Film speed test in winter

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by kbrede, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    I'd like to find my personal film speed. I'm just starting to use 120. I'm following the instructions in "Way Beyond Monochrome." I'm suppose to take a picture of a scene containing zone II and zone III shadows. Normally I'd take such a picture in my backyard surrounded with leafy bushes and undergrowth.

    But during this time of year the ground is devoid of plants and the bushes have no leaves. So there's really no shadows or texture.

    Where do you all find scenes with shadow detail in winter?

    Any suggestions appreciated.
     
  2. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    You can always meter a grey card then under expose by 2 and 3 stops respectively. That's still the way most film speed test procedures work. Another way is one I saw in I think a Carson Graves book. Take a picture of a person wearing a white shirt and a black sweater but with texture, holding a grey card. In one shot you have zones II, V and VIII. Quite neat I thought

    pentaxuser
     
  3. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Take a trip to sunny south Florida -- should be about 82 + F today. Seriously take a house plant outside if you want leaves or some objects that would appear to be in the same zones also you could photograph tree bark. Use your gray card a vary your exposures. another way to find your personal film speed that would not require even going outside is: set an 18% gray card in a constant light, meter off of it, with the lens cap on click off a couple of frames, don't focus but fill the frame with the gray card and take +2, +1 1/2. 1, actual reading from the gray card, -1, -1 1/2, -2, then develop the film. When you are ready to print: take one of the unexposed frames and make a test print to find how much exposure from the enlarger it takes that will show a slight change from pure black, cut pieces of printing paper print each negative at the time you just determined, (label each piece) the one that is closest to neutral gray is your film speed. For example if the +1 (ISO400) rate at 200. Depending on a particular situation your shooting exposure or development time can be tweaked but this is a good starting point for standardizing.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I should have added that the benefit of the grey card is that you know it is zone V so reducing and increasing exposure as Jeffrey has indicated means that the yardstick zone is a known zone. Even in summer judging what zone the shadow your foliage is throwing isn't easy. Why introduce subjectivity when you have a grey card in constant light? You could use a north facing room lit by daylight around midday on an overcast but averagely bright day. Plenty of those days in the winter, I'd imagine

    pentaxuser
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Open the front door and shoot from the front yard looking into the house.
     
  6. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    can you get a piece of black cloth and throw it under your bushes?
     
  7. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    When shooting I use a spot meter or when indicated an incident light meter. I understood the question to be what the personal exposure index for a particular film with his equipment and processing procedures should be. That would be dependent on the equipment not the subject. Is the shutter speed as indicated on the camera and what is the film fog? The exercise I suggested will accommodate for that. Metering a scene is a different subject.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  8. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Fine tuning film speed is probably going to be least of your issues affecting exposure in the winter in Nebraska. I find my cameras get slower shutter speeds as it gets colder. Pretty close to normal at freezing. Get down to <20f and I'm overexposing due to the slower camera operation.
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I tried all those tests and now I shoot all films at box speed. The latitude of black & white and C-41 films is so wide one no longer needs to find a personal speed unless the light meter or the camera/lens is out of calibration.
     
  10. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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    PLUS 1 ON THAT.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    When I had the last two rolls of HIE, some testing jack@$$ told me to pick a scene and shoot 72 exposures so that I could figure out the personal exposure index. You can't find someone much dumber than that!
     
  12. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Just get a gray scale, like the Kodak targets, and photograph those. That will immediately tell you what you should do with your development and printing. Anything else is guess work.

    When I try to figure out what a film is doing when I push it, I first run a roll on the Kodak targets. When Tmax 400 is pushed to 1600, what is lost? What is lost at 3200? What should be placed where, and when? The targets immediately give you the correct answer. What grade of paper? Use a target, and then you'll always know the correct answer.
     
  13. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I agree.
     
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  15. CPorter

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    ......and the posts that are knocking the OPs efforts are helping him how? It bothers me not on negative opinions of finding the effective film speed, but diverting the thread away from OPs request for assistance annoys the piss out of me. Start another thread ......there's sure to be plenty of participants.
     
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Even I know better than that. With HIE, you gotta just shoot.

    But I just did a film family test on one roll of Tri-X and left myself 12 shots on the roll to shoot with.

    Only problem is I developed those 12 shots in water. Not a very good developer choice.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    My point is that some testing is useful, but the zone-loonies testanistas will advocate only using film for testing and never produce anything. Therefore test a film, especially before an important non-repeatable event, but do not let testing rule your life.
     
  18. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The most significant learning experiences I've had in photography and life have come where my basic assumptions for something were challenged. It has been rare in my life that these challenges come in a linear manner in the context of my choice. The world seems to throw them at me in a very random manner and they barge in where they please.

    You, the OP, and any other reader are welcome to use or disregard anyone else's input to any thread as you please, beyond that this is essentially a public space.

    That three of us "saw" the same concern is telling. Maybe there is something to learn there.
     
  19. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    But Mark, you have already indicated in other threads you're not overly concerned about how much shadow detail you have. That is an important point.

    While I'd agree (as would anyone, presumably) spending all your time and money on testing is useless, a relatively simple personal speed/development test is no big deal to do, and can be very useful. It depends on what kinds of subject matter one plans on shooting as well as what kind of print tonality one aspires to. There are no rules, of course. Just preferences. For example, what if someone prefers giving softer development than ISO standard? With straight line films you lose film speed pretty fast.

    I prefer giving more exposure so that everything important has full separations. That's what I want, and it helps me get the print. For others, box speed, or even higher than box speed works fine.

    What I would say to OP though, is don't spend too much time initially testing and re-testing and trying to dial everything in to the nearest density unit. Do a few tests and then make pictures and print. You can then fine tune things based on whether you're getting negatives that allow you to make good prints or not. This comes only with some experience. I think that's where many people go wrong. They might read whatever book they've chosen and spend a lot of time getting their test negatives to match the recommended density ranges etc only to find out when they finally start printing pictures, that they're not getting what they thought they were getting. I'm stealing some wording there from Stephen Benskin.

    As long as you don't go off the rails, some good initial testing never hurts. You can also learn a lot. But yes, 72 exposures to find some kind of constant EI for IR film - probably not the best use of time.

    Michael
     
  20. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    HIE: Use meter set at 400, do not meter through lens, use 25A or 29, and enjoy. A lot.
     
  21. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    Thanks all for your responses. I've been in the darkroom (bathroom) most of the day trying to make prints, not testing, so I missed a lot of this. :smile:

    I'm 48 years old and I'm trying to learn film for the first time. Well it's been about 6 months so far. I'm on the down hill side of life, so I don't want to spend a bunch of time testing, but I do want to start being more systematic about the process. Up until now I've mostly flown by the seat of my pants, and I don't feel that's been working real well.

    I'm going to use one camera for my serious work, a Mamiya RZ67. I also have a Rolleiflex arriving next week that I'll use for a fun, walkabout/travel camera. I use a hand held meter. I want to shoot one, maybe two films. It will be either Delta 100/400 or T-Max 100/400. I've settled on DD-X for film developing and Ilford Mulitgrade developer for paper. Paper is Ultrafine Elite VC RC.

    I could forgo the testing and shoot box speed, but I think going through the exercise of finding my personal film speed and development time, will help teach me how all the pieces of creating an image fit together. I very well may end up where I am now, shooting box speed, but hopefully by testing I'll be a little more knowledgeable about what I'm doing.

    A couple people mentioned using a gray card for testing, which led me to an article by Steve Simmons that I think I'm going to try and follow.

    www.viewcamera.com/pdf/2006/VC_Getting%20Started.pdf


     
  22. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    You do realize that you might live for another 40 years, right? :wink:

    Here's the thing about running film tests: You need to see what works, from no density to max density. I have a densitometer I bought years back, and honestly I've never used it. I found that simply using a gray scale is just fine. You get a reliable reading of what is happening, from white to black, every time with a scale.

    Once you have your scale on the negative, see how it prints on paper. What grade did you use for all of the parts of the scale to go from black to white on the paper? Was it grade 0? Use less development. Was it grade 5? Use more development. Was it 2 or 3? Good enough, you are set to make some exposures!
     
  23. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    If you visit Alan Ross's website here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the "products" link. He has a free PDF download available on practical film testing with medium format roll film. I think you'll find it interesting to your needs. It's free, but I had to go through the process like it was a purchase to get the download, you'll notice the amount is $0.00.
     
  24. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    And I indicated that that was why I had so much latitude.

    It is not a lack of room on the negative that is at issue.
     
  25. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    We'll have to agree to disagree regarding how much room there is on the low end.

    However since OP said he was going with DD-X, he'll likely get pretty close to box speed anyway with the films he listed.
     
  26. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Good for you.

    We're all anxious to help you along your path. Passionate about it too, as you can see.

    None of us likes to have our ideas knocked down as "not necessary" when we think they are good ideas. But as has been clarified, this isn't the case today.

    I find my testing gives me slightly less than box speed. Maybe 2/3 stop. But I like shadow detail. I love when a waterspill under a rock can be seen in an original print but not on the Internet.

    I'll tell some secrets I've learned. This is how I keep testing from ruling my life...

    1. Speed test is the most important. Get the exposure right, (including filter factor and bellows extension and reciprocity failure). It's more important when you use a non-standard developer. Once you shoot film at the correct exposure - everything else can be figured out later*.

    2. After the white deer have run past (reference to Paul Caponigro) and you are sitting down putting away the gear. Now you can measure the Subject Brightness Range. Note your N+ N- notations if you choose to do Zone System.

    3. Home. Later. Maybe much later. Now you can run the development times tests.

    *It may be necessary to buy into the Delta-X criterion as explained by Stephen Benskin. I agree in principle with that paper, that you don't need to change film speed with changes in subject brightness range. I also support anyone who believes it's necessary to change speed with conditions. For me it's a journey.