Getting Good Exposure When Shooting 35mm Film in Bright Sunlight
In a world where digital photography reigns supreme, many photographers prefer the classic beauty and process of film. It’s a different style that requires more technical knowledge, including learning to accurately meter and expose film correctly.
35mm film is a type of photographic film that measures 35mm wide, hence the name. It has a transparent plastic base coated with a light-sensitive emulsion that captures an image when exposed to light.
1. Shutter Speed
The shutter is the part of your camera that opens and closes to expose the image sensor to light for a length of time. A long exposure produces a brighter image, while a short exposure produces a darker one. A slow shutter speed can also be used to capture motion blur.
A shutter speed dial is found on most 35mm cameras to allow you to select a specific shutter speed value. Shutter speeds are usually listed in’stops’, which correlate to the amount of light that passes through the image sensor when the shutter is open at each setting. For example, increasing the shutter speed by one stop will halve the amount of light passing through, and vice versa.
Fast shutter speeds are best for capturing rapidly moving subjects in sharp focus without motion blur. A fast shutter speed can also be used to achieve a sense of motion in images by allowing water to appear silky and waves to look like surreal mist.
Aperture is the second component of the exposure triangle, and it does two very important things: it controls how much light passes through the lens to create a proper exposure, and it helps you control your depth of field. Aperture is measured in f-stops, which refer to the size of the aperture’s opening (called an “iris” in your camera). Smaller numbers mean larger holes, and bigger means smaller holes.
As a general rule, changing the aperture by one stop will also change the film speed and shutter speed to maintain an equal amount of light. This is because exposure is inversely proportional to the square of the aperture ratio.
Keep in mind, though, that when you go too narrow with your aperture – to around f/22 or less – you start to run into a phenomenon called diffraction, which decreases sharpness. This is why it’s generally best to only shoot at very wide apertures in bright sunlight, where you can be sure the entire scene will be in focus.
Choosing the right film speed for your scenario comes down to the sort of light you will be shooting in. Unlike digital cameras where the ISO can be changed during the process of taking a photo, with film you will have to choose the film speed before you even load it in the camera.
Faster films (ISO 800 and upwards) give you a little more flexibility in low light and on overcast days. The trade-off is that higher ISO films tend to have more visible grain.
The other consideration with selecting the right film is that different types of film offer different qualities in terms of colour rendition and detail. This is what makes some film more versatile than others, depending on your aesthetic preferences. For example, Kodak Portra 400 is renowned for its colour rendition and is a very popular choice for portrait photography. It also has a very fine grain structure and delivers sharp results in bright sunlight.
There are a few different ways to get good exposure when shooting 35mm film. One is to use center-weighted metering. This technique is great for portraits and backlit subjects since it evaluates the light that’s reflected off of your subject and ignores everything else. Another method is to use spot metering. This is a more precise technique, but it’s less useful in contrasty lighting conditions.
Finally, you can also try using a high ISO film stock. This type of film is more sensitive to light and can be used in bright sunlight. However, you should keep in mind that high-speed films are typically more grainy than low-speed films.
If you’re unsure of what kind of film to use, you can always consult your manual or ask a knowledgeable friend for advice. Also, remember that temperature can affect film, so it’s important to store unused rolls in a cool place.