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01-21-2012, 10:47 PM   #1
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Pre-exposure/Multiple exposure on Spotmatic F

Reading Ansel Adams' book, The Negative, I came across a technique for improving shadow detail in high-contrast image called "pre-exposure", where you expose the film to a very dim, out of focus and evenly-lit light source to raise the base exposure to zone 1 or 2 across the entire frame. You then meter and capture an image normally.

Since I primarily shoot black and white film in "sunny-16" conditions, where I don't feel my DSLR can capture the full dynamic range of a scene, this seemed like a worthwhile technique to try. In my excitement, I blasted through an entire roll of film, metering at 4 stops below middle grey, rewound the roll (being careful not to lose the end in the film cannister), and reloaded the same film into my Spotmatic F, taking care to line-up the crease in the end of the film with the take-up sprocket.

Okay, so that was a little silly, in hindsight. A more reasonable approach would have been to just pre-expose a single frame when composing the shot on-site, and then taking the second exposure following the "multiple exposure" technique described in the Spotmatic owner's manual. Live and learn.

Anyway, my question is this. I will undoubtedly end up with some mis-alignment between the frame of my pre-exposure, and the final exposure. However, given that the pre-exposure is 4-stops under middle grey, would the mis-alignment even be noticeable? More to the point, if I use the multiple exposure technique described in the owner's manual, will it matter if the film moves slightly after the pre-exposure as I "advance" the lever to reset the shutter for the final exposure?


01-22-2012, 01:42 PM   #2
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Adams did his shooting with a view camera using sheet film. Sheet film is kept in slide-in holders, two sheets per holder. He would do his pre-exposure in the studio and label the holders as pre-exposed for later use in the field. Unfortunately, the technique does not translate very well to roll film.

You can use the technique you describe, but will most likely have a good deal of frame misalignment.


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