I enjoy doing night shots, I’m by no means great at it, but it’s fun to go out and discover how differently places look at night. Sometimes it works out well, sometimes not so great.
I own a lightmeter, unfortunately it cost me £5($11) from a flea market, and is one of those incredibly old models which uses a selenium cell to measure the light and power it. the selenium cells work pretty well in the daytime, but unfortuantely just don’t work at all at night. This left me with three solutions:
1.Buy a much more expensive lightmeter that does night metering
I toyed with number 1 for a while, but realised that even at night, lightmeters aren’t great. So then I moved onto number 2. Guessing works ok, but when film is quite expensive you don’t want to make many mistakes, or take loads of different exposures just to get one correct one.
Then I moved onto number 3 last week. I had seen the exposure computer before, but always been put off by the website, and lengthy, wordy text around the actual ‘bit’ you need. Call it laziness, as that’s what it is, I just couldn’t be bothered to read it and learn.
What changed my mind? Well, I recently went to Paris, and probably wasted about 30 frames due to incorrectly exposed shots.
Armed with the printout of the exposure computer, I trudged off into Stirling with my assistant in tow (well, unwilling girlfriend, but the temptation of wine afterwards won out).
I’m not going to go into detailed instructions about the exposure computer, as that’s what Fred Parkers site does. But it’s dead easy:
1.Pick what EV value to use from the first table.
2.FInd what Film speed you are using in the next table,and run down the table until you see the EV number you chose.
3.Run alongwards to find which aperture you want to use and you will find exposure time. Simple!
Here’s an example of the process I went through for a particular shot.
1.EV Value: The shot was of an alleyway, dimly lit by artificial lights, so I chose an EV value of ’0′.
2.Exposure Factor Relationship:I was using ISO400 film(Although I wish I had some 100 with me to get rid of some grain), so on the chart, I scroll down to find ’0′ underneath the ISO400 column, then scroll along to my chosen aperture, in this case 5.6 (chose a mid-way aperture as these were just experimental, so I didn’t really care abotu Depth of Field).
3.That gives me the exposure time: 8 seconds. So just focus and take your photo.
The photos were taken with my lubitel 2 TLR. But you can still use the exposure computer with a holga. Just remember that the aperture is fixed at around f13. As the exposure computer doesn’t have a f13 column, just choose the middle exposure time between the f11 and f16 apertures in the table.
Remember though, Fred Parkers Guide is just that..a guide. It’s useful to start with, but over time you should be slowly able to judge exposures by eye (or you can just memorise both tables, it’s up to you!).
Here’s the link again: http://www.fredparker.com/ultexp1.htm
here’s some other photos taken that night with the guide. Some are a bit ‘stripey’ due to the developing machine rollers not being cleaned properly.
This one was about a 2 minute exposure!
Disclaimer: Don’t really throw you lightmeter out, it is actually quite useful.