hp5+ rodinal 1:50 sanity check

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by octofish, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. octofish

    octofish Member

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    Hi All,

    I've decided its time to do some testing to get my exposure and development nailed. I am looking at Hp5+ and Rodinal 1:50.

    I am wanting to standardise for Grade 2 on Ilford Multigrade IV RC. I've troubleshot my enlarger/darkroom and am now getting what I think are reasonable contrasts based on stop tablet prints (about 5 stops range, both contact and projected). When I do a 'proper proof' contact sheet (minimum time to max black at film base+fog) I am still getting very flat and quite dark prints. I have recently had the camera CLAd and am assured that metering/speeds are fine.

    I thought initially my EI (400) was too high, as a lot of people claim HP5+ needs more exposure. However, I am not so sure now. I did a test exposing a grey card from -6EV to +6EV compared to that metered. I am getting EVERY SINGLE FRAME to have distinct tones in a "proper proof" at grade 2 (although first and last are very close to black/white) This seems crazy. The dead on metered exposure looks a touch short of a medium grey. This suggests to me that I am under developing.

    What does this mean? I am thinking I need to try a much longer development time. I am using 11:00@20degC as per the massive dev chart, and am using what I figure should be fairly adequate agitation (slow constant for a minute at the start, then 4 inversions every minute). I am checking temperature and its dropping from about 21C at the start to about 19C at the end. I would expect this would get me in the ballpark but it seems quite a fair way off. How does this compare with other peoples' experience?

    The other thing I'm not getting is the long range below the metered exposure of a grey card (Zone V if you will). Based on zone system type thinking, I should only be getting 3 or so exposures below it as distinguishable, but I have twice that. Am I confusing myself with trying to include zone system considerations here? Should I just take the extra underexposure latitude and not worry about it? Or am I over exposing?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  2. Larry H-L

    Larry H-L Subscriber

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    Hi Octo,

    You have a bunch of questions here… I'll just touch on a couple that come to mind.

    IMHO, no single ISO or EI is going to work for all conditions. A bright sunny day might require more exposure for the shadow detail because of the reduced development times. And a flat, gray day might be OK at the box speed of 400 ISO because of slightly increased development times.

    You have to do what works for you. Everyone has different equipment, and very different ideas about what a good print looks like.

    I first look at shadow detail on the negative. If the negative has too little shadow detail, you're going to have to give more exposure.

    Now, you could have plenty of shadow detail, but if you have over-developed, you'll end up crushing that shadow detail because you have to blast the print with light to get the highlights to show. Too little highlight density and your prints will look flat.

    So, it is a delicate dance here. Enough shadow detail, in combination with highlight density on the negative that prints (or scans) easily without crushing the shadows.

    Some people have great success with shooting gray cards and measuring densities (been there, done that). But for me, going out in the backyard and shooting a few quick test rolls under different conditions has been the best learning experience.

    Good luck.
     
  3. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    I love the original post!!

    Yes, HP5 is somewhat flat at 400. Weird and unexpected. And many serious photographers out there have noticed that Hp5@800 in rodinal becomes magical. And indeed it is!
     
  4. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Hmmm, may have to try this. Never been overly enamored of HP5 in Rodinal at 400 or 250.
     
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  5. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Rodinal has been my standard developer for over 50 years, but I've never used it with fast films, only 100 and slower.

    It's generally not considered well-suited to fast films, but who knows? Would be an interesting experiment.

    - Leigh
     
  6. octofish

    octofish Member

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    Good results at 800 would confirm what i'm seeing, namely that there is HEAPS of room in the shadows. I didn't notice inadequate shadow detail in in any prints, hence the testing to orient myself (that and the crappy tonality I was getting). I was concerned that maybe I was overexposing by a stop or two. It seemed like a weird result given the amount of people that say shoot it at 320 or 200 or whatever.

    The development thing is weird too, and that's the main thing I'm concerned about - that flatness. It seems waaaaaaaaaaaaaay flat based on what are supposed to be typical times. Again, I don't have enough experience to compare against to know, but it seemed like an unusual result so was wondering if it was a common experience.

    Guess I'll try cranking up the dev time by a good piece to see what that gets me, as well as trying out some higher EIs. I have since found some mention that rodinal 1:50 is known for giving inadequate contrast with HP5+ so may have to give 1:25 a go also.

    Whaddya ya know, you do learn by doing this one film/one developer bit!
     
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  7. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    Its funny because I have just gone back to HP5 and in trawling the internet on user experiences those with an experienced opinion about the true ISO say it should be 650 ISO, not 400. I had always used Rodinal 1+50 with HP5 at 400 and never liked the results. I was finding the negatives flat and lifeless, not what I expected from Rodinal. Well I used up my Rodinal on other things, but with a new batch of HP5 I exposed it at 650 and processed it in DD-X and the negatives are superb with a great range of tones and plenty of detail in shadows and highlights.

    Steve
     
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  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Elliot Erwitt and Ralph Gibson don't seem to agree. Especially Gibson, overexposing and overdeveloping Tri-X in Rodinal and then printing on Brovira Grade 5. That's how he saw the world. To each their own.

    To OP: If your negatives are too flat in look in a contact sheet, you need to increase development time. Exposure IS shadow detail and developing time IS contrast. At 1+50 and EI 400 I would have expected to see a development time in the neighborhood of 14-17 minutes. Try shooting a roll, cut it in thirds, develop one third at a time. Then go ahead and increase development time with each 'third' about 20-25% until you're in the ballpark of having a full range of tones in your contact sheet. It is really that simple, and it will save you a ton of time and waste in the darkroom come printing time.