Fuji Velvia & RMS - using in the rainforest - any suggestions?

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Hi all,

I'm trekking into the mountain rainforest this weekend to shoot some general rainforest images and also to capture some rare orchids. I'm taking Fuji Velvia and Fuji RMS and as it'll be a while before the orchids flower again I don't want to mess up this opportunity.

Depending on whether there is cloud cover or not there can be quite a range of exposure in the forest. I haven't used the RMS before in this situation (low light/rainforest) so any tips from anyone familar with this film and also any ideas on EI and processing to help extend the latitude of Velvia would be appreciated. To try to maintain the highlight values and get detail in the shadows, I thought I might try exposing for the shadow areas and then underdevelop by about one stop - any comments?

Thanks in adavnce.

Kind regards Peter Brown

-- Peter L Brown (photo_illustration@bigpond.com), October 31, 2001


Peter, I've used Velvia in the rainforests of Washington for ten years so I have some experience with it. Here are my thoughts. First, when exposing Velvia, definitely don't expose for the shadows-- Velvia's highlights can be gorgeous but they're very tricky, and if you expose for the shadows then you're leaving the highlight exposure up to chance. Also, don't overexpose/under process-- that turns the film magenta which kills your greens, and it worsens the red fog that tends to happen in the shadows of Velvia (and all other transparency films too). If you wait until the lighting is right (overcast and flat) then you can get incredible results with normal exposure and normal processing. What I do is expose for the brightest areas that I want detail (forget about speculars) and close down 1-1/3 stops from there. Also, using a polarizer helps hugely even if you're shooting in the rain or other conditions that you wouldn't normally think of using a polarizer-- it takes the bright sheen off the leaves and richens the color. And, bracket like crazy, in 1/2 stop increments. When you think of the investment you're making in the trip, an extra hundred bucks of film means little...

You might also consider taking the new Provia instead, too-- it has all the sharpness of Velvia, and all the color, but it's a stop faster and has way better reciprocity characteristics. I've recently switched permanently.

If you're interested, check out my rainforest work on my website. It's all Velvia, and all 4x5.

Good luck, and feel free to email me privately if you want to discuss further.

~chris jordan (Seattle)


-- chris jordan (cjordan@yarmuth.com), November 01, 2001.

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