Help me recreate this look ...

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Katie, Dec 23, 2011.

  1. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Okay, so I have a negative that has some qualities that I really like. Deep midtones, with light highlights. I shot this last year about this time (winter) with the Hasselblad on either HP5 or Delta 400. Developed in either ID11 or Ilfosol (can't remember and my notes aren't that specific.

    My question is, do lower midtones with adequate highlights come from a specific developing combination? For instance could I have underexposed this and lengthened the development time to keep midtones low, but only raise highlights? Is is due to the cooler temperature (here in Texas), as I usually cut my development time in the Summer/Spring, as I can only bring my temp down so much in the darkroom here mid-summer... Or is it just the lighting? It's just open shade - so I doubt that.

    Here is the neg - you can see that the overall tone is dark - which is what I like - but the highlights in the skin make it very pleasing for me.

    THANKS!

    (excuse the streaking - I had not filled up the tank with enough liquid)

    img159.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2011
  2. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,040
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi, Katie. Maybe this will help, maybe not.

    My standard for handheld is Tx400@320, in PMK 75f for 10 minutes. Thirty seconds initial agitation, then 5 seconds every 30 seconds. This is for a roll shot in what I would consider "average" natural light.

    If the roll is shot in bright daylight, then agitate for 8 minutes and let stand for the last two. If the light was "flat," then 10 minutes agitation with 2 minutes extra stand development.

    This is not very scientific, but it does produce negs that print between g2 and g3 with very little (usually) need for burning or dodging.

    In the example you provided (nice image!) perhaps it is not possible to get everything on the paper that you want to be there. My main question would be, how was the scene metered?
     
  3. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Handheld light meter (reflected) on shade of face. I don't care about the sky here, just an example of how I like my skin tones and midtones.

    So you overxposed and overdevelop - which I understand, but you also alter your agitation based on lighting? Brilliant! So if I am Using the standard ilford agitation recommendation - how would I alter that?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2011
  4. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    And could you humor me and explain scientifically what agitation does in the development process? I would like to understand it better...
     
  5. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Looks to me like the result of a nice fat thick negative and some blueish light.
     
  6. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Good exposure + open shade (blue?) + slight underdeveopment + more agitation = deeper midtones with nice highlight separation in skin ??
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,510
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm betting on the lighting.
     
  8. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    +

    Having two white RVs acting as giant reflectors to people in the shade?
     
  9. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It's amazing how easy it is to have a "look" and then lose it because you didn't keep notes. Some of my favorite film and digital "developments" are lost for this very reason.

    I now write every film's processing notes on the back of the contact sheets.

    In terms of flat lighting or open shade a good exposure and slight overdevelopment will make the print glow, as if the light were coming from inside the print rather than from a light source in the photo (sun, lamp, etc). Think of some of Ansel Adams snow scenes, shot in that flat gray winter light. They radiate light from the print.

    Avedon's "American West" portraits were shot in open shade, and processed this way. It can be stunning.
     
  10. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,708
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Katie, my advice would be forget about experimenting with film/developer combinations and stick to one combination you are happy with. The problem with this image is focus.
    Advice from the old dog.
     
  11. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,040
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Yes, that would rock with RV reflectors.

    Does your meter have an incident bulb? To my understanding, the spot meter is useful when placing zones and considering expansion or contraction. There are many different values on the faces, even with something like a 5 degree spot meter.

    As far as what exactly is happening during agitation, I can't pretend to know much more than it is a variable that plays a part in the contrast of your negative. I find that a little more or a little less is a very subtle way to exert control, with a great degree of accuracy and reproduceability (is that a word?).
     
  12. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Clive - I do hope you know that I was teasing you!! And focus? I used a shallow depth of field here, but can assure you that the people are in fact in focus.

    BUT - the point of this post is how do I consistently maintain deep midtones with bright but contrary highlights on HP5 and ID11.???
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,708
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Katie, then is it slight camera shake? Can you post a blow up of the boys hair?
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,807
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think that what you are liking the most is the appearance of your mid-tones.

    Changes in exposure affect the shadow tones the most, followed by the mid-tones, with the highlights the least.

    Development/agitation affects the highlights the most, then the mid-tones next and the shadow tones the least of all. It also has a big affect on the local contrast.

    Your open-shade plus RV reflection lighting segment gives you great gobs of blueish, low contrast light. So your negative can stand a fair amount of contrast boost without harming the mid-tones.

    I would concentrate on your mid-tones when you meter and adjust your development. Tailor the development so as to get the local contrast in your mid-tones the way you like, and the rest will follow (generally).

    You do have to have something close to the right distribution of light though in order to get dark shadows.
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This is a neg scan, right? So it was auto-leveled by your scan software. We'd need to see the actual neg with no inversion or auto correction, otherwise it's difficult to tell what you did...

    Assuming that it is a bit overexposed and normally developed, there will tend to be less highlight differentiation but a lot of midtone detail, which I think we see.

    My suggestion is to shoot the same scene with full subject brightness range in a wide bracket: EV -2, -1, 0, +1, and +2, and develop normally. Make contact prints or scan them together and compare the differences. All will be clear.
     
  17. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

    Messages:
    764
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Location:
    Texas, USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you ! Yes this is a neg scan, but my print looks basically the same. When I scan, I do it totally manually and do not use auto anything, so while it's vastly different from printing, gives me a general idea as to how it prints (along with my standard method of contact printing too).
     
  18. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,074
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I understand. I scan quite a lot, just for keeping records and sharing online etc. and I find the scanned products to fairly closely mimic the darkroom results.

    The main things to understand is that the slope of the exposure/density curve affects differentiation. The steepest part of the curve gives the most differentiation between adjacent tones. So if you want more shadow/midtone detail and don't mind the highlights clumping, you tend to overexpose neutral grey. The purpose of my proposed bracketing experiment is to show that you can get very different looks just by altering your camera exposure by a stop or two.
     
  19. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

    Messages:
    4,574
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2006
    Location:
    İstanbul
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I agree with Keith on a stop or two can gain a lot.
    But experimenting with different film and developer combinations is extremelly funny and can turn a ordinary man to wise man.
    Earlier than the 90s , before digital , there were thousands of pages printed by photography magazines on that lens,developer,film and paper try , comparison experiments.
    I think if you are a Ilford fun , FP4 and Pyro developer combination gives the most exceptional tones.
    If you are going to USA , you are already there , Tri X and 1/31 diluted HC 110 was Ansel Adams recipe and it is number one for me.
    If you invest Hassy , invest in these two combinations and money,time well spent.
    And a book on Zone System.

    Umut
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,972
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi katie

    since everyone is making suggestions, i'll make mine too

    it seems that your negative is over exposed by a few stops and
    you might have over developed your negative, by a good 30% using normal agitation.
    the highlights while they aren't blocked. they are dense enough not to have many details but the mid tones sing.

    to recreate this, i would photograph in a shaded place with open sky
    where light can bounce to the sides of your subject ( foam core would work if
    you don't have a 3-sided greenhouse ( avedon ), or RVs to bounce the light for you
    your meter will read for the sky, but i am sure if you read off a gray card or the palm of your hand
    and add a stop, you will notice it is a good stop or 2 different. expose for the grey card/ hand value.

    using sprint ( its like ID 11 ) and adding a few mins to development will give negatives that
    san+print like that, ansco 130 1:6 for about 8 mins will give you a similar look too,
    and mixing about 15cc of ansco into 1L of caffenol C, and not agitating at all for 26mins
    will also give you a similar look.

    have fun ( and good luck ) !
    john
     
  21. Hikari

    Hikari Member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    It keeps fresh developer over the silver sites. This promotes even development and better contrast. If the developer does not move, it gets depleted where is contacts the silver halide. The more dense the the area, the faster the depletion.
     
  22. Hikari

    Hikari Member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I think there are two part to how you can get an image like that again. First, to control your printing. Two, to shoot under the same lighting conditions.
     
  23. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

    Messages:
    1,237
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Location:
    Downers Grov
    Do they not have ice cubes in Texas?

    What you think you see is built into the film and paper. Some films are straight line, some long toe curved. Papers are similar but with fewer if and straight line, just some straighter than others. You cannot change it, just change product if you can find something in the limited supply available today.

    Your example is just a blown sky because you exposed for dark subject.

    You might try VC paper, making a high contrast exposure and dodging the mid tones some, the print the mid tone with lower contrast while dodging the lights. But the H&D curve for the film paper is built in and can not be changed.
     
  24. Marco B

    Marco B Member

    Messages:
    2,981
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2005
    Location:
    The Netherla
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    x2, I think much of the quality of tones you appreciate in this picture has to do with the type of semi-soft lighting caused by a partly over-cast sky, with light bouncing around and softening shadows, much like John describes and suggests, and isn't so much related to specific development or exposure conditions (although these play a minor role too of course).

    Try looking at shadows and softness of light/dark transitions in your subjects faces. Become aware of weather conditions and how they affect the light outside, and you will start seeing more opportunities to shoot pictures like these.
     
  25. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This is great advice. I'm constantly observing how hard edged the shadows are even when I don't have my camera.
    I do this also when I'm watching TV but mostly to analyze main/fill placement and if any back/rim/hair light was used and try to guess ratios.

    You might try filtering to knock some of the sky down and getting good tone separation.
    In this shot you won't get any clouds popping but it will bring down the sky tone bit depending on filter choice.
     
  26. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,510
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Now that I've had a day to think about this, yes I'm slow, let me start by rephrasing your question a bit.

    "how can I control the exposure relationship between two contrary subject sets in one shot?"

    There are actually several ways but lets start with what probably won't work.

    Sure, by manipulating the agitation you may be able to adjust the relationship between subjects a little but I'd say that agitation is probably better used as a fine tuning tool rather than a rough placement tool.

    Im not suggesting a change, just ticking through a list and you've actually ruled it out with your developer specification, but using a Pyro developer might actually do more for you than changing agitation. Still and yet we are probably just fiddling around the edges and there are ways to do this with any developer.

    More or less camera exposure is also a loser because this simply slides the subjects, in lock step, up or down the curve; it does not change the printable relationship between the contrary subject sets, only their relationship to the ends of the curve.

    If you actually want the two subject sets centered on specific points in relation to black and white on paper, then there isn't much to gain or even much of a choice in placement of exposure other than in making sure the detail is available on a usable part of the film curve.

    Now to what can work.

    Extending or contracting the printable range, using plus or minus development or a harder or softer paper grade, can actually make a big difference. This option can significantly change where your subjects fall on the paper's curve. In the particular situation you describe, maybe shooting your HP5 at 200 or maybe even lower and then backing off on the development, could be a real fix.

    Jose Villa is a good example of someone who uses a lower contrast curve, 400 speed C-41 films instead of 160, in a similar manner to what you seem to be asking for here. Jose shoots at +1, +2, or more at times and has his films developed normally, he has chosen to change curves by switching films rather than development. By using HP5 you have the option of adjusting the slope of the curve without switching films.

    Manipulation of the lighting would also make a huge difference. Using the RVs as reflectors is a really good idea, if you have the ability to pick the setting. Fill flash and or reflectors (or a scrim if you need to spread the relationship) are real workable options too when you can't pick the setting.

    Changing the lighting of one subject really does change the relationship to the other and I regularly find myself in the darkroom asking myself why I didn't use a flash here. Truly and seriously I always have several strobes in my bag. If guys like Galen Rowell could use fill flash on the side of a cliff dangling from a rope, and use it well; I ought to be able to do it on flat ground. I do get lazy on occasion though.

    The last option I'll leave you with is filters. Yellow, red, polarizing, or whatever, they truly change what the film can see and where certain color tones will fall on the curve. These are easy and effective in many situations, my biggest problem is forgetting them.