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Night Time Photography on Film

January 10, 2015

Night time photography! Now I am the first to admit that I am very inexperienced regarding night time photography, but recently went out with a good friend to shoot a roll.

Armed with a Nikon FA and a Pentax Takumar 50mm f/1.4 and a roll of Kodak Ultra 400, we hit the streets of Dover, Kent.

Shooting film is a different animal to digital due to reciprocity failure of film  and in short if you exposure is longer than 1 second then you must compensate or your film will be drastically under exposed. I used the following formula which seemed to work for me during the evening...


1.5-2 secs = x1.4

2-6 secs = x2

6-15 secs = x2.8

15-35 secs = x4

35-70 secs = x5.6


So if you were metering a scene f/8 at 12 secs, you would need to times the exposure by 2.8 which would be 33 secs. It also goes without saying you need to be shooting on a tripod and using a release cable or self-timer!

Another thing to consider when shooting colour film is whether to correct tungsten lighting with a 80A filter. I chose not to and to correct in post myself and get it near to the colours I remembered while shooting.


The attached image was taken f/5.6 at 27secs.

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