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  1. #1
    Pandysloo's Avatar
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    "Fine Art" style of exposure

    I'm completely new to B&W film. I would like to get into the "fine art" style; dramatic contrast: Click image for larger version. 

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    I realize lighting is the biggest factor, but I also am not trying for a technically perfect exposure, meaning I don't want as much tonal detail as possible because that leads to a flatter image (from what I can tell).

    I have some Pan F+ and some Acros 100. Do I need to push it in order to get this look?

  2. #2
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Lighting is always big, yes.

    You don't have to push, extra development can help but isn't required.

    Much of the contrast you see in your example can be added when printing (paper grade) or it can be inherent in the film/process combo you choose. Pan F regularly produces contrasty results but that can be manipulated.

    Also technically perfect exposure is simply the exposure that gets you the result you want, nothing more, nothing less. It is the exposure that makes your printing easier.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  3. #3
    Guillaume Zuili's Avatar
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    Your negative needs to get most of the informations in highlights and shadows.
    But it's just a matrix. Everything happens in the darkroom making the print.
    "Fine Art" is the print.

  4. #4
    Pandysloo's Avatar
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    So if this look achieved in the printing process, does that mean that this photo was printed then scanned, as opposed to scanning the negative to digitize it?

    When I shoot color print I always underexpose by at least 2 stops because otherwise it looks washed out and boring (despite the highlights not clipping). I like the dark and moody feel. Is the "proper" M.O., then, to expose the negative to achieve the most tonal range, then darken the image to taste when printing?

    Sorry I'm completely unfamiliar with darkroom stuff at this point. Right now I'm only shooting negatives and scanning them in the meantime (a shame really, since screens can never do film justice).

  5. #5
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    I understand your desire to get a dramatic look to your images, but to completely control your photos (in addition to the above mentioned printing controls) you really should learn to develop properly before tweaking for your desired results. Without determining your EI, and standard developing time, you really won't be able to adjust exposure/development to consistently get the results you're after. "Fine Art" involves seeing the subject, and having the ability to get what you want on the negative and then on the print.

  6. #6
    eddie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pandysloo View Post
    So if this look achieved in the printing process, does that mean that this photo was printed then scanned, as opposed to scanning the negative to digitize it?
    I don't know if that's a darkroom print, or a digital print. Here, when we say print, it means a darkroom produced print.

  7. #7
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    You can get there digitally or in a darkroom, here at APUG we only discuss the traditional processes, no digital. See DPUG.org or one of the many other sites that deal with photoshop for digital questions.

    Having to underexpose with a color neg says to me that the guy or gal printing you negs needs some management. Ask them to print it darker.

    I regularly overexpose color negs by 2-4 stops and still get nice, not washed out, prints.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pandysloo View Post
    I would like to get into the "fine art" style; dramatic contrast: Click image for larger version. 

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    As others have said learn the basics first. Pick one film and one developer and learn how to expose that particular emulsion correctly and develop it correctly. Then you can tweak from there. The other thing to look into once you have the basics down is contrast filters for your camera lens. I use orange and red filters to increase contrast and darken blue skys. I also use a circular polarizer. Sometimes if I want something really dramatic I will stack a deep red filter and a polarizer. It's something to experiment with. Invariably noobs will use the deep red filter +/- polarizer way too much initially. Then they will calm down and use filters a bit more appropriately. Give it a try.

  9. #9

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    i have no idea how this print was achieved
    but what i do know is that it is necessary to know
    one's materials and only after that is done
    can someone have a clue as to how to use them
    to get them to look like that image.

    good luck !
    john

  10. #10
    andrew.roos's Avatar
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    As you say, to start you need suitably dramatic lighting.

    Then choose a film that gives you the tonal and grain qualities you desire - essentially the choice is between a more "S" shaped HD curve of a film like FP4+ which gives more contrast in the midrange at the expense of weaker highlight and shadow detail, or a straighter curve like that of Delta 100 that preserves highlights and shadow detail better but at the expense of less midrange punch.

    Then, the correct colour/contrast filtering when you take the photograph. This determines which colours will be recorded as light tones, and which will be recorded as darker tones. An orange filter is probably a good place to start for pictures that include sky and clouds, for example.

    The exposure should be tailored to obtain good detail and contrast in the areas that you want it in the print. The best way to achieve this is the zone system. There is plenty of material about it online. You will probably want a spot meter for this.

    If possible, negative development should also be tailored to expand or reduce the contrast range as required by the exposure range. And/or the correct grade of paper (or filter, for multigrade paper) needs to be chosen to get the required local contrast (not global contrast).

    Then dodging and burning should be used to bring the global contrast into a range that can be reproduced on the paper in order to achieve your visualisation of the image.

    All of this is important. However the most basic mistake that I made when I started printing was to use too soft a grade of paper in order to accommodate the entire tonal range of the negative in a straight print. In all but the least demanding lighting, this results in a muddy, flat print. By dodging and burning appropriately you can manage your global contrast, as well as the visual impact of the print, while printing on a harder (higher grade) paper to preserve good local contrast.

    Oh, and don't underexpose unless you like grain and muddy shadows, or intend to print the shadows as solid black.

    It's a journey. I have a long, long way to go but am enjoying every step.
    Last edited by andrew.roos; 12-28-2012 at 11:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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