HAALLLPP!! Negs WAAAY too contrasty - what gives?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Richardspicer, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Richardspicer

    Richardspicer Member

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    Tri-x 400 shot as rated developed in hc110 at 75 degrees with a dilution of 1 + 63 for 9.5 minutes (instructions were found online) developing tank was slowly spun intermittently with one inversion towards the last minute. Fixed for 5.5 minutes using ilford rapid fixer and washed for 5 minutes - no clearing agent was used. Negatives were very purple once done - anti halation layer I believe and so I ran it through 1.5 minutes of fix again and washed for 4 more minutes. Anti halation layer still present and negs were super contrasty for scanning. Any ideas?
     
  2. jon koss

    jon koss Subscriber

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    Assuming the girl's face is the intended subject, it looks as if the negs are under exposed. Did you use the in-camera meter? If so, maybe all of that light sneaking in from the background fooled the meter into underexposing the faces.
     
  3. jon koss

    jon koss Subscriber

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    …and by extension, if the exposure in these photos were adjusted to land the faces on the correct value, then it looks as if the backgrounds would be quite bald. That could be overdevelopment or it could be that there is too much difference between the brightness of the face and the background for any exposure/development regimen to handle.
     
  4. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Further to what jon has posted, it doesn't look to me that the contrast is too high, rather it looks to me that the scanner is struggling with a wide subject brightness range. That is a common challenge when scanning. It also makes printing in the darkroom more difficult, but I'm better at dealing with that difficulty :smile:.
     
  5. Richardspicer

    Richardspicer Member

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    I think you may be right.
     
  6. momus

    momus Member

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    1st shot is underexposure. Bright light behind girl tricked meter into underexposure. Open the lens 2 stops in that situation.

    2nd shot doesn't look that bad. In that poor lighting (more back lighting) there is no real way to get the face and hair really the same value. Also, the large aperture has the face in focus while the back of the head/ hair is apparently not so in focus, which is OK and as it should be.
     
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  7. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    As for the purple tint remaining, in my experience I have needed to wash further. Don't just let the sink run, use the Ilford recommended fill/agitate by lifting the spool up and down 5x then dump the water. It's been pretty obvious when the tint has started to go away with this as the water shows some color. Some of the time I need to do this cycle 15-20 times before the dump water is clear for a couple of successive cycles and the film leader is clear.

    It looks like you shot these in fairly low light levels in tungsten light, exacerbating the underexposure. I may be wrong there but it sure looks like indoor/crappy mixed light, which never really looks good on b&w film IMO.
     
  8. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    Tri-X purple is pretty standard, isn't it? Tab-grained magenta is something else.

    Given the lighting situation- face in shade with sunlit background- the fact that you can see so much detail in the sunlit building of #1 says that the face was underexposed.
     
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  9. Richardspicer

    Richardspicer Member

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    I shot them both outdoors but I used my pentax om-4 and I have no idea what type of light meter it uses. I assumed center weighted - I've been shooting my FA2 recently so we'll see...
     
  10. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    Can we see a photo of your Pentax OM-4? OK, some advice here: center weighted, averaging are just 2 words that describe the same thing. Not a nickle's worth of difference between the 2. Both are equally valid descriptions of a guess. Put somebody in the shadows with a sunlit wall behind them, and bingo--an underexposed negative, except where it's over-exposed. What I see is 2 pictures made by somebody who has not done enough homework of what their film speed is on any given camera he owns. I think they're both under-exposed.
     
  11. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    As others have said not too contrasty, particularly the first shot, but rather the subject matter is very low contrast as shot in shadow. Need to increase exposure at least 2 stops to get anything meaningful to work with in terms of local contrast.
    Do you use the squint test to check what your camera sees as opposed to your super powerful and magical eyes? When looking at a subject squint your eyes until almost closed to effectively reduce your visual aperture and you will get a much better idea of what will appear on the negative. You will often decide to not shoot or change your position, lighting etc when following this simple process.
     
  12. Dismayed

    Dismayed Member

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    There's an old saying, "Meter the hero."
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yep, first shot definitely underexposed. Way underexposed, and it's a metering problem.

    Second shot looks very nice to me. Maybe one more stop of exposure would have been good, though, to really fill in some shadows.

    Once you have exposure under control, you start to work with your development time to dial in a good level of contrast. In case you hadn't had that epiphany yet - final negative contrast is something we control by adjusting developing time and agitation to suit what we photographed.
     
  14. Regular Rod

    Regular Rod Member

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    They are both underexposed. The first one very much so and the second by perhaps only a stop. How do you meter?

    Nevertheless you are to be congratulated on your choice of subjects!

    RR
     
  15. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    +1

    I like the second shot - and I tend to favour underexposing a shot usually.
     
  16. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    Are those development directions from Kodak?
     
  17. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    As others have said, under exposure at the camera stage.
     
  18. rubyfalls

    rubyfalls Member

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    +3. Also? I don't worry about the purple. YMMV, but it has never posed a problem for me. I scan greyscale.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  19. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Lots of good advice here Richard. It's easy to underexpose in low light using the in-camera meter. I recommend always using a hand held meter for low light portraiture. Once you have one, shoot a few test rolls over a weekend in various lighting situations and record your detailed findings in a notebook to keep as your beacon. Pay attention to the variables, ie lighting conditions, film speed, filter options, dev, water temp and your prefer paper characteristics. Enjoy.


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  20. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    Under or over exposure is quite common for vintage cameras. Could be issues with the photo cells or batteries, or just the metering method.

    If you want to use in-camera metering you should learn its quirks and adjust exposure manually.

    The second image is fixable in Lightroom or Photoshop.
     
  21. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

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    +1 on that :whistling:

    Anyways, everyone here has about covered it. If it is a Pentax, and a bayonet mount, I believe all but the cheapest models have voltage regulating circuits in the body, so battery choice isn't super critical to meter performance. However, I always run a roll or two in new cameras just to see how the meter behaves, and how far it is off, then a second roll to dial in my development.

    Development looks pretty good, just be sure to use exposure compensation when necessary!