Frame by Frame: Film in the Rain

St Louis Engagement Session by Jordan Brittley Photography

It rained during a lot of my weddings and engagement sessions in 2014. With digital, a heavily overcast day provides a lot of freedom. But, in my experience, rain forces me to consider new aspects when I am shooting film. I love a good challenge.

In September, I wrote a post about how I shoot film in the rain, but I wanted to dedicate a frame-by-frame post to the subject as well. I thought it might be helpful to see how and why I chose my specific settings for this film photograph on this particularly rainy day!

THE SETTING: Mary and Charlie were standing in front of the fountain and had a particular love for the architecture in this area of St Louis. I knew that I wanted to really capture that element as well as the fountain because they seemed smitten by it. And let's be honest: fountains are gorgeous. To my left was a strip of shops that provided no natural reflectors because they were mostly glass and rimmed with black. There was no sun or hint of sun because it had rained all day and was even sprinkling at the time that I took this photograph. I followed my own tips for shooting film in the rain, but you should note that I made extra sure to avoid any dark shadows for this photograph. I wanted something illuminated and romantic and I felt like dark shadows would be a distraction!

It was 2 hours before sunset at the time this photograph was taken. To make sure that Mary and Charlie were illuminated, I set my shutter speed at 1/60. I rated Fuji 400 at 200 (which I always do). I didn't use a light meter for this session, but I imagine that the light meter would have told me to rate it at 400 and shoot at 1/60 of a second. This means that I only overexposed the frame by one stop.

I have noticed that keeping instruction less specific leads to more relaxed photographs. I asked Mary and Charlie to hold each other in front of the fountain and they stood in a way that was natural for them. I had them both look toward the homes so they could (1) enjoy a moment for just the two of them and (2) enjoy the architecture that they love so much. Then I asked Mary to look at me. This could have resulted in a lot of different photographs, but I love how she turned to look at me and left her head against Charlie's. I didn't ask her to smile or to bend her back knee. I just asked her to look at me after I gave her a few seconds to soak up the moment. And this. This is one of my very favorite photographs because it says so much about the two of them.

Camera: Contax 645 Lens: Karl Zeiss 80mm Film Stock: Fuji 400H rated at 200 Lab: Richard Photo Lab

Aperture: f/2.0 ISO: Fuji 400h rated at 200 Shutter speed: 1/60

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