Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/05/04

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Black Cat or black anything
From: Jim Brick <>
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 09:08:37 -0700
References: <> <008801c0d47f$4f0cfc00$> <>

When photographing BLACK, what you are photographing is the reflections off
of the surface of the black object. Otherwise there is no detail to
photograph. Black is black. Zone zero. When you look at black, you only see
the reflections off of the black object. If it coated with soot, well, it
will be tough to see and tough to photograph. Soot does not reflect much
light. But a shiny black cat coat does.

If the cat has a shiny coat, you will be photographing the shine, not the
black. The black will be just that. Black. Clear film (neg) black film
(pos). Zone 0.

So, when metering a black cat (the cat, not the background,) your reflected
meter will be fooled and will give you an 18% gray (zone 5) cat. This is
not what you want. You want a "black" cat.

Read the black cat and stop down 1-1/2 to 2 stops. This will keep the cat
black and record the reflections (shine) off of the coat. Simply reset the
ASA dial on your M6 to a higher film speed.

Do not open-up. The meter produced 18% gray cat, will turn white.

If you use flash, the flash will produce some reflections. But you should
set the ASA on the auto flash dial to a stop or two higher than the film
ASA in the camera. Same on the camera dial for TTL flash.

Keep the cat black. Don't let your reflected meter or reflected reading
flash be fooled. Stop down via ASA control.

An incident meter will produce a pretty good exposure as it is reading the
light falling on the cat, not the cat. So it is not fooled by the black. It
will put the black cat in the black part of the gamma curve (probably zone
1) and allow the reflections (shine - zone 6 or 7)) to be recorded on the
film. Some reflections may be specular zone 10 (really shiny cat.) An
incident meter will put everything where it is supposed to be as it is
blind to subject failure. So will/is an incident flash meter. Gossen Luna
Star F2 or Gossen Luna Pro Digital-F.

Just like reflected meters are fooled by snow scenes, they are fooled by
black scenes. Open up for white, close down for black.