank you, you're so good at that. (laughs) Know one thing about this, I also think I know this is controversial, here we go, with black and white film, because most film stocks do have pretty good latitude range, I think if you want to have more leeway with how it's scanned and processed and we'll get into that in just a second, you can also just, if you want something easy consistent, just meter for the shadows. So your detail, and then you can always have your lab scan for the highlights or whatever, but you have details there. But, I know black and white's fun 'cause you get to play around with it a little bit. So this is the Fuji Acros again and here, this is what I'm talking about with that beautiful window light. Here I metered for the highlights because I wanted that pretty shadow there. I wanted to keep that, which is nice. Here we have Ilford Delta and this time I metered for the shadows because we're gonna learn about this film stock in just a second, but it will, it doesn't have a huge latitude, it will kinda get blown out and it kinda goes like, really light and I think it's pretty. And so I wanted this real soft, kind of glowy image, so I metered for the shadows there. Yeah? So in that scenario, Sandra, looking at this image, where was the shadow? Or like, if you could point to where the shadow Sure. Was. So this is a giant window, right? Right. Here. So she's here, light's coming in this way, so she was actually in deep shadow here, which would be here. So I actually took a shadow meeting, see, I did it again. Meeting? Meter reading (laughs). Here. And again, that meter is gonna then take that dark place on the image, turn it, take it to middle gray and then all of this is gonna be a little over, right? So it's kinda pretty. And then Ilford Delta 32 again. P.S., it's my favorite. With a mid tone reading. So I have nice shadow detail and I have nice highlight detail. So it really just depends on where you want it to be. When you say the mid tones, can you explain, I know we didn't go fully into the zone system which we will Yes. in Daniel's class, but what, can you kinda point out, what, Yes. what the mid tones are? So if I were reading her, so I have light coming here, you can see where the highlights are, and I have shadows over here. So instead of being here in the shadow, or here in the highlight, I'd be here in the mid tones. And so the Lumisphere then is getting some of the light that's coming in from my highlights, and it's getting some of the shadows here. So it's a mid range reading. So instead of bringing my highlights to middle gray, or my shadows to middle gray, I'm getting just kind of more of an even reading across the whole thing. Does that make sense? Thank you. Sure. Alright, well...

Class Description

Stop with the excuses, grab your film camera and get out there and make amazing images! If you’re comfortable with your DSLR and post processing, then learning to use your film camera is easier than you think! In this beginner course, Sandra Coan walks through how to shoot with film so that you feel comfortable, confident, and excited to take the best pictures! She’ll talk about choosing your film and how to find and work with a lab to process your images.

This course will cover:

  • The differences and similarities between film and digital
  • How a camera meter works and how to meter for film
  • The different film options and how they affect your photo
  • How to find the right lab to process your images

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of using film. Sandra will show you how to slow down during your photo shoot, focus on what you’re trying to capture, and ultimately get a great image straight out of camera.


a Creativelive Student

Sandra is a gifted teacher!!! I've been following her work for years and know what an incredible photographer she is - but to be able to teach the way she does is truly a rare gift! I've been shooting film on and off for years and was amazed at how much I could still learn from Sandra's class. She presented the information in a way that was so easy to follow that you couldn't wait to get started. It's wonderful to learn from someone who is clearly passionate about their craft - but who is also excited for others to succeed at what they're teaching.


Amy could not have said it better in her review of this class! I am also a film shooter (have been shooting film personally for 8 years and professionally for 4) and even as someone who understands a lot of what Sandra was talking about, I STILL found this class to be incredibly helpful and learned a lot. Sandra is such a great teacher and an inspiration to so many film photographers. Great class! Thanks Sandra and Creative Live for putting this together for us.


Sandra is not only an insanely talented photographer but she's a gifted teacher. I've been shooting film for weddings and portraits for 5 years and even studied it in photography school so I'm not new to film by any means. But I've allowed myself to be so intimated to create portraits with film using strobes for far too long. But not anymore. I'll be 100% honest when I say that the information she teaches in this course, to a seasoned COMMERCIAL photographer mind you, may be insanely simple. But that's the beauty of it!!! There is no reason to over complicate shooting film with strobes. It's the simplicity and straight forward, clear as day information that Sandra teaches that's essential to rejuvenate today's overly 'tech obsessed' world. Film is alive and well! Sandra's course is gold when it comes to getting that appreciation for our craft back! I'm jazzed and ready to slow my roll down! Thank you, Sandra and CL! The value of this class is far more than that of the strobe kit I finally invested in (HOURS after the class!). : )