May I suggest the following sign to be put on the wall of all darkrooms.
Choice of 2
Seriously this thread illustrates what I find is a general perverseness on APUG. That is, people are constantly trying to make materials do what they were not designed to do. Quite frankly it is becoming rather tedious. :(
I think the OP proved your "choice of two" point.
As to bending the materials to our will, IDK, on one hand fine tuning our processes is a good thing in a general sense, on the other hand the bending of a specific film/developer combo is a fight over peanuts.
My very simple theory is:
When the image is recorded on film, one has to do everything possible to give birth to this image by developing it correctly by means of a proven and proper technique. The darkroom work is very technical. There is no place for improvisation or voodooism in there. Once the image is recorded the darkroom technician (the photographer himself or anyone else) has to go by strict guidelines in order to get the most. And yes, "the most" involves printing. Scanning strips at least 50% of any given film's information and its inherent conctrast curve and native properties.
If one is scaning and not printing in the darkroom, the choice of film and developer is absolutely unimportant. You can then stand develop for a whole week with ilfosol in a fridge (yeah, it's been recommended by someone on apug some time ago) and it would be ok (ugh!)!
NB23 I do agree that voodooism and myths should be given no quarter. Proven processes are very important for anyone that has specific expectations of a given shot as a given print.
Many people don't think that far ahead though, many others are just gathering raw materials with the negatives, they aren't wrong in their methods.
I don't view darkroom work as needing to follow lots of rules (except the rules of physics), improvisation with a goal and some experience can be very worthwhile anywhere in the process.
What if Fox Talbot or Niepce didn't improvise & experiment?? Or Barry Thornton??
Yes, exactly: what if?
Originally Posted by TheToadMen
You are one of them? Better, even?
Look, my point is very simple: the darkroom is a technical place. I'm not sure why you want to contradict this so much.
Technical places are meant to be thought different about....I commend the OP thinking different, so what if it might be a dead end, what if another idea spawns because of it....that's the problem....don't squash learning.....
Just ask the widow of the late Steve Jobs (Apple), or Bill Gates (Windows), Ken Thompson et al. (Unix), Linus Torvalds (Linux), Ted Codd (SQL).....
How's this, start a thread about how consistent your film, camera, lens, agitation, dev, print, tone are.....write about it here day in and day out - how pleased you are about how consistent and understandable your results are......see how exiting that thread will be...
Sometimes these kinds of threads spawn others, as well as the OP to think different or understand the nature of the life cycle....
No one's saying that there shouldn't be imagination and attempts at new procedures, merely that the outcomes of said innovations must be quantitatively analysed. Props to the OP for actually doing a somewhat controlled test.
NB23 the darkroom can be a factory but it can also be an artistic place, it is not a purely technical space where we leave emotion and intuition at the door.
Agree with this. We all make choices so that our prints can be presented a certain way at the end of the day. To me it's an incredibly rewarding journey when I'm rewarded with a print that looks exactly like I had intended. All of the technical exercise is hopefully employed to bring forward some content of emotion and mood, where the craft serves the art, weaving the two together.
Originally Posted by markbarendt
For example, I've shot Kodak Tri-X for a good bit of time now after a stint with TMax 400. When I shoot portraits I like to have a certain amount of detail, but I also love the prints to show some grain. In close-up scenarios, Tri-X looks fantastic, because the grain of the film doesn't obscure any of the facial details I like to show, and it adds some really great texture. Shooting close-ups with TMax 400 is equally rewarding, in spite of its much finer grain, and in the end there is not that much difference. With either film, details are clearly resolved.
But if I shoot a landscape scene, where there more areas of even tonality, the Tri-X grain becomes a lot more prominent, and finer details in the scene may or may not be obscured by the grain, but at a certain point, there isn't enough resolution to show those details clearly, and I think it's here that people in general object to grain the most. If I use TMax 400 for the same scene, I get finer grain and a sharper print than with FP4+, with smooth shifts in tonality and a grain that is less obstructive.
If you're like me, you won't care about this grain being there - I've shot plenty of landscape pictures with 35mm Tri-X, and I do not think less of them just because they are grainy. In fact, I almost prefer it. But in the end, the biggest point I'm making here is that I do see a clear difference, but I also do not care much. It's so far down the list of what makes a good photograph (in my mind) that it barely registers.
HP5+ and Rodinal is, in my humble opinion, a very beautiful combination of tools, which can be used successfully to photograph anything. It's just a matter of taste, subject matter, and what you intend to produce in your prints that determines whether it works out or not. Keep an open mind, see what you can do with contrast, diffusion and tonality adjustments at printing time, and make the most of what you have. Fine grain with HP5+ in Rodinal isn't going to be easy, if even possible, especially from 35mm. But hopefully with your experimentation you will find something that you really love about that combination, move on to use it, and continue to practice to make beautiful, meaningful, and interesting photographs.