Graves Page by Page

I recommend first skimming through chapters 1 to 5, 7 and beginning of 8, and looking at the pictures in this book many times before studying it in detail. Graves' pictures are very instructive. Also read Zone System for Motion Picture Film.

Pg. 1-21: For motion picture film we are thinking about the end product which is a negative print from a camera negative that results in a positive transparency. Our goal is to predict what that print, a transparency, will look like on the screen. Black and white still photographers have more freedom to manipulate their images in development and printing than we do in film, but the Zone System works well to get predictable results for movie negative and many other mediums including video.

When Graves talks about printing on paper, think about your projected film on the screen. There are many fine points about motion picture film (H and D curves, Gamma, toe, shoulder etc.) that can be ignored for now until you have mastered basic exposure. Then understanding the finer details will be easier.

With testing you will discover the number of zones that the film has that you test. What is important is to think in terms of black, white and shades of gray. Although we are often more aware of color differences in color work, black and white brightness and film density is more important for correct exposure.

Because our eye/brain imaging system has about 13 stops or zones ability to "see" contrast, we can't trust our unaided eyes to judge contrast range. (See No Camera Camera Course- Squint Contrast Test)

To think in terms of motion picture camera technique, you might convert all of Graves' exposures to 1/50-1/60 sec. to get a feeling of what to expect at 24 fps. With faster films you will have to consider neutral density filters to bring the exposure down to a reasonable f stop. On the middle of page 53 you can convert, f 5.6 @ 1/125 to f 8 @ 1/60, f 8 @ 1/250 to f 16 @ 1/60 and f 11 @ 1/500 to f 32 @ 1/60.

Pg.22 Shoot still tests at one shutter speed (1/50-1/60) the same as for motion picture cameras at 24 fps. To calculate for high speed and time lapse, you can use 1/50 as a base to calculate from. Using one shutter speed will give consistent results if your camera is not accurate at different speeds. Also thinking about 1/50 will give you a feeling for when you don't have enough light to expose movie film at 24 FPS.

Pg.28 top. Incident light meters ARE useful to double check what our reflected meters are telling us. I recommend taking a reflected reading off a gray card and comparing it with an incident meter reading. There are many instances when only an incident reading is possible. I recommend mastering both methods and striving for agreement or an understanding of why there are any differences with the two methods. Different colors of light can read differently on different meters. One is a check of the other.

Pg. 31. You can use an In-Camera Meter if that is all you have, but getting incident and reflected meters will be necessary some day. There are many combination meters now available for as little as $100. (Shepherd DM-170, B. H. Photo New York City) Personally I like the Sekonic L-508. Spot/incident meter. + or - $400.)

Pg.34 You can ignore percentages of light and "N" + and - for now. Think in terms of Zones and full stop differences.

Pg.43-46 Ignore "How Development Effects Shadows"

Pg.48-58 Good stuff! Just think in terms of 1/50-second-shutter speed and change the f-stops to change exposure. Translate Graves' exposures on your meter to get equivalent exposures at 1/50.

Chapters 8 and 9 Good stuff for still photographers. Skim through. Be careful with gray cards to get full light on it but NO reflections of your light source. Make sure you don't block light while taking a reading.
Chapter 10. Replaces the more complicated chapters 8 and 9.

Pg. 93 2. See "No Camera-Camera Course/Squint Contrast Test" about squinting.

Ignore the N-1 development stuff at bottom of page. Having a spot meter will help a lot.

Pg. 96 Ignore "Development" to end of chapter.

Chapter 11. Now we are ready for color. I don't think that pgs. 101-110 are important for now. Start with "Color Negatives" on page 111. This might be your first test. You will want transparencies (a print) of your motion picture film. You will be able to establish the ASA that the lab is developing the negative and printing it to.

Pg. 113 Ignore "Contrast Control with Color Negatives"

© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.