Assessing Contrast

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, May 18, 2005.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I've been rolling a few APX100 and FP4+ in my Yashica-D in the last few weeks, and I'd like to start assessing its features a little more closely. Although I've been shooting often, I haven't printed anything yet, so if my reasoning is flawed because of that, please stand up.

    Basically, I'm trying to understand what is my lens' (Yashikor, 3-elements) impact on contrasts, in order to see whether I should shoot with a yellow filter all the time. By looking at my contact sheets, I have the impression that contrast is not very accentuated in my pictures. Even with more/less exposure, I tend to get a slightly narrow range of values on my contact than I'd like.

    My first deduction was: a contact sheet of roll film is a print that is not optimized for any specific pictures, therefore it's only there to give a positive image. However, when comparing on the same sheet pictures taken at different degrees of exposure with pictures taken with a yellow filter, the yellow filter ones win. I have a wider range of values, and that is what should be expected of a K2 filter.

    So how do you assess the contrast in your negatives, besides printing them? How can I get an idea of my lens' impact on contrast? And why are certain lens more contrasty than others in the first place? Is a contact sheet notoriously bad for assessing contrast?
     
  2. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    I'm not going to try to answer the "assessing contrast without printing" part of your question. But I get good contrast using my Yashica C with fp4 rated at 100. I'm looking at some shots of a regatta that I did last year. It was an overcast day and I used n+1 at when I developed the fp4. The shots show good overall and local contrast, very good blacks and detail.

    Others may disagree, but I would be somewhat hesitant about always using the yellow. I tend to think of it more as a tool for specific situations rather than a norm.

    Mike
     
  3. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Actually, this is something I'd like to understand too: provided that we can control contrast at the level of the negative and at the level of print, where does it matter most?
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Donald Miller
     
  5. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I would prefer to have the most optimal contrast on the negative. Sometimes it requires contrast adjustment at both then negative and at the printing level...not necessarily an either/or judgement.
     
  6. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Thank you so much Donald!

    There's nothing like a weighty point-by-point answer; I'm going to start printing and developping myself, then.

    Michel
     
  7. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    I try to control the contrast such that I can print with a #2 filter. But let's think about the question a little more.

    Contrast can be controlled via exposure, filters, and film choices on the camera side. In development we can exert contrast control through our developer times. On the printing side we have variables of exposure, filtration and development.

    Since I try to print at a #2 and don't generally use filters, I use exposure and development to maximize the ability of my film to be printed at a #2. But all that does is get me in the correct range. I still need to fine tune the ultimate product (the Print) to make it the best that I can.

    So, I think that we can use all of the variables to one extent or another to create the "fine print" that is the ultimate goal.

    Mike
     
  8. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    What about the effect of lens shades on contrast? I was reading in another thread someone mentioning them as a way to increase contrast by stopping stray light which washes out the image.
     
  9. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    They can help to shield the lens from direct and or oblique sunlight with could cause flare and reduced contrast. In 4x5 and 8x10 I just use my darkslide as a shade. The Yashikor is at least single coated. I actually think that it may be multi-coated. Stopped down to f8 or f11 it has good contrast.

    Mike
     
  10. ElrodCod

    ElrodCod Member

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    MHV,
    Pick up a copy of The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker and carefully follow his instructions on how to make a "proper Proof". That way you'll have a solid baseline from which you can compare contrast.
     
  11. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Gee, I already have a copy, so I'm probably not a good reader...