Pushing the Boundaries: Fuji 400H at 800 and 3200

Winter – with its soft and atmospheric light – is one of our favourite times of the year to shoot.  Evening light is also a beautiful thing to capture. Winter evenings therefore, are a glorious thing, and something that we were very keen to explore on film. In some ways, the tonal range capabilities of film seem perfectly suited to capturing the nuances of golden light streaming through a dark woodland. However, with the desire to avoid underexposure (see our Exposure test here for more information) film shooting in low light presents a challenge.

This walk was only intended as a stroll with our cameras, not a serious shooting expedition, so we weren’t equipped with a tripod or anything else that would help as the light levels dropped. Yet the beauty of the evening and dusk unfolding before our eyes demanded that we give it a try.

These shots are all taken on Erica’s Rolleiflex 2.8F. Because she wanted to be able to utilise a narrower aperture on some shots she chose to start with a one stop push of Fuji 400H.

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At this point the light was really beginning to fail. These next two are still only pushed one stop but there is a little underexposure now:

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In these final shots the sun had gone down and this patch of woodland facing onto open fields, was receiving the very last bits of light before dusk truly fell. A few minutes later and we were using a torch to make our way back. This again is Fuji 400H pushed three stops in development to 3200. It captures the nuances of this light superbly well and with minimal colour shift. The increase in contrast that pushing brings about is actually welcome in these scenes, adding a little drama. In the main though this represents the scene as my eyes remember it very well. In most of these shots I was metering to add a stop of overexposure, although I was down to F2.8 and a shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/15 (helped by reasonably steady hands and the Rollei’s leaf shutter!)

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For the original version of this blog post you can check out Erica’s personal blog.

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