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  1. #1

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    First steps in developing ... request for feedback

    I'm returning to using film after a long hiatus (I largely - boo! hiss! - use digital), mostly because the tonality of B&W film pleases me more than digital B&W.

    Although I have been taking pictures for 40+ years, I have managed never to learn the craft of developing (or printing); but dissatisfaction with the scratchy spotty C41 (XP2S & BW400CN) I've been getting back from the minilab has led me to "proper" silver film and home development. Circumstances dictate that printing will have to wait a few months.

    In order to get a feel for handling film and what I'm doing with a tank, plus the fact that at the moment I have quite a low throughput of film (perhaps a couple of 36s a month), I've opted to try out Caffenol to begin with, though I suspect a bottle of Rodinal does lie in my future. I am going to stick with one-shot liquids, for financial and practical reasons.

    While this first roll happened to be FP4+, I have a supply of Foma 100 for regular use, at least to begin with.

    While I realise posting scans of negatives for comment is fraught with difficulties (because different scanning "workflows" produce different outputs), I'm nevertheless going to do so and ask for feedback from more experienced hands. Any links to images I post here will be "flat" scans - made with a Plustek 7600i, SF8 & no "tweaks" to noise, sharpness or tone curve either in scanning or digital post-processing.

    Yesterday evening, I ran my first roll of film through the tank, and while I'm reasonably satisfied with the results, I do want to be able to eventually wet-print from negatives rather than just scan, and thus I want to start to get a feel for what to look for in my negatives, particularly of course signs of over- or under-development as well as over- and under-exposure.

    My first run was with Ilford FP4+ (expired Sept2011), Caffenol-C-M 20 mins @ 20C, plain water stop, Ilford Rapid fix 5 mins, Ilford wash regime, final rinse in deionised water+Ilfotol.
    Shot with Bessa R2A in aperture priority, this image with a CV 28/1.9 Ultron.

    As a digiteer I find the overexposed sunshine top left area looks a bit odd and I wondered whether that was because I'm just not used to seeing how film (rather than digital) looks when it "blows out", or whether we're looking at a development issue.

    So ... here's a link, and this beginner will welcome any constructive feedback ...



    pos by _loupe, on Flickr

  2. #2

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    I would strongly suggest that you begin with a commercial developer. Homebrew developers are all right for people who have some experience with the developing process. But when first starting out you need to limit the number of variabes. Once you are getting consistantly good negatives and wet prints then you can try other things.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 07-20-2012 at 05:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  3. #3
    Rom
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    Hi,

    Very good first test. I think you reach a giid starting point.

    The thing is you shot a "difficult" scene for a starting point. Perhaps it could be good to try some rolls first on subjects with a good lightning or better let us say with an easiest landscape. In order to have some reference shots.

    I think it s the best way to stick with not too many different films and with only one dev. Myself, i decide to stay with diafine and d76, tri-x 135 and f+ in landscape (diafine is easy...)

    For your digi workflow, that s true, scan from negs are not wet print but they required (IMO) a "screen dev". It s like if you put all your attention on your negs and then, you enlarge all of them ith a grade 2, same time, no masking etc...most of them will look flat.. For your scans (from negs or positives), hou can also just fix some variables: colors, levels, contrasts & exposure. This is just enough to have a good "screen representation".

    The best is if then you make a wet print. Just calibrate your monitor, put your print next to hour computer, and try to go as close as possible to the print.

    Anyway, nice starting point. Keep it in a safety place and in few months, go on the same place for the same moment and make a shoot. Just then Compare them.

    Sorty for all the mistakes in my words. I am typing from an ipod... Will correct it for sure asap
    All the best,
    Rom
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  4. #4
    Rick A's Avatar
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    Developing film goes hand in hand with shooting style and finished print look. Tweaking your development to match shooting style to obtain desired print. Go ahead and practice getting the process down now, then really learn to tweak once you start printing.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdeeh View Post

    As a digiteer I find the overexposed sunshine top left area looks a bit odd and I wondered whether that was because I'm just not used to seeing how film (rather than digital) looks when it "blows out", or whether we're looking at a development issue.
    Hard to see anything out of step on the upper left from the Thumbnail picture. The "unearthly glow" on the right is a bit of halation. (light bouncing around as it is too bright)

    I would agree with the advice to use a "plain" developer to get the "feel" of the process. D76 AKA ID-11 is a bit of a standard, so many folks will have experiences to share with you. Kodak HC-110 or (Brand of teh day) Rodinal are also popular and easy to use as they both are a long lived concentrate that is diluted to use, {Rodinal is sometimes hard to identify in the store as the trademark has been locked out of play so the product is sold as different products names in different places, and is further confused as there are two slightly different formulas, a split dating to the separation of Germany into east and west. The consensus is that there is only a small practical difference between teh two versions))

    One problem with Scans is that the computer will generally try to "fix" Brightness and contract for you so it is really hard to know if the negative is good or bad. Even unprintable Negatives can look good on the screen with "autoexposure" and "Gamma Correct" and such engaged in the scanning. I know I find it almost easier to spend the effort on a print, and then scan that to share.
    Charles MacDonald
    aa508@ncf.ca
    I still live just beyond the fringe in Stittsville

  6. #6
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    You don't have any real black in the image, not even at the clear borders. That means your exposure time during printining was too short.
    With my test strips I always determine the minmal time for maximal black. Correctly exposed negatives require a exposure time quite in the near of that. Overexposed negatives need longer times of course. Times much shorter are of less value.
    The balance between black and white should be brougt out with the contrast of the paper.
    ---
    Uwe Pilz

  7. #7
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    Your black point is wrong; you can tell because the film edges (which received no exposure) are not black. That is a scan process problem and because of it, we cannot tell you if your negative is good or not.

    While scanning is offtopic for APUG, I should point out that there is no such thing as a "flat, no tweaks" scan. Film holds about twice as much dynamic range as paper or a JPEG therefore you have no choice but to select part of that dynamic range when creating a print (under the enlarger) or an image with a scanner. You must make interpretations. If you just take the whole dynamic range of the neg, you will get a flat grey result like you've posted; yours is unnecessarily flatter still because you haven't used more than 3/4 of the dynamic range of the jpeg.

    And seconding the "use a commercial developer for now". It gets rid of so many unknowns.

  8. #8
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    After much consideration and the advice to stick to one developer at first I chose Ilford LC29 because it is supposed to have excellent keeping properties in concentrate. Its a high concentrate mixed 1:19 or 1:29. And its Ilford with excellent documentation. No complaints here on HP5 FP4 and N1600.

  9. #9

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    hmm this rather confirms what I was afraid of ... posting scans provides little useful information about the quality or otherwise of a negative.

    they need to be physically in front of someone who knows what they're looking (like yourselves, I mean!) at for any concrete feedback.

    thanks to all that responded
    Last edited by pdeeh; 07-22-2012 at 05:36 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: remove possible ambiguity

  10. #10
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    In my experience, the best way to start B&W is to both develop your own negs and print. A scanner is an incredibly flexible machine, that can get a decent tonal range out of a neg that is so thin I can barely see anything on it with my own eyes and it is (also) for this reason best avoided. Putting together a simple darkroom and printing small on RC is cheap, I'd at least try to make contact sheets and examine them with a loupe.

    One commercial film developer (I'd recommend you Ilford Ilfotec LC29, that is based on HC/HC110, but is prediluted, you'll have plenty of time to discover the nuances between different developers later on), one film, one paper developer, one paper. I'd also encourage you to find an incident meter, they aid in consistency, too.

    Don't get distracted by the huge number of opinions on forums (especially film and developer recommendations), a few good articles for now are more than enough. On proper foundations it will be easy to bild anything you wish to later on.

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