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Black & White Film Shoot

Black & White Film Shoot

It took me three attempts to load up my Hasselblad with FP4 Plus. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ย !!!

I got it right after downloading the manual… and to think 18 years ago I could have done this in the dark ๐Ÿ™

So I went out for a morning shoot with photographer & friend, Martin Leech, Martin with a lovely old TLR. Our first shot, once decided, took us 30 minutes… yep, back to the days of film.

With only 12 exposures to last for the next 5 hours we were being:

  • very selective – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • check the correct spot to shoot from – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • considering the composition from our shooting spot – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • checking the composition in the camera – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • confirming the depth of field required (aperture) and the shutter speed needed for sharpness (even though on a tripod) based on ISO (ASA?) 125 – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • considering the tonal range for the light reading – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • carrying out an incident light reading – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • confirming the light reading based on the highlights and shadows – a good thing that we should all do today!
  • a final check in the viewfinder – yes, you have got it….a good thing that we should all do today!

I used my old trusty Minola IVF meter, still going strong after all these years. Also, I took along an old Weston Master V to compare exposures. This was also useful as Martin had one that had been serviced and my old one showed to be only 1/3 stop out, so a bargain from eBay ๐Ÿ˜‰ Being film we erred on the exposure towards the shadows side, knowing that film will do well in the highlights, unlike digital sensors in today’s cameras.

Hopefully, after all of that, we had an image on the film emulsion. It had been about 18 years since I last used film so a really interesting morning, for both of us. One image I had to bracket for, very quickly as it was a lone rower that I shot initially coming towards me. After he had passed I turned around and saw another shot against the light. I took one based on the same exposure and then changed the exposure by three stops to try and get an alternate. I am glad I did as that was the better exposure into the full sun with a little detail still in the shadows, so that one is shown here. The only time I bracketed as that would have consumed more of the film!

Developing and scanning:

I sent off the film for developing and scanning. The negs were superb and had a lovely density showing good exposures…phew!

I paid for a premium scanning service of larger tiffs. I was expecting 16-bit tiffs back but regrettably, they were only 8-bit. Disappointing and not mentioned in the info online. Initially, the scans were extremely contrasty and lost huge amounts of detail in the shadows, that were there in the negs. An email out to the company and kindly they refunded the scan cost plus offered to rescan ‘flat’ so I could do my own adjustments. Unfortunately, they still could not offer 16-bit.

The scans came back and were so much better, although if you are not used to seeing flat low contrast scans it can be worrying. So more work in post-production but much better results. Unfortunately the 8-bit scans did mean a loss of some dynamic range and one or two highlights were slightly out of range but not so that they were major issues. A couple of images did suffer from some 8-bit banding from going with a flatter contrast scan and final dodging & burning.

As expected it is interesting to see some film grain and I forgot how much grain is present even in ISO125 120 film!

So below are the images, still in the square format, verticles corrected, and some may be cropped later. They are by no means competition images but a great morning out doing what our photography is all about, fun ๐Ÿ™‚

The first two are untouched scans the one on the left, the initial scans with too much contrast in the blacks, the second the flatter scans, needing more work on highlights but most of the info was there, after post-production.

photo scan

The final images:

Early light was low contrast but the sun did finally come out. Scans are in reverse order so 12 was the first shot of the day. I will probably put images 10 & 12 into a comp later in the year for a bit of fun:

Close up of film grain:

8-bit banding:

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