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CambsIan 23rd August 2021 07:06 PM

Photographing a small church
Hi All,

Came across a small village church today, which unfortunately will close it's doors for the last time at the end of September.

I've given a small donation and have been given permission to go back, with my tripod, before it shuts to photograph the interior (will also sneak some exterior shots)

Intend shooting 120 in both colour and B+W.

Thinking of using Ilford Pan F Plus for the B+W, any better options ?

Any suggestions for the colour, thinking I may use this mostly for the stained glass windows and interior ?

Any tips on shooting in a small church would be most welcome, as only going to get one chance at this.


Quendil 23rd August 2021 07:58 PM

Will be interesting to see the results. I would use a couple of different films for b&w probably different speeds as well. Not sure with colour as havenít tried that many but have been happy with portra and lomography colour

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skellum 23rd August 2021 08:54 PM

PanF is my favourite film. I get best results at EI 25, and develop in PMK which gives lovely smooth tonality.
Unfortunately it is by nature a contrasty film and in the (probably) dim interior of a church you will run into reciprocity failure very quickly. There's a good chart here:

If you're OK with 2-3 minute exposures PanF will look superb, but contrast might increase even further.
How big might you be printing? If not very big, and you're using 120 film, have you considered HP5? More speed so reduced reciprocity failure and slightly lower contrast to handle the very wide range of brightness you might encounter if including window areas. The bigger negative area compared to 35mm makes grain much less troublesome.

If you want to print big and really do prefer PanF it might just be worth a test roll to check you don't need to reduce development slightly. I know you are only getting one shot t this, so exposing a roll under similar conditions would give you a better idea if exposure time/contrast were to your liking.

Colour, can't help much there Ian! The extra leeway of colour negative is your friend I'd guess. I took some wedding pictures on Portra 400 inside a church on 120 and they looked fine, but if you can use a tripod and longer exposures then I'd try the 160 version
Good luck.

Richard Gould 23rd August 2021 09:13 PM

Sounds a great project and something I ttry to do as I try to keep heritage alive, I prefer s faster film normally Fomapan 400 but any 400 film, and always try hand holding, even down to half second as I find great atmosphere with hand held, plus some tripod shots, for MF it would be easier for hand holding to use a Waistlevel finder Good luck and show lus the results

MartyNL 23rd August 2021 09:58 PM

I would play it safe on this occasion regarding equipment, materials and processes and choose the things you know and feel comfortable with. Then you can be as creative as you like at the picture-taking stage.

If you're going to use a handheld meter then It's probably handy to use films with the same iso speed. It saves switching and the possibility of mistakes. I often find incident light readings a quicker and safer bet.

Definitely take a sturdy tripod and shutter release cables.

Be aware of the light quality, intensity and direction and don't worry too much about empty shadows. I find the exposure latitude can be more than film can handle. I prefer the mood of natural light and I'm not adept enough to balance flash and daylight.

Take more film than you think you need and enjoy!

Svend 23rd August 2021 10:37 PM

Ian, that sounds like a wonderful project, albeit bittersweet about the closure.

To add some comments to the already good advice here, I have a few suggestions that might be helpful.

Agreed on PanF being contrasty, but you can tame it with a dilute metol-only developer like Perceptol. I've had wonderful results with this combo in sunlit snowy winter scenes, and never had a problem with blocked up highlights or shadows. Wonderful tones too. But as Skellum points out, reciprocity is a real problem here if it's dark in the church. And if you're not familiar with using the PanF-Perceptol combo, then to stick with a combo you do have experience with is great advice.

As there could be some high contrast light in there, a softer film and developer combo might work really well. I've had great results shooting indoors in old buildings and barns using HP5 in Perceptol 1+1. I think the rich, soft tones that this combo gives could really suit the old architecture of your space.

Time of day for shooting might be a big consideration as well. If you want to balance the exposure of indoors vs. outdoors -- say if the windows are clear and the surrounding landscape is worth including in the images -- then maybe choose to shoot in the early morning or late afternoon/evening when it's not so bright out. Likewise if there are some special stained glass or window features you want to retain, then avoid midday sun streaming in a window or those will be all blown out. Then again, this is the UK right...forget I mentioned the sun... ;)

As for colour film, Portra 160 and 400 have lovely warm colour balance, which might be great for indirect daylight to counter the bluish cast. The P400 especially so...P160 is a bit more neutral. Overexpose these by about 1 stop to get the best tones and colours. Ektar 100 is very finicky and not forgiving of exposure errors, especially overexposure, so I would avoid it if you've never used it. The Portras, OTOH, are very forgiving and have lots of exposure latitude. Wonderful films, if the colour balance works for the scene. I don't think any chrome film will have the exposure latitude you need, so go with negative in colour.

Hope this helps -- any more questions on the above, just ask. Best of luck!

Edit: I highly recommend taking a spot meter, if you have or can borrow one. You will likely have a lot of deep shadows and brightly-lit areas, so nailing exposure will be a lot easier with a spot meter. Or just bring lots of film and bracket everything :-)

Uwe Pilz 24th August 2021 04:06 AM

I love Pan F too. I get decent results with Rodinal, the film does not tend to increased contrast with that developer. I use E.I of 50, if memory serves. If you are interested, I look for time and temperature (probably 16įC).
I get very good results with Atomal 49 too, but the dev is slightly problematic. After the last reformulation due to changed legal, it loses around 5% of activity each week, after dissolving of course. You may considering that, but it is annoying.

big paul 24th August 2021 08:38 AM

what camera and what lens are you going to use Ian

CambsIan 24th August 2021 11:14 AM

Thank you all for your replies, once again, the friendly forum comes to the rescue.

My go to film, and the one I'm most used to is Foma 100, after reading you replies and possible pit falls with the PanF+, I am now wondering if I should stick to the Foma.

Hoping to use my Rolleiflex 6003 SRC 1000 with a 80mm lens (it's the only one I have) as it has interchangeable backs, although this is not essential as I don't think I will be under any time pressure so can use all of one before switching to the other

In terms of metering I was wondering if the in camera meter would do the job. I don't have a Spotmeter, have never used one and can't borrow one so if I use a meter will most likely use my weston meter.

Was considering Porta 160 for colour seems to be a reasonable choice.

Once again thank you for all your replies


skellum 24th August 2021 11:44 AM

Hi Ian.
I use Fomapan 100 in 5x4 (because I can't get PanF) and love it.
The only downside is that reciprocity failure is even more marked than with the Ilford film.
See here:

As long as you don't mind longer exposures at least it's a film you already know.

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