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Author Topic: thoughts on shooting velvia - suggestions  (Read 4046 times)
Dale_Cotton
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« on: September 15, 2003, 12:00:24 PM »
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Kipp: I'm afraid there aren't many members left on this forum who can properly empathize with your predicament. Most have switched to digital capture and left the agony and the ecstasy of film behind them.

I happen to be an ardent colour neg film enthusiast (Reala) but will not attempt to dissuade you from your chosen slide film path. Instead, a suggestion: why not compromise between handheld and tripod by using a monopod? I haven't myself (being happy with a tripod), but many swear by them.

Another option for handheld: Fuji Press/Superia 800. Little difference in grain and res. over 400 ISO, and a much broader exposure latitude than any Kodak print film I've tried.
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Ray
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2003, 07:24:37 PM »
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Kipp, I can empathise with you on this one. After using negative film for years, I decided to give the ultra sharp Velvia 50 a try and lost quite a few shots in the process. This film is really contrasty and probably closer to ISO 40 than 50.

It's definitely not a general purpose film. A tripod will be required for many shots if you want good depth of field. Do not use it in the rain forest unless you want really deep, intractable shadows.
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Mark
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2003, 04:52:22 PM »
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A great explanation of your desires and constraints...and you get maximum points for being spouse-candid. Now, to your delimma....

You can have it all except in the case of a moving subject...this is how I handle it. Mount your camera on your tripod, collapse the legs into a monopod, and move out. When you see something tasty hold the camera up using the center post (which you have already extended just enough to make a comfortable "handle" as you walk with the camera-tripod assembly). If you like what you see, drop camera to monopod position and see what you can get in terms of shutter speed and depth of field. Remember that when shooting with wide angle that the one-over rule helps you as much as it hurts you on the telephoto end.

Now, if you really like what you are seeing, then spread those tripod legs and bracket away, both with exposures and variations on the composition. Then, when you are done, snatch up the camera/tripod, collapse legs, grap center post "handle" and carry on.

The important thing to note here is that you do not take off your backpack (I also keep a Cokin holder pre-loded with polarizer and 2-stop soft ND handy) and turn every pause into a reason for your wife to groan. You meter the effort put into the shot depending on the uniqueness and appeal of the opportunity. If you really want an accute experience, do this with kids in tow. You get the idea....spend your photo time wisely, but don't cheap-out on the really good opportunities.

Hope this helps...going to ISO100 is fine as long as you like what that film is going to give you...this technique will still help in maintaining matrimonial peace and helping you be disciplined with the use of your own time and effort.

Best,

Mark
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kipp
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2003, 10:48:12 PM »
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hi there,

i am a mid-level amateur photographer. i have been fortunate enough to take up photography when i have had a decent job, so instead of using my dad's petri outfit from the 60s i own a contax rx w/ wide range of primes and also recently bought a mamiya 7II. i almost always shoot slide film -- velvia, kodachrome 64, provia 100f as well as some kodak 100 emulsions. i read books by john shaw on nature, etc... i think you get the picture.

well, just came back from a vacation to the seychelles (10th year anniversary!) where i brought 75% velvia emulsion to shoot. subjects: flowers, birds (tough!!!), and seascapes. it was often breezy, sometimes overcast and partly rainy...i also have a nasty habit of enjoying hand-held shots as well as an enforced constraint of taking my gear while hiking w/ my wife, who will tolerate my shooting but is not crazy about it...... so i leave the manfrotto at home...

soo....what i found is that when shooting velvia i often had to open up the lens to F2.8 to F5.6, or maybe F8 "who cares" if i am lucky, to get an acceptable 1/90 ... 1/125 ... 1/250 shutter speed to freeze action. so my DOF and desired sharpness often go out the window (but, oh, i am shooting industry standard "velvia" so i should be saved by this right?). NO! and for those from the school of of "don't bother to shoot in boring mid-day sunlight", this issue is made WORSE in early morning/dawn low-light situs...

i also shot 5 rolls of kodak royal gold 400 print film and it was so exhilirating, hassle free to be able to stop down the lens, hand hold, and not worry i was ruining a great shot w/ opening up to 2.8 or even 1.8 on my zeiss planar 85 mm (e.g., a spontaneous dragonfly and sleeping hibiscus shot) by adherence to low speed print film discipline.......

maybe i should trade up to 200 slide film (which every review i have read pans) or just shoot 400 print and take it to a great lab? or save the velvia for sunny days / tripods?

any thoughts, similar frustrations?

thanks, KIPP
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BJL
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2003, 12:16:22 PM »
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Kipp,
  have you (or anyone else) tried either of
a) the new ISO 100 version of Velvia ("Velvia 100F" I think)
 "steady cam" style devices that you attach your camera to: these supposedly provide some kind of camera stabilization (Canon's phrase "image stabilization" overstates the case if for example the subject is moving in the breeze) without anything touching the ground. They are mostly a video camera tool, but I have seen versions advertised for still photography too. Maybe they are even allowed in museums that ban tripods, but I do not know how your wife will react.
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flash
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2003, 07:56:50 PM »
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What you're doing is like not having a macro lens and getting frustrated at all the closeups you are missing instead of finding subjects that suit the gear you have. Action shots with Velvia? Birds and dragonflies with a 67 rangefinder and a MF Contax? Man, do you like a challenge.

We have all spent our days in search of the film (camera, lens, CMOS, CCD) that is perfect. The one with no compromises. I am absolutely sure that I will find a slide film with 10 stops of latitude and no grain for my Xpan (ISO 1600 of course). I am also sure that someone is prototyping a 6mm-600mm f2.8LIS that weighs 300 grams. ;-)

The point is, I suppose, that photography is partly about overcoming the limitations of the equipment we use. Velvia is a slow film. Sorry, it just is. Velvia 50 (or 40,32,25......) is not the same as Velvia 100 (although I like the 100 a lot), or the same as E200 or Provia 400F. If you want to shoot with it and you want DOF then you will need some sort of support. Otherwise you need a different film.

I often travel with a monopod and a Manfrotto table top tripod when the three legged beast is too much too bear and I find that I can usually get 2 stops benefit from the monopod or find a suitable place for the tiny tripod (rock tree branch). I will often use the mini tripod and push it hard up against a wall. A jacket or bean bag may help.

There are ways to improve stability that do not involve a tripod however there is also no "trick" or technique that can replace a tripod.

I recently travelled to Norway and I took no SLR gear for the trip and no tripod (first time in years I travelled this light). I wanted to travel really light. While I was there I shot only what I thought my equipment could handle. No birds or running Reindeer. No macro stuff. I am sure there were opportunities that I missed. But with an Xpan 45mm, 90mm and 40 rolls of Velvia I had a blast. I had a great challenge finding subjects that suited what I had. But before I left I made a decision to look only for subjects that suited the gear I had and I accepted that there were some things I just couldn't do.

I think you will have to accept that you need to compromise. If you want to travel with Velvia and have DOF then your tripod will need to travel too. If you can't bear to carry your tripod then you will not be a Velvia user. Try the 100 velvia and a monopod and see how you go. If you want to shoot dragonflies and birds you need to rethink your gear. But the easiest is usually just to find subjects that work with the gear you have.

My2 cents

Gordon
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kipp
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« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2003, 08:21:56 PM »
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thanks for the replies.  

a common thread is to be realistic in one's expectations before a  shoot, and to make trade offs.  one of my problems is i always UNDERESTIMATE my propensity to hand hold and to load velvia even in those cases where i know, in all probability, i will be hand holding.  

birds -- yes, this was my first time shooting birds.   i definitely need faster film to freeze action, although believe it or not i don't think the contax manual focus gear was a show stopper......it was mainly the film.

monopod, baby tri...... i thought about the mono, but couldn't find one i liked in the stores that i thought would significantly help.  yes, they stabilize the vertical plane, but the horizontal tilt still seems difficult to manage.    also, fitting one compactly into a backpack also was a challenge.  on the baby tris, i have sworn those off. the only ones i've seen that could fit into a backpack and worth it are high end $600 plus (im in japan) which i'm not willing to spend.    the cheaper ones...well, they feel cheap and i broke my first contax camera a few years back when the rig collapsed in the middle of chicago's magnificent mile ;-(

thanks for the rec on the high speed sensia, i will give that a shot...

-kipp
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