Sunday, April 29, 2007

Another interesting day

After a day off from the two days walking around downtown Tacoma, specfically the museums, I went back early Saturday morning to get the time where there are few people. I got some good shots. Well, ok, I like them. Anyway, after taking 4 sheets of 4x5 film, I packed up the 4x5 camera and walked back to the van to put it away and just walk with the digital camera until I got tired.

Well, as luck would have it I saw this public transit worker (above) cleaning the bus stops. He had already finished cleaning the shelter and was working on the information stand, but I took some shots of him finishing and going back to his truck. At one point he saw me photographing him. When I walked on past the shelter, he called to me and said I had no "right" to take photographs of him working. I told me anyone, and especially public workers, in public spaces, including streets and sidewalks, are fair game for photography, explained in a one page foldout.

Well, he raised his voice saying I should have asked. I said I don't have to ask, and I suggested he ask either his boss or management or ask the police about a photographer's rights in public space, from the tourist to the professionals. At that point I simply turned and walked on, but it was clear he wasn't happy with the situation. I realized later I should have gotten his name or just his truck license plate to report him for being impertinent at best and harrassment at worse.

Anyway, I now have enough exposed sheets and rolls of film to drop by the lab. the sheets. I have to remember the first bunches, like the first year or so, are learning exercises, and don't really mean much except to see how well you're doing or not doing with the exposure for the film from the information you get, which is?

Well, since most cameras have built-in light meters, many with variable settings for spot, average, evalutative, etc. metering, you pick one, make any exposure value adjustment, and shoot. With sheet film, you have to get the readings from sources, such as another camera or light meter. You read the incident light (light falling on the subject), and reflective light (light focused back to the camera and film). You do the reflective readings for the range of darkness to brightness, the dynamic range in the Zone System.

With black and white film you have to find where you want zone V to fit the dynamic range of the scene in the range of the film so you don't lose the shadows or blow out the highlights. The dynamic range in some scenes will exceed the range of the film so you have to accept some loss. Color film, however, is different, because it has a narrower dynamic range so you have to get the exposure right, generally a little under for transparency (slide) film and a little over for negative film.

It's why color film, although more expensive to buy, is easier to learn in large format photography? It's either on or off with maybe half to one f-stop latitude without losing too much. Black and white film, however, is different in that it has a wide dynamic range (arguably equal or wider than digital cameras) so you have to decide where the middle is in your exposure. So it's a part guessing game and judgement call. And some hope.

We can all hope, and with film sometimes, until it comes back, it's all you have.

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