Thanks for the kind words everyone, as I reread the post to make sure it all made sense, I couldn't help but notice, no where did I use the word / term "sharpness or acutance"
Because it doesn't pertain to my interest and use of the technique, truth told I believe those two terms would be a function of Resolving power of both the lens and the film.
Bob, looking forward to 2014 in Toronto, you take me on the greatest Taxi rides!
No but you did mention manipulating micro-contrast :D
Originally Posted by Steve Sherman
This was Geoffrey Crawley's offering on the terminology back in 1960/61 in his series of articles on Developers in the British Journal of Photography:
" Sharpness " -the overall impression of a print or projected image, measured scientifically as "acutance ", seen from normal viewing distance.
" Definition " -the extent to which fine detail is recognisably rendered in a print, etc. When acutance of fine detail is good, then definition is good.
" Acutance " -the contrast at the edge of significant detail, a scientific measurement of the density gradient at that point.
" Resolving Power " -the scientific measurement of the actual fineness of detail recordable by a lens, film, or developer, or any combination of these three.
Missing from that list is tonality as it's quite different, but essentially controlling development to get the best possible negatives with the tonal range you require to print from helps to improve or prevent the loss of fine detail which is controlled by localised micro-contrast, and in theory that fine detail can be described in the above terms.
However I fully understand that your own technique is about controlling the tonal range rather than improving sharpness & acutance, that comes as a naturarl consequence.
Wow, what a great read. Thanks Steve, Ian, and those who have contributed!
As a side note, I've been using Acros 100 and Neopan 400 for about 7-8 years exclusively with Pyrocat, but whence I switched to 4x5 recently I decided to give FP4 and HP5 a try. The tonality of my prints jump off the page...what a difference! This is with semi-stand development of the two, at box speed, for 13 min.
Might have to give this method a try. Thanks again!
We are bringing Steve Sherman back to Toronto again next year. May 1st weekend... He sold out fast last year and the workers all appreciated Steve's common sense teaching style and his genuine concern for each students needs is humbling for me, he is very patient with each student. Already we have a printmaking worker from Seattle Washington planning to come..
The Contact Photo Festival is opened the weekend we bring Steve in. This year we also are bringing Paul Paletti at the same time as Steve to talk about collecting photography. If you have ever the chance to go to his gallery in Louisville, well be prepared to be amazed and pleased. He has a fantastic collection.
Thanks Ian for sharing Crawley's terminology from some years ago, as I know the negative and image which I posted with this response I believe 3 of the 4 terms contained in Crawley's observations are present. What struck me most when I first saw this negative was the taller buildings far off in the background, the detail and Micro Contrast around the small windows and also the Verizon logo was something which I had never seen from a conventionally processed negative.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
"Resolving Power" from Crawley's terminology, from my logic is not so much about the Process of Development as it is a product of a Pyro base developer, the tanning effects and hardening of the gelatin very early in the development progression. These are all characteristics of a Pyro based developer and regardless of Dilution or Agitation will always produce negatives of higher acutance. As I stated in an earlier post, it is the combination of several small gains or traits when joined together yield a significant result in the Process. Hence the off hand comment of Magic Bullet, there are so many factors at work here all impacting the only real interest I have, to control and manipulate Micro Contrast.
The image is a raw scan from 2005 when I first gave a workshop on this process down in the Washington DC area.
Please see this link for a lengthy discussion on the image and the process.
Semi-stand is great for enlargements, too. It's the only way I develop roll film now. The attached image is from a 6x6 cm 400 TMax negative developed semi-stand in Harvey's 777. There's no visible stain with this developer, but I believe there's significant UV stain. In any case, semi-stand gives me printable negatives on the same roll even with markedly different lighting conditions between the frames. The process is very forgiving as long as you don't overdevelop.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
And I get those same benefits with DD-X and normal development. And we are both right. And Steve and Ian are right too.
Originally Posted by c6h6o3
My point is that our personal best practices (aka our own personal magic bullets) won't necessarily translate into good and reliable results for others.
Our expectations for our work always differs, and there is more than one way to skin a cat.
With respect Mark
Pyro is considered by many to have had its day, but in respect of modern sensitive materials it is suggested that its wonderful versatility is awaiting rediscovery. Let us hope that the younger generation will not be content with anything that falls short of that standard of perfection “pyro quality.” (quote from 1941)
Steve, I see the "Resolving Power" as the result of the combination of the film, developer and technique. In this respect I'd put Xtol and Rodinal on a par with Pyrocat out of the developers I've used, yes there are developers and techniques which might give more apparent sharpness usually with increased grain which reduces "definition" of fine detail, or compromises the tonal range.
Originally Posted by Steve Sherman
There's unique characteristics of Pyro developers that are harder to define but it's the good acutance and micro contrast along with the ability to hold a good shadow detail and delicate highlights. As you say “it is the combination of several small gains or traits when joined together yield a significant result in the Process.” I've said many times that Pyrocat HD is like Rodinal on Steroids it's a remarkably good developer.
This is what's known as “pyro quality.”
This quality is by no means imaginary, and may be attributed partly to the faint warmth of even a non-staining pyro image, and largely to the fact that pyro reduces with perfect proportionality,that is to say, it produces a characteristic curve which is straighter, and less liable to distortion than any other reducer,in spite of varying conditions of use. (quote from 1941)
With respect Ian, is that quote supposed to be some kind of objective proof?
I have no magic bullets. I use minimal agitation development with large format negatives when it's appropriate to the image. When it's not I use traditional tray development. I use it for roll film out of convenience. And no matter which method I use I might use a staining developer or a non-staining one, again depending on the image. Different strokes for different pictures.
Originally Posted by markbarendt