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Troubleshooting Guide

ProblemCategorySuggested Solution
Background and/or foreground appears out of focus (1) Technique You may have moved the camera during exposure.
Part of the image appears double exposed Technique That part of the image moved part way through the exposure (this can look good!)
The whole image is double exposed (1) Technique The camera (or tripod etc) may have moved during the exposure.
The whole image is double exposed (2) Technique You may have inadvertently exposed a single frame of film twice (or more).
Background and/or foreground appears out of focus (2) Depth of Field The depth of field needs to be increased. To do this the aperture needs to be decreased (made smaller).
You wanted the effect of a blurred background and/or foreground and it's not happening Depth of Field The depth of field needs to be decreased or narrowed. To do this the aperture needs to be increased (made larger). (Be aware that your focus on the subject will need to be precise if you do this.)
Black or very dark photograph Exposure You need to increase the amount of light being exposed to the film. This means either:
  • increasing your lighting (if you have flexibility over this - we normally don't in outdoor bulb photography);
  • increasing the time that the lens is left open (see shutter speed);
  • opening the aperture wider;
  • using a faster film;
  • combining one or more of the above techniques to change the light stop.
White or very bright photograph Exposure You need to decrease the amount of light being exposed to the film. This means either:
  • decreasing your lighting (if you have flexibility over this - we normally don't in outdoor bulb photography);
  • decreasing the time that the lens is left open (see shutter speed);
  • closing the aperture down (making it narrower);
  • using a slower film;
  • combining one or more of the above techniques to change the light stop.
No tripod Equipment Mounting your camera to a stable object is difficult if not impossible.
Failing this, you may still be able to take a standard bulb photograph if you can place your camera somewhere stable and you have either:
  • a "cable release"; or
  • your camera has a "self timer" and the camera automatically leaves the shutter open to your desired length of time.
The technique is discussed in the Outdoor Techniques section.
No cable release Equipment You may still be able to take a standard bulb photograph if your camera has a "self timer" and the camera automatically leaves the shutter open to your desired length of time.
The technique is discussed in the Outdoor Techniques section.

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