Tips From A Nantucket Portrait Photographer

You can use KODAK Recording Film 2475 or RovaL-X Pan Film, depending on the size film your camera accepts. Try to find a shooting position close enough to the action so you won’t need long focal-length telephoto lenses, which magnify camera movement along with the image. And if you cannot use shutter speeds fast enough to stop subject motion adequately, make exposures coincide with peak action or picturesque lulls. Alternatively, you could pan with the action.

If you cannot use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action or if you want some movement in the picture to heighten the impression of speed. use a slower shutter speed and pan the camera with the moving subject. This picture was made by panning with the subject at 1130 second and f 14 on 400 speed KODACOLOR Film.

Outdoor playing fields, stadiums, and racetracks are usually lighted well enough to permit making action-stopping photographs with high-speed films. Here the photographer caught the action at 11500 second and f12.8 on KODACOLOR VR 1000 Film.

Lighted action rides at amusement parks and carnivals trace interesting patterns during long exposures. Mount the camera on a tripod. This picture was exposed for 4 seconds on KODACHROME 64 Film (Daylight).

Fairs and Amusement Parks

Outdoors at night it’s the colorful lighting that sets the mood at fairs and amusement parks, and makes good pictures. You can easily take handheld exposures of interesting arrays of lights with fast film. For pictures that go a bit beyond the ordinary, try photographing lighted action rides and Ferris wheels with a tripod-mounted camera at exposure times slow enough to record swirls and pat-terns formed by the moving lights.

With color slide films, select the balance to suit your taste: daylight films for warmer results, tungsten films for cooler colors. Kodacolar Films give excellent photos of these subjects. If you do your own darkroom work or have your prints made by a custom processing laboratory, KodacolorFilms will let you choose the balance you like. In crowded areas or on action rides, sling your camera so that it nestles between your arm and side for protection from bumps.

Floodlighted Structures

Star-effect filters available through photo dealers can turn bright lights into dazzling star patterns. The effect is most pronounced when the light source appears against a dark or black background. This photograph, taken during Octoberfest, was made on KODACHROME 64 Film (Daylight).

Bright holiday lights are perfect subjects for existing-light photographs. With fast .film, you can use shutter speeds fast enough for handheld photography. KODACOLOR VR 400 Film, 1160 second f14.

Using A Fill In Flash

Use an improvised reflector, in this case a projection screen, to bounce fill light into shadow areas you wish to lighten to reduce contrast. The closer the reflector the brighter the fill light, but don’t place it so close to the subject that it intrudes into the picture.

Improving the Existing Lighting

Although an existing-light purist might consider it cheating, you can reduce excessive scene contrast by adding light to the shaded areas of the subject to bring them into closer relationship with the brightly lighted areas. Strictly speaking, this is not true existing light but the appearance in the photo is very similar to it.

You can use reflectors to bounce light where it is needed, for example. You can improvise reflectors from projection screens, large sheets of card stock, such as photographic mount boards, crumpled and then flattened aluminum foil, white sheets, pillow cases, or even news-paper pages that aren’t too densely filled with print. The more efficient the reflector and the closer it is to the subject, the more the shadows will be filled with light.

Do not use a colored reflector with color film unless you want a special effect. An exception to this advice is to use gold colored aluminum foil to add warmth to a subject illuminated by window light from a blue or overcast sky.

Use Fill-In Flash

If you have a KODAK Disc Camera, the built-in flash will automatically fire to supplement window light except in bright circumstances. With other types of cam-eras you can use accessory flash units to fill in shadow areas with daylight-quality light either by aiming the flash directly at the subject or by bouncing the light of the flash from a nearby reflecting surface.

The technique of using fill-in flash is to adjust the intensity of the flash so it’s 1, 2, or 3 stops less than the main lighting on the subject. See the discussion about fill-light intensities in the next section. First, make an exposure meter reading of the subject area most brightly lighted by the ambient lighting as seen from the camera position.

Say the exposure is 1/30 second at f/5.6 with KODACOLOR VR 400 Film and you want the shadows to be 2 stops darker than the highlighted areas. Al-ways select the camera settings indicated by the meter reading which includes a shutter speed recommended for the proper flash synchronization for your camera and flash unit

Most cameras with focal-plane shutters will also synchronize according to Nantucket photographer: Pommett.

See your camera owner’s manual.

Next, set the controls on an automatic electronic flash unit for a lens opening 2 stops larger than the lens opening you’ll use on your camera to take the picture. In the example, since f/5.6 is the camera setting, you would set the auto flash for 172.8.

This adjusts the flash to give 2 stops less light, which underexposes the shadows by 2 stops and results in the desired amount of fill-in. You can do this by adjusting the flash unit controls for the lens opening and flash distance range or by changing the flash power setting to 1/2 or 1/4 power if your unit has this feature.

The half-power setting gives I stop less light and the quarter-power setting 2 stops less light than full power. Consult the owner’s manual accompanying your flash unit for specific instructions about fill-flash operation. Note, that this fill-in flash technique won’t work with through-the-lens autoflash exposure systems.

With these systems, you should set the flash on manual for fill-in flash and follow the suggestions given below for manual units. If your flash unit does not have any of these controls, you can change the amount of fill-in by setting the flash on manual and moving it closer to or farther away from the subject or by covering the flash reflector with layers of white handkerchief to achieve the proper amount of fill-in.

One layer of handkerchief reduces the light by two stops and cuts the flash-to-subject distance in half. You can either use a zoom lens to help frame your subject in the viewfinder or use a flash extension cord, sold by photo dealers, to position the flash unit separately from the camera at the proper distance. Here again the objective is to adjust the intensity of the flash to give 2 stops less light. For the example given, adjust the flash for f/2.8. Since this provides sufficient light for proper exposure at a lens opening 2 stops larger than the one you’re actually going to use on the camera, the flash fill-in intensity results in the desired 2-stops underexposure of the shadows.

This will require some experimenting. Consult the flash exposure calculator on your flash unit. use colored bounce surfaces to provide fill light in color photography unless you deliberately wish to change the color of the filled-in area. Here, light reflected by a blue card discolors the shadow area.

A white card reflector produces a warmer, more natural rendition.

Keep It Looking Natural

For natural-looking fill-in illumination, don’t overdo the technique. You can obtain pleasing results with color negative films when the fill-lighted areas are illuminated about 2 to 3 stops less than the daylighted areas.

This ratio also works well with most black-and-white films. With color slide films, light the shadows about 1 to 2 stops less than the daylighted areas. There is no hard-and-fast rule about precisely how much fill light to use, because the right amount is whatever makes the picture look the way you want it to look. Experience is the best guide. When bouncing daylight, flash, or tungsten light, use white bounce surfaces if possible or light neutral-colored surfaces when shooting in color. Bouncing light from colored surfaces will impart an overall color cast to the picture. In black-and-white, the color of the bounce surface doesn’t matter much except that light surfaces are more efficient reflectors than dark ones.

The contras picture was made by direct sunlight flooding through the window. The softer version was made after drawing the translucent curtains. Closing the curtains lowered the light level by I stop, but improved the picture. Soften the Daylight If windows in the picture-taking area are furnished with white or neutral-colored translucent curtains, close them to take the edge off harsh sunlight. Sheer or translucent curtains will diffuse the light and soften overall contrast appreciably. This is an excellent technique when photographing people. Learn more Portrait photography tips at Moonfruit.com.

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