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Photography QnA: Exposure Settings

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Category: All About Photography : Photographic Field Techniques : Exposure Settings

Wondering about indoor photography exposure settings? Maybe you are more interested in outdoor settings. This Q & A and Exposure Control in Digital Photography article covers it all. For in-depth instruction, check out Bryan F. Peterson's Understanding Exposure online photography course.

Page 5 : 41 -50 of 63 questions

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Photography Question 
Jo-Anne Walsh

member since: 7/9/2004
  41 .  What Does Bulb Mode Means?
I am a beginner photographer and I have a Canon Rebel 2000 and for the first time I heard the term "bulb" mode. What does it mean, and what do I do? Also what is the purpose? Thanks!!

7/17/2004 10:03:30 PM

Damian P. Gadal
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/22/2002
  Bulb mode will keep the shutter open as long as you push down the shutter button. So, you are in complete control of the exposure ... You can also use it when cleaning a CCD and you want to keep the shutter open.
hth

7/17/2004 10:42:49 PM

Steven Chaitoff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/22/2004
  Hey Jo-Anne: Typically you'll just want to use a timed shutter, because most subjects don't require shutters more than a second or so, but the bulb has some interesting and creative uses. For example, if you're out at night and with little light, you can leave the shutter open for a long time and capture the motion of the stars around the north star. I even know one guy who left his shutter open for 9 or 10 hours, all night outside in the pitch black, and captured a scene entirely from the light reflected off the moon!
-Steven
-http://www.vinrock.i8.com/photos/

7/18/2004 8:51:38 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Historical Notes: At one time, many moons ago, most of the top-end cameras had a "T" and a "B" shutter speed position. The "B" as already described means "Bulb" and shutter is open as long a shutter release is held down. The "T" means "Timed" and was intended for long timed exposures Pressing the shutter release opens the shutter; either pressing it again, or turning the shutter speed dial, or moving a lever is required to close it. I have an old camera with both "B" and "T" on the shutter speed dial.

The "Bulb" shutter speed position name comes from the early days of flashbulbs, which were invented in 1929. Prior to flashbulbs, flash powder was used. One would open the shutter, light off the flash powder in an elevated trough and then close the shutter again. There was no shutter synchronization with flash.

Cameras made shortly after flashbulbs were invented likewise had no flash synchronization to fire the flashbulb while the shutter was open ... requiring the same method of opening shutter, manually firing the flashbulb, and then closing the shutter again ... hence the "Bulb" name it was given.

7/19/2004 11:53:48 PM

Scott Pedersen

member since: 11/18/2001
  When you do try out your B setting, use a cable release. Don't just press the shutter with your finger and hold it down. A locking cable type lets you leave the shutter open for extended periods.

7/20/2004 3:50:02 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  A Canon Rebel may not have a way to attach a cable release.

7/20/2004 10:27:05 AM

Andy 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2002
  Luckily, the Canon Rebel 2000 has a remote control terminal on the side that can be attached by the remote switch RS60-E3. So do the Rebel Ti and GII.

7/20/2004 11:44:39 AM

Steven Chaitoff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/22/2004
  You can attach a cable release, but not a generic one. Canon uses its own proprietary system, so you have to buy theirs. It'll cost more, of course, but there are a bunch on eBay! The name of it is the Canon RS-60E3 Remote Switch Cable Release.

7/20/2004 11:49:44 AM

Norman Ewan

member since: 12/4/2003
  Painting with light in simple terms: Set you camera to manual mode and focus on your subject. Set the bulb mode then in total darkness press the shutter button to open the shutter and shine a touch on the subject moving the light around. You can get some great effects.

7/20/2004 12:43:30 PM

Bill Wassmann

member since: 4/15/2004
  Bulb is a very old term and comes about not because of flash powder but because many of the early shutters were operated by air. A flexible rubber tube attached to the shutter and at the other end was a rubber bulb. When you squeezed the bulb the air compressed and activated the shutter. The word has persisted for many years. When shutters became mechanical the T for Time was added and required two actions: one to open the shutter, one to close it.

7/22/2004 12:50:41 PM

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Photography Question 
Frank P. Luongo
Contact Frank
Frank's Gallery
francislphotography.com

member since: 6/7/2004
  42 .  How to Spot Meter with Nikon N-75
The built-in Matrix and center-weighted metering systems are effective. However, how do you spot meter a small piece of your scene? Do you recommend purchasing an incident meter separately?

6/16/2004 9:55:24 AM

Terry L. Long

member since: 2/12/2004
  I'm not familiar with the Nikon N75. If it doesn't have a built-in spot meter, then you can't "spot" meter. However, one way you can get pretty close to spot metering is to fill the frame with the area you want to spot. This way your meter (Matrix or center weighted) will see only that one particular spot and will give spot meter readings. It doesn't matter if you're too close and can't focus either.

An incident meter is not the same thing as spot metering. When you use the built-in meters of cameras, you are reading the light "reflected" off of the subject. An incident meter reads the light falling onto the subject as viewed from the cameras position.

Stay with the meter in your Nikon. You don't need an incident meter. If your subject is too far away to fill the frame with, then get an 18%-percent grey card. If you know how to use the card then, when taking a meter reading, just fill the frame with the card instead of with the subject. I use this method even with my built-in spot meter in my Canon.

6/17/2004 10:12:20 PM

Ashutosh Ojha

member since: 10/30/2004
  Even though nikon N75 does not support spot metering, there is a way around for it. Look into your manual for custom settings and 7th setting says auto lock metering defaults to Center-weighted but you can change it to spot metering.
So change the custom setting, set your camera in shutter priority mode and set shutter speed to your film speed and press AE Lock button and take the reading. Now you have combination of shutter speed & aperture for spot metering. Switch to manual mode and adjust your readings accordingly and shoot.
Njoy!!!

10/30/2004 5:50:58 PM

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Photography Question 
Frank P. Luongo
Contact Frank
Frank's Gallery
francislphotography.com

member since: 6/7/2004
  43 .  How to Meter Sunrise and Sunset Scenes
My Nikon N-75 has a built-in meter system. I often use manual mode which utilizes center-weighted metering when the sun is in the picture for sunrise or sunset. Do you recommend metering a part of the scene away from the sun, i.e., the blue sky? How about a gray card? Is it worth it to buy an external meter?

6/16/2004 9:32:07 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  If you want the sunrise/sunset to appear as it did to the naked eye, I would suggest manually metering on the sky without the sun in the frame. Then, using that setting, you can recompose to include the sun in the frame if you want. Grey cards are beneficial for measuring reflected light. If you use them for sunrises or sunsets, turn around and get a reading off the card of the light illuminating the landscape behind you for the best possible setting. It's always a good idea to bracket this type if exposure to be sure.

6/16/2004 3:21:32 PM

Mike Bowden

member since: 9/24/2003
  If you remember that your meter will try to expose anything to achieve a representation of the 18% gray tone and adjust accordingly you will achieve the results you seek. Highlights are above the 18% exposure; bracketing toward the underexposed side pulls highlight tones toward the mid-range, causing you to lose shadow detail. Overexposing shadows to the mid-range blows highlights out to white with little or no detail in them, like backlit subjects and sky backgrounds with no fill light used.

6/22/2004 9:55:33 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  Underexpose your shots by 1/2 to a full stop you will find this will portray the colours in the sky way better and stop the sun itself from being very blown out!!!!!!

6/28/2004 10:09:14 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  I wouldn't use a gray card if you're going to shoot a sunset because at sunset the light shining on whatever's behind you isn't like the light that's scattered making the sky the red and orange. you'll end up washing it out.
Spot meter off the sky away from the sun and open up a little bit.

6/28/2004 10:40:07 AM

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Photography Question 
Anita White

member since: 3/4/2004
  44 .  The Scoop on Gray Cards
What are 18% grey cards? Thanks.

5/12/2004 9:56:59 AM

John Wright

member since: 2/26/2004
  They are exactly what it says. It's a card (usually stiff cardboard) that is colored 18% grey. Why are they 18% grey? They are 18% grey because that is the value that all light meters see and meter for.

5/12/2004 10:01:35 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Think of a scale that's black and white. At one end, you have totally black, and at the other end, you have totally white. In between, you have shades that gradually go to increasing lighter shades of gray till they go from black to white. Somewhere in there, there's a shade of grey that's 18%. It's kinda like room temperature - in that's it's considered normal. So to expose that shade of grey correctly would be correct exposure for anything that is under the same lighting.

5/12/2004 10:25:41 AM

David Robinson

member since: 12/29/2002
  The story goes that researchers into what the human eye can see divided black to white into 100 shades. They then discovered that somewhere past No. 36 most people could not differentiate between the darker shades. So 18% of the original 100 shades became the 50% mark of what people could see. ... So I'm led to believe.

5/18/2004 7:37:00 AM

George Corbin

member since: 1/26/2002
  And just to add some more clarity (a lot of new budding photographers don't know this about their cameras, and it has a profound impact upon your exposures): The camera, in effect, is "calibrated" to see everything as a medium gray.
So, if you photograph a black cat, and your camera's auto settings say "This is the right exposure!", you'll be disappointed to find a much paler, overexposed, gray cat on your final picture. Why? Because the camera "assumes" the subject would be correctly exposed as a medium gray ... rather than black.
Similarly, when you photograph white snow on auto settings, the snow in the resulting picture will be gray. The camera doesn't know that snow should be white, the cat should be black, etc. It assumes the average exposure of your photo should be gray.
So metering off a gray card in each shooting situation can give you much more control over your final exposure.

5/18/2004 7:08:07 PM

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Photography Question 
MaryAnn L. Oakland

member since: 3/29/2004
  45 .  How to Shoot Waterfalls
 
Last weekend, we went to a lovely park with waterfalls and photographed them. We tried different shutter speeds to try to get that awesome foamy look that great waterfall photos have. We were disappointed as we did not achieve that look. The waterfall was overexposed, and we were not able to get that nice foamy look. What can we do to achieve that look? We used a tripod and went down as far as 1/160 of second for the shutter speed. Do we need to go slower for shutter speed and adjust the aperture? Does this only work for a certain type of waterfall? If so, what kind? Fast, slow, tall, etc. ... How about the time of day, does that have an effect on it also?

5/5/2004 10:54:00 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Go down to around 1/15. You need turbulence to get the effect. It usually looks better if it's an overcast day or if the water is in the shade.

5/5/2004 11:31:49 AM

MaryAnn L. Oakland

member since: 3/29/2004
  Thank you, will try that.

5/7/2004 6:13:06 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  The thing to keep in mind when selecting a shutter speed is that the human eye (and brain) sees motion at 1/60 second. A waterfall shot at that speed will look much it does to the naked eye. Any setting longer than that will cause the water to blur. Obviously, the longer the exposure time, the more pronounced the effect will be. What Gregory said about cloudy days or shade is very important, as it allows for the longer exposure times without blowing out the highlights. A slow film or ASA setting will help also. At ASA 100, speeds of 1 full second or more are possible on cloudy days or in deep shade.

5/7/2004 7:12:41 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Better add that when I say go down to 1/15 of a second I mean correctly exposed at 1/15. Don't just put the shutter speed at that. You need an aperture that will give you 1/15, because I just noticed you said you overexposed at 160th. So you're about to really overexpose by just changing the shutter speed.

5/7/2004 11:05:50 AM

Scott Pedersen

member since: 11/18/2001
  In order to get the right shutter speed/aperture combination, you will need to use a slower film like 100 or maybe 200, and you will have to visit it in the evening or early morning. In the middle of the day you have too much light to get the right combination. Actually, early morning is the time to do it as there is usually no one else around to get into your photo.

5/11/2004 4:28:35 AM

MaryAnn L. Oakland

member since: 3/29/2004
  You have all been so helpful, thanks so much. I am going to print this out and follow this next chance I get.

5/11/2004 5:51:34 AM

  When I am out shooting water, it is always done on an overcast day. This helps make the scene darker, along with using a polarizer, which darkens the scene more and helps take glare off of rocks. Another thing this does is gives you more realistic colors - on a normal day, your water will have blue tints and most likely hot spots. I normally use the settings of f/16 and anywhere from 1 sec or higher - the longer your exposure the more blurred your water will be. Another tip for you is to use a cable release or your timer on the camera. Hope this helps.

5/11/2004 6:26:25 AM

Bill Lewis

member since: 8/15/2003
 
 
  Hocking Hills Fast Water
Hocking Hills Fast Water
 
 
I love to shoot water. Pick an overcast day with flat light. Meter on the greens or mid-tones in the scene. Check the speed of the water. Find something that is floating by. Time how long it takes the leaf to flow through the area you want to shoot. Set your shutter speed to 1/2 that speed or slower. Use you aperture to get the shutter speed that you need to blur the water. Bracket your exposures if you are using slide film. Keep field notes so you can learn from the results. I shoot 50 and 100 speed film at 2 to 6 seconds depending on water speed. If you use too slow a shutter speed on slow-moving water you will blow out the whites of the veil. Have some fun, and experiment. Keep notes to review your results.

5/12/2004 6:31:29 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Thanks, Bill, for that great tip about timing something floating by. I spend a lot of time shooting moving water, and I'll definitely remember that when I go again.

5/12/2004 9:59:10 PM

Ken Brown

member since: 5/10/2003
  If you're shooting 400 or 800 speed film, you'll never obtain a shutter speed slow enough even at very small apertures. If you routinely use fast film, you might want to use a neutral density filter, which reduces the amount of light entering the lens and thus necessitating longer exposure times.

5/15/2004 6:05:19 PM

John L. Webb

member since: 2/20/2004
  All the perfect answers are above by this group. I use variations for all of the above with a nod to my own personal taste allwing the whites to blow out a bit but again, only for my own taste. I also have made use of a plain grey card for my aperture shutter speed guides as wel as not allowing the scene to fool any of my meters. I try lower angles and try to position something in the foreground such as a large rock formation to give the scene depth. In color, I have had my wife sprinkle rose petals upstream to catch them coming down for a splash of color.

5/18/2004 5:57:59 AM

Eugene W. Juergensen

member since: 11/27/2003
  The best and most reasonable way to take care of old box camera negatives and to get them printed. Once the picture is on the computer one can work wonders with the prints. Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Rev. Eugene W. Juergensen

5/18/2004 8:53:53 AM

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Photography Question 
Daniel Kasenda

member since: 4/29/2004
  46 .  What Does the DOF Preview Button do?
Hi, Can I ask what the depth of field preview button does in a Nikon F80? How does it exactly help you? Sorry, I am a beginner in photography :/ Thanks!

5/2/2004 11:43:51 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  It makes the lens close down to what the aperture is set at, so you can see what the depth of field looks like before taking the picture. The aperture affects the size of the area that appears in focus of a photograph, so if you needed to check to see where and what was falling within that area, you use the DOF preview to see it.

5/2/2004 12:59:43 PM

Robert Bridges

member since: 5/12/2003
  There is a simple answer, and then there is a more complex answer. The simple answer is exactly what Gregory gave you. The more complex answer, hopefully, follows.

DoF preview is an extremely handy feature to have - IF you are doing either macro work or needing to make sure that EVERYTHING is as sharp as it can be from foreground to infinity ... as in a landscape. Lastly, DoF preview has myriad creative AND can help immensely in your focusing.

First thing it "does" is it darkens your viewfinder but that's simply because less light is available to the view screen. What you have to do is train your eye to look THROUGH the darkened screen so that you can see the effect different F/stops are having on your image. This takes time and practice. It sometimes helps to open up the lens all the way and then with the DoF button pushed in SLOWLY stop down. You need to look that both what is immediately in front of and immediately behind your point of focus. Doing this will help you see what parts of your subject are MORE in focus at a given F/stop than a different F/stop. Generally speaking, you won't see much difference between 2.8 - 4.0 or 5.6. BUT you will see some major differences between 4.0 and 8 or 11 or 16 et al. Now for the tricky part. With the DoF button in, re-focus your image until you can get all or as much as possible of whatever it is (foreground, surround, and background) of the point where your focus is. When you can see those differences, then you can fine-tune your point of focus. Note that when you do this and you release the DoF button and look through the viewfinder it MAY appear as if nothing is in focus. Trust your camera at this point.

5/4/2004 9:32:56 PM

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Photography Question 
Jose A. Hernandez

member since: 2/1/2004
  47 .  Saving Technical Information for Each Photograph
How can I conveniently keep track of aperture and shutter speed information so that I can report that with my photographs? It seems to me that stoping everytime I take a picture to write down all of this is a bit tedious... is this the only way?

2/3/2004 6:39:47 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  Alternatives:

(a) Some high-end film cameras record this information (EOS 1v, Maxxum 7, others) so that it can be downloaded to a computer.

Many digital cameras encode this information in the RAW image file and it can be extracted with the appropriate software.

(b) Use a small tape recorder or digital memo recorder and talk to it while shooting

(c) Hire an assistant to do the writing for you ;)

2/4/2004 5:49:26 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
BetterPhotoJim.com
Owner, BetterPhoto.com, Inc.
  I see from your member profile, Jose, that you use a Fuji Finepix digital camera. So Jon's second suggestion above applies to you.

This means you just won the "notebook lottery"... Because you shoot digital, all those settings should be kept in each photograph you make.

Simply use the latest versions of Photoshop (if you have it) or a free program like Exif Reader to get at that information. Search Google.com to find Exif Reader or alternative programs.

2/4/2004 8:36:47 AM

Shannon Borri

member since: 2/9/2004
  If you run Windows XP just left click on a photo to display it then right click on the photo in display mode and select properties. A lot of information is there.

2/10/2004 8:17:08 AM

Jose A. Hernandez

member since: 2/1/2004
  I found out how to do it with photoshop, thanks guys.

For any future visits to this Q/A site. If you have photoshop. go to file, select browse. as you browse the photo files all that information is display somewhere on the screen (lower left in case of PS7.0)

2/10/2004 8:40:26 AM

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Photography Question 
W L Everett Jr
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/22/2004
  48 .  Exposure for Snow Scenes
Is a neutral density filter necessary for snow scenes? If using a ND filter is it necessary to slow the shutter speed down from the recommended TTL meter setting? Which type of pro film is best for snow scenes?

1/22/2004 6:08:59 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  The ND filter is not necessary for snow scenics if you understand that the bright white of the snow can fool your in-camera meter, and try to turn the snow to a neutral gray.

Meter off a neutral colored object which receives the same light as the scene you are shooting, then recompose and shoot at that setting. If no such object is available, meter off the snow and open 1 1/2 to 2 stops.

1/22/2004 10:22:19 AM

Michael McCullough

member since: 6/11/2002
  For white,yellow,pink,most light colours I will overexpose by 1/2 to 1.5 stops it is really simple to do!!!!

1/28/2004 9:52:23 AM

Esther Mishkowitz

member since: 5/14/2000
  michael-does that mean you used a larger or smaller f stop?

2/3/2004 9:54:28 AM

Andy 
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2002
  Overexpose is to use a larger aperture (smaller f number) or expose longer (smaller number).

2/3/2004 11:54:53 AM

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Photography Question 
Ziad H. Dabash

member since: 8/12/2003
  49 .  How to Shoot In Snow
Hi,
I wonder how to shot photos in snow - what is the best setting?

10/18/2003 4:34:12 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member
cammphoto.com

member since: 7/17/2003
  Snowscape scenics are among the most difficult to expose correctly. Many come out with the snow rendered as a dull blue/grey color instead of white. Most in-camera meters are designed to turn the bightest component within the scene to a neutral grey. If at all possible, you should meter on a neutral colored object which recieves the same amount of light as the scene you intend to photograph, then, re-compose and shoot the scene at that setting. This will usually work out to become @ 1 to 1 1/2 stops over what your meter recommends as a correct setting... depending upon how brightly lit the scene is. Use this setting as a starting point, and bracket a half-stop under and over to be sure.

10/18/2003 3:17:04 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Ziad,
If you're using print film, there's also the challenge of getting the print lab to print it correctly. One-hour drugstore labs are notorious for not doing this very well. If you find a good consumer lab (one-hour variety) that makes prints well, treasure it . . . and most of all try to find out who's operating the lab equipment when you get the properly made prints. It is quite dependent on the person maintaining the equipment and operating the print machine.

10/19/2003 7:41:11 PM

Elisheva Smith

member since: 7/27/2003
  Hi Ziad
I was taught to take a reading from the highlights, snow in your case, and then open 2 stops that will details in the shadows and you will not lose it in the highlights.Another thing a wellknown photographer taught me:
A black cat on white background;open 2 stops.
A white cat on black background;cole 2 stops.
It worked for me, but then in Israel snow is very rare.
Elisheva

10/21/2003 4:50:29 AM

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Photography Question 
Richard 

member since: 11/9/2002
  50 .  Shooting Caves
Does any one have advice (film speed / exposure settings) for shooting in caves? I am on my way to Carlsbad Caverns and hope to get some decent pics. I use a Rebel 2000 with the Elchepo 28-90 and a Tamron 100-300 lens.

8/27/2003 5:20:53 PM

Wayne Attridge

member since: 9/27/2002
  Exposure settings will depend on available light. You will have to meter or use the camera's meter for that. As far as film speed goes, your elchepo zoom is probably not very fast, I'm guessing maybe 3.5 or 4.0 to 5.6. If this is the case, I would maybe use Fuji Pro 800 or something in that range. I don't generally use Kodak Max, which is rated at 800 - 1000 but this may be a good alternative (check the Kodak website)

8/28/2003 3:25:14 AM

Darwin A. Mulligan

member since: 11/25/2002
  I was at the Carlsbad Caverns last summer. I shot Velvia slide film (ISO 50)with my Pentax 645 medium format camera on a tripod. My exposure times ranged from 30 seconds to over 2 minutes depending on the available light in the scene. When shooting over 30 seconds-> add extra time to your exposure to allow for reciprocity failure of the film.

Regards
Darwin
www.northernexposure.4t.com

9/3/2003 6:39:21 AM

Richard 

member since: 11/9/2002
  Thanks for the input. I just got my pics back. No really good ones. I did use Kodak max 800 but my 28-90 is just too slow.

Maybe next time, Richard

9/3/2003 5:45:56 PM

Wayne Attridge

member since: 9/27/2002
  Richard, It sounds like you may just need a tripod and a longer exposure time. If your camera meter won't give you a reading, perhaps you could borrow a light meter from someone. That might help. You could also do some test shots at home with comparable light conditions . Try different exposure times and be sure to write down what you shoot. When you get the film back you will have a pretty reasonable idea of what you need to do. Good luck.

9/3/2003 9:43:16 PM

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