Well, the nighttime temperatures are dropping here in the mountains and that means one thing, Fall is on the way. Although I'll be happy to hang on to perfect bike riding weather for as long as possible, the photographer in me is excited to compose images of natures greatest show. So, in anticipation, I ordered FILM! Big film (8x10, 4x5 and 6x17).
I'm sure you're curious about which "flavors" of film I stock up on for the fall season. To be honest, it's the same film I use any time of year. I like to keep things simple, repeatable and dependable. I primarily use two specific color films, Fuji Provia 100F Transparency Film and Kodak Ektar 100 color negative film. Let me explain.
To begin with, Fuji Provia 100F is my primary film. I shoot this stock for 90% of my color work. The qualities of this film make sense for my style and the outcome I desire, extremely large (measured in feet) gallery prints that are true to life. I am quite conscious of the fact that people viewing my large gallery prints describe them as "clear", as opposed to "sharp". Provia 100F has extremely fine grain, saturated but realistic color rendition and can handle extremely long exposures. So, if the exposure latitude (range between highlights and shadows) is "reasonable", and I believe that I can capture the entire exposure range in one shot, I use Provia 100F. Period.
I expose Provia 100F using an average meter reading, but I am most concerned about exposing the highlights correctly. If those are lost, there is no recovering them. The shadows, on the other hand, retain detail beautifully if not horribly under exposed. This film also scans extremely well, so we are able to fine tune our image in the digital darkroom with great accuracy. From there, given we are using large film and quality scanning, we can produce enormous prints with wonderful detail. Fuji Provia 100F Transparency Film is my film of choice for Fall, as well as our more subtle seasons.
The second color film I carry is Kodak Ektar 100 Color Negative Film. This film has extremely fine grain (Kodak calls it "grainless"), is saturated and, most importantly for me, has a much greater exposure latitude (greater exposure range from highlight to shadow) than slide film. Why don't I use this 100% of the time you ask? Because I find that it is much more of a challenge to correct the color after scanning than the transparency film.
Now, the film scans very clean, relative to grain (it's actually designed for scanning), but I just feel as though I battle to bring my scanned file back to what I actually saw in the field. That said, if I can't capture the full exposure with my Provia 100F, Ektar 100 can often make that one exposure possible. Now, opposite of the transparency film, color negative film holds highlights amazingly well. Shadows, not so much. Therefore, I expose with total attention on maintaining shadow detail and have faith that the film will save the highlights.
To sum things up, I primarily shoot large format color film, scan that film and produce huge prints. The two films I choose to carry are Fuji Provia 100F Transparency Film and Kodak Ektar 100 Color Negative film. Both of these films enable me to capture the images I compose in the outdoors with the quality, and qualities, required to produce huge prints with the detail, color, contrast and subtlety I require in my gallery prints. They each have their strengths and weaknesses throughout my artistic process so I use them accordingly, depending on the natural conditions presented. In the end, I capture my images with one exposure on a big sheet of film. Keeping it simple enables me to focus on my artistic practice in the field and not worry about a plethora of technical choices.
I hope you find this helpful. Feel free to comment below or leave questions. Look for a corresponding video on my YouTube Channel as well. Now get out there and expose some film!
Enjoy the View!
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