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  1. #1

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    Developing Tips - Overexposed or overdeveloped

    Hi everyone,

    Been lurking for a while but have some questions on my own in regards to developing.

    As some background information, I'm shooting with a Leica M6 & ZM Planar with Tri-X at EI400. I'm developing in Xtol 1:1 for 9mins at 20C.

    I seem to be getting mixed results with my negatives and I'm not sure whether it's my exposure or development. I've attached some examples below:

    This image I really like.


    The two images below seem very contrasty to me.



    This image is with a different camera (Olympus MJU) but developed the same.


    They seem to lack tonal range and be very contrasty. From the examples given above, do you think I have exposure or development issues? Or am I totally over analysing my work?
    Not entirely sure what to try next. I only shoot a roll a week, so it's quite hard to experiment.

    Thoughts and comments appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Andrew Moxom's Avatar
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    If these are neg scans, they look perfectly okay. It looks like you have decent shadow detail, and highlights that are not blocked up. Tobe honest, its how they ultimately look in the print that counts. Have you tried wet darkroom printing them ? I have to ask as some folks do use film, but scan and then go digital output. The printing is where you can manipulate the outcome, by dodging, and burning certain areas allowing you to bring out certain features, or express an emotion, or convey atmosphere.
    Please check out my website www.amoxomphotography.com and APUG Portfolio .....

  3. #3

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    Thank you! These are negative scans. That definitely sounds positive. I've only been shooting film for around 6 months and I'm currently putting together a darkroom and have no experience printing. Hope to get stuck into that side of things shortly.

  4. #4
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdotlowe View Post
    Thank you! These are negative scans. That definitely sounds positive. I've only been shooting film for around 6 months and I'm currently putting together a darkroom and have no experience printing. Hope to get stuck into that side of things shortly.
    Like Andrew says, it's all relative, because it depends on what your output is.
    Until you start printing in the darkroom you will not know whether you have over-exposed and/or over-developed your negatives, by looking at the neg scans alone. That's the trouble, you see, that a neg that scans well does not necessarily print well.

    Until you have the ability to put a darkroom together, may I suggest that you expose and develop your film according to the manufacturer's instructions? That way you will at least have decent negatives for your darkroom once you have the ability to use it.

    After you start printing, you will start to notice how all of the pieces hang together more readily, that film exposure affects shadow detail in your print to a large extent, and that developing time affects the highlight and mid-tone details in your print.

    In the meantime, have fun and enjoy shooting film. It is just too much fun.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  5. #5
    Andrew Moxom's Avatar
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    That's good news then. You are well on your way. With the printing, you will also be able to alter overall contrast with graded paper, or selectively on the same sheet of paper using variable contrast paper.

    That said, you should stick with your current film and developer combination, and get some miles under your belt with it. Don't switch things or change your film or developer for something else until you are confident with that specifc film and developer combination that they give you consistent results. Learn how to adjust for various subject brightness ranges. More importantly, printing your negs gives you the best feedback. This is because most people try to match their negs with the way they want to print. Remember, its a system with an end goal of a fine print at the end of it. Tailoring how you manage the exposure of your film, and development of it to give you a specific density neg matched to your printing papers capability, will ultimately make you more consistent and have fewer issues.
    Please check out my website www.amoxomphotography.com and APUG Portfolio .....

  6. #6
    Terry Christian's Avatar
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    They all look fantastic to me!
    If you don't like the blank skies, try a yellow filter if you can find a sky with some clouds. The filter will help accentuate the cloud detail.

  7. #7

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    Thanks everyone! I've got about 50 rolls of Tri-X and a stash of Xtol so I don't plan on changing anything any time soon... still very much learning! I've been shooting at box speed and developing at Kodak's recommended times.

    Will try a yellow filter as I do think the white skies are what's bothering me also.

    Once again, thanks for all the helpful advice!

  8. #8

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    If you want to save $$ on film, try Arista Premium from Freestyle (link: http://freestylephoto.biz/192364-Ari...xp.?cat_id=402) It's 1/2 the price and the exact same film as Tri-X.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by troyholden View Post
    If you want to save $$ on film, try Arista Premium from Freestyle (link: http://freestylephoto.biz/192364-Ari...xp.?cat_id=402) It's 1/2 the price and the exact same film as Tri-X.
    Thanks Troy, that's actually the stuff I'm using currently

  10. #10

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    Looks pretty good to me, too.

    You may be seeing the same thing I saw when I started getting into B&W film seriously. Because everything is represented in shade of gray, until I got used to it, I thought everything was contrasty. Having color seems to distract me from seeing contrast.

    Also, please note, your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th images were taken in contrasty scene. Dark haired woman in front of a brightly lit light colored door, beach in what appear to be a brightly lit day with little cloud, and open out door by the lake, all represents perhaps the harshest scene you'd encounter. By the way, your first image is gorgeous!

    It's hard to judge from scanned image but they seem to be just fine. Relax and enjoy. Yup, Arista Primula is a great stuff. I have bricks of them.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

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