Rick Hobbs Photography

Wildlife/Nature/Outdoor Photography

Photo Tips

Pushing Slide Film

If you want to get more shutter speed or depth-of-field from your existing slide film - then push it. Pushing film means underexposing the film in the camera, then increasing its development at the lab to compensate. Pushing film one stop is very easy to do and it is a great way to pick up another stop of light. This extra stop gives me either one more stop of shutter speed or depth-of-field, depending on my needs at the time, but I can always use the extra stop. Generally, ISO 100 slide film pushed one stop has better sharpness and grain structure, as well as better color saturation than the faster films.

Bald Eagle

Pushing your film is very simple. The most common push is for ISO 100 slide film to be shot at 200, a one-stop change. Assuming you are using 100 speed slide film, put the 100 speed film in your camera and set your camera just as if you are shooting 200 speed film. In other words, you tell the camera you are shooting 200 speed film but you are really using 100 speed film. 200 speed film will give you one more stop of light than 100 speed film. If your camera has a custom function set to read the DX code off the film canister and adjust the camera automatically you will want to turn this feature off.

Screech Owls

Now VERY IMPORTANT !!! mark each roll of pushed film so that you know which roll(s) they are and they can be processed properly. When finished pushing your film remember to reset the camera for 100 speed film.

To process the pushed film in this example, simply tell the lab this roll of film was pushed one stop and it is 100 speed film that was shot at 200. That is all there is to it, the lab will process that roll separately from the other 100 speed film that you shot at 100. Expect to pay an additional $1 or $2 per roll for push processing (unless your a good negotiator). The lab I use does not charge additional for push processing.

Saw-whet Owl

I NEVER recommend pushing film more than one stop, yes it can be done but the image suffers as a result and you would probably be better off using a faster film in the first place. As you push a film, you gain contrast. One stop is not that bad, however, at two stops the contrast can be more than you want. You will also get some color shift when you push a film. The more you push, the more the color changes.

Barred Owl

Some films respond better to pushing than others so, as always, try this with your film BEFORE you need to do it in the field so you know what to expect. Shoot one roll at 100 (regular), shoot another roll at 200 (pushed one-stop) on the same subject, in the same light and compare the results after getting each roll processed appropriately to see if you like the results.

Ring-necked Pheasant

Since I photograph moving wildlife quite often, and in low light situations, I just leave my cameras set up to push film most of the time. This is an excellent way to pick up more shutter speed or depth-of-field.


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