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Brenton C

Disappointment with Safari Pics

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Thanks Jaap. Yes you showed well that the lighting conditions make a difference. No need to get defensive though. Just be happy with your choice of medium. I'm pretty sure, though, that all those thousands of slides would provide more luscious colour than dead-looking digital pictures. All my personal speculation of course, because film is my choice.

For the record for anyone who cares, it is not difficult in the slightest to travel with film. It's only a matter of preference.

14 hours ago, jaapv said:

None* - I hate scanning  ( I have thousands of slides and albums full of this stuff) and found digital far preferable to film for my style of traveling ever since 2000, eliminating film pilfering, obsolete X-ray scanners, large lead bags full of film, to mention just a few things.

For exposure and light handling it does not make one whit of difference, though. The recording medium does not determine the craft.
Digital should be handled like slide film as exposure goes, and offers the dynamic range of negative film. That is all one must remember.


*I know this is a film thread, but I am demonstrating a technical point, not esthetics or even "art".

Hi Brenton, it's not an easy shot given the harsh lighting conditions and the contre-jour subject, but it is possible to do quite a lot in post, see below. Colour negative films need to be colour adjusted which is easily done with the eye dropper tool (I used Adobe Camera Raw) and a calibrated screen. A trip into the Lab colour space in Photoshop can deal with the haziness in an image like this. Also if you scan yourself you can limit the scan only on the buffalo and a bit of the background and scan at a higher resolution to suck up more image information in those areas. In any event, the below is just a very quick edit of the quite heavily compressed forum JPEG. In terms of films I would stick to lower-ISO films. I use ISO 100 or 200 films in situations like this and actually prefer transparency film usually because of the rich colour it gives.  

On 2/17/2020 at 12:04 AM, Brenton C said:

Greetings to all. I'd very much appreciate any input into what might have gone wrong. Attached is a picture that was typical of the many (majority) of pictures taken last summer on a safari trip at Ngorongoro park in Tanzania.  I didn't keep track of whether I took this with my M3 or R4. Both cameras were equipped with a Summicron 50 f.2 lens. Film was (sorry again) either Portra 400 or Fuji Pro 400 (both films exposed at 200 asa).

To me the faulty pictures look under exposed, overly grainy, with poor colour saturation and a lot of haze in the distance. I used a Sekonic light meter to take incident readings (in the same light as the subjects) -- until Africa, this had proved to reduce the number of wrongly exposed duds when, in the past, relying on the in-camera reflected light readings of my old Canon AE-1 (a camera "so easy, anyone can . . . " HATE IT!)


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I didn't mean to sound defensive - photography is a broad church to me. I agree, nothing beats a good slide projected large or a Cibachrome. OTOH I  always found negative colour film not quite there for colour for this particular use and tended to stick to slide film. Travelling with film is indeed too not much of a hassle - in a world that has a decent infrastucture. But in less sophisticated circumstances I vastly prefer a few SD cards in my pocket  and a backup device in the luggage.

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I think the issue is as much the scanning as anything else. There is a bit of a green cast and the contrast curve needs adjustment. Are they scans you made, or just automatic adjustments from a lab? Portra 400 in 35mm will have grain, but the color and contrast should be quite rich if properly shot and scanned.

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On 2/17/2020 at 1:07 AM, Brenton C said:

Thanks 105',

Development was at the local drug store that has a lab on site. They did "high quality" scans for me there.

Sorry, I missed that. I would say this is your issue. Have the negatives you like scanned by a skilled operator, and I am sure you will have a much better take on them. Scanning is probably the most important part of the entire process these days. There is no "correct" image from a color negative...it is mostly interpretation and the skill of the scanner operator. Automatic scans can rarely give you anything other than a basic starting point, and even then, often not even that. 

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