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Photography Question 
Renata Turquand

Best Film Speed for Beach Setting

What film speed should I use for shooting beach scenes?

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10/7/2006 8:23:34 AM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Renata,

Selecting film speed:
Picture quality is almost always better when we use low speed values.
Assuming your camera uses film, a wise choice for the beach would be 200 ISO. This pre-assumes the scene illuminated by bright sun. The 200 speed choice is good because the film is fine grained meaning, should you produce a masterpiece, worthy of over-the-fire-place display, you can have a huge print made. For a digital camera the setting of choice would be 100.

Higher speeds, 400 or above accommodate dim light scenes. We also choose high speed for action photography because of the need for high shutter speeds to stop the action. High shutter speeds reduce the amount of light available to expose the film or digital chip so we need the added sensitivity.

Generally low speeds produce a higher quality image capable of greater enlargement.
Low speeds limit picture taking situations to bright conditions.
Low speeds allow larger lens opening to be used when we want reduced depth-of-field.
High speeds expand picture taking situations to dim light conditions.
High speed degrade picture quality, somewhat.
High speeds allow faster shutter speeds for stop action.
High speeds allow smaller lens opening that yield expanded depth-of-field.

Best of luck,

Alan Marcus

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10/7/2006 9:42:22 AM

Mike Rubin
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/15/2004

Welcom to BP!, Lets see some shots. For daytime shots,If you are shooting film, use the slowest print or slide film you can get. Usually 100 for print film. When shooting digital just set it for the slowest speed the camera allows.For sunset shots you should still use a slow iso (film speed) and use a tripod. the higher the ISO, the more visible the film grain (digital nosie)will be in a print.
For daytime shots you may also want to consider a polarizer,to cut down on glare & reflections, Also to darken up the sky.

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10/7/2006 9:46:41 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Renata:

In addition to Mike's suggestions, I thought I'd add a couple of tips. First, beach scenes are like snow scenes and highly reflective, so they tend to fool internal camera exposure meters into underexposing due to the overall intense brightness of the scene. While the problem is worse in midday sun, it's somewhat reduced if you shoot early or late in the day. At those times, btw, you can get more detail in the sand itself. The "TIDE POOL" photo in my gallery is a good example of the detail, including the sand, that you can get with very early morning sunlight on ISO 100 speed Ektachrome transparency film.

If you don't have a hand-held incident-type of meter, you can just move in close to your subject, fill the frame with them, take a reading, lock in your reading and then shoot. OR once you get a few frames at the measured reading, try bracketing a full stop either side of whatever your reading was.

That works especially well with color negative films that allow a 3-4 stop exposure latitude to get a good print.

Also, I should mention that to get better color saturation with color negative film you probably want to overexpose about one full stop anyway. So, if you buy ISO200 film, to overexpose by one stop, shoot it at ISO 100. Or for ISO 100, shoot at ISO 50, which should be fine on sunny days and even outdoors when it's partly cloudy.

If you decide to shoot slide film, UNDERexposing by 1/3 to 1/2 a stop tends to produce richer colors, including bluer skies.

Mike's suggestion regarding a polarizer is a good one, but use it carefully if you have one. Although a polarizer will deepen a blue sky, at the same time, it'll darken the shadows around the faces of your subjects, particularly the eyes. Soooooooooo to solve that, if you use a polarizer on a bright beach, you might still need a bit of fill flash, at about 1 stop less than your final exposure calculations to brighten the faces of your subjects.

My own preference for deepening the blue of a sky is with a graduated sky blue filter that's clear in one-half and a varying shade of blue graduated through the other half.

Lastly, for shooting black and white film, expose for the shadows to open them up to detail a bit, and process for the highlighted areas. :>) But you guys knew that, right?

I know....more than you'd ever want to know, but I'm waiting for some film to dry. ;>))
Take it light.

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10/7/2006 11:12:28 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Hey Alan !!!! Here's a guy who it seems would really benefit from your expertise. It's a question about cameras and telescopes.

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10/7/2006 11:41:05 AM

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