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Thread: Why do photographers check exposure by taking Polaroids?

  1. #1

    Default Why do photographers check exposure by taking Polaroids?

    Curious after reading some books and realized that some of the professional photographers residing in the US are using this method after taking meter reading from their models..

    So how do they actually check the exposure using Polaroids? Anyone care to explain?

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    Quote Originally Posted by behyx
    Curious after reading some books and realized that some of the professional photographers residing in the US are using this method after taking meter reading from their models..

    So how do they actually check the exposure using Polaroids? Anyone care to explain?
    Think of that polaroid as a large LCD on a digital camera.

    Regards
    CK

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by ckiang
    Think of that polaroid as a large LCD on a digital camera.

    Regards
    CK
    thanks, all i know about Polaroid is that the picture can be view on the spot. but what i don't know about it is how can one check exposure from the photo?

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    Quote Originally Posted by behyx
    thanks, all i know about Polaroid is that the picture can be view on the spot. but what i don't know about it is how can one check exposure from the photo?
    Well, if you print a picture, you'll know how well/badly it's exposed right?

    Regards
    CK

  5. #5

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    Because it's instant, it offers a quick way for FILM photographers to make sure the exposure is "correct", meaning to be the way they want it to be.

    However, Polaroids apparently don't last as long, and the colours and resolution are not as good as 35mm, so it's not the choice medium for serious work.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ah Pao
    Because it's instant, it offers a quick way for FILM photographers to make sure the exposure is "correct", meaning to be the way they want it to be.

    However, Polaroids apparently don't last as long, and the colours and resolution are not as good as 35mm, so it's not the choice medium for serious work.
    so this is to say that the photographer is confirming the exposure as seen from the camera, as what our eyes see is not relative to what our camera sees.. can i say that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by behyx
    so this is to say that the photographer is confirming the exposure as seen from the camera, as what our eyes see is not relative to what our camera sees.. can i say that?
    not really, no. AFAIK, the light meter is used to check the exposure primarily, not the polaroids (it'll be quite silly to keep taking polariods to make sure the exposure is spot on). from what i know, polaroids are used to check for the lightfall, meaning where the highlights/shadows are, if the lights are properly positioned on the subject, composition, etc. example, the exposure may be correct but the model's face may be covered in shadows or the shadows are too harsh... and so on.

    my 2 cents lah.

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    from my limited understanding, it's to make sure the softboxes are put in position properly etc, and because of variances from modelling light to the actual flash that can't be predicted too easily

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    What I think is:

    When Pro. do a photo shoot, they sometime use medium/ large format cameras(1 shot). Using a polaroid will preview the exposure of the shot(cut cost). The print will be shown to the model(for protrait), then the photographer will further interact with the model on the thingy he wants to capture.

    It will also give the model a idea what the photographer is shooting.

    Cheers,
    STboy

  10. #10

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    roger that..
    thanks guys for your inputs!

    if there are anymore better reasonings, feel free to post here!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by STboy
    What I think is:

    When Pro. do a photo shoot, they sometime use medium/ large format cameras(1 shot). Using a polaroid will preview the exposure of the shot(cut cost). The print will be shown to the model(for protrait), then the photographer will further interact with the model on the thingy he wants to capture.
    Cut cost? Dude, polaroids ain't cheap... can cost more than shooting the trans blindly!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pureflow
    usually a polariod is taken first without anylights.. then the photog decides what light is needed. then checks for colorcast, eg FL-D, FL-W, tungsten burnout. etc, and exposure... before bracketing on E6
    there is a few way of doing it. diff photog have diff workflow.
    we meter all the light falling off the scene, making sure exposure is ok.

    Then we take a polariod to see if everything as we arrange. Then we move on to loading film.

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    now with digital back, we dun use polaroid.

  14. #14

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    Can see your avatar clearly states your position as a "digital back" user...keke...

    So in the end Poloroid serves as a quick preview of everything in the scene--composition, exposure, lighting/shadows, etc?

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    Polaroid backs are used by many studio and commercial phtographers worldwide, including myself when needed.

    As a couple of posters have stated, the primary use of a polaroid is to check the lighting, specifically shadow density and location, they also give a good visual indicator of the zone of focus and how the final composition will look when recorded on film.

    In professional photography it's normal to set up the shot, do colour correction as required and then shoot a test polaroid to ensure that all is correct. Bracketing shots with LF is not a cost effective option (see below).

    As for their cost effectiveness, a colour polaroid costs around $2.50 AUS ($3 bucks sing) per shot, which is a hell of a lot less than $20-25 bucks per tranny for 4x5 or nearly $100 per tranny for 8x10. (note: transparencey prices do not include processing, which can be up to $15 per shot).

    The use of polariod backs will decrease as MF and LF digital takes over in the coming years.
    Last edited by Ian; 6th May 2004 at 07:55 PM.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

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    Polaroids are used by photographers all over the world, not only in the US. They are mainly use for highlight/shadow checking and composition as well as angle. In other words to see the effect. The exposure is usually as a guide only as polaroids don't don't give you accurate readouts. Once satisfied with the above the photographer usually do a bracket shots of the product shots, usually 1/2 a stop over and under. The final photo will be selected by the art director and presented to the client. Usually only 1 or 2 of the photos will make it while the rest will be kept for other purpose.

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