I need low contrast MF negs

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by David Brown, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I have an idea for some shots of light fixtures and light bulbs. You know, B&W graphic, abstract sort of close up stuff.

    ( I got the idea while bored and leaning way back in my chair in the cubicle of employment ... but, I digress.)

    Anyway, it occurs to me that the contrast with the lights off will be very flat and uninteresting, while having the lights on will result in the actual tubes and bulbs themselves blown out.

    Since I don't have sheet film, I am looking for suggestions in 120 (or even 35mm) that will give me really compressed contrast negs. I'm confident of being able to print any detail that is on the negative, but I don't want the light sources to completely block up on the neg! Then, there's nothing to print.

    Film/developer/time suggestions - all welcome. Yes, I'm willing to experiment and test, but I need a starting point. :smile:

    Thanks in advance.

    David
     
  2. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    You are not likely to get the negative you want if you want the details of the bulbs themselves to print. The best approach is with sheet film, exposing and developing for each area and then use a contrast mask.

    However, you want something else, and to that end I recommend AXP 100 stand developed in Rodinal 1:150 for 40 minutes.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You might try an extreme compensating developer like POTA, which was designed to compress exposures with a 20 stop range, or SPUR, which is for normal contrast results with high contrast microfilm. There's a photograph in Adams' _The Negative_ of a light fixture where the filament and reflector are both visible in detail--a perfectly boring photograph, but a good demonstration of POTA.
     
  4. lee

    lee Member

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    David,

    if I were to want low contrast film, I would over expose the film by 2 or more stops and underdevelop the film by at least that much. I might be tempted to use Trix or Hp5 since those films are not as inherently as high in contrast as slower speed films might be. Several years ago I ran some tests with Microdol-x and Kodalk as a developing routine for lowering contrast build up due to recesiprocity failure. This was another way also to develop to N-3 or N-4. So this is the way I would head in the first round of tests. If that did not work, I would follow John Stafford's advice and use stand development. Pyrocat-hd and PMK might be better than Rodinal for stand and semi-stand development.

    lee\c
     
  5. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    In Ansel Adam's book, "The Negative", page 234, there's a photo of a light bulb with plenty of detail showing. The neg was processed in one of the pyro devs. This dev agent is famous for not allowing the highlights to block up.

    The above suggestions could be useful as well.
     
  6. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    David -

    Have you considered a multiple exposure technique - a longer exposure with the lights off combined with a shorter exposure with the lights on. It would be experimental, but that's quite in keeping with the source of inspiration - - -
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That's the one I was thinking of. I don't have the book in front of me, but I'm fairly sure it was POTA (phenidone and sulfite), not Pyro.
     
  8. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    I just opened The Negative to page 234, and it is definately a Pyrocatechin developer. Ansel mentions POTA further down the page...
     
  9. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I'm confident of being able to print any detail that is on the negative, but I don't want the light sources to completely block up on the neg!

    You might not need to get to fancy with this. Two common films, T Max 400 and FP4, have very long scale response. TMax 400, in Xtol 1+2, gives you a straight line response over 13 stops, with a gentle shoulder after that.

    The density of the negative is higher than we're used to printing. But with either Ansco 120, or (even better) Ansel Adams version of Ansco 130, you can probably shoot in 35mm and print normally on #1 or #2 MG FB. A diffusin enlarger would be a good idea.

    Pyro Cat would be an excellent alternative, as would FX2. Both Catechol and Glycin are great for long scale scenes. But XTOL will make a very nice negative.

    Good Luck !
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks for the clarification, Andre.
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Windisch's Compensating Pyrocatechin developer. It really works - I have a negative showing both sunspots and foreground detail, shot during a partial eclipse.

    There's Maxim Muir's modification as well, but the original Windisch is the "strongest".
     
  12. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I have that book! I'll look it up.
     
  13. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Actually, yes, I had thought of that. It's a good idea! However, looking at the fixture that gave me the idea, I think more would change than just the tube being brighter. There would be all kinds of shadows and reflections that would register as "double exposures".

    However, I've also had an idea in my head for years of photographing a single, clear tungsten bulb; and your suggestion might be workable there.

    On a heretical note, I also thought of making two separate negs - one on, one off - and layering them in Photoshop ... :surprised:
     
  14. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    David,

    If I were going to attempt something like this I would depart from the normal method of exposure in this way.

    I would pre flash the film to non image bearing light at a Zone III or IV exposure value. I would then do a second exposure metering the light bulb exposure value (totally disregarding the shadow exposure) and placing the light bulb at a zone IX exposure for this second exposure.

    The pre flash will support your shadow..the second exposure will give you the highlight placement that you want. I would then develop on the basis of the actual brightness ratio of the combination of the two exposures.
     
  15. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Sorry to approach this from the other end of the problem, but I have seen the very problem addressed by plugging the light into lower voltage. This gets the filament to glow without creating the highlight problems galore. I can't remember the numbers, but simply rig a dimmer upstream and your highlight problem is solved. And then, you can revert to lighting the setup as you would nearly any still life.
     
  16. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Just use a dimmer and adjust the brightness to the correct value. If you are using a flourescent bulb disregard this bit of cheating advice.

    edit: I see Nico had the same suggestion - sorry to be redundant.
     
  17. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Actually, I had already thought of this plan, too, for the bare bulb idea.

    What struck me today, though, are these flourescent fixtures with elaborate reflectors. It's the reflectors that will make the image. So, I can't use a dimmer (if for no other reason than they're in an office bldg), and the double exposure idea (although a good one) doesn't seem feasable to me since the reflectors cause the image to be completely different with the tubes on or off.

    I think using a film I normally use, (such as Lee's suggestion of Tri-x) overexposing and really holding back on development to lower the contrast is going to be my starting point.

    I really appreciate everyone's thoughts!!! It's what APUG does best - that's why I asked. :smile:

    Cheers y'all.

    David

    PS: I expected a few answers, but not so many during business hours and so fast. Don't you (we) have jobs? :D :wink:

    OK, maybe Ole and Niko (et al) don't count ...
     
  18. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A little addendum: I used APX100 for the eclipse shot. I have no idea how other films will behave in Windisch's developer.

    I'm off work today, but if I had been at work I would still have answered :smile:
     
  19. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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  20. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Take a look here: http://schifrad.home.pipeline.com/i...builderpictures/scan194_sm.jpg&target=tlx_new

    FP4+, EI 125, XTOL 1+3 for about 15 minutes at 68 deg. F. Agitation by twirling stick in a no-name plastic tank for 10 seconds each minute. The scanned image shows a bright blob at the bulb's filament location. You can still see the outline of the bulb's envelope even in this poor scan. That blob is much less apparent, and there is a hint of the image of the filament, in the analog print. I was not trying to capture that detail in particular, but there it is. A stop or two of overexposure coupled with reduced development should do the trick for you witout resorting to exotic developers and techniques.
     
  21. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    Ah... dude, you've clearly never experienced Italy in August! We're REALLY busy right now! :D
    Self-employment helps a tad too...
     
  22. pelerin

    pelerin Member

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    ...having spent most of August in Rome... twice, I can attest that not only is very little work getting done but in fact most people seem to have left. Not without reason however. We spent a good part of our (July) honeymoon in Rome. I almost killed my then new wife walking back from the American College to our residence on the Aventine on the feast of St. Peter and Paul. ...literally white as a sheet from the heat, we beat it into an air conditioned building and I watched her color come back slowly... phew. I must say thought that while California may be paradise you fellows are certainly ahead of us in the vacation department.
    Celac.
     
  23. ootsy

    ootsy Inactive

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    Hi David,
    I shot HP5+ 120, and developed in Rodinal. Unfortunately, I mixed the Rodinal incorrectly, about half strength. Believe me, those negs were low contrast. A couple of high contrast scenes I shot on the roll turned out beautifully, however. I accidentally found N-2. Or N-3.