Printing night time shots - how's it done?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by IloveTLRs, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Hello

    I've been printing for a couple of months now, but I'm still having trouble with night time shots. I like to shoot at night, by street light, and would like to print some photos but they're just not coming out. The darks are fine, but I'm loosing the lights.

    My enlarger is setup at f8. I've been doing test strips, but they're not coming out either :pouty:

    Can someone tell me what the secret is? Longer exposure, shorter exposure? Different f-stop on the enlarger lens?

    I use Fujiblo paper and either Dektol or Korektol-E.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It's likely your negatives are too thin, probably under exposed. Ideally you need to post some images, try stopping down a bit more to f11 or ven f16 and see what happens, increase the paper grade if necessary.

    Ian
     
  3. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Graded or variable contrast paper? What grade? What exposure time? What developer time?
     
  4. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Okay, I'll try stopping down next time and see if that helps.
     
  5. degruyl

    degruyl Member

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    If you are losing highlights, you are probably exposing the paper too much. Also consider increasing the contrast (I'm unfamiliar with the particular paper you are using and whether it is VC or graded).

    If you want the best (in my opinion) methodology for printing consistent images, check out the darkroom automation meters and timers. Armed with the meter and the charts you can print just about any negative that is properly exposed or developed, and many that are not. What you end up with is a workmanlike print, and a good starting point for specific adjustments (much like using auto-exposure). It is based on spot metering, though, so you get to pick the shadows and highlights rather than the midtones, and it works well for high contrast / dark scenes.
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    What exactly do you mean by "losing the highlights"? are they blown out, without detail, or are they gray and mushy? That will help a lot in giving you printing guidance, because the fixes for each problem are quite different.
     
  7. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The problem is likely in your negatives. Night shots with street lights need special care in developing - try using a divided developer like Divided D-23 or Diafine.

    The problem is made much worse if you are pushing the film as this increases contrast. Better to use a tripod and pull the film a stop or two.
     
  8. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    The trouble with night time shots with street lights is that it is easy to get the exposure for the street lights or the dark areas but difficult to get them both at the same time. When am shooting by street lights I try to compose the shot with the head of the light hidden by something like a tree. As that is not always possible then try cutting contrast by lowering iso and reducing development and/or use a developer like D23.


    You may want to look for a copy of Night Photograhy by Andrew Sanderson, this is a great resource and addresses your problems.
     
  9. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    For night time photography, I basically over expose and under develop quite a bit. One issue is reciprocity failure. If you are making long exposures, say over a second or two, and not accounting for this you are likely going to have underexposed negs for that reason. Different films have differing amounts of reciprocity failure. You can get an idea from the data sheet provided by the manufacturer, but testing will be helpful too. Also, as indicated above, contrast is very high when shooting scenes with streetlights and such, so by increasing exposure and reducing development, you can reduce the contrast in the negatives.

    Good luck.
     
  10. MichaelR

    MichaelR Member

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    If you mean by "blowing out the highlights" that any bright area becomes completely blank, you might want to try split printing. Print the paper with an appropriate contrast (for night shots, I use VC paper at grade 3 or 3.5 to fully bring out the contrast between bright and dark....which is what makes night shots so appealing). Then I have cut out a mask which allows me to burn in the bright areas, often using a very low contrast such as 0.0 or 0.5 until they are as you want them.

    Also, I have been using Ilford Delta 100 (120), following the reciprocity failure graph on the Ilford site to set the exposure times, and then pulling off about 1 min of development time in X-tol 1:1 based on temperature to avoid making the highlight part of the negative impenetrable [​IMG]

    I hope this is of some help.
     
  11. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I mean gray and mushy. Attached is two test strips I did a little while ago. I guess I shouldn't, but I'm comparing these to negative scans, which came out a lot better.

    The funny blotches I'm guessing are from irregular development and/or contamination, but the image in general is lacking in contrast. The upper test strip has good highlight detail but grayish blacks. The lower test strip has good (better) blacks, but the highlights don't seem to pop as much.

    It seems to be a fine balance when printing these shots. But then again, I'm still a beginner.
     

    Attached Files:

  12. chimneyfinder

    chimneyfinder Member

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    By "highlights" are you meaning the latice work, because they cannot be judged highlight, more of a dark mid tone in which case you will find it almost impossible to get the seperation I think you might be after from the black background. The only other true highlights are the specular ones which will have very little, if any, tone. I think you could be after something unattainable in this neg. and need to experiment with producing a wider contrast range (which is difficult for night time) using the suggested development techniques.
     
  13. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    No, I mean the pinpoint lights in the background. I don't want them brilliantly white, but a little more "punch" overall would be nice. I think I'm comparing my prints to negative scans, which is perhaps unfair?
     
  14. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    If you don't want the pinpoint lights brilliantly white, consider flashing them locally with a dimmed pen light (I use partially flashed film leaders as small ND filters for this purpose) , with the neg still projecting through a red filter guide you where to flash. The points of light will otherwise when printed as grey a bit leave the rest of the print as blah. If the surronding area is almost full black, then a bit more from the flashlight overspill won't make much difference.

    The other possibility is to make an (usally unsharp works best for me) contrast reduction mask to cut the contrast range of the too high contrast neg, when the original neg and reduction mask are projected in registration. Hoer the use of an USM and sprilt filter burning may still be required.
     
  15. mfratt

    mfratt Member

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    I second this. Meter off a dark area where you want detail, and expose that to at least two stops below your meter reading. If theres a light source or any light much brighter than this shadow area, you will need to underdevelop significantly to try to tame it (I tend to try and avoid light sources at night, as they're almost guaranteed to blow out no matter what you do, but it is very possible to get your highlights reasonable).

    I shoot HP5+ in HC-110. I normally develop at 5.5minutes, but most of my night work is at 2.5-2.75min.

    Look up the reciprocity charts for the film you're using and carry one with you. HP5 is terrible, a 2 minute exposure calls for 7.5 minutes and a 3 minute exposure calls for 17 minutes. Kodak's and Fuji's films aren't quite as bad, but I love HP5 and like to support Ilford, so I deal with it.