More contrasty Tri-x, Rodinal with mid tone "pop"?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Rikard_L, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Rikard_L

    Rikard_L Member

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    Hi all,

    I've been reading a lot of excellent threads in this forum, but this is the first time I post. My companions are a Nikon Fm2 with a VC Ultron 40mm 2.0 lens, and sometimes a Holga (when I feel like escaping perfection).

    I still consider myself quite a beginner when it come to film, and following some advice on this forum I decided to start focusing on one film and one developer, and since I don't mind grain I did chose Tri-X and Rodinal (R09 One shot)
    I've been getting some ok results by using a semi-stand method (1:100, 1 hour, slow agitation for 1st minute, one invert and twist at 30min), but the contrast is lacking.
    So, I'm looking for some guidance in finding a method for maintaining the "pop" (I guess some call it micro-contrast?), and still get a high contrast negative with darker (almost black) shadows and more pronounced whites.

    If I understand things somewhat correctly:
    Overexpose and under develop seems to be a solution for getting darker shadows, and not necessarily blowing the highlights? But then I suppose the "pop" I get in the mid-tones from the high diluted semi/stand would suffer?

    I suppose I could shoot at box speed and start experimenting with the directions given by the massive dev chart. But I fear that they are optimized for a more balanced look than the one I'm looking for (with the higher contrast and mid tone "pop"), and I really would like it if I could start with a recipe closer to my end goal and start experimenting from there.

    Any advice is more than welcome :smile:

    Have an excellent day/night
    /Rikard
     
  2. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

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    You DID say any advice is more than welcome. I'm going to get another chewing out for saying too much, but if you chose 35mm Tri-X and Rodinal as your staple, you couldn't have picked a grainier combo. Not a lot you can do but go with the standard dilution and learn to love grain. With that, you'll get the contrast, if you're willing to pay the price. But then if you plan to do photography only a couple time a year or decade, the Rodinal will be there without having to buy more of the other developers every year or 2 when they go rancid.
     
  3. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Forget about semi-stand and just develop as normal at about 1:50. See what this looks like and then adjust development time/temperature to get the contrast you want.
     
  4. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    Do you have any examples of what you have and where you would like to be? Surely somebody has hit upon the "look" you are seeking.

    Part of me wants to say use a slower/less inherently grainy film (more inherent contrast, probably more "mid tone pop/micro-contrast") and/or increase agitation to increase contrast.
     
  5. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I'm guessing (from the stand development) that you have shadow detail; your lack of contrast is due to insufficient agitation. In other words, you're using the developer in a compensating way, and compensating too much. It causes flat images.

    Compensating (stand) development gives you more shadow detail without blowing highlights but it is an approach fundamentally in opposition to also obtaining sparkly midtones and highlights. Your highlights will be easily printable, but they will have lower contrast. They will not have "pop". Or if you do traditional agitation with Rodinal, you're likely to get good midtone+highlight contrast, but you will not get as much speed.

    Picking one of each is a good thing, though it's a grainy combination it's a good one. I would suggest ditching stand development and doing normal development with about 5s of agitation every minute, Rodinal 1+50. You will get less film speed (200 or 320 probably) that way, but the images will definitely pop.
     
  6. momus

    momus Member

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    Tri-X shot a 320 or box speed, develop in D76 full strength for 7 minutes at 70 degrees. Works for me. Your water/agitation/thermometer are all probably a little different than mine, but this will get you in the ball park.
     
  7. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Member

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    This is the simple version. ^


    This is the explanation. ^

    Stand is doing the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. Develop at 1:50 for the recommended times, if the negatives are too contrasty develop for less time. If they are not contrasty enough develop for a longer time.

    Best of luck.
     
  8. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Rodinal is easy the higher the dilution the higher the compensation effect. 1:25 little compensation lots of pop, 1:50 a little more compensation a bit less contrast than 1:25, 1:100 lots of compensation little pop. Agfa usually advises the 1:50 dilution. On Overcast days I would prefer the 1:25 dilution as it adds some significant snap to the picture for general use 1:50.
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    How are these being printed?
     
  10. Rikard_L

    Rikard_L Member

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    Wow. Thanks for all the helpful suggestions and information. I tried to post yesterday, but when I pressed submit I got a message that the post needed to be checked by an administrator. But, since the post still doesn’t show up in the thread I’ll post anew.


    Trying to summarize what I think I learned and understand so far:

    1. The higher the dilution the lower the overall contrast (all other things equal of course)
    -- 1:25 or 1:50 will give me a higher global contrast than the one I get from stand dev at 1:100.

    2. I don’t mind grain, but I don’t want the grain to dominate too much.

    -- The higher the agitation frequency the more grain.
    -- 1:25 will yield sharper grain than 1:50.


    3. Resting time between agitation will mostly affect the shadows.
    -- An interval of 2 minutes will push the shadows more than one of 1 minute.


    Since I’m looking to have more global contrast, but still keep the look of the edge transitions I get from stand development, I need to find some sort of compromise. I’ve been looking over at filmdev for some examples. And, I think I found one which seem to offer similar characteristics.


    20C, 1:60, 17min
    Through first minute constant agitation, then every 3rd minute for 5-6 seconds


    And, If things don’t look the way I like I’ll adjust the method.
    If the highlights don’t get developed enough, I will add one more agitation action.

    If the shadows aren’t black enough I’ll shorten the development time with 1 minute.

    Feel free to school me if you see fit :smile:

    /Rikard
     
  11. MDR

    MDR Member

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    A small correction the higher the agitation the higher the contrast not the sharpness. Constant agitation lowers sharpness.
     
  12. Rikard_L

    Rikard_L Member

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    Thanks for the correction. So, sharpness is mostly depending on the dilution, where for example 1:25 would give a sharper result than 1:50?
     
  13. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Not really, though that would be true if you did not adjust your development time. When you dilute the Rodinal more, you need to develop longer but (assume you use appropriate times), you will get the same overall contrast for differing dilutions.

    The main purpose of changing dilution is to obtain (or not) compensation and adjacency effects, which both depend on local exhaustion of the developer. Read this.

    Not really. The appearance of grain is mostly related to how much total development (contrast) you do. Whether you develop at 1+25 or 1+50, as long as you develop to the same contrast, you will get the same grain. Rodinal is not very flexible with respect to grain, unlike solvent developers like D76 that have a softening effect when more concentrated.

    Rodinal ALWAYS gives you sharp grain.

    Pretty much. A better way to think of low-agitation approaches though is this:
    - shadow speed relates mostly to total time spent in the developer, because shadows don't exhaust the developer much so agitation doesn't have much effect
    - highlight density (therefore contrast) is related to the total amount of agitation performed during development

    In the extreme, you can do continuous agitation for example. Development times are pretty short (remember, total agitation matters) otherwise your contrast goes too high and you get a fair bit of speed loss (about a stop) because the total development time is short. Traditional agitation (first minute continuous, then a couple inversions once a minute) will give you a bit more speed but the photos won't look *that* different. Semi-stand can give you a lot of speed, but you run the risk of photos looking quite dead and flat, especially in the highlights, for example.

    Personally when I want film speed, I don't use Rodinal; the fact that you need to do stand development (and what that does to the highlights) to get a speed increase out of it puts me off. Instead, I use faster films and speed-increasing developers (TMY2 and Xtol). I use Rodinal when the quantity of light is no issue, so I can use slow fine films that don't show much/any grain, and I use continuous development to get maximum highlight contrast.

    Stand development can give you adjacency effects but they aren't very visible on medium- and large-format images, so I don't care so much. It matters much more in 35mm but there are easier ways of getting more sharpness (change films!).
     
  14. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    The first thing to keep in mind is that the grain size and edge effect differences you may see are visually entangled with contrast rate. What I'm saying is that the basic characteristics of the film developer combo controls the grand majority of the look. Changes in dilution and agitation are useful for fine tuning. The effects you can see with a microscope may or may not matter in the print.

    The second thing is that there are always competing priorities. Higher contrast can make a print look sharper. Nice sharp visible print grain can make a print look sharper too, because it gives the viewer's eye something to latch onto. Every characteristic contributes to the print, when you change one you change the rest.

    The third thing is that a negative is normally just a storage medium. Placement of any point, on any negative, can be printed black or mid tone or highlight, period, but relationship between that point and the rest of the subject matter in the negative may or may not be what you want.

    The camera can only give you one exposure setting at a time but your main subject may need one setting and your background another to get the "subject placement" you want in the print.

    Changing placement, like getting shadows darker in the print in relation to the main subject can be done in a variety of ways; less camera exposure, adding artificial light on the main subject in the scene, burn and dodge when printing... Adjusting film development can change the global placement relationships, by say bringing all the whites and all the blacks closer to the mid tones too but that has its limits, it doesn't change the basic relationships between subjects.

    Here's a resource that may help with understanding the global changes http://www.apug.org/forums/forum216/69617-shaping-tone-curve-rodinal-negative.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2013