Control of an Excessive Contrast Scene

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by hortense, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Placing exposure for highlights as high as Zone 15 (effectively compressing printing into 6 or 7-zone range), photographer Steve Sherman in his Jul/Aug 2005 View Camera magazine (pp. 64-66)* writes about control of excessive contrast. When contacted he said that his process is related to Ansel Adams “Water Bath” but without the “danger of mottling”. From this, he said that his “Semi-Stand” development procedure related to use of dilute developers evolved*. In the article noted above, he states that the film “must be oriented vertically” in the developer. When contacted he said WITHOUT EXCEPTION “Semi-Stand” or any other type of process using dilute developers MUST be oriented vertically? Since, I hate “hangers”, I plan to try the process using my 4x5 Combi T tank. My hopes were that this could be done using a “Slosher” (but I guess not?). I have a summary of his procedure if anyone would like to have it. If his procedure had to be tailored to individual needs, it would require a major amount of testing; something I’d rather not do if I can just get in the “ball park” by using Mr. Sherman’s well documented procedure.
    * View Camera failed to list the author on this page but you can find it in the T of C.
    ** His procedure is very much like that of Bruce Barbaum’s even thought it exceeds the range Bruce was apparently able to achieve.
     
  2. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Folks have been denying that "standing / semi-standing / minmal agitation " can possibly work ... for over a hundred years. And after it dies out, another bunch of shooters who figured it out on their own, publish their successes. And so it goes.

    Today, we get to see the revival of the technique. And we see lots of contradictions. Depending on your film, your developers, and your overall adventurous spirit, you'll get different results.

    Try the Combina tank. Try a slosher. Make notes. Use everybody's advice as a starting point.
     
  3. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Try Efke 100 and dilute pyrocat. tim
     
  4. sanking

    sanking Member

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    In my opinion it is possible to use semi-stand develoment with a slosher. In fact, there are some people on the forum who have done so.

    The genesis of Steve Sherman's article in View Camera were several threads on the AZO forum in spring 2004. During those threads the experience of many was that semi-stand development does not work well in regular tray development, nor does it work well in tanks in which the film is hung from hangers. So the direction of experimentation was in tubes in a vertical position, and I myself believed for quite some time that this was the only way to get decent results with stand develolpment.

    However, based on a first-hand look at negative developed in slosher/cradle like devices I am now convinced that they work well with semi-stand development. And I myself have developed some very nice negatives in tubes with extreme minimal agitation with good success so that method appears to work as well.

    Live, learn, adapt and move on.

    Sandy
     
  5. Steve Sherman

    Steve Sherman Subscriber

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    Excessive contrast controlled

    I just want to clear up a small error in this quote. "Semi-Stand” or any other type of process using dilute developers MUST be oriented vertically"

    It is my experience that any type of extended periods of no agitation require Vertical Orientation. The process detailed in Part 2 of View Camera article deals with agitation periods of no more than 1 minute 45 seconds apart. Typically with Semi-Stand development periods of 35 - 40 minutes were common. Those times would require vertical orientation. I have since talked with Sandy King and factored the length of dormancy down a bit and have begun using 50% more Part B to offset chemical fog per Sandy's suggestion.

    It was my hope to tie the two articles and processes together. The process from 20 years ago was a take off on Ansel Adams "water bath" development process but without the dangers of mottling as befell Ansel.

    I was able to compress extremes amounts of contrast years ago by using very dilute HC110 and a form of reduced agitation. The process worked well and produced negatives which required using a harder contrast paper to resurrect the desired micro contrast. The micro contrast was compromised by the extreme effects of reducing a Zone 15 back to a printable Zone 8 on hard contrast paper no less. These negatives looked awful, like they had been sepia toned, but they produced prints of extraordinary depth.

    The beauty of Semi-Stand or Extreme Minimal Agitation is all the contrast compression properties are in place but the micro contrast can be manipulated to a desired end result through trial and error. In the first article in View Camera (March / April) I wrote about my struggles of shooting in soft light, a high key scene and using Azo contact paper, (see web site photo titled "Penile Colony". A paper with consideralby longer scale than enlarging paper. The increased micro contrast was a result of extremely dilute developer and extended periods of no agitation which result in increased ajancecy effects other wise known as micro contrast.

    Sandy King and others continue to research the possibilities of different methods of suspending their film for this process. I don't typically shoot large of amounts of film so my method serves me well and produces results which continue to amaze me.

    I can e mail each VC article to Sean if people here have not seen the ones in print or if there is enough interest.

    Steve Sherman
     
  6. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    A timely topic.
    I am going to be shooting in a place that I scouted a couple of weeks ago. A lot of shooting from dark areas to bright light. I think that I'm just going to load up an extra body with Tri-X and mark it n-2. Expose for the shadows, hold the highlights to a managable level in processing and fine tune them in the darkroom.
     
  7. hortense

    hortense Member

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    Steve – thank you for further insight into your process. I am going to try it in my Combi T (vertical orientation! :smile: ).
    MAC
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have used several different methods of controlling extreme contrast ranges, and they all work to a certain extent.

    Stand development: Half strength FX-2; agitate 1 minute, stand for 90 minutes. Agitate after 30 minutes if you get nervous, or don't. NO discernible difference between horizontal and vertical film.

    Divided development/ alkaline afterbath: The "divided D-23" - D23 short development with a borax "chaser" to lift the shadows works too.

    Extreme compensating developer: Windisch's Compensating Pyrocatechin developer gets even more compression. The film must be "suitable", though. APX100 gave stunning results with both shadow detail and sunspots during a partial eclipse! Print the stained negative on VC paper for even more compression. That was something like a N-8...

    So if I need some compression but not N-8, I would use stand development in FX-2.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 10, 2005