Negative evaluation

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by FrankB, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    I'm going to be running some tests on Delta 100 in Rodinal over the weekend and I thought it might be an idea to glean some of your thoughts on the best way to evaluate a negative.

    For my sample roll I'm planning on using the method that Les outlined in B&WP Issue 2 - picking a shot (probably a landscape, as I'm utter pants at still-lifes!) and shooting it on meter (almost certainly F80 matrix), +1, +2, -1, -2, until the roll's gone. Then splitting the roll in three and processing it on recommendation, +20% and -20%.

    Can anyone suggest any variations on this method? I don't mind burning through a few rolls if I get the results at the end of it.

    And, most importantly, what do you look for when comparing negs?

    Thanks in advance,

    Frank
     
  2. roy

    roy Member

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    I have nothing to add at this stage Frank but I hope you will let us have a dissertation on exactly what you did on completion of the procedure. I shall look forward to your further postings.
     
  3. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Frank, With Roy that makes at least 2 of us now waiting with baited breath for your results. OK I admit I'm addicted to Rodinal but I hope the neighbours don't spot me measuring it out with a syringe :wink:
     
  4. baronfoxx

    baronfoxx Member

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    frank, I to will be very interested in your results, I use D100 with Dixactol in its various forms and as this is no longer available I am looking for an alternative
     
  5. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Frank, I have been doing a little testing with Rodinal as well-though not as well thought out as your testing sounds. Have been working with FP4+, going from EI of 80 to 64 and Rodinal 1:50 to 1:100 with semi-stand developing.

    One thing I have noticed is the contrast is much better with the semi-stand, first attempt was using roll film, 2nd was with 4x5 sheet film. The other thing I have noted is the sharp negatives..now it could be because of the contrast, or maybe the negatives just feel sharp. One other thing I have noticed, print times have dropped quite a bit, where a negative might have taken 15 to 20 sec and required quite a bit of dodge and burn, with the semi-stand I have print times of 5 to 10 secs and very little dodge and burn. Will not say that is the difference, but could be..or maybe my exposure is better or maybe there is no need for the images that have been made.

    Need to do more detailed work, but would suggest giving the semi-stand development a try. Look forward to your results.
     
  6. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    don't waste a neg on -2 (exposure compensation)... I wouldn't even waste on on -1 :smile:
     
  7. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Thanks very much for the interest and the advice. I will post my results, a description of how the session went and any conclusions I've reached.

    Photomc, could you describe your semi-stand process for 1:100, please? Also what agitation do people generally use. (Once I've determined the exposure I may well do a second roll processed at 1:25, 1:50 and 1:100 with various agitation patterns.)

    Also, what do you look for when comparing negs?

    Thanks in advance,

    Frank
     
  8. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Do one test using regular agitation, ie 5 seconds every 30 seconds, and a second using the same development time but change continuous agitation for the first 30 seconds followed by 15 seconds every 1.5 minutes. The result should be more edge definition from the 2nd method of agitation and an apparent increase in sharpness in the print. The increased edge definition happens where areas of different tonalities meet and this is the reason for the apparent sharpness, in effect you have increased the contrast which has the effect of making the print look sharper. This effect is further enhanced when using an accutance developer like Rodinal. The price you have to pay is an increase in the appearance of grain in the print, although I personally don't think that is a bad thing.

    When comparing negatives look at the detail in the shadow areas and choose the negative that clearly shows detail, my prediction is that it will be the neg given -1 stop exposure from the metered reading, placing the shadow on Zone VI.

    Nige, with respect I think you are passing on bad advice. I regularly use -1 stop development when I have made exposures in very high contrast situations ie higher that 6 stops SBR. I use -2 stops less frequently but it is very useful to know the effect that it has when you need it. In fact I often increase exposure and reduce development even in normal circumstances and I reckon that I get a better negative. The increased exposure ensures that I have detail in the darkest shadow and the reduced development will help control the negative density in the brightest highlight.
     
  9. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Les, I think (and hope!) he was talking about under and over exposure, not development.
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Les McLean said "When comparing negatives look at the detail in the shadow areas and choose the negative that clearly shows detail, my prediction is that it will be the neg given -1 stop exposure from the metered reading, placing the shadow on Zone VI."

    Les, I don't think that your calculations are correct. My indications are that -1 stop exposure from the metered reading would be to place the shadow on Zone IV. The metered reading would be Zone V placement. +1 stop exposure would be Zone VI placement.

    Furthermore I have found that a shadow placement Zone V and higher would seem to shove the highlight detail (in a scene comprised of a normal luminescent range of seven stops) onto the shoulder of the film curve and lead to limited highlight separation at best and blocked highlights at worst depending on the film used, of course.
     
  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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  12. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Nige

    Point taken but that there are times when I under or over expose by 1 stop and less frequently by up to 2 stops. It all depends on the overall contrast of the subject, if I intend to reduce development to hold highlights I over expose to ensure that I will not lose information in the shadows, the amount is dependent on the number of stops of contrast and where I place my shadow.

    Take a subject with 6 stops of contrast where I place the shadow on Zone IV, the highlight falls on Zone X which is paper base white. I increase exposure by 1/2 to 1 stop, that's a decision I make depending on the visualisation of the final print, and reduce development by 2 stops or even more to bring the highlight back to around Zone VIII. I know that from the negative this process will produce I can make the print that I want with a little bit of work in the darkroom.

    In the same situation but with the shadow placed on Zone II because I decide that I'm happy to have a no detail in there the highlight falls on Zone VIII so exposure and development are normal.

    The opposite applies when dealing with low contrast.

    Sorry Nige but I still think you are passing on bad practice.
     
  13. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Frank, have processed one roll of 120 and 6 sheets of 4x5, so this is still a work in process. The roll film was processed with the initial agitation for 30 sec (not the normal 60 sec I use for 1:25). Next my process (may not be the one I end up with) was to agitation for 10 secs every 8 minutes of so, this was not well measured (thus not a good experiment in my mind) processed for 30 minutes at 68 deg. (water bath with ice) - I did monitor the water bath temp and would add a small ice cube or two. Temp did not vary more than a couple of degrees. This was done using a SS tank, so temp was constant in the tank as well. I did measure the temp of the developer after it was removed from the tank and it was at 68 F.

    Because the tap water was at about 75 F, the stop (did use acid stop bath) and fixer (ilford rapid fix) were chilled to 68 F also, then a tank full of water was chilled and the film soaked in it while the tap water was added slowly.

    Process for the sheet film was a little different since the processing was done in trays. Development was for 20 min. at room temp (75 F), the sheet film was placed in the tray one at a time (11x14 tray) so all 6 sheets were processed at the same time (used 1.2 L of developer). Next I literally took each sheet and held it in place while rocking the tray for 30 sec, then repeated the process 2 more time at 8 min. and 16 min. (NOTE: there was NO reason why I chose these times, they are really just random), then into the stop (acid bath again) and fix.

    Wash aid was used, then a was for 20 min.

    The comments by Les about what to expect are just what I saw, the contrast did increase (or appears that way to me) and the sharpness was surprising to me. I plan to do some additional testing and wish I had a camera that had a removable back so that the same image/exposure could be done on separate rolls (light would be closer to the same)...if this weekend is clear I may shoot two rolls and process one like always at 1:50 with normal agitation and one semi-stand as described above for roll film. Will post my findings then.

    Look forward to hearing what your results are.

    Thanks (Also Thanks to Les and Donald for providing a more concise description of what to look for)

    Mike Castles
     
  14. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Les, you're examples are very specific and dependant on the scene. I agree with everything you say BTW, I just don't think it's what Frank is trying to do. Since Frank is shooting 35mm on a general scene, I can't see the point shooting lots of -2 (and probably -1 underexposure) frames with Rodinal. XTOL maybe. I think those frames would be better used on another +3 thro 0 sequence on another scene. I used to do -3 thru + 3 sequences cause that's what the book I was following said, but I've never used the - exposures so believe them to be a waste of time in this circumstance. It will show what happens to the film when you underexpose significantly but hopefully by doing this test Frank is endevouring to expose the film to get that shadow detail we all seem to love. If he's not, I'll shut up now.

    That's my theory... so at this stage, we'll have to agree to disagree. :smile:

    regards, Nige
     
  15. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    My only comment is that the proper word is "bated", a slight contraction of "abated" or held back. So we are holding our collective breath until we see results.
     
  16. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Okay, here's the plan for the weekend:

    I'll either set up a still life or (if I can't stand the embarrassment of displaying my cack-handedness in this area!) pop over to a convenient landscape-shoot spot (there's a black and white painted bridge not far south of me that might do) and pray for consistent light. I'm going to use the F80's evaluative matrix meter 'cos it does a better and more consistent job than I do with a spotmeter and it's also what I'll be using in real life.

    I'll shoot two rolls using the exposure pattern that was originally proposed; 1 at metered exposure, then +1, +2, -1 and -2. (I take on board your comments Nige (and thank you!) but I think for the purposes of this experiment I'll stick with the original concept. Maybe in the future I'll run another trial...)

    The first roll I'll split in four, processing in one strip in Rodinal 1:100 using the semi-stand method proposed by Mike (or possibly a variation on it), one in Rodinal 1:25, one in Rodinal 1:50 with Les's first agitation pattern and the last in Rodinal 1:50 with Les's second agitation pattern.

    The second roll I'll split in four and process one strip in DD-X 1:4. The other three strips I'll process in whichever Rodinal combination I like best from the preceding roll at recommendation, +20% and -20%.

    Questions:

    1) Am I pushing it too tightly splitting each roll in four?
    2) Can anyone think of anything I've forgotten?!

    Thanks to everyone for your interest and contributions. I will, of course, post the results as soon as I have them.

    I just hope that after all this it isn't a let down!

    Best regards,

    Frank
     
  17. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Question 3 (just thought of it!):

    I've heard somewhere that you should always have at least a minimum amount (10ml per roll?) of Rodinal in the mix. Does this mean that for higher dilutions I should use a bigger tank? (Not a problem if so; I can go up to a 3x)

    Thanks in advance,

    Frank
     
  18. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Do NOT inject...I'm talking of BITTER experience (although feeling quite developed) :cool:
     
  19. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Frank,

    I think you've covered everything although I also think that you are setting yourself a demanding task given the number of different tests you intend to carry out. My one concern is your idea to divide the film into 4, in my article that you base your tests on, thank you for the confidence, I talk about making comparisons between the different developments/exposures and to do this you need all 5 frames of normal, plus and minus exposure on the same strip. You may run into a problen when dividing the film into 4 because you will cut through 3 negatives and you cannot be certain that each cut strip will have the 5 frames required. I hope you understand this rather clumsy attempt to describe the possible problem. I would be inclined to shoot a 3rd roll of film. If you need any help or just want to talk about the assessment give me a call I'll be home on Sunday afternoon and evening but will be in London from Monday till Friday evening. The number is 01890 850259. On the other hand if you fancy a shortish drive pop across to Northumberland and we can assess them together.
    Best of luck.
     
  20. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Frank, do not think you will be let down. Without the extensive work you have planned, my results already show that there are differences. Now, my original plan was to do something quite like you are doing but with Rodinal and Pyrocat-HD. Just have not have the chance to work it all up, even planned to use a gray card, so it would be a bit boring to look at.

    Good luck and Thanks for sharing .

    Mike Castles
     
  21. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Yes, and I hate processing film too! :rolleyes:


    That was just me being cheap! :smile: Given the amount of labour involved (which could be trashed with one snip of the scissors) and the cost of a roll of Delta 100, I think you're right; I'll play it safe and use three rolls.


    Many thanks for the offer, Les. It's very much appreciated.

    I'll try not to disturb you though, especially as you're travelling the next day.

    I do, however, reserve the right to pop up to Northumberland at some point and buy you several pints of the local milk-of-amnesia for all the help you've given me, both through APUG and in your articles!

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  22. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    The results are in

    Okay, here's the results for the first part of the test. (The plus and minus processing part will be done another time using Rodinal at 1:25 for with a base development time of 9 minutes.) The shots are now in the Tech Gallery and here's the description of events:

    Location - Bridge at Little Leigh on A49 just south of J10 on M56, Northwest England

    Kit - Nikon F80, Nikkor 28-105mm at about 35mm, Manfrotto tripod, cable release

    Shot - Matrix meter, bracketed +1, +2, -1, -2 around a base exposure of 1/90th at f11 (Note - I put the camera in the shade of a building in order to avoid flare. By the end of the first roll the sun had worked round and was about to hit the camera so I moved it slightly and recomposed. Either because of that or because the cloud was boiling off, the base exposure then went up half a stop to 125th at f11)

    Health and Safety - A quick note for all Rodinal virgins like myself: This stuff isn't like DD-X or Ilfosol S where you can paddle around in it to your heart's content. I got a small splash of the concentrate on me and got instant contact dermatitis where it hit. :sad: Treat it with respect, wear your gloves and deal with any spills / splashes immediately.

    Processing (all at 20C using filtered water and very fresh dev):

    ISO 100 - Ilford Ilfotec DD-X 1:4, 20C, 12 mins, agitated 10 secs at the top of each minute

    ISO 50 - Agfa Rodinal 1:50, 20C, 8 mins, agitated 1 min then 5 secs every 30 secs

    ISO 100 - Agfa Rodinal 1:25, 20C, 9 mins, agitated 1 min then 5 secs every 30 secs

    ISO 100 - Agfa Rodinal 1:50, 20C, 14 mins, agitated 1 min then 5 secs every 30 secs

    ISO 100 - Agfa Rodinal 1:50, 20C, 14 mins, agitated 30 secs then 15 secs every 1.5 mins

    ISO 100 - Agfa Rodinal 1:100, 20C, 30 mins, agitated 30 secs then 10 secs every 8 mins (Note: I measured the temp of the dev when I poured it out and it had crept up to 22C)

    Scanning - All were scanned from the "metered value" negs at the scanner's default settings. Other than desaturation, no manipulation was performed. I deliberately didn't adjust the levels so you can see (as well as I can show) the differences between the negs.

    Evaluation - The DD-X neg is darker than the others and shows more shadow detail. The ISO 50 neg is a bit undernourished, could probably have used a bit more time. I wouldn't have a problem printing from any of these. So far, the Rodinal 1:25 neg looks best to me, but I won't be able to really tell until I get in the darkroom.

    I look forward to your thoughts.
     
  23. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Frank,

    First thanks for all the hard work, I know this was a little time consuming. I may have missed it in you post above, but film was ??? Delta 100? One difference between our test is, I was using Rodinal 1:100 semi-stand, on roll film. Must admit I have not used DD-X.

    For 35mm, I have had very good luck with Rodinal at 1:25 - would be my first choice for 35mm film. For roll film I think 1:100 (however based on another thread about negatives with a lot of sky, this could chang). Sheet film, have not developed enough to make any comments.

    Again thanks for sharing, results are interesting, be curious to see how much difference there is in print times, I know mine have changed.
     
  24. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Hi Mike,

    Sorry, yes it was Delta 100 in 35mm. From the look of the test negs I think I'll be going with Rodinal 1:25 for 9 mins at Agfa's recommended agitation.

    I'll let you know about the processing times, but you can see from the scans posted (all made using the same settings) that the DD-X image is paler than the others. Based on that, I think my print times will be a fair bit shorter.