Okay, I'm reading "Post Exposure" by Ctien! Available free for the moment BTW.
Page 41 discusses two curves and how they affect the print.
I'm actually a big fan of long straight line curves because it makes shooting really easy and provides great separation.
Much exposure advice seems to push us toward the middle of our characteristic curves to improve separation in higher and lower tones.
Ctien got me thinking about how I might use placement and the film's shoulder to avoid burning and or the toe conversely to avoid dodging or even both with minus development or some such thing to shorten the straight line.
I have some shots that I remember where I think this "just happened" in a high contrast scene, where it just fell onto the paper with reasonable details in the clouds.
Open to any thoughts you might have on this.
Wow, nothing, not even a quip saying that's what the Zone System does.
I guess I haven't gotten my idea across or nobody is reading the book.
Basically the idea is that an "S" shaped curve properly matched to the paper will put more zones on the paper than a strait line curve of similar density and straight line steepness might, albeit with some compression.
Ctien goes on to say that his preference is for long straight line curves because of his subjects, good separation of tones at the ends seems important to him.
That though is his subject/style choice, may or may not be what you or I want.
For short scale primary subjects, maybe a portrait or a flower, in a long scale setting, we may want to purposefully sacrifice some of the setting's "quality" to keep the viewer's attention on the main subject.
Another example is TXP's curve. Zone for zone, the long toe on TXP should print more zones below middle than than TMY. Sure the separation falls off too but that may actually be what we want on paper.
I guess it's a matter of taste. I prefer the long straight curve too because it lets me burn in the highlights and end up with higher highlight contrast than with a film with s-shaped curve. But you have to do this and this means more work in the darkroom. The shoulder can be replicated (sort of) by preflashing the paper.
The s-shape is more convenient because shadows and lights need less (or even no) additional work. But the contrast in the highlights is lost.
I think the main question is how important is shadow and highlight contrast for this particular photo.
That was my first thought. :)
Originally Posted by markbarendt
I do agree that it is a question of what's important and that the zone system fit in this thought.
The zone system though doesn't normally shoot to put highlights on a negative's shoulder. It normally places the shadow point on the film and then development is used to define where the highlights will land on the paper, the film shoulder may be a long way out and above what will fall on the paper.