Help - Rescuing very under exposed negatives!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Matt5791, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I had a lens fault on a Bronica ETRsi when I was in California

    (Yes I know a bad workman blames his tools, but beware anyone who chooses this camera, the lenses have a little switch on the lens secured with a grub screw - if the screw accidentally loosens and if the switch is then allowed to move half way between the two settings (time exposures or normal) the shutter then seems to fire only at 1/60th or something like that)

    There I was thinking I was shooting at 1/8th second on PanF film, having crimbed up some rocks to the base of El Capitan, when infact it was 1/60th or something. I was concentrating on on other things and it was not for a while that I noticed the shutter did not "sound" right.

    The sky is ok on the exposure and also a very stronly illuminated rock in the foreground - potentially it looks like a great shot especially on the contact sheet - El Capitan is dark, but moody.

    However I haev tried enlarging it and even at grade 5 it seems drab and muddy

    Alyone have any suggestions?

    Maybe I should print it darker? (maybe I'm trying to make it lighter than it should be)

    Many thanks,
    Matt
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you decide it is worth the work, you can intensify the negative, and then selenium tone it in strong selenium bath (KRST from 1:2 to 1:4 seems to work best for me). You might get a bit better neg., but still nothing close to ideal. The RZ has the possibility of that mistake as well, as does any camera with an "X" setting on the shutter speed dial. Good luck!
     
  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    1/60 instead of 1/8..... that is a good 3stop under which is very hard to print.
    I think scanning/digital (!) maybe your way out of this
     
  4. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Bleach and redevelop in a staining developer is another way. This can be repeated several times to build up the stain to the desired contrast level.
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i had a similar problem with a job
    light meter was somehow set to 1600
    and i was using 100 speed film - darn assistant! LOL

    i used a strong developer ( straight ) and a # 5 filter
    to make a rc print, then i made a contact negative (paper)
    and from that i made a final print. since these were
    for publicaiton, i used rc paper ... each time i was
    able to boost the contrast a little more ( or decrease it )
    and soften the image with more dilute developer ...

    sounds like a lot of work, but it is more fun than work :wink:

    good luck!

    john
     
  6. trexx

    trexx Member

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    First anything you do to the original negative can be irreversible. So get a scan of it. If you have never built up a negative before some practice may be in order. Shoot a roll with the same conditions, switch in the mid position. Develop just as you did before. Take and cut the individual frames, each for a different attempt to get a better negative.

    A couple of methods have been posted already.
    • Bleach and redevelop in a staining developer.
    • Intensify and tone
    .
    I like the bleach and redevelop, and try different developers as each has a different effect on contrast.

    As to printing, what type of enlarger are you using? Again each type can have an effect on contrast. If you have access to different type that may also be worth while trying.

    TR
     
  7. JRJacobs

    JRJacobs Member

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    Photographers Formulary makes a chemical that is supposed to help build up density on underdeveloped negs. I have never used it, and can't remember what it is called, but I have seen it at the Freestyle store before.
     
  8. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    A negative bleached in a rehalogenating bleach such as is used in sulfide sepia toning of prints, and redeveloped in a pyro developer such as PMK, or one of the Pyrocat series, can have a substantial increase in contrast when the paper is not VC, or if a blue separation filter is used on VC paper.
     
  9. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    Thanks very much for the replies - I have several negatives all similar, so if I try one of these techniques then I have some to play with.

    Thanks!
     
  10. tac

    tac Member

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    An old trick for underexposed or underdeveloped ("thin") negatives BEFORE you chemically, irreversibly, alter them is to hang the negative up, set up two lights (strobe or ambient) at 45 degrees Behind the negative, thereby backlighting it, and using a macro lens with a good deep lens hood,, rephotograph the negative on a fine grain film (I used TP until it went bye-bye, now would use Delta100). The back-lighting shows up the thin image and you can push the copy film to further increase contrast/density. And you haven't altered the original, which you can do later, as a last resort.
    Good Luck!