Analyzing some negatives.

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by mporter012, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Hopefully this works. I blew out the highlights on an entire roll of film. Here are a few examples. I'd love some feedback on what I likely did wrong. I took these photos in the midst of an early morning heavy snow. There was snow on the ground, and on the trees, and the visibility was low.
    Fm2n on tripod, 28mm ais lens, f8 or f11 @ 1/60s or 1/30s. Using tri-x cut in half (iso set at 200). D76 (-15% kodak's recommended time), but I didn't jot down the temperature (I know…). Whatever it was, I cut back the time 15%.
    AA011.jpg AA012.jpg AA016.jpg
     
  2. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Those negatives look fine to me. The proof of a negative is in the printing. Are you finding these things deficient in some way when printing?
     
  3. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    They look about 1 stop overexposed to me.
     
  4. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Yea, they aren't printing well at all. Unfortunately there is just no texture in the highlights (particularly the highlights on the ground), so it's a wash. There's also a muddiness or lack of clarity to the negatives, which I don't quite understand either. It's not a lack of sharpness - the tree's for instance are in focus.. Here is another example, and in this circumstance, I managed to get good texture in the highlights, so this photo printed ok, but it still had that kinda lack of clearness to it, if that makes sense. AA020.jpg
     
  5. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    What kind of photo paper are you printing these negs on? Variable contrast?
     
  6. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Yep, variable contrast.
     
  7. Loren Sattler

    Loren Sattler Subscriber

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    I find getting high quality tones in snow is tricky, especially in low light. My guess would be as follows. Low light in a snow storm is probably very flat. I would try expanded development. Your D76 time (Kodak minus 15% for ASA 200) is my standard time for medium contrast situations. For low contrast, I would try adding back your 15% and develop at chart time and see what you get. Agitation is another variable. I use Kodak's recommended 4/6 inversions per 30 seconds. Many consider this vigorous agitation. Five inversions work well for me.
    For snow in sunlight, try a yellow filter. It boosts highlight separation in the snow. Good luck.
     
  8. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Lower the contrast and or burn in the snow?
     
  9. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Negative looks ok, you don't need to change the way you developed the negative.

    You need to improved your printing skills. I know, easier sad than done - it took me 6-7 years and thousands of waisted papers to be able to make easily prints that are good to me (and still not good enough comparing to many other high standards that I saw in top galleries).
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    A 'blown out' highlight is something one would see on a print. You have shown negatives, however. ??
     
  11. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    A 'blown out' highlight is something one would see on a print. You have shown negatives, however. ??

    Evaluation of highlights on negatives by direct vision is very difficult. The bright surrounding clear areas tend to fool the human eye. Determining adequate detail separation is nearly impossible without printing the negative. Good thing is that you need about 5 stops of over-exposure to get into trouble.
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    "in the midst of an early morning snow"
    There's a real big part of your softness. You have more or less opaque/reflective stuff moving between your lens & subject.
     
  13. ROL

    ROL Member

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    I am weighing in here because you bring up a lot of poorly understood exposure issues which I see repeatedly brought up in this forum. Thanks for posting your negs, though (scanned) prints would also be nice. The (scanned) negs. look perfectly acceptable to me.

    It was snowing, so apparently there was no direct light. The light is necessarily flat, without contrast. Almost without question, you have a compressed tonal scale (e.g., few zones) to work with. This very likely precludes significant micro–contrast within the snow, from which it appears you have judged inappropriately to be blown out. The negs. show about as much contrast a possible given the extant circumstances.

    Good light makes good pictures.


    This neg., which appears to be exposed similarly to the others, does in fact show texture in the overall features of the snow on the ground. Considering it was snowing, or at least presumably overcast, did you experience the snow as being blindingly white with micro-contrast? Why would you expect your prints to show contrast that was not actually present in the scene? It may be possible to increase contrast in the printing of your negs. That will not however affect the quality of light present in the scene as exposed by you on your film. BTW, there is nothing wrong with the softly lit beautiful light available to you without direct light. It's a matter of expectation and resolution.

    Increasing the tonal scale is entirely possible. That may have gotten you closer to your visualization of the scenes if you had placed you exposure values differently (...I am dancing around the ZS here, for the sake of the timid). The basic exposure information you have related tells me nothing of this. Given correct placement, you could have expanded development (increased time), rather than contracted (reduced time).


    It isn't clear to me from the negs. where you intended focus to be. Falling snow will blur out a scene. That is another issue.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 29, 2014
  14. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Don't I ever!
     
  15. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Thanks for the comments. I should have developed longer, under the circumstance of a low contrast lighting situation. Mistake #1. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by ''micro-contrast,'' but this was the first time I had ever shot in heavy snow, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I do see wonderfully interesting pics in low contrast lighting situations often, i.e. Michael Kenna, one of my favorite photographers. He's also a master printer!

    I wrongly assumed that not being able to get any detail in the highlights on the ground that they were blown out, but it appears that the snow just blurred out the scene somewhat, more than any exposure issue.

    Thanks so much for the info.
     
  16. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I'd try and test print the snow, ignore the rest.

    Once you get the snow highlight exposure close start adding contrast (and readjusting exposure to keep the highlights right until you get the blacks where they need to be.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I describe it this way:

    "micro-contrast" is the difference in tones visible between small, adjacent details in the scene. The sort of contrast that makes the details jump out at you.

    "macro-contrast" or to some, simply "contrast" is the difference in tones visible between large, adjacent and non-adjacent areas, and is also related to the difference between D-Max and D-Min in your print, slide or negative. The sort of contrast that gives the entire photograph a mood or tone.
     
  18. OMU

    OMU Member

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    Tried to flash the paper? Could help in difficult highlights?
     
  19. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    In that situation, I would probably have pushed the film instead of pulling it, ie. EI 800, increased development time according to temp and agitated 10s every minute.

    That could have preserved details and a sense of texture in the snow.

    It doesn't look like your highlights are blown though, probably just overexposed. With some work you could probably bring it out more in a print.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2014
  20. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Yeah, like the others, I agree that you should not have underdeveloped, as that decreases contrast for an already compressed tonal scale. Your negatives are not at their maximum density for the snow areas, and could have taken more development. This is all in hindsight, with the negatives now being a done deal. So whereto from here?

    You could flash the paper before printing. This is tricky and takes a few trials to get just right. You have to make test strips, and settle on the flash exposure JUST BEFORE you see visible density in the paper. I suggest you read a good book on the topic, such as Tim Rudman's "The Photographer's Master Printing Course".

    If you understand how to print with variable contrast paper, you can also do a lot to salvage the negatives. The rule is: Exposure time for the highlights, filtration for the shadows. So you tackle it this way: Start with contrast grade 2 or thereabouts. For the moment, ignore the shadows, and get your exposure time for the snow right, so that it shows just enough detail to your taste. Remember to dry the paper, as some papers dry down darker, and you may end up with a print that is overall darker than your liking. Once you have the highlight exposure correct, print the shadows with different contrast filtration, using the exposure time you selected for the highlights. When you have a contrast filter that gives correct shadow tones, you can now make a proof print. Take it from there and figure out where you want to dodge or burn etc. This is well explained in "Way Beyond Monochrome", 2nd edition.

    I am almost certain you will get a better result following this method, so give it a try and post the results.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2014