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09-09-2011, 09:25 PM   #1
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Night Time Long Exposure Question

I am new to trying night time long exposures. I plan on using my Pentax MX, Velvia 50, and a tripod. There is a local fair going on this month, so I want to try some shots there. My concern is, do I use the MX internal meter, a spot meter, or an incident meter to get the right EV? Do I use the Fred Parker site instead?

I thank everyone in advance for the advice.

09-10-2011, 04:28 AM   #2
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HI, it's been a looong time since I tried night time long-exposeres on film, but my experiences with any analog or digital camera is that you cannot use the inernal meter.

If you really want to meter your way to the right exposure you will have to use one of those professional or semi-professional meters that are quite pricy.

Now, I don't know the reciprocity characteristics of Velvia 50, but if you are talking real night time exposures of several (tens of?) seconds, you should perhaps start now - before the real fair - spending a roll or two on tests and experiments.
09-10-2011, 05:32 AM   #3
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Depends on subject and lens speed, whether meter will work. Fair subjects may be lit well enough for camera meter to work, or use a spot meter. An incident meter is perfect, if you can get it in same lighting as the subject. Practice roll(s) is good advice imho (remember to make notes about exposure settings for each frame!)
09-10-2011, 05:42 AM   #4
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Shooting at night

If I could I'd use a digital. Subject maybe lite up an speed. I've shot fireworks theres a lot of misses before you hit on the right settings.

09-10-2011, 07:09 AM   #5
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Learning how each camera's metering and film exposure characteristics is certainly a prerequisite to getting good predictable results. Just how long an exposure are you intending to make, given that the MX's slowest shutter speed is 1 second? Of course you can extrapolate longer exposures. For instance, if you can meter the scene at f8 & 1sec, then you can certainly consider that at f2.8 the correct exposure time would be 8 seconds which you can achieve by using a cable release with the MX shutter at B. Other metering considerations would be scene contrast - if there is more darkness and few highlights. Although I haven't shot a fair, I would believe a great variety of lighting temperatures will be used and this will be very challenging to compensate for. Of course Velvia has probably the narrowest latitude of all films so you will need to be pretty good with your compensation assessments.No doubt this assignement can be challenging but the results maybe what you are looking for so good luck and have fun!
09-10-2011, 07:59 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by MarieDJ Quote
I am new to trying night time long exposures. I plan on using my Pentax MX, Velvia 50, and a tripod. There is a local fair going on this month, so I want to try some shots there. My concern is, do I use the MX internal meter, a spot meter, or an incident meter to get the right EV? Do I use the Fred Parker site instead?

I thank everyone in advance for the advice.
In general terms I think the best tool for this situation is a spot meter. At a fair you will encounter very contrasty lighting, ranging from britght light sources to heavy shadows, and eveything in between. With a spot meter you can measure key areas of a scene and place exposures accurately. You can also assess the brightness range and determine whether a shot will work at all. You do need to be able to interpret spot meter readings properly, which basically boils down to understanding the exposure measurent aspects of the Zone System. If capturing the light sources associated with carnival rides is your main goal, a spot meter is the best bet.

I don't know what theFred Parker site is. If it contains exposure charts for night lighting situations, my guess is that it is probably less usefull than a spot meter but more useful than the MX internal meter or an incident meter.

Assuming that your main concern is picking up the colour of bright light sources, I would rank moving in as close to the light sources as possible with the MX internal meter next. An incident meter would basically be useless in this situation.

You might get lucky simply doing average readings with the MX meter as you are shooting. You could do some testing prior to the shoot to see whether this is likely.

I strongly recommend that you do some testing. A strip mall or a commercial street with lots of signage would probably make a good stand-in.

Personally, I would use a colour negative film for this sort of thing. The extra exposure latitude is very useful.

Hope this helps.

John
09-10-2011, 08:46 AM   #7
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Depending on how long the exposure time will be this is perfectly doable. Reciprocity can be a problem because it quickly makes the shuttertime longer than anticipated. Here's some figures I have used for long exposures on Velvia: +1/3 step at 4 sec, +1/2 at 8, +2/3 at 16 and +1 at 32 seconds indicated exposure. I found these on the net and they have worked reasonably well for me, for longer exposures I extrapolate with reasonably good results.

I personally don't think the MX is a good camera to do night time shots with because of the ISO setting only going to 3200 if I remember correctly, that extra stop that you get with the KX, or the two extra stops you get with the LX can really come in handy sometime. An external meter can sort that out however, I don't remember the models now except for the Gossen Profisix witch is known for handling very low light.

Oh, and remember to bring a thermos with coffee or something so you have something to do when the exposures start climbing up to half an hour.
09-12-2011, 02:08 PM   #8
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The meter is pretty much useless for time exposures on most film (and digital for that matter) SLRs (Pentax LX being one of the standout exceptions) due to limited meter sensitivity. A good handheld meter (think Gossen Luna-pro or Luna-lux) will buy you several additional stops. Better yet, just use an exposure guide and bracket. I can't offer you a link, but perhaps another forum member has a favorite.


Steve

09-13-2011, 05:17 AM   #9
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Steve, What are the metering ranges of the Gossen meters? My Sekonic 358 & 758 are only EV -2 to EV +22 and I have qualified several of my cameras to be accurate to it.
09-13-2011, 07:21 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by LesDMess Quote
Steve, What are the metering ranges of the Gossen meters? My Sekonic 358 & 758 are only EV -2 to EV +22 and I have qualified several of my cameras to be accurate to it.
The sensitivity varies depending on model. The Luna Pro SBC is sensitive from EV -9 (ISO 100). The manuals with specifications are on the Butkus site (Electronic flash, 35mm camera flash, 35mm light meter instruction manual, user manual, free PFD camera manuals).


Steve
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