Bipolar Egg Lighting Walkthrough


Above is a recent project I worked on that I thought I’d share how it was lit since many people always ask me how I get my photos to look the way they do.

The What

Aside from the color, this photo was actually lit very simply with two lights. Yep, two lights.

Let’s start with the fill light. It was a Paul Buff X-1600 White Lightning studio strobe behind the camera, pointed at a very large, very white wall with an umbrella reflector, so it was blasting light pretty much everywhere.

I gelled it with my stand-by Rosco Calcolor gels: 135 units of Calcolor Cyan, 75 units of Calcolor Blue. I metered it to f/2.8, so that it painted the entire scene with a super deep blue with a slight push to green.

For my key light, it was also a Paul Buff X-1600 White Lightning studio strobe, however, it was placed camera left, and had a standard reflector and 40 degree grid. I gelled it with 90 units of Rosco Calcolor Yellow, and 45 units of Rosco Calcolor Red. I metered it to f/8.0 and placed the light so that it would split the egg in half, one half a nice warm glow, the other half a deep cold blue.

Other technical data: the background is a Savage Thunder Gray seamless paper, the egg is sitting on a studio stool with a black table cloth.

I kept the Lightroom and Photoshop work to a minimum, set the white balance to 5500K, spot healed a few spots of dust/fibers, etc. Very minor tune ups, what you’re seeing in this picture is pretty much straight out of camera.

The How

So how does this work? How do you figure out what strength gels you need where?

Again, this is pretty straightforward if you’re using a calibrated set of gels, which is why I love the Rosco’s Calcolor gel set so much.

So I wanted the overall lighting to push to yellow-orange on the highlight side, and push to blue-green on the shadow or fill side of the egg, both by equal amounts. Since I metered 3 stops between the two halves, all I had to do was figure out my overall proportions, then scale them. For the key side, I kept my scaling at 1.0, which meant my shadow side needed gels with 3 added stops of strength to match.

So, starting on the fill side, I knew I wanted 60 units of blue, multiplied by 3, makes 180 units of blue. In order to reduce how much magenta crossover happens, you need to put a fair amount of green in with the blue, typically half to three quarters. More than that, and it starts to look more cyan than blue. You can totally do that if you want, but for this image, I wanted more blue than cyan, so I went with 135 units of cyan, and 75 units of blue, which gives me a total of 180 units of blue (cyan = green + blue), and 135 units of green. Taking the multiplier into effect, this means 60 units of blue and 45 units of green.

OK, so on the highlight side: The fill touches everything, so just to get back to white, we need 15 units of yellow, and 45 units of red. But we don’t want white, we want yellow to orange, so on top of that, we need to add an additional 60 units of yellow, bringing our key side total to 75 units of yellow, and 45 units of red. This gives us a more green yellow than orange yellow, so we need to add just a touch more of red, say 15 units. This brings our total to 60 units of red, and 75 units of yellow.

And that is what you see in the image above.

Updated Film Tech Sheets

Just a heads up, I’ve uploaded the film tech sheets for the following films:

If you plan to send any C-41 film into Simple Film Lab, feel free to check the tech sheets out and look at the downloadable sample images.


September Special: two 35mm rolls developed for the price of one roll

Get your rolls of 35mm film ready! For the entire month of September, you can get two 35mm rolls of C-41 film developed for the price of one roll. That comes out to $2.50 per roll.

This applies to developing only of 35mm C-41 color negative film, so if you want us to also scan your film, then you will still need to pay the standard per frame cost for each roll.

This promotion is only valid for orders placed during the month of September 2018. There is no real hard upper limit to how many rolls you can send in, but if you do something like send in 500 rolls, then we’ll have to have a conversation.

When you see the 2 for 1 C-41 development special pop up in the store, you can start placing processing orders and send your film in.

Updated Fomapan 200 and 400 Film Tech Sheets

I’ve updated the tech sheet for Fomapan 200 and added an official tech sheet for Fomapan 400. Both films now are developed with replenished XTOL to the ISO standard contrast 0.62, so check out the available tech sheets if sending film in to Simple Film Lab for exposure guidance and sample DNG files so you’ll know what to expect if sending film in to be processed.

It should be noted that the tech sheets are just films that we’ve officially looked at. We develop all black and white and C-41 films, so if you’ve shot film that we don’t have listed, that’s not a problem. We can still develop it and scan it in for you, we just don’t have an official position on how to expose it and such because we haven’t officially looked at it.

Simple Photography Services Now Offering Prints

Simple Photography Services is now offering digital prints of your images.

You can select between standard prints and archival quality fine art prints in a variety of paper types and sizes.

What are you waiting for? Get out of the digital dark ages and order some beautiful prints today!

Simple Film Lab: Announcing C-41 Color Negative Film Processing

Kodak Ektar 100 Sample Images
Kodak Ektar 100

Yes, it’s about to be here. Simple Film Lab will start accepting C-41 color negative film for processing and scanning in the month of June, 2018.

Color is a lot harder to do than Black and White, and it took a while for me to figure out how to do C-41 color negative film in a way that would be repeatable and have fairly accurate colors, but still allow the character of each film to come through once scanned in.

I’ve been able to process C-41 film for a long time and even had my own Adobe Photoshop based color workflow, but it really only worked for one film: Kodak Ektar 100, and it wasn’t really viable to do on a large scale or for other people. If this is to be a service I want to offer to others, then I need a way to provide an equivalent to what you get with RA-4 analog color prints, but digitally in Adobe Lightroom which is a fully color managed environment.

So, lots of research, lots of testing, lots of studying the DNG spec, lots of code tweaks to Simple Image Tools (the film scanning toolset developed by me for Simple Film Lab), and a lot later than I would have preferred, it’s done. And it works.

So, what do you get? Basically, the same as my Black and White film processing service, except the output is in full on, glorious, 32 bit floating point, linear light color, as an Adobe Digital Negative file. It is the color film vision that I’ve had for a while, and in my humble opinion, is the best hybrid workflow for color negative film. Bar None.

What you get from other labs is inferior if it is not at least correctly color conformed Adobe DNG files. Jpegs and tiff files have their uses, but frankly, if that’s what the lab you’re using is offering as the output of scanning your film after processing it, then they are not doing you or anybody else a favor. Like it or not, anybody who takes any serious amount of pictures uses Adobe Lightroom and should demand to get Lightroom native DNG files of their film scans. Anything else can be an option, but should not be the default. Period. End of Discussion. If you are a film lab and you are reading this, consider this post as a notice. The film scanning gold standard is correctly color conformed 32 bit floating point DNG files that behave the same way as a DNG file from a digital camera. If you don’t know how to do that, then please go figure it out and start doing it before your customers figure out that what you are giving them could be so much better and become my customers.

Film scans from Simple Image Tools does things like make Lightroom’s color temperature and white balancing actually accurate. A daylight film shot during the day has whites that look white. Did you shoot your daylight film indoors under fluorescent lights? No problem, just select that type of lighting under the Lightroom WB drop-down, or use the eye dropper to change it. Did you shoot your Tungsten balanced film outside during the day? Also, no problem. Just select “Daylight” in the WB dropdown tool. It actually works the way it’s supposed to work.

The same goes for the exposure. In fact, all of Adobe’s Lightroom Develop Module tools work the way you would expect them to work as if you shot the picture digitally, but in reality, it was shot on film.

So what is this going to cost? Well, I’m still crunching the numbers. C-41 chemistry is quite a bit more expensive than black and white chemistry and I’m still working out what the real cost per roll is, however, expect me to have it worked out and have an order form available for download within the next few days. I’m looking to follow the same model as I do for Black and White film processing, just to keep things simple.

With that all being said, yes, C-41 color negative film processing is about to happen at Simple Film Lab.

Kodak Ektar 100? Yes.
Kodak Ektar 100 Sample Images

Kodak Portra 400? Yes.
Kodak Portra 400 Sample Images

Kodak Portra 160? Yes.
Kodak Portra 160 Sample Images

Fuji PRO 400H? Yes.
Fuji PRO400H Sample Images

Pretty much any C-41 film? Pretty much Yes.
Kodak ColorPlus 200 Sample Images

The above image is super cheap Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Color checker charts are one thing. What about real pictures? I’m glad you asked. I’ve been uploading sample images to my Flickr account and plan to create tech sheets with full DNG sample files to download for all the Color negative emulsions currently on the market today.

I’ve already shot Ektar 100, Portra 160, Portra 400, PRO 400H, Gold 200, Ultramax 400, and ColorPlus 200. I have Portra 800, Fujicolor 200, Fujicolor 400, Fujicolor 800, Lomography CN100, CN400, and CN800 in my possession and queued up have sample images shot, developed, and scanned and plan to search out and acquire as many other C-41 emulsions as I can to generate sample images for.

If you have a preferred C-41 emulsion that’s not on this list that you’d like to see, then let me know via the contact form and I’ll see what I can do about it. That being said, C-41 is very standardized, and once you get one emulsion working with Adobe Lightroom, the same thing pretty much works for every emulsion. There are differences between the emulsions (just like there are differences between digital cameras), but once you understand what those differences are and how to deal with them in a standardized way, it stops mattering and just works.

So, keep an eye out for an updated order form, and I look forward to processing your C-41 color film really soon.