Close Up Photography with a Film Camera

WPZephyrFan May 23, 2010

  1. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    I'm hoping someone out there can help me out with this. I seem to have lost the notes I had and can't for the life of me find the magazine that covered the topic, either.
    I have a Canon AE-1 SLR and a 50mm macro lens that I used for getting some nice close up shots of my N scale models. Can anyone remind me of what film speed, f stop and shutter speed to use?
     
  2. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would use the "highest" f-stop and longest exposure possible (e.g., use f/16 instead of wide open f/3.5 or whatever it is on that lens) as the longer exposure and closed down aperture will give you the greatest depth of field.

    Otherwise, you will end up with the object in focus but nearly everything a slightly different distance from the camera lens (nearer or farther) will be blurry.

    The film will, in part, depend on the type of light you are using. If you have lots of greenish fluorescents, it will have an effect on your colors. I get around this by basically shooting everything either outside or under a variety of types of lighting all at once.

    The slower film (lower ASA/ISO) tends to be less grainy than the faster. I don't care for Kodak's consumer grade film as I think they've gotten sloppy with the color. I tend to use Kodak Portra 160NC or any of the Fuji varieties for color. I have no problem finding these but I also live about a mile from one of the premier film camera shops in the entire region. Pro camera shops would have some of these.

    I'd also recommend a tripod. Longer exposures at tighter apertures (that one probably goes as tight as f/16) will give some of the best results.


    These are my observations. Someone else here may have different opinions.

    Adam
     
  3. COverton

    COverton TrainBoard Member

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    Play around with all the settings and have a sober look at what they look like on your monitor.

    Also, with the freeware CombineZM, or the just out CombineZP, you can stack many images, providing you register them all to the same aiming point, and the software will stack them and pick the sharpest focus in each image in the stack. The results will astound you! So, if you want depth of field, and would rather have a quicker shutter speed for less noise on your chip, or less graininess on your film, consider stacking six to 10 different images of the same thing, but done at different focus depths.

    Here is a photo, with seven images stacked, that CZM rendered for me a couple of days ago.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. N-builder

    N-builder TrainBoard Member

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    Set the camera to the green square for fully automatic or P for program on your function dial (I always set my camera to P when I don't want to worry about aperture or F stop its more accurate then the green square setting) that way you don't have to worry about setting your aperture or F stop and use ISO 400 or even ISO 800 film. Because you are shooting in a environment that's has less light then bright sunny day.
     
  5. chooch.42

    chooch.42 TrainBoard Member

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    John; Take Adam's advice, (or get a film-knowledgeable shooter to help/demonstrate for you.) The effect of the settings in the viewfinder, stopped down as you view through it), will make your actual depth of field more apparent. Long exposures can also be aided by using (GENTLY) a cable shutter release or the "Self Timer" to activate the shutter (with the camera on a tripod, or supported by a sand or bean bag). Film is "old school", and a lot of "Digital" photo tricks and techniques just don't apply. Best of luck & post us some (scans) results when you can...maybe teaching us ALL some tricks. BTW - have an old FTb & A-1, and the same Macro you're using. Bob C.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 24, 2010
  6. N-builder

    N-builder TrainBoard Member

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    OPS sorry I just noticed you said AE-1 which is an all manual camera. Scratch the reply I gave you earlier. The simplest technic I can give you with this camera, you have a light meter in the camera use that to set your shutter speed and F stop. If you want to play with different depth of field for example if you want the background blurred then use the biggest F stop you have on your camera what I mean is either F1.5 or F2.5 (this is the ring on your lens with numbers)(don't forget to focus this camera manually) this will blur your background and also allow a lot of light in your camera. F stop means how much light travels into your camera via your lens shutter onto your film. Shutter speed is how fast your camera lets in this light. Now if you want to have everything in focus then you want the smallest F stop that you have F32 or larger. Now you set your shutter speed the rule of thumb is if you set your camera with an shutter speed smaller than 50 then use a tripod otherwise is you use an shutter speed larger then 50 you can hand hold the camera. These numbers are found on the dial on top of the camera the larger the number the faster the shutter reacts and lets in less light. This is why you need a light meter to balance the shutter speed with the F stop. I hope I'n not confusing you so far. Lets say you want your background to be blurred then set your F stop to 1.5 and then your shutter speed to lets say 250 but use the light meter to check that its not over or under exposed it has to be on the 0 if its in the minus then you underexposing your shot. Its always better to overexpose by a few steps like +1 or +2. I hope this helps you a little. And by the way you can still use ISO 400 or ISO 800 film just set your ISO/film speed setting on the camera. Once again sorry I didn't mean to give you bad information in my first reply I just didn't read the whole thread that your camera was an AE-1 manual camera.
     
  7. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    Here's a shot I took using my notes (when I had them):

    [​IMG]

    I used a tripod and I think the camera's built in timer outdoors. I don't have the proper lights to shoot close ups indoors. I do have a couple of halogen work lights I might try and use.
     
  8. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    This is a shot I took a couple of weeks ago, trying to shoot from memory:

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't look as though I was as close to the subject as I was in the UP shot and it came out dark. Actually, out of nine photos I took, this is the only one that came out.
    I also wonder if the background made a difference. The UP shot has a bright wall behind it, where the JR loco had a darker background. The wall may have reflected light into the lens and made the shot better lit?
     
  9. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Supporter

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    The longer exposure works really well for still subjects like this. Think of it as giving the film more time to capture the image. With a longer exposure on the second photo you'd get a bit more detail in the background and it wouldn't seem so "dead."

    Some of this stuff is also applicable to digital photography.

    I had forgotten to mention the cable release or timer as Inkaneer suggested.


    Now, with the UP photo, try adjusting the angle of the locomotive to the angle of sunlight to get different sorts of shadows. I think you'll find some neat angles.

    Adam
     
  10. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    Adam;
    Here's another photo from the set:

    [​IMG]

    I have several others as prints. Unfortunately, my scanner and my computer aren't speaking to each other. lol
     

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