Looking at a negative.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by mporter012, May 5, 2013.

  1. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    I am so new to film, I'm not even sure how to look at a negative properly, meaning to I just hold it up to a window, or against a piece of white paper?? Transitioning to film is a bit of a challenge in 2013. You can't call up a friend and ask ''how do I read a negative?" because your friend will be like, ''what is a negative?"

    Thanks!
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    nope, that's what search engine's and books like Ansel Adams The Negative are for.
     
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, mporte012,

    "Any way that works for you." is the simplest answer. A brighty-lit white wall or piece of white paper as background works well for me. Lightboxes with translucent plastic lit from within are available, but not really necessary. Judging the negative quality is mostly just a matter of experience. It won't take long, assuming that you regularly print some of your negatives, to be able to tell whether a negative is worth printing and approximately how easy or difficult it will be to get a good print from it.

    Konical
     
  4. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Ok, excellent (I do have The Negative, by the way) Thanks!
     
  5. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    If the negative is a loss, totally thin, then you can hold it up emulsion facing you to bright light at an angle so the emulsion is lit, use a black background and see a positive image.

    A good thing about computers, you can open a blank document and have a white "light table". Then you can just hold the negative up and look at it that way.

    A good negative will have details in the "shadows." You will know if you can see some things in the clear areas.

    There's more advice to follow I'm sure, but that can get you started.
     
  6. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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  7. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I'll second the idea of a loupe. In 35mm it is a near essential in my opinion

    pentaxuser
     
  8. mporter012

    mporter012 Subscriber

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    Now I need a magnifying loupe! (film is expensive).
     
  9. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Any old magnifying glass will work or a jewelers loupe will do if you are holding up the negative. Loupes made specifically for negatives usually require a light box to rest on. A flipped prime lens also works like a 50mm.

    Also if you sit at a table with a desk lamp, point the lamp downward at a piece of white paper. You can then hold the negatives up and look through it with the bright white paper as the background. It's a little easier than holding sheet and sheets up with you neck back.

    I have used my iPhone with a blank white screen, from a new tab within the web browser with max screen brightness, to quickly scan negatives that are drying.

    For my students I have a setup that I use to invert the negatives on the large screen iMacs we have. I lay the negatives on our large light box connect a web cam that has a long USB cord, and place webcam lens right against the loupe. I then invert screen colors on the Mac and use QuickTime and start a new movie recording. I don't hit the record button but use the video feed from the webcam. It gives a nice large screen size image that is a positive. Helps the students learn how to read negatives quickly and for others in the class to see the negative as well to discuss.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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  11. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Interesting link, Matt. It may just be me but I'd rate the 9 pics in the following order. First: Underexposed and correctly developed Second: Correctly exposed and underdeveloped. Third: Correctly exposed and correctly developed. Fourth: Underdeveloped and underexposed

    All of the bottom line do not even come close to looking right

    So my conclusions would be to avoid overexposure at all costs which seems to run contrary to the "maxim" of overexposing and underdeveloping as espoused by Barry Thornton and others i.e. film testing results in a down-rating of film speed and curtailment of development time

    Of course I am basing my ranking on the face rather than the limited background scene and to that extent the neg chosen may have led me to the wrong conclusions as in most cases a face is of much smaller importance in a "people in scenes" picture but in portraiture and based on the negs and prints shown I'd stick to my rankings

    I wonder how others would rate the 9 neg/prints?

    pentaxuser
     
  12. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    pentaxuser,

    I agree the set may illustrate the negatives correctly... but I don't think they made the best print possible from each negative...

    A matrix where the best print of each negative was attempted would be more valuable.
     
  13. kevs

    kevs Member

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    I just whack mine on my scanner and do a quick 'n' dirty scan. Tres simple... :smile:

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  14. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I don't wish to muddy the waters, but it also depends on how and with what type of enlarger you wish to print said negative.