I’ve turned a corner (finally)when it comes to metering images and feel like I’ve found a middle ground. The reason I was having issues in the first place was that during landscape captures my exposure was quite often under. I’d not had this issue prior when shooting portraits, so it was a bit of a head scratcher. I was using the same metering app and process as employed for portrature, but as mentioned, the exposures were off. Over the past month I’ve been testing a few processes to see if I can fix the issue, and I’m finally there. I started shooting and rating the 400 ISO film at 320 for a while and Simons portraits show great results of this approach, that are really good exposures for Kodak Portra 400. But that was for portraits in a small back yard, and even when rating the film at 320 I was still having problems with landscapes. So during my last hike I tried shooting 2 rolls of Portra and 3 of HP5 rated to 200 instead of 400 ISO to see if this fixed the landscape exposure one and for all. What I found was that all of the images were mostly over exposed so it went to far. Not so much of an issue for HP5, but this played havoc with some of the coloured photos, with loss of proper detail in the highlights/ sky. After this quite extensive experimental period, I’ve now finally come to a good compromise with metering for landscape portraits, that is rating the film at 320 ISO and expose for the shadows in the FOREGROUND. Interestingly during this lengthy process I’ve discovered that instead of choosing elements mid or at the rear of the scene, exposing for the foreground yields the best results with the iPhone app that I use. So the approach for both scenes is to now rate film at 320 ISO, and meter for shadows in the foreground of the scene. Portraits are usually metered for the subject, and landscapes now for dark or even mid shadowed regions such as the ground or bushes in the foreground.
I’m still tormented by my love for black and white over colour. Honestly I’m so obsessed with monochrome that colour is seemingly more of a distraction to my process it seems. Well that’s my point of view anyway. Ilford HP5 also holds highlights so well that subjects such as average skies look like they have something vs that of Portra that struggles. Post editing colour is also unbelievably time consuming, as the grading process is vital and really makes or breaks the image collection as a whole. I’ve always had to spend some quality time getting the colours just right, and can require a heap of tweaking as the set unfolds. It’s a constant process of backwards and forwards the more you scan and add to the group of captures.
Meanwhile black and white looks pretty amazing from the start, with editing mostly consisting of contrast and shadow choices. HP5 is also cheaper, hugely! But when a colour image works it’s utter MAGIC! So, as mentioned, to ease my anxiety, I’m shooting black and white and colour for the bee project. I’m now leaning more towards mostly black and white once more, with a few colour. It feels like I’m looking for reasons to not shoot colour, and maybe that’s true. But when I look at my black and white work it hits hard. It’s more emotive. It not only has a beautiful aesthetic, but monochrome seems to tell a story in a single frame, while sets of images in a collection have more cohesion than that of colour. Who would have thought I would have so much inner turmoil over this!
I’m now shooting on my tripod extensively too, and often with a cable release, which allows the obvious perk of managing slower shutter speeds, but it also brings another level of slowing down. I like it a lot. So yes, this week signals the end of extensive personal work and the experimentation of better exposures. This is good as it has been quite tiring, and very distracting. Best of all the anxiety caused by worrying about exposures once the project kicked off is less!
Today was also a big admin day, and it is becoming quite involved as you can imagine. I’ve got some portraits organised for this weekend and during the week next, which is fantastic. As long as I have weekly shoots organised, I’m happy! I was at the North Canterbury Beekeeping Clubs AGM in Rangiora on Wednesday to meet the group. There were about 18 people present and they were so welcoming. I loved chatting with them about their passions- while organising how we can capture them at home and then hives. They also showed me pictures of their best bee stings on their phones. Ha! The topic of representing the community fully across all ages and cultures was also discussed with Robert, and this has been my goal from the start. The photo opportunities from all angles are steadily coming into my inbox, and by phone, and I cannot wait to capture a whole range of keepers in their homes and then at their precious hives as it warms up. Here are a few images from the NC Beekeeping Clubs AGM. I was gifted a honey comb by one of the members too, that quite frankly is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Wow!
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