Metering White Churches

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photomc

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I plan to burn a little film this coming weekend, and the subject matter will be many of the old wooden churches in central Texas. Now if the light is like today, gray and overcast, metering should not be as much a problem, but if it is bright and direct lighting I am curious how the folks here would handle the metering.

My first thought on a bright day, is to go with the Sunny f/16 and stop down 2 stops..when shooting what I call a micro landscape (a portion of the building) vs a macro landscape (one that would include the building and surrounding area). Then there would be filter factors if the sky is include and say a polarizer or red/yellow filter is added.

One of the churches I recall sitting in a grove of trees, so it will be deep shade, another sits on a hill with no shade at all. Still another I plan to shoot only the windows, the building is nothing special - but the windows seem to have a certain appeal.

Film will be FP4+ 120 roll film and 4x5, rated at 64 and I plan to develope it in Rodinal, 1:100 using a semi-stand development. Of course if mother nature does not help me out with good light then my plans will change.

Thanks in advance for your input.
 

david b

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Mike,
I would consider placing the shaded church on zone V so that you still get an idea that it is a white church.
As for the unshaded church, why not just place it on zone vii and let the rest fall where it will? If it's a bright sunny 16 day, you should still have plenty of detail if there are shadows.

just my thoughts.
 

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Mike,
I don't recall how you meter. But if it were a bright sunlit day and I didn't have access to a meter then I would expose FP4 at 1/60 at F16.

For hazy overcast I would open up a stop from there and for heavy overcast I would open still another stop from the first recommendation. If I were in shade it would be open another stop and in deep shade another stop or more depending on how much shade. Thus one could conceivably be exposing FPR at 1/60 second at F4...or more likely F22 at 1 second without filter factors to gain depth of field.

Adding in filter factors with a #25 that would kick it out to 8 seconds at F22 without reciprocity. A #12 would be around 2 1/2 seconds under the same conditions. Under deep shade conditions I would give the film 20-24 seconds with a #25 and 5 seconds with a #12 filter to allow for reciprocity. I would then base my development time dependent on the contrast inherent in the scene.
 
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photomc

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Donald,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I currently use a Polaris meter, with a semi-spot attachment (5 degree). Your exposure examples are what I had considered for a base for a white church, in bright sun, though I had not considered the reciprocity - I Thank You for that. Just was not sure if I needed to adjust the exposure as you might for snow, to hold the detail in the whites.
 

Donald Miller

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photomc said:
Donald,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I currently use a Polaris meter, with a semi-spot attachment (5 degree). Your exposure examples are what I had considered for a base for a white church, in bright sun, though I had not considered the reciprocity - I Thank You for that. Just was not sure if I needed to adjust the exposure as you might for snow, to hold the detail in the whites.

Mike,
Since you have a meter with spot attachment...I would meter my shadows and place them on a Zone III or IV placement. This would be one to two stops less exposure then the meter indicates. I would next meter the white church and give three stops more exposure then the meter indicates. This would place the church on a Zone VIII exposure since the meter converts everything to a Zone V luminance. If you find that this range amounts to six stops then I would develop the negative for normal development. If that range is less then six stops then I would increase development to expand contrast. If the range is greater then six stops then I would reduce development to reduce contrast. The filter factor would probably not alter that contrast range materially...the caveat being shadows which would typically be filled with blue light and a yellow or red filter would lower the shadow values because of that consideration.

As always expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.
 

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Donald Miller said:
Mike,
I don't recall how you meter. But if it were a bright sunlit day and I didn't have access to a meter then I would expose FP4 at 1/60 at F16.
....
I'm interested in this as well. Just to understand you correctly Donald. In the statement above, have you allowed an extra stop to push the exposure up a zone - keeping in mind FP4's 125 ISO rating?
 

Donald Miller

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John McCallum said:
I'm interested in this as well. Just to understand you correctly Donald. In the statement above, have you allowed an extra stop to push the exposure up a zone - keeping in mind FP4's 125 ISO rating?

Yes, John, that is correct. Typically the manufacturers ISO rating on a film is based upon the zone I density being .10 above FB+fog. Thus the sunny F16 rule would follow the manufacturers ISO rating. I find that increasing exposure above the advertised ISO (in this case derating FP4 by one stop) will impart better shadow separation (by getting the exposure up off the toe of the characteristic curve sooner).

The additional benefit is an increased sense of light within the image. This is all true for exposures without a meter. If one learns to read the intensity and quality of light without the constraints of a meter that leaves more room for intuitive photography in my opinion.
 

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Donald Miller said:
Mike,
Since you have a meter with spot attachment...I would meter my shadows and place them on a Zone III or IV placement. This would be one to two stops less exposure then the meter indicates. I would next meter the white church and give three stops more exposure then the meter indicates. This would place the church on a Zone VIII exposure since the meter converts everything to a Zone V luminance. If you find that this range amounts to six stops then I would develop the negative for normal development. If that range is less then six stops then I would increase development to expand contrast. If the range is greater then six stops then I would reduce development to reduce contrast. The filter factor would probably not alter that contrast range materially...the caveat being shadows which would typically be filled with blue light and a yellow or red filter would lower the shadow values because of that consideration.

As always expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.


Surely if you place the shadow on Zone III or IV you cannot also place the highlight as you appear to be suggesting, it will FALL on the Zone governed by the number of stops different from the shadow value.
 

Donald Miller

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I realize what my words seemed to indicate. What I intended to indicate was that one should place the shadows and then determine where the highlights would fall. From this scene brightness ratio, one can determine the degree of departure from normal development of the negative. I hope that this clarifies this for you.

This went off into several areas. The first being how I would expose if no meter was employed to the placement of zones if a meter was employed. I apologize for any confusion that this may have caused.
 

ThomHarrop

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I am not sure whether this is too late for your weekend shoot but here is my take on it. I like to look at the most important values in a scene. In this case you want to be sure you get texture in the white of the church. So, meter the white where you want to get texture and open up two stops from that reading. If you want to make sure you also get shadow detail you can meter the difference between the highlight and shadow as the sun goes down and make the exposure when you have about a 4 stop difference. This is a bit backward from normal Zone system approach but should give you what you want in the image.
 
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photomc

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I Understood

Donald,

I DID understand what you were saying..but I can see where if someone did not read this thread carefully they could get confused. Would be kind of hard to meter both the shadows and the highlights and try and force the exposure. :tongue: In fact, do you not do this with the development? Would seem if you want to affect the change on the highlights N, N+, N- development is the way to do it - Right?


One thing I have done, is found a Zone reference (calculator if you will) on line (same one View Camera printed a few years ago). This helps me to 'see' where the highlights fall if the shadows are placed on Zone III or IV. I am sure that for those of you that have done this for a while you actually 'See' the zones (No, I don't think you see the zone I, II, etc on objects, but in a way I guess you do), but as a novice, this is a great tool.

Any how, no matter how bad they are I will post anything I get done, and will try to keep good field notes and darkroom notes.

Thanks for the help so far!
 

Donald Miller

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photomc said:
Donald,

I DID understand what you were saying..but I can see where if someone did not read this thread carefully they could get confused. Would be kind of hard to meter both the shadows and the highlights and try and force the exposure. :tongue: In fact, do you not do this with the development? Would seem if you want to affect the change on the highlights N, N+, N- development is the way to do it - Right?


One thing I have done, is found a Zone reference (calculator if you will) on line (same one View Camera printed a few years ago). This helps me to 'see' where the highlights fall if the shadows are placed on Zone III or IV. I am sure that for those of you that have done this for a while you actually 'See' the zones (No, I don't think you see the zone I, II, etc on objects, but in a way I guess you do), but as a novice, this is a great tool.

Any how, no matter how bad they are I will post anything I get done, and will try to keep good field notes and darkroom notes.

Thanks for the help so far!

Mike,

I agree with what you have said about development being the control through which we alter the density range (contrast) of the negative. There are other means that one can employ that afford this at the exposure stage but that is another topic for another time.

On the subject of seeing zones or their tonal representations on a print, one of the things that has proven helpful to me is to make projections of the actual "zone" densities on enlarging paper. This is most accurately done with the Stouffer calibrated step wedge. From that one can "see" what the actual negative densities convert to in tonal representations on the print. The step wedge will allow that in 1/2 stop increments.
 
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photomc

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Donald Miller said:
Mike,

.... This is most accurately done with the Stouffer calibrated step wedge. From that one can "see" what the actual negative densities convert to in tonal representations on the print. The step wedge will allow that in 1/2 stop increments.

Hello Donald,
Thanks for all of your input thus far, quite valuable information. When discussing the Stouffer calibrated step wedge, are we talking about the projection wedge or the other (sorry, transmissive the correct term here)? From searches I have done, seems like there are different opinions (like everything else in photography), but if I were to purchase one (it would be a 4x5) I would like to get it right the first time. Looks like you can contact print one, or projection print from the enlarger..would the contact printed be OK? I can see using a calibrated wedge, and Stouffer seems like a much better buy than the Kodak ones.
 

Donald Miller

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Mike the projection wedge will work just fine. Since the consideration is density it really doesn't make that much difference for this test. I have the 21 step tablet with incremental .15 density divisions. One can project it down onto the paper or contact print it on the paper. That way the actual density scale can be seen as it manifests itself in tonal scale on the paper.
 
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photomc

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One Church

Well, interesting trip..found several White Churches to photograph, but only ended up photographing one. (see Attached scan of negative). Flat lighting at times, no camera at other times.

The one shown here was off by a corn field, that had just been cleared. Used the Crown Graphic, 135mm lens. Like the way it has scanned and will print it in the coming days.

Donald, appreciate your advice - this was done at f/22 at just under 1/10 sec mark (more like 1/2 sec).

Funny, seems like I never get much done when visiting family..but always good to see them.
 

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pentaxuser

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photomc said:
Well, interesting trip..found several White Churches to photograph, but only ended up photographing one. (see Attached scan of negative). Flat lighting at times, no camera at other times.

The one shown here was off by a corn field, that had just been cleared. Used the Crown Graphic, 135mm lens. Like the way it has scanned and will print it in the coming days.

Donald, appreciate your advice - this was done at f/22 at just under 1/10 sec mark (more like 1/2 sec).

Funny, seems like I never get much done when visiting family..but always good to see them.

Looks a very nice shot. Given the amount of sky, dark foliage and white church with some of it in shadow, would a normal reflective meter not have given a similar exposure to the one used? In other words would the whole scene have integrated to a 18% grey anyway?

Pentaxuser
 

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Mike,
That's a beauty! I love the scan...can't wait to see a print!

Funny though... when I looked at it, I thought it was a church I shot when I first started shooting that is just a wee bit north of here. I thought... shame on you for coming up here & not calling me! :wink: haha Must be churches get the "sears" kit for standard white churches!
 
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photomc

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LOL Jeanette!! I would never do that...this is from a post from last Sep., man been a year already...and the Crown has been retired now. Have often wondered about the "Sears" kit idea, because recall seeing another one like this in GA, just north of Savannah.

Pentaxuser, you pose a valid question that I can not really answer, though I'm sure there are those that can. Using the zone system (to a degree anyhow) I found that by taking a spot reading of the shadow on the left side of the church and placed them on Zone IV (this was the exposure), the took a reading off of the bright white part of the building and placed it on Zone VIII (this was the developing). My understanding of BTZS they would have used an incident meter and I think would have taking inceident readings quite like I did with the spot meter (but don't quote me, I really don't have any knowledge of BTZS). An average meter, in reflective mode, might have given the same information...but for one thing it would depend on the weight of the meter (center, etc).

My experience has shown tht one should use the type of metering that makes the most sense to the person using it. If taking an average reading, and you know your film/developer works for you then by all means that what should be used. If BTZS works, then that is what should be used, or as in my own use...reading the shadows for exposure and highlights for developing...well you get the picture. For me, the way I meter hopefully gives me the best exposure I can get, plus I know how I want to process the negative and hopefully will know how it will print - plus I make every effort to consider how I plan to print - silver base, Vandyke, Pld (Ziatype). Each might require a different negative...to give me the best print I can make.

Thanks for the kind comments....hope this was not too long... :smile:
 

Donald Miller

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pentaxuser said:
Looks a very nice shot. Given the amount of sky, dark foliage and white church with some of it in shadow, would a normal reflective meter not have given a similar exposure to the one used? In other words would the whole scene have integrated to a 18% grey anyway?

Pentaxuser

No, not necessarily. There are brightness ranges that do not necessarily translate to 18% gray...it is for those reasons that BTZS or the Zone System works best.

Taking it to an extreme, if one were to take Brett Weston's image "Garappata Beach" an 18% gray exposure would have have overexposed the desired rendition. Another extreme would have been Edward Weston's image "Church Door Hornitas California"...an 18% gray meter reading would have underexposed that image by three stops at least.

Beyond that, in Mikes church image, an 18% gray card metering would have not have told you where to place the exposure for the various tonal placements.
 

pentaxuser

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Donald Miller said:
No, not necessarily. There are brightness ranges that do not necessarily translate to 18% gray...it is for those reasons that BTZS or the Zone System works best.

Taking it to an extreme, if one were to take Brett Weston's image "Garappata Beach" an 18% gray exposure would have have overexposed the desired rendition. Another extreme would have been Edward Weston's image "Church Door Hornitas California"...an 18% gray meter reading would have underexposed that image by three stops at least.

Beyond that, in Mikes church image, an 18% gray card metering would have not have told you where to place the exposure for the various tonal placements.

Thanks. I suppose the question I was actually asking is: Is there a combination/range of tones in a potential photo which can be recognised by the photographer as being covered by the 18% reflectance meter which saves the time needed for the zone system.

This prompts a second question:

Would standing in front of the church taking an incident reading have given a similar picture to the one taken? As I understand it an incident reading prevents the exposure meter being "fooled" where the predominant objects in terms of area covered will not integrate to an 18% grey reflectance.

Under what circumstances would an incident reading not be appropriate for a photo, assuming that the photgrapher could get into a position to point the meter back towards the camera which may not be feasible if the subject cannot be easily reached.

Finally some members and I suspect you may be one,have such a depth of knowledge that it's a pity that there aren't more articles from such members on exposure. There may be a case for a synopsis of various exposure threads in which the "nuggets" of good practice get separated from statements which are either plain wrong or sufficiently questionable to cause newcomers like me, to go down the wrong path. We do get educated and entertained simply by reading all the threads but it can be confusing and needs a lot of time. Few threads are discussions between equals. If it is a mixture of "professors" and "students" there is a danger than the "students" can get left behind without the "professors" realising.

However the nice thing about APUG and why I am a subscribing member is that other members will always try their best to help.

Pentaxuser
 

Donald Miller

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pentaxuser said:
Thanks. I suppose the question I was actually asking is: Is there a combination/range of tones in a potential photo which can be recognised by the photographer as being covered by the 18% reflectance meter which saves the time needed for the zone system.

When one is using an averaging reflectance meter, the meter automatically tries to give an exposure based in an 18% gray value, this may be the proper exposure or it may not. It is up to the photographer to interpert the values in a scene to determine if that exposure is valid. That is always the case. Taking as one example a scene comprised primarily of white sunlit sand or snow, if one relies on an averaging reflective meter reading the scene may be underexposed by two to three stops. On the other hand if one used an averaging reflective meter reading in the a shaded redwood grove, the scene would probably be overexposed by two to three stops. A reflective spot meter alleviates some of this problem by isolating segments of the scene so that the photographer will be able to place exposures upon desired tonal renditions in the print. Most Zone System practitioners will rely on spot meter readings for their discipline.

This prompts a second question:

Would standing in front of the church taking an incident reading have given a similar picture to the one taken? As I understand it an incident reading prevents the exposure meter being "fooled" where the predominant objects in terms of area covered will not integrate to an 18% grey reflectance.

You are correct in that an incident meter reading will alleviate the bias that exists in averaging reflective meter readings...however a single incident meter reading will not suffice in low or high scene brightness ratios. For that reason, and this is where BTZS comes to the fore, if one takes a shadowed incident reading and a lit incident reading then the scene brightness ratio can be determined for the proper film development procedure.

Under what circumstances would an incident reading not be appropriate for a photo, assuming that the photgrapher could get into a position to point the meter back towards the camera which may not be feasible if the subject cannot be easily reached.

Provided the conditions you describe are in place, and two incident readings are taken as I have described above, there are no instances that would preclude using an incident meter as the basis for exposure and resultant development determinations. In regard to being able to point the hemispherical dome back toward the camera, please remember that if the futherest portion of the scene is sunlit or shaded it is lit by the same sun that is present at the camera position...provided no clouds are causing discriminatory shading.

Finally some members and I suspect you may be one,have such a depth of knowledge that it's a pity that there aren't more articles from such members on exposure. There may be a case for a synopsis of various exposure threads in which the "nuggets" of good practice get separated from statements which are either plain wrong or sufficiently questionable to cause newcomers like me, to go down the wrong path. We do get educated and entertained simply by reading all the threads but it can be confusing and needs a lot of time. Few threads are discussions between equals. If it is a mixture of "professors" and "students" there is a danger than the "students" can get left behind without the "professors" realising.

However the nice thing about APUG and why I am a subscribing member is that other members will always try their best to help.

Pentaxuser

I hope that this answers your questions.
 
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pentaxuser

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Donald. Thanks. Have learned quite a bit more. Must try to get the BTZS book via the U.K. library search initially before deciding on purchase.

Pentaxuser
 
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