Film / Developer Combos for portraiture

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Wishy, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Hi

    Has anybody got any suggestions for a film / developer combination for portrait shots. (I don't normally shoot this sort of thing, or if i do its candid and I'm not going to get it in the neck if it isn't complimentary). The likelyhood is it will initially be scanned. If it works nicely I might take it to a darkroom in a few months. I'll be shooting 35mm.

    The look needs to be softish, with a smooth / subtle grain structure. I'm thinking DDX mushing up all the grain probably won't be a bad thing. I'm probably going to need around ISO 400 if i want to shoot without a tripod, but I could get one out if results require.

    I've got the following in
    Dev:
    Rodinal, LC29, ID11, DD-X, Diafine.

    Film:
    Efke 25/50. PanF, Delta 100, TMax 100, Acros, Delta 400, Neospan 400, TMax 400, Delta 400, HP5, Tmax 400, TMax 3200, Delta 3200.

    I'm thinking possibly Delta 400 in DD-X might work nicely?

    Also, any suggestions on red / yellow filters?
     
  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    I'd vote for TMax 400 in ID11 straight or 1+1. I've not yet found a film I like in DD-X, and I have no extensive experience with the other developers you've listed.

    I think it's always better to start out sharp, and worry about "soft" on the backend, especially if you plan to scan them.

    Not so sure about the filters. Blue filters can be used to mimic orthochromatic film, which can look good for men and/or darker-skinned people. Red will make caucasian skin a sickly white that you'd only want to do intentionally, for effect; yellow, maybe less so.
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    when i shot film for a newspaper i used an awful lot of tmx400 and sprint ( sort of like id11 / d76 )
    it is a nice combination ... another good one is tri x and dk50 ( you don't have either of them listed )

    john
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    old school thoughts

    I know it's kind of rare, but I like to do female shots with plus x at ei80, and develop it in microdol x, and then replenish. I am also working on refining doing plus x/fp4 in a well seasoned harveys 777.
     
  5. david b

    david b Member

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    my vote is for pan f+ or HP5+ in ID-11.

    a nice traditional look. i think the t grain films might be a bit harsh.
     
  6. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    I had excellent luck lately with neopan 400 in DDX. It came out nearly grainless with great tonal range. Also with Tri-X in HC110 dil B (6:45 in a jobo). Grainier, of course. But great character. PanF+ in Sprint (D76 1:1) is good too if you can control the light -- I find its very touchy getting the contrast right.


     
  7. cotdt

    cotdt Member

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    PanF+ in DD-X, EI25 6.5 minutes

    Tried and True. Grainless, smooth, and detailed.
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    You're going to get as many suggestions as people that reply. All of those films and developers can be used for portraiture. Look anywhere where you can see portraits shot with film and you will find that a lot of people use lots of different films.
    Shoot what you're used to shooting, and tweak that combination to your liking (i.e. under- or overexpose, under- or overdevelop, depending on how you want it to look). Are you outdoors, indoors, what kind of lighting, high key, low key????? It all depends. Do you want grain? Do you want smooth? Female or male people? Do you want and edgy look or creamy tones? Sharp or soft focus? There are so many options.

    Shoot what you're used to shooting. I won't go into what film looks best as that is a personal choice.

    Good luck with the assignment!

    - Thomas
     
  9. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    I know I'm going to get a good number of suggestions, thats not a bad thing. A few pointers and I can have a good look through Flickr to see what I think of them. I normally shoot HP5/TriX in LC29 (Similar to HC110) if I need around ISO 400, but I'm normally happy with a certain grittyness. It'll be indoors with domestic lighting, won't be using a flash. Shooting a female, hence I would like smooth tones with subtle but visible grain. I'd like the photo itself to feel like it was sharply in focus, but the film having enough resolution to see every detail wouldn't be something i'd want.
     
  10. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Male or female portrait? IMHO, this make a huge difference in your choice of film/dev.

    Male portraits: I like to go with a slow, fine-grain film and dev it in an accutance developer like Rodinal. I like to show all the detail in the face of a male subject. No filters.

    For women, I like to go the opposite route. I would pick Tri-XHP-5?Neopan 400 in D-76/ID-11 1+0. This softens the look a bit and women generally like that type of photo. Have you ever met a women who is happy with thier portrait??? :smile: A soft-focus filter can be used if yo like.

    Ilford's SFX film can make for a great portrait film! I photographed a Lebanese women in trad Lebanese clothing with SFX and an IR filter. Devved it in Rodinal and she loved it! It's grainy, but that what she liked about it as she is not happy with her looks.

    There is no bad or good combo, it's all what you desire and there are exceptions to the rules!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2008
  11. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    XTOL 1+1 is a great developer for certain kinds of portrait, as it gives smooth grain, soft highlights, and good midtones. On Tri-X 400, 35mm:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Jim - Its female. And yes she definately won't like an overly sharp image.
    mhv - My Pro lab use Xtol and I like a results a lot. However it only comes in 5L (1 Gal) bags, which isn't practical. I prefer to stick to Liquid Devs as they are easier for small quantitys and tend to last longer part opened. ID11 is availible in 1L which makes life easier, but I use LC29 in perferance there as well, unless i'm doing unusual films with no LC29 timings or i'm doing a decent quantity that month and it works out more economical.
     
  13. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    XTOL lasts pretty long in tightly stoppered bottles (6+ months). 45oz beer bottles, for instance, are perfect: mix the whole pack, and subdivide in bottles.
     
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  15. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I've experimented quite a bit on film for portraiture. My normal choice was APX 100 in Rodinal, a very popular combo amongst photographers. It is still available in 35mm, but all portraits are done on medium format. I'm playing about with Rollei Retro 100 (APX 100) and Ilford Delta 100 with a Softar I filter to smooth it all out.

    I've been using this for both male and female portraits. I may switch to Tri-X/ Rodinal for male subjects..I'll see what mood I'm in!
     
  16. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    HP5+ in ID-11 / D-76 1:1 is hard to beat in this situation. It's even better in D-23 but that was not one of the choices.
     
  17. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    I always used ID11 at Stock (That way you can reuse the developer for up to 10 rolls), what differences can I expect between using it at stock and 1:1?
     
  18. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I think that the end result is mostly the same.

    It just seems easier to me to always use fresh and not have to think too much about adjusting the development time to compensate for prior usage. Of course, development times are longer when diluted 1+1...
     
  19. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Simple enough, i just slap a label with 1-10 on it and cross one out each time. add 10% for each use. gets 20-30 rolls out of 1l instead of 6-9.
     
  20. lawrenceimpey

    lawrenceimpey Member

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    I also prefer D76/ID11 undiluted not just for economy but also for the look. I find 10% per additional film a bit too much (although I know Ilford recommends this) and tend to add about 5% per roll. Some people claim it's sharper 1:1, well maybe so but the grain of HP5+ is still extremely sharp in 1:0 in my opinion.
     
  21. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Delta 3200 & DD-X

    Shot this last Tuesday. Medium format, though.

    Delta 3200 & EI 3200, developed according to Ilford recommendation at 6400.

    Mamiya 645 & 150mm lens at f/5.6

    - Thomas
     

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  22. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    While almost any film can produce good portraits in the right hands, I've noticed that most films that are recommended especially for that work have a long toe. None of the films you listed in your original post was in that category. Probably the most common modern film of that type is Kodak Professional Tri-X 320 (TXP). It works well with ID-11.
     
  23. Wishy

    Wishy Member

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    Thomas - Medium format is going to look very different to 35mm. A bit grainy to you will be a grainy pile of junk to me.
    Nworth, You'll struggle to get Tri-X 320 in this country. What i've got is a pretty extensive selection of all of the "Larger" films easily availible here.
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Very sorry about that. Here is a 24x36mm crop of the medium format neg, this time scanned, just for comparison.
    - Thomas

     

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  25. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    You didn't list them, but for what you're looking for I immediately thought of FP-4 in x-tol.

    I'd avoid filters or any other fussy things when doing portraits.
     
  26. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Nothing beats Ilford XP2 for people pics.