Metering for Color Film


Quick Start to Film Photography


Lesson Info

Metering for Color Film

With Metering for Color Film, the approach that I use, and what I think is the best approach, 'cause that's why I use it, is to take an instant reading in your shadows, in the shadow of your scene. And why is that? Well because we know that we want to create a good, dense negative, right? We want detail in the shadows. We know that our meter is looking for middle gray. So, if we take a reading in the shadow, that dark shadow part, becomes middle gray. And we know that film is awesome, and it handle over exposures, so the highlights will then fall into place. So, that's how I do it. And again, this is another exposure test. I love doing exposure tests, by the way. Like, I would just spend all day doing exposure tests if I could get paid for it. (laughs) But, so this is another exposure test. But this is just showing what I'm talking about. So, I want my shadow reading to be here, because if my shadow reading's here, my highlights are going to be on this end, right? But if my highlights ...

are here, my shadows are gonna be here, and you're gonna get a accidentally, underexposed image, does that make sense? And that's what this looks like. So this is a room in my studio where this bright, south facing windows, a lot of light comes in. So, I have more that like a three stop difference between my highlights and my shadows, and when I take a reading- You'll read a lot of forums, a lot of people tell you to take a reading where your bulb's hitting your 45 meter, or 45 degree out, I don't know if you've seen that. This is what I get when I do that because there's too much of a difference in this room between highlights and shadows, and the meter's just taking an average, and so I was accidentally underexposing my shadows. But when you come in here, and you get down really in those deep, dark shadows, and you put those shadows at middle gray, make sure they're perfectly exposed, then everything else looks good. So let me show you quickly how that looks. Can someone volunteer? Would someone like to come up- Laina? (laughs) Come on up. (laughs) I'm gonna do, just show you really quick, what metering for the shadows looks like. Sorry, I'm puttin' you on the spot. So, let's say our light's coming in this way, we're gonna pretend there's a window. So, windows coming in this way, highlights would be here, shadows would be here. For me to take a meter reading in the shadows, I'm going to set my ISO, I'm gonna set my aperture, and I'm gonna put my meter, bulb out, and I'm gonna put it in the shadows. And what I do, is I do bulb facing into the shadows. So, why do I do that? Because, I want a true shadow reading. If your bulb is like this, this is the kinda the classic way you meter when you're working with a digital camera. What's gonna happen is you're gonna get some of those highlights and some of those shadows, so it's gonna be a more of a mid-tone reading. I wanna make sure the darkest part of my image is properly exposed, is that middle gray. So I make sure that bulb is facing into the shadow, so I get as much of that shadow as possible. Does that make sense? Alright, thanks friend. And, I meter this way in every lighting situation I encounter. So, if I'm outside, I meter for my shadows. If I'm using strobes, I meter for my shadows. If I'm using window light, I meter for my shadows. That's the rule with color film. And, it's pretty easy and it's beautiful. Now, whenever I start talking about this, I always have somebody say, but Sandra, I don't want light and airy, I might want my work to be a little moodier. But remember, the brightness of your image doesn't really have as much to do with how they're exposing when you're using color film, as it does with your scanner. And that's communicating to your scanner, hey, I want a bright and airy scan. So you can have a technically overexposed image, so that those shadows, there's plenty of detail in that shadow, you have a good, dense negative, you can have that, and still have a darker, moodier image, okay? So you can meter for your shadows and still have a darker, moody image. Film can be anything you want it to be. But the rule with color film, is meter for your shadows, 'kay? You want light and airy, meter for your shadows. You want dark and moody, meter for your shadows. Make sure you're creating that big, good, dense neg, okay?

Class Description

Have you always wanted to shoot film but are just unsure how to begin? Join film photographer Sandra Coan for a quick start to film photography. In this class you will learn:

  • The difference between film and a digital sensor
  • How to choose the perfect camera and film for you and your style
  • Where to find and buy professional grade film stocks
  • How to meter so that you get perfect exposures every time
  • How to find and choose a photo lab so that you can get the most out of your film images

By the end of this class you’ll be ready to pick up your film camera and shoot with confidence!


a Creativelive Student

As all of her other classes, this class is amazing and very informative too.