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Technique: How To Shoot It Ask questions about how to take pics, as well as share your own favorite shooting tips.

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Old 02-21-2015   #81
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It seems to me Rich to be your side of the argument being defencive to me ... people on this board have seen my using a metre and I don't claim to never use one anyway, but looking at the scene is my starting point, and if I know the 'correct' exposure I use it.

However even if that's wrong in some way suggesting that simply transposing a meter reading from the meter onto the camera will give one the 'correct' exposure you are doing them a disservice I think.
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Old 02-21-2015   #82
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... an example ... a while ago I watched a Red Arrows display with my brother in law, he with modern DSLR me with a F3 ... he was set to Auto (as always), I to sunny f16 ... we both photographed it

I imagine you know the result already ... he spent a lot of the time twiddling with that little compensation wheel and got a few aircraft silhouette on a blown ground ... I got half a roll of red arrows, blue sky and fluffy white clouds
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Old 02-21-2015   #83
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Hey, I'm sort of agreeing with you, Stewart! I'm saying always using the meter (especially without a healthy dollop of scepticism) is as problematic as never metering!

You don't have to meter all the time - using sunny 11 outdoors in the UK is usually good enough to get in the ballpark if that's all that's needed (often the case) . But I'd never go out without a meter, even if I don't end up using - in case I find myself in difficult light or wanting precise exposure.
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Old 02-21-2015   #84
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It didn't take me years, and shouldn't for you either! I first practiced just walking around with a light meter, taking exposure readings and paying attention to the intensity of the light. I made sure to do this indoors as well as outdoors, at all times of the day. You will be surprised as to how quickly you can start to estimate light values very accurately. I wouldn't even say a matter of days, but hours.
Then, practice doing this ever so often and you'll be fine. It is easier if at first you stick to just one film speed. Once you get the hang of that, then it is no issue to take that experience and adjust it for different ISO values.
I find it a very helpful photographic exercise, because you really start to examine your scene and decide what inside it you want to base your exposure on. By extension it helps you compose your light as well as your subject.
A very practical and totally rational approach -- though I'd say that your "hours" would be spread over days unless you wander round all day doing this (and getting funny looks!)

But then, not everyone here wants helpful and rational.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 02-21-2015   #85
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Originally Posted by Sparrow View Post
Yes that is true. While the human eye is an excellent comparator of lighting it is hopeless at measuring absolute values in the way you suggest. What I suggested was simply a compromise aperture between speed and enough DOF (f2.8) and the slowest speed I can hand-hold a camera (1/30sec) ... it is in fact simply making the best of a bad job ... knowing absolute values below those that the system is capable of producing is futile

It's definitely an imperfect situation with regards to the film that I normally use. Movie studios use much more light - than often occurs in a normal living or dining room.

EV 6 for me at f/2.8 means a shutter speed of 1/15th of second with ISO 400 film. Concerns regarding the lack of depth of field and motion blur are already on my mind.

To all the perfectionists - I must say that without a proper meter - I am definitely:

Winging It!

The image below was taken at training meeting with a Leica II with myself braced against the podium/lectern. Shot at EV 7 - because I know this room.

[IMG]Mirror_Carina_Bri by xyz2physics, on Flickr[/IMG]
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Old 02-21-2015   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taskoni View Post
If I have measured I wouldn't go for this,

f/2 @ 1/8 sec. Tri-X @ 400



Regards,

Boris
Thank you for sharing the image. Both the composition and execution at 1/8th of a second are superb. Wonderful photography.

Best Regards,
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Old 02-21-2015   #87
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Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
There isn't one guy for me. RFF is full of guys who like to pound their chests about how they, real men with big balls, never need a lightmeter, a crutch used by wussy babies with no talent. Problem is, none of these guys are any good that I have seen. I wasn't talking about you, though. I don't remember ever seeing any of your work on RFF.
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This seems to really have struck a nerve with you.
Why do you care what other people do?

The original poster posed the question as to how to calculate exposure indoors w/o a light meter, and you have gone on a rant ridiculing the notion and quite frankly mocking those who do. As can be seen above.

Don't you think your tag line "real men shoot film" is a touch ironic given your comments complaining about real men? What are you saying about those who shoot digital? You don't think you are pounding your chest at them, the way supposedly the meter-less men are apparently pounding their chests at you?

Maybe it's time to step back, take a deep breath and relax.
Huss, Thank you! I was about to write him the same thing. His posts have a dozen topics of negative judgments about men, wealth, posting, writing, photography styles, on and on. Funny how everyone is wrong...but him.

Back to not metering. I have shot weplate collodion for 8 years. I have NEVER used a meter for it. NO wetplater uses a meter, they are useless in the predominately UV and Blue Light part of the spectrum where wetplate works, at about ISO 1. But we do very well with collodion photography. After a month or two of constant shooting, you can do fine without a meter.

Meters are a relatively new invention. Saying a photographer "must" use a meter, besides being very judgmental, is like saying a person "must" use digital photography, and throw away film.

Let everyone do what he wants to do, stop the "my way or the highway" beliefs.
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Old 02-21-2015   #88
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I completely agree with the 1/30 @ 2.8 or 2 comment. For literally decades, and a series of different photo careers, I never used a meter except in the studio, and when I went digital, with my Nikon D300, that was the first time I had let the camera's meter have its way. I discovered something then, about what meters do that I've never realized: photos at night looked basically as if they'd been shot in the daytime. Too bright, too much detail, unreal. All of those years I'd been proportionally underexposing as night scenes got darker--if it was really bad I'd open a stop or two, but never past a shutter speed I could handle, and guess what, it was the right thing to do.

The same was happening in other less obvious situations.

The bottom line was that over a long period of time I'd evolved an exposure scheme that was appropriate to the situations, not based on the absolute light level, and I didn't need the crutch of a meter plus a bunch of zone figuring, metering highlights and shadows, and "previsualization" stuff to get the right exposure. I just set the camera and immediately shot the danged picture then, not five minutes later after it was gone.

The comment that a meter is "necessary" is of course ridiculous as well as unnecessarily obsessive. The first 75 years of photography, some of the most famous photographers we have, did just fine without meters.

edit: just read the comment above mine. For the last six months I've been shooting x-ray film, which has the same problems as collodion. For the first few shots, I had problems, not realizing the tungsten light problems, but I quickly readjusted, based on my previous experience. I suspect that meter drones, not having any baselines, would have a MUCH bigger problem than I'm having. :-)
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Old 02-21-2015   #89
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Earlier I wrote that I have carried my IIIc for many years and get good results without a meter. I should clarify. I am not a pro, just a hobbyist who likes photography with old cameras. Most of what I do is family and friends in places I have been before. I do not claim to have accurate eyes but learning from experience. One of the most difficult shots I do is stage lighting at my daughters school. I have learned it is much brighter than it looks. If you like a meter, Great. If you don't, that's Great too. Just do what works for you. Joe

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Old 02-21-2015   #90
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Hmmm, I'm beginning to wonder if thermometers and timers in the darkroom are for wimps too... And safe-lights perhaps.

What bothers me is that exact exposure can be varied by about 2 or even 3 stops either way and still produce an image. With that sort of fudge built in I wonder why people can claim funny 16 is so precise; well, precise enough to do away with the meter.

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Old 02-21-2015   #91
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Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hmmm, I'm beginning to wonder if thermometers and timers in the darkroom are for wimps too... And safe-lights perhaps.

What bothers me is that exact exposure can be varied by about 2 or even 3 stops either way and still produce an image. With that sort of fudge built in I wonder why people can claim funny 16 is so precise; well, precise enough to do away with the meter.

Regards, David
... em? how could you be convinced, Mmm tricky ...







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Old 02-21-2015   #92
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Long ago when I did lots of darkroom work in college I had one finger that could accurately get me to 72 degrees. I'm afraid it's no longer accurate. Stick with timers and thermometers. Joe
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Old 02-21-2015   #93
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Long ago when I did lots of darkroom work in college I had one finger that could accurately get me to 72 degrees. I'm afraid it's no longer accurate. Stick with timers and thermometers. Joe
You've lost your finger? Oh wait that must be 72 american degrees not the Celsius stuff
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Old 02-21-2015   #94
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These are always amusing threads. I suppose if this were a outdoor recreation forum some would say camping with a tarp and bedroll is fine. The other side would say you are stupid not to use a fully decked out RV that costs more than many peoples homes.

I also find that the OP's first post is fairly simple, and instead of answering the question, people start inferring chest beating and trying to be cool. Apparently you guys are amature psychologists too.

My opinion is use a meter if you are producing for others and minimizing getting something wrong is mandatory, and your paycheck is on the line. But most of us are doing this for fun, so there is no right or wrong. Do what you like, and don't worry about other's opinions including mine.
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Old 02-21-2015   #95
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My observation is that you name anything, and people who can't do it will say it CAN'T be done, while people who do it regularly will never convince the first group that it CAN be done. I've seen and done that, both sides, enough in my life to be careful not to belong to the first group anymore, no matter what.

As an employer, I try not to hire the first group, either. Things just go better when they're working for the competition. :-)
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Old 02-21-2015   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
Hmmm, I'm beginning to wonder if thermometers and timers in the darkroom are for wimps too... And safe-lights perhaps.
David - You are muddying the topic with unrelated issues. Let me throw a couple of back your way. Do you regularly use a GPS device to know exactly where you are located? How about measuring those exposed negatives with a proper densitometer before printing? The latter is a standard feature on a Fuji Frontier photo print machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
What bothers me is that exact exposure can be varied by about 2 or even 3 stops either way and still produce an image.
I thank my lucky stars for this - but with practice, one can get the error on judging exposure down to one stop - particularly if he or she are shooting a local scene or room repeatedly over many rolls of film.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Hughes View Post
With that sort of fudge built in I wonder why people can claim funny 16 is so precise; well, precise enough to do away with the meter.
Granted even full sunlight can vary between a December and July afternoon.

Ideally, I'd have the time to take a light reading at the subject with an incident meter for each exposure. An in camera reflective meter on the other hand can do strange things when people are wearing all black or all white clothing - but I'm digressing a bit from my point, which is below.

When I made the above exposure of the two students presenting an optics demonstration, the working light meter was two floors below me in a desk drawer. Keep in mind that I'm working with a Leica II. It was far better to persevere without the meter and I'm quite happy with the results.

If the moment arises and you are meterless - just set the exposure the best you can and hope you get the shot, be it over or under exposed - it is better than no exposure.

Best Regards,
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Old 02-21-2015   #97
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My observation is that you name anything, and people who can't do it will say it CAN'T be done, while people who do it regularly will never convince the first group that it CAN be done. I've seen and done that, both sides, enough in my life to be careful not to belong to the first group anymore, no matter what.
I thought photography was like religion. There is totally proper technique versus heresy.

And for the smiley face, I'll choose this one....
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Old 02-21-2015   #98
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If I have measured I wouldn't go for this,

f/2 @ 1/8 sec. Tri-X @ 400



Regards,

Boris
That photo proves me right; it is badly underexposed. The kid is cute and the photo would be great if the poor kid's skin wasn't an empty gray blob with no tonality or detail.
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Old 02-21-2015   #99
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David - You are muddying the topic with unrelated issues...

Best Regards,
Hi,

I thought they were also for precise and important measurements...

Regards, David

PS I have often guessed the exposure and usually got it right but I'd prefer a meter to start with and wouldn't advise anyone to do without. But I expect them to get to know/expect the results as I would. Nor do I think I'm the only one to open the lens to f/2 and chance 1 sec and then half a second...
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Old 02-21-2015   #100
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A 1/15th of second is about as low I'll go. Even at 1/30th of second, I prefer lean into a wall or a pole for steadiness. The old Barnack that I have only goes down to 1/20th of second.

P.S. - I do believe in good timers and thermometers for the darkroom - but if I'm discussing exposure, I try not mention the inherent risks of scale focusing with a Rollei 35.
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Old 02-21-2015   #101
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Wait a minute...... Some people think they can focus without a rangefinder? What kind of inept incompetent no-talent bonehead would try something like that!!!?? This calls for another thread!!!!
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Old 02-21-2015   #102
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Is there a metering thread on RFF that doesn't have at least 100 posts? I love metering threads, as Homer might say.

As was pointed out, most of us are saying the same thing in different ways. None of us claims not to need a meter. We began with that difficult scene of the OP's and how to meter it. Many of us thought better not to use a meter, in that particular situation.

There is a lot of good information in this thread, not so much how to shoot without a meter at all, but how to use a meter and not to be slavishly dependent on it, not because that's fun or a sign of manhood, but because it is essential to getting a good photograph, a good exposure, where the settings on the camera are more from experience than from the LCD/needle readout of the meter.

One myth I dismissed years ago was how a good meter was essential to expose Kodachrome. I spent a month on holiday, in summer admittedly, without a meter. But for Kodachrome I found Sunny 16 worked extremely well. And indeed, it is not as if Kodak dropped their box end exposure guide for Kodachrome 64 or Kodachrome 25 film rolls. "You keep the box-end, and we've already done the rest for you." to paraphrase Eastman.
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Old 02-21-2015   #103
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A 1/15th of second is about as low I'll go. Even at 1/30th of second, I prefer lean into a wall or a pole for steadiness. The old Barnack that I have only goes down to 1/20th of second.

P.S. - I do believe in good timers and thermometers for the darkroom - but if I'm discussing exposure, I try not mention the inherent risks of scale focusing with a Rollei 35.
But if you don't play, you can't win. Which is better: risking 1/8 or even 1/4 and maybe getting a picture, or saying, "NO! No-one can hold 1/8 or 1/4" and ruling out any possibility of a picture?

Cheers,

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Old 02-21-2015   #104
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Wait a minute...... Some people think they can focus without a rangefinder? What kind of inept incompetent no-talent bonehead would try something like that!!!?? This calls for another thread!!!!
A thread be damned! What's wrong with indefinite incarceration without trial?

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Old 02-21-2015   #105
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Another thing that's come up is shutter speed. Some of my favourite recent photos are taken with a Leica II whose slowest shutter speed is 1/20s as mentioned above. But I needed 1/4s. So I guessed it and suffered the unavoidable camera movement entailed in two movements and the long exposure. But for head shots this added a wonderful quality to the result. I will often hand hold slow when I need to or want to and when sharpness is not crucial. I have a photo of two friends in a night club taken at 1/2s, my head and their's anchored against the back of our seats. It's always a shame to hear someone didn't even try for the shot because the light was too low.
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Old 02-21-2015   #106
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Another thing that's come up is shutter speed. Some of my favourite recent photos are taken with a Leica II whose slowest shutter speed is 1/20s as mentioned above. But I needed 1/4s. So I guessed it and suffered the unavoidable camera movement entailed in two movements and the long exposure. But for head shots this added a wonderful quality to the result. I will often hand hold slow when I need to or want to and when sharpness is not crucial. I have a photo of two friends in a night club taken at 1/2s, my head and their's anchored against the back of our seats. It's always a shame to hear someone didn't even try for the shot because the light was too low.
Dear Richard,

Exactly, cf. post 105.

Cheers,

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Old 02-21-2015   #107
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But if you don't play, you can't win. Which is better: risking 1/8 or even 1/4 and maybe getting a picture, or saying, "NO! No-one can hold 1/8 or 1/4" and ruling out any possibility of a picture?

Cheers,

R.
A brilliant comment and very true .

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Old 02-21-2015   #108
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Interesting to read some of the reactions.

I think it can be an acquired skill. The world famous architectural photographer Peter Aaron comes to my mind, who NEVER uses a meter and is shooting very expensive LF film in commercial architectural interior shoots. Just the effect of light on the eyeball and acquired experience.

http://www.peteraaron.net/

Jim Marshall is another that comes to mind, who had acquired this skill. TomA once wrote that they played a little game one evening, TomA with meter, Jim with just his acquired eye. He was almost always right on the nose, as I remember. Absolutely Uncanny.

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Old 02-21-2015   #109
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That photo proves me right...
I've got scores of perfectly exposed rolls of slide film that suggest you're selectively ignoring any data that doesn't shore up your personal opinion on the matter.
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Old 02-21-2015   #110
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I've got scores of perfectly exposed rolls of slide film that suggest you're selectively ignoring any data that doesn't shore up your personal opinion on the matter.
I'm impressed if you have scores of perfectly exposed rolls of slide film and you used no meter.

I've shot slides for many years, but it never occurred to me that it would be desirable to learn to shoot without a meter. My emphasis was always how to get the most out of my meters for total control. I started with the TTL averaging meters in my 35mm SLRs. Then I thought that a spot meter would really be nice, so I eventually got a spot meter to complement the in-camera meters. I also got an incident light meter and I went so far as to get a flat disc diffuser for it, so that I could better assess directional light in windowlight portraiture. When I got TLRs with no in-camera meters, I just used my handheld meters. The exception is the Minolta Autocord CdS-III that has a built-in semi-spot meter that is incredibly accurate. I never bother to use the handheld meters with this camera.

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Old 02-21-2015   #111
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Shooting with no meter is a little like going commando ... ok until you have a serious misjudgement!
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Old 02-22-2015   #112
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Like Richard G, I remember relying on the little cartoons inside the Kodak box with Kodachrome 25 and 64. I was using a Rollei 35 at the time too, so between estimating exposure and distance it's a wonder that I has so many acceptable slides. Since I've been using auto exposure on my current cameras for so long I've completely lost any ability to estimate light levels by eye, and with digital sensors and processing being as capable as they are, it's not even as if you have to meter that accurately at all these days (within limits).
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Old 02-22-2015   #113
Michael Markey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
Shooting with no meter is a little like going commando ... ok until you have a serious misjudgement!
Too funny Keith

But here`s the rub ...
As Roger has suggested it`s better to play but some folk will be more sensitive to misjudgements than others.

That`s the real issue here .
Sure if I`d misjudged the exposure I`d wish that I hadn`t but if I got the shot it wouldn`t bother me.
Provided that it was acceptable ... to me.
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Old 02-22-2015   #114
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
But if you don't play, you can't win. Which is better: risking 1/8 or even 1/4 and maybe getting a picture, or saying, "NO! No-one can hold 1/8 or 1/4" and ruling out any possibility of a picture?

Cheers,

R.
... ones of my best photos is spoiled by a bit of camera shake ... now it lurks in my files and mocks me each time I come across it ... anyway how-slow-can-you-go is just another interweb pissing contest we mislead newcomers with, personaly I should stick to 1/lens-length as I spoil shots at 1/30 sometimes
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Old 02-22-2015   #115
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Originally Posted by CMur12 View Post
I'm impressed if you have scores of perfectly exposed rolls of slide film and you used no meter.

I've shot slides for many years, but it never occurred to me that it would be desirable to learn to shoot without a meter. My emphasis was always how to get the most out of my meters for total control. I started with the TTL averaging meters in my 35mm SLRs. Then I thought that a spot meter would really be nice, so I eventually got a spot meter to complement the in-camera meters. I also got an incident light meter and I went so far as to get a flat disc diffuser for it, so that I could better assess directional light in windowlight portraiture. When I got TLRs with no in-camera meters, I just used my handheld meters. The exception is the Minolta Autocord CdS-III that has a built-in semi-spot meter that is incredibly accurate. I never bother to use the handheld meters with this camera.

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Untitled by berangberang, on Flickr

I find that exposing slides is not too difficult if you keep in mind that whatever choice you make in exposure is what you have to live with, and that inevitably you will come across scenes where you are going to have to choose for instance between shadow detail or a blown out sky - and that sometimes you may have to settle for loss of shadow detail and a blown out sky.

The "trick" then is to just expose for your subject and let everything else fall where it may. In this sense shooting slides is much less bother than dealing with print film. Shooting slides is all about choosing your battle.

Untitled by berangberang, on Flickr

bottle by berangberang, on Flickr

The most typical problem is underexposing - having the camera "maxed out" at the largest aperture and slowest shutter speeds but still not having enough light - but this is also a problem if you have a meter but still want to get a shot, any shot, anyway.

When I began shooting slide film I was certain I needed a meter - and I used one. But as I continued on I often went out without a meter and used cameras that had no meter, and more often than not the photos still turned out the way I envisioned them. I have nothing against using meters. Not using them does not make one smarter, or craftier. But you can still make good photos without one.
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Old 02-22-2015   #116
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You can't guesstimate indoors. You just can't.
You can remember the values if it's your home and you metered it several times in the same condition, but you cannot guesstimate it otherwise.
Gotta love the chest pounding antics of the photo interwebs eh, always good for a laugh....

Back when I was in my early 20's, I was mentored by a fairly successful wedding and portrait shooter. While not a genre I chose for my career, I learned a lot, including how to read all kinds of light, indoors and out. It got to the point where we would make bets on what the exposure was. After awhile, I got good at it, usually within a stop which was fairly safe for color neg film..

Fast forward to now. Even though I own 6 meters, one IR specific and two Zone Studios modded Pentax spot, I only really use a couple of tiny Gossen Digisix meters, they read in EV which I now actually prefer.

But you know what....? I rarely even need those as I have about a 90% hit rate to be within a half a stop. After decades of shooting and *really* understanding how light works, I have turned into a human light meter.

Now, I only shoot black and white but I shoot a good variety of it from ISO 1 ( Efke IR 820 ) to Tmax 400 pushed to 1,600. One of the reasons I rely on my experience even when I have a meter handy is that I can not exactly run over and stick a meter in the face of say, Secretary Jeh Johnson when he has different light on him than where I am standing even with a meter in my hand.

So hundreds of thousands of photos and about 50,000 hours later, you bet your sweet Sekonic meter that I can read light well enough to not need one. Believe it, some of us just can...
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Old 02-22-2015   #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
Shooting with no meter is a little like going commando ... ok until you have a serious misjudgement!
I seem to remember you got some great pictures from that . . . but maybe they were metered?
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Old 02-22-2015   #118
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Shooting with no meter is a little like going commando ... ok until you have a serious misjudgement!
Sort of like Robert Capa on the beach during D-Day in 1944 with all the incoming fire from the German positions. I wonder if he was paying much attention to the meter that day?
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Old 02-22-2015   #119
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1. The whole point of trying to prove that someone CAN estimate the light by showing pics here is logically incorrect. The question is not whether SOMETIMES or even OFTEN you can guess it right (which i don't doubt), which you can prove with a few shots. The question is whether you reliably, always can guesstimate it (so that you don't lose important shots, or whatever your reason).
This you could only prove by showing us ALL your shots. Also the ones that got edited and thrown out during those many years of shooting.

2. Tunalegs, you are illustrating your point by showing OUTDOOR slides (again). Completely missing the OP's point.
C'mon.

3. Also the Capa reference is nonsense since he was shooting outdoors plus he was shooting BW film (plus the technical results are awful).

4. Furthermore none says you should trust meters blindly, that's also an irrelevant argument. Of course you should not. Just like driving a car helps getting from a point to another quicker but you still need to drive the thing.

Anyway, shoot the way that makes you happy. Just be careful with advices.
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Old 02-22-2015   #120
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Gotta love the chest pounding antics of the photo interwebs eh, always good for a laugh....
who's pounding chests here??
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