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| p.1 #9 · Ansel Adams Exhibit Coming To The Midwest |
That's why we all wind up here in the Internet with different points of view — which seem fluctuate for some. Just a few month ago and more than once before Doug suggested that any mention of ol' Ansel was "jumping the shark" or the photographic equivalent of Godwin's Law.
Working with B&W in the darkroom fitting negative to paper range is part of what made quite obvious the problem with color negative wasn't that the lab didn't get it right but that it couldn't fit 8 -12 stops of scene detail on the color paper in the same way it had been done routinely with B&W prints with development and different paper types. See the end of "strobist" thread over on Lighting where I just explained that.
With the lab out of the equation with Ektachome you quickly came to the realization that the problem wasn't the lab it was the scene range and lowered your expectations of what the recording medium actually do. For example exposing backlit subjects at Shady 5.6 instead of expecting everything to be rendered more or less as seen by eye at Sunny 16 as was possible with the longer range B&W prints: A #2 B&W print paper had a 10 stop range, a color print in the 70s about 5 stops and a half-life in direct sun of about 5 weeks before it faded.
With the ZS you could take an overcast day shot and make it normal by changing film development. The same thing can be done in PS with the middle slider...
Before (top) and After (after)
But unlike B&W you can't record the full range at capture because the sensor range is too short, and if you try to lighten what the sensor did record at some point only the noise is there and is amplified...
One solution, while not perfect is expose the sunny parts under clipping on a foreground subject as above in the first shot on Zone 9 - white below specular clipping (which is Zone 10) then using on axis fill flash to first raise the shadows to Zone 1 detail, then a second off axis flash to place the highlights in front on Zone 8 which winds up looking perceptually normal in a backlit scene...
... if you don't see too much of the background under exposed beyond the range of the flash...
I use the same "pre-visualization" process of thinking in terms of tonal zone or values in the scene and print that Adams introduced me, and the same approach for process control. But controlling both color film and digital with their fixed and often less than scene ranges required me to master a new set of tools: 2 and sometimes more flashes mixed with ambient or used separately.
What I try to make photographers today understand is that before Photoshop can manipulate an outdoor scene and produce results like Adams did in the B&W era one must first find ways to capture the same range of scene detail using either flash or HDR whenever scene range exceeds sensor.
You will know when scene exceeds sensor by: 1) first exposing Zone 9 scene content 1/3 stop below clipping, then 2) look at the left side of the histogram. If the left side is running off it's time for HDR or flash, as the situation allows, to get the same range Adams did. If like in the overcast shot above it's not running off the left side, then move the middle slider to "normalize" the contrast to taste.
If the left side of the histogram is running off after exposing per the clipping warning keeping Zone 9 whites 1/3 stop below per camera warning, you can determine how many stops of shadows are being lost by slowing shutter (so as not to change DOF) until the left side stops running off. Usually its about 2-3 stops to records shadows above noise. Combine the first and last shots with an HDR application and you have the full range with about 3 stops in the middle were the shadow and highlight exposures overlap.
Try shooting exposing to the right on a tripod, slow shutter 3 stops and take another shot. Then by hand start with the first shot and select all > copy > paste in the second on a new layer. Add a black mask, then selectively paint white / erase the mask where you want more shadow detail. It HDR but with selective local control of what you lighten. By choosing to lighted just the focal point you can create a perceptual vignette that is subliminal.