Gonna try some B&W this time around

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ME Super, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    Normally I shoot color reversal film. Decided this time around I'd try B&W again, and got a roll of Ilford HP5+. My B&W photos always seem to be too contrasty - very seldom do I see very much middle gray. I've heard that shooting at a lower ISO can lower contrast. I'll be having a lab process these as I'm not yet set up to process B&W myself. What EI should I use for HP5+? Do I need to have the lab pull-process the film at the lower ISO or can they just run as normal and handle the different EI at the printing stage?
     
  2. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Depends on how they'll develop it. The box speed should be ignored; the real sped varies depending on the developer. Tri-X, for example, when developed to a normal level of contrast has a true speed of 320 in D-76, 200 in PMK, and 250 in Rodinal. These are not 'pulled' speeds...they're thereal speed of the film wen its is developed formally in the developers I listed.

    I have less experience with HP5, but in D-76 it should be shot at 320.
     
  3. Rolfe Tessem

    Rolfe Tessem Subscriber

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    I think you'll find that Xtol is about the only developer that gives full box speed. As a practical matter, the difference between 320 and 400 is almost indistinguishable.
     
  4. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    To get the grays you want, you should develop it yourself. Perhaps they are developed fine by the lab, but scanned or printed with too much contrast. It's a very subjective process. I'd suggest developing at box speed with pyrocat-hd or as described with PMK. If you want modest contrast and lots of gray and highlight detail, PMK will be very affordable developer to use.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Before you start changing development or EI you should probably try adjusting via the print process.

    Your lab may simply be "adjusting" too much.
     
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    It is so easy to process one's own negatives that I would never let a lab do them even if I didn't do the printing myself.
     
  7. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    It looks easy enough except I have no changing bag, darkroom, tank/reels or chemicals. I was thinking I could get my feet wet with a lab process and then if they look decent attempt processing myself, now that I have a photo store within a few miles of work where I can buy the stuff. I suppose I could always try some sc*ns of the lab-developed negs or look at 'em through a loupe to see what sort of detail I managed to capture.

    I've tried Digital B&W with my son's P&S and I've liked what I've seen from it so I thought I'd try with the film SLR without making an investment in developing equipment to see how I like it.

    Thanks for your help, all, I will try shooting this box speed and see what I get from the lab and try sc*nning the negs to see what kind of detail I can pull from them.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you are not doing your own developing, I would recommend one of the C41 black and white films instead. The Ilford film is best if the film may end in a darkroom later, while the Kodak version is probably handled better by small minilabs who use colour paper to produce monochrome prints.

    The C41 black and white films scan well, as well.
     
  9. grommi

    grommi Member

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    I warmly recommend following Geralds or Matts suggestions. Develop yourself or use C41 bw film.

    Best - Reinhold
     
  10. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Ask your lab what developer they use, then consult the film development charts from The Practical Zone System by chris Johnson, which are available online at http://www.chrisjohnsonphotographer.com/charts.shtml, to get an initial EI. (For example, according to the charts in D-76 1+1 HP5+ gives normal contrast at ASA 400 so you would use this as you initial EI if developing in D-76 1+1).

    Shoot a roll at this initial EI, then ask the lab to develop normally and print on Grade II paper. Then you can evaluate the resulting prints. If you like the shadow detail, then the EI is right. If there is too little shadow detail, the reduce the EI. Once you've got the shadow detail you want, consider the contrast. If there's too much, pull development or print on a lower paper grade. If too little contrast, push development or print on a higher paper grade.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2012
  11. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    That's reasonable advice, andrew.roos. I did call the store today, but the store is in Springfield, IL and the lab is in St. Louis, MO. The gentleman at the store wasn't able to tell me what they develop their B&W film in (he honestly didn't know) so I did what I thought was the next best thing. I scanned negatives of some shots I'd done in B&W about 15 years ago. They were on Tri-X I think (I know Tri-X and HP5+ are not the same film), definitely shot at box speed. I didn't see the shadow detail I thought should be there, so I am shooting this roll at ISO 200. Hope this turns out okay; if not I'll have to bug the lab directly I guess. I didn't want to wait until Monday to get in touch with the lab, I wanted to shoot NOW :D so thought this might be a reasonable compromise. I should probably call the lab directly on Monday and find out what they develop B&W in and then I can give appropriate instructions to them when I take the film in (it takes me a while to get through 36 shots!).

    Thank you all for your advice, hopefully this roll will turn out more to my liking. I want to get some B&W practice in as I'm wanting to do some IR work next spring/summer and think this might be a good way to get a feel for B&W before I go that direction. And maybe by then I'll have the ability to at least develop the film myself, even if I can't print it myself yet.
     
  12. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    You might want to bracket some of your photos, keeping good notes. If you expose a typical (for you) scene at 100, 150, 200, 320, 400, and even 800, say, you will get a better idea of how the things you shoot, the film, the settings, and the development, even the lab printing, and/ or your scanner work together. If they are consistent with their processing, this should give you a very good idea of what ISO you want to use with future rolls.

    Tanks are pretty inexpensive, and many bathrooms, laundry rooms or closets fairly easy to darken - nighttime, lights off in home, blankets, towels stuffed under, around doors. Test it out by just sitting while your eyes adjust. If you still can't see anything after 20 minutes, it'll do. Developing B&W film yourself is easy and inexpensive.
     
  13. BardParker

    BardParker Member

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    I have had excellent results from North Coast Photographic Services with B&W, C-41, & chromes. Ultra high resolution scans and negatives returned in 1-2 weeks by mail. I called and they use F76+ developer for black and white.

    http://www.northcoastphoto.com/film_developing_scans.html

    Recently I have started developing B&W film myself. Freestyle can set you up cheap. You don't need a changing bag, just use a dark closet or bathroom with towel against door.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/

    Now, I just need to get me a decent scanner that can do medium format. Looking at the Epson V700.

    Best,

    Kent
     
  14. ME Super

    ME Super Member

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    I got the HP5+ back from the lab today. Dev+Prints would've cost me USD $20, Dev+Scan was $7.73 so I went with the lab scans. I'm using a 50mm lens as a loupe and my computer monitor as a lightbox to view the negatives, since I have neither a proper lightbox nor a proper loupe. I shot pictures on the roll at ISOs ranging from 100 to 400 in 2/3 stop increments.

    I've attached a few of the lab scans here (approximately 6MP scans from the lab). This is probably the best shot on the whole roll, which I shot at ISO 400:
    AAA021.jpg

    As far as I can tell from my notes, this first one was shot TTL with the camera set at ISO 250, the second TTL at ISO 400, both with a Cokin #003 (I think it's equivalent to a Wratten #25) filter on a cloudy day (hey I was experimenting - this is a lot different than color):
    AAA017.jpg AAA018.jpg
    Is it weird that I like the one shot at 250 better than the one shot at 400, but like the first shot of this post the best in terms of contrast?