How to lower contrast?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by RattyMouse, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    I'm finding that my camera, a Fuji GA645 produces images that are VERY contrasty. Regarding B & W film, what development methods can I use to reduce contrast by 10% or so? I need more light in those shadows.

    Thanks!
     
  2. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    If you need more light in the shadows try increasing your exposure, use your spot meter to get the shadow tones correct (if you have one). Then reduce your development times to control the highlights, usually around 15% reduction in developing time is recommended.
     
  3. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Thanks. Since I am shooting ISO100 film, I was hoping that more exposure would not be needed due to trying to keep shutter speeds up. I see that is not how it works.
     
  4. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    You can correct gamma in scanning/post and in dark room printing.
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Since you're shooting 645, you could choose an ISO 400 film and shoot it at 200 or 250. Fine grain/slow film is no benefit (to me) when there is motion blur due to handholding at lower shutter speed than should have been. This is an idealistic goal of course. Fine grain with motion blur can be beautiful in some cases in the right hands.
     
  6. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Thank you, I will experiment with this idea in future.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Saying what has been said in another way, exposure determines whether there is detail in the shadows, and development determines how the highlights appears.
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Do you have a spotmeter or incident meter? Both these types of metering can ensure you get enough shadow detail. Shots like your nightscapes would be a challenge in black and white because the shadows can be truly empty while highlights coming from neon signs can hit the other extreme.

    With a spotmeter, you would choose the "important" shadow. Then (using Zone System terminology) place it on Zone II, III or IV depending on philosophy. When you meter carefully you can use the full speed, again depending on philosophy.

    When I say I shoot ISO 400 film at 250, I am spotting the shadows and placing them on Zone II. Someone who spotmeters shadows and places them on Zone III could rate the same film at 400 and end up exposing using the same f/stop and shutter speed combination as me.
     
  9. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Sorry, but the zone system is waaay beyond me at this point. :cry:
     
  10. LJH

    LJH Member

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    The ZS is not a difficult thing to learn. It can be a bit intimidating to start with, but once you understand the pinciples, the in-practice is pretty easy.

    It's not too difficult if you start your research with some research from more basic sites (basic in their way of explaining, not basic in their content).

    I'd start with looking here.

    Then, I'd have a look here.
     
  11. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Fuji GA645 is not an instant camera, how come "produces images that are VERY contrasty"? :D
    I bet You assume about whats on the film based on what You see on the monitor, from scans done by someone else.
    Its still the year of the dragon, so have fun with film and GA645 :wink:
     
  12. MDR

    MDR Member

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    If you want details in the shadows you can either meter for the shadows, use a speed increasing developer (Diafine, DD-X, etc...) but meter for the film speed in this case 100ASA,a blue filter can reduce contrast and increases fog on foggy days, but you lose speed. split grade printing a few second grade 0 or 1 and the rest at grade 3 or 4, use a lower paper grade 11/2 or 2 instead of 3. If you scan lower the contrast setting on your scanner or tell the scanning operator to do so.

    Good luck
     
  13. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    RattyMouse: As others have said, if you want more open shadows and lower contrast you need more exposure and less development. That would be the easiest way. Having said that - the "10%" you are after is very small and can likely be tweaked out of your printing/scanning without adjusting your film exposure/development.

    If you want to maximize the amount of film speed for your shadows and lower overall contrast you can also try diluting your developer more, extending development time and increasing the amount of time between agitation intervals. This would take some experimentation though. A naturally compensating developer does the same thing.
     
  14. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Lack of shadow detail is an exposure issue. Open up a stop at the camera.
     
  15. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Scenario 1: Use lower film speed (with the same film) -> slower shutter speeds or wider apertures.
    Method:
    - Expose more = more shadow detail.
    - Develop less = don't block up the highlights because of the increased exposure.

    Scenario 2: Use the same film speed -> change developer.
    Method:
    - Use a speed enhancing developer. Xtol, TMax, Ilfotec DD-X, Ilford Microphen, for example.

    Scenario 3: Change developing technique
    Method:
    - Dilute your developer more for longer developing times.

    You can combine any or all of these techniques, depending on how much shadow detail you want/need.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2012
  16. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I agree with Thomas,

    And might add... Scenario 1 is the easiest.

    - Expose more = more shadow detail.
    - Develop less = less contrast.

    Both are problems you wanted to solve - solution to those problems.

    ---
    We can save Zone System technique for later... even without full calibration, understanding it will make you more confident in the exposure you choose and the development time you give.

    There's nothing harder to solve on a negative than empty shadows, while it would have been so easy to fix in the camera by giving enough exposure for the shadows when you shot.
     
  17. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I agree with Thomas & Bill with the caveat for Ratty Mouse that contrast adjustment, when using a lab for prints and scans, is simply a matter of telling the lab what is expected.

    Even if you self develop and send your finished negs to the lab, the lab may then "correct" the print contrast and exposure to "their sensibility" rather than yours.

    Ratty Mouse until you have your lab try to reprint the negs in question to your preferences you don't really even know if you need to expose differently to get more shadow detail.
     
  18. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    What film are you using?

    It may or may not be so scientifically but I've seen Tmax film produce images that LOOK higher contrast than traditional grain ones.

    If your neg is VERY contrasty, 10% reduction may not be enough....
     
  19. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Ratty Mouse: are you developing yourself, or are you having someone else do the developing and printing? The fault is definitely not in the camera. Before I did anything, I'd take a good look at the negatives. In the shadows (nearly clear areas), can you see detail in them that you can't see in the print? That suggests that the printing isn't as good as it could be. If the printer printed at too high of a contrast level, you could loose the shadow details. Before I'd change the exposure, Id verify that the negatives are the issue and not the printing.
     
  20. ROL

    ROL Member

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    While others have given you decidedly more productive information regarding shadow resolution, I would like to make clear in the hope that you and others will not get caught up in your own analysis, that your initial premise is deeply flawed, if not entirely without merit. Film cameras by themselves do not produce contrasty "images". Film contrast is affected by lens design, lighting, type of film emulsion, exposure, and development. Analog print or hardcopy (i.e., the positive monochrome "image") contrast is affected by paper type and emulsion (light filtration), exposure, developer, toning, and display (glazing and lighting).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2012