Model Photography

Choosing the right film

There are two different types of films for photography : the slide film and the negative film with paper print. In the first case, what you get is the original photo, i.e. the film that was in your camera when you took the photo. In the second case, the print has already undergone a change from the original (the film) and lost some of its details (prints generally have their color corrected in the printing process and are deliberatly blurred so as to hide some defects on the film, such as scratches, spots, etc...). At last, it is good to know that more and more photo labs use a digital process for prints (for easier image adjustment) and that it does not always improve things. It's up to you to make your choice, depending on the use you intend to do with your photos, knowing that if it's for publishing, publishers always prefer slides which are of a much better quality.

But, slide or color prints are not exactly the same and the caracterictics of these two media are quite different. What's about them ?

Generally speaking, any film is defined by it sensitivity (in ISO, or ASA). The general rule is that the higher the film sensitivity, the larger the film grain and the less it will render the details. This phenomenon is especially noticeable with slide films and much less with negative films. So that it is recommended to use the lowest sentivity films for slides (100 ISO, or even 64 ISO or less), which does not help us much for model photography, while, for negative films, a sensitivity of 400 ISO will make very little difference.

Then come the lighting problems as we are going to illuminate our model scenes with artificial lights that do not please much the films (a story of color temperature). Here again, the slide films do not withstand well the treatment and will yield yellowish/reddish photographs, unless you select a film especially made for artificial light which will perfectly reproduce colors. Negative films have somewhat the same behaviour but it is usually unnoticed since colors are corrected in the printing process and appear natural on the prints (but not on the film !). Artificial light negative films are just appearing on the market and I have no experience with them, for the time being.

At last and to crown it all, slide films do not withstand exposure errors while negative films withstand much better such errors. But there is another difference yet : slide films give better photos when slightly under-exposed, while it's exactly the opposite for negative films.

So, why would one use slides ? In all cases and under the condition that the right film has been selected, the final quality is much higher than prints from a negative film. But they are of any use only if you want to publish you photos or if you own a means to handle this type of medium. Prints will always be of lower quality but much easier to handle. Make your choice !

For slides, and according to the above, only one film is really suited for model photography : the Ektachrome 64T (for artificial light). It is hard to find as it is not in great demand and few photo shops stocks it. You'll probably need to order it. For prints, any film up to 400 ISO will do.

Now that everything has been said, Let's put the equipment in place and shoot a few pictures.

Lighting the scene Taking pictures

Page created by Jean-Louis Simonet
Last update : 03/07/2000
© 2000, Jean-Louis Simonet