During the halloween festivities, I had an excellent chance of trying out some very low light film photography almost completely without a light meter. I got some very nice exposures by following a very simple rule. But first, let me describe the lighting conditions. I shot these images at a halloween party that was held indoors during the evening.
Lens and camera settings
My plan was simply to shoot everything with f1.8 and as long shutter speed I possibly could. In this case 1/60 and/or 1/30. I didn’t meter each individual shot separately. I referred the light meter only enough to see that in those conditions, the exposures were leaning towards underexposure — which wasn’t a big surprise. The plan was just to get as much exposure as I could without camera shake. After setting the camera I just shot everything with pretty much the same settings with my fingers crossed. I had my Zuiko 50mm 1.8 lens which isn’t that shaky focal length to begin with and it has the largest aperture that I have.
Pushing the film
The second important decision of my plan was to push the film as much as I could. I shot with Kodak T-max 400 that I pushed to 1600. T-max is an extremely fine grain film. Pushing film tends to do two things; add contrast and make it grainier. I like grain a lot, but I didn’t want my results to be too grainy. I figured that pushing a fine grained film this much would result in a moderate amount of grain. I had some Tri-x also lying around, but I though it might have resulted in too much grain.
I could’ve pushed to 3200, but my Olympys OM-1’s light meter goes only to 1600. I wanted leave me the option to check out the light meter if I needed to so I set it up to as high as it could go.
Nailing the focus with 1.8
Yes, good lick with that! The biggest challenge I had was of course nailing the focus with f1.8. I had so many blurry images because I wasn’t able to see the focus completely in the dark lighting. I though I was doing a good job, but when I saw the results, I realised just much misses I had.