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  1. #1
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Under exposure/under development

    Over many years I have seen many films developed by others and students and I have noticed that under exposure/under development is far more prevalent than the opposite. This maybe because I live in Northern Europe, but I have noticed the use of Magenta in darkrooms seems to be 80% more in use than yellow when correcting contrast. Do others have a similar experience and if so, what does this say about our general exposure and development?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  2. #2
    Rudeofus's Avatar
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    Slight underdevelopment is frequently recommended because it minimizes grain.
    Trying to be the best of whatever I am, even if what I am is no good.

  3. #3

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    Yeah, I think there's the intuition there at least that underdevelopment is advantageous, but counter-intuitively, most black and white newbies like deep shadows too - not realising there's a right and wrong way to achieve it. But in all fairness, you'll mostly see over-expansion on Flickr for instance, just as much in colour as b&w.

  4. #4
    cliveh's Avatar
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    I suppose a better question relating to this point, is how many members of APUG who use multigrade paper find that they use magenta more often than yellow?

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #5
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    Some schools replenish their film developers. I remember my school always had under replenished film developer in the darkroom. The lab person takes a guess how many rolls were ran through the developer to figure how much replenisher to add. That could be a reason from my experience.
    "Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
    Aaron Chang

  6. #6
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    My 35mm negatives almost invariably print well at Grade 2.5 or 3. My 120 negatives are the same way but Grade 2 usually.
    Then I sometimes use some Grade 4 or 4.5 to burn in interesting details to locally increase contrast, or I might use Grade 1 to tone down a difficult highlight.

    But one of the founding principles of silver gelatin photography is that you are best off making sure that you are familiar with how your paper and paper developer behaves before you develop negatives. The negatives are necessarily exposed and developed such that they fit the paper and paper developer combination as well as possible. That way there is a lot more room for getting creative with low and high contrast filters, rather than using them to save your ass. If you process your negatives to have intentionally low contrast, and you have to print at Grade 4 or 4.5 in order to get a decent work print, but find that you would like even more contrast to become a nice final print - well, then you're basically screwed. Sure you can play with negative intensification and high contrast paper developers, but that is making it very difficult for yourself.

    I claim that unless you learn how to process your film so that the negatives print well, without darkroom gymnastics, at medium contrast filtration, then you're never going to eke out the maximum performance from your materials. This is a basic concept within silver halide photography that gives a solid foundation to develop and expand from. It should be some a lesson that's mandatory for darkroom students to learn, that the lens, film, film developer, filters, paper, paper developers, agitation, temperature control, etc etc is a system, where the final result is something borne out of optimizing the performance of all the pieces so they fit together nicely.
    "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

  7. #7
    jp498's Avatar
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    It's easier to end up with underexposed/underdeveloped.

    In northern climates, things cool off quickly and developer weaker.
    It's easy to forget or get distracted in agitation cycles.
    It's easier to underexpose as a choice rather than get motion blur
    You get more grades/flexibility if needed when printing by underexposing.
    scanning tends to work better with underexposed rather than bulletproofed overexposed.

  8. #8
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    I purposely target my negatives to print well at at Grades 3 to 4. If I miss and need more contrast I can head up to 5. I RARELY print below 3. In order to achieve this I OVERexpose and UNDERdevelop.

    I do this because I believe Ilford MG Warmtone fiber paper looks it's best at the higher grades. The negatives are also fairly easy to print.

    I will burn with Higher or Lower grades as needed.

  9. #9
    RalphLambrecht's Avatar
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    well. looking at negatives from workshop participants, my experience is different. i mostly seeunder exposed and overdeveloped negatives. the reason i think isthat people like to think that their films are faster than they are,and just in case they aren't, a little more time in the developer will help to get the missing density. we all know , it aint so, but some haven't gotten there yet
    Regards

    Ralph W. Lambrecht
    www.darkroomagic.comrorrlambrec@ymail.com[/URL]
    www.waybeyondmonochrome.com

  10. #10

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    The goal for 35mm film to minimize grain is the thinnest possible negative that still has good shadow detail. Such a negative would be slightly underdeveloped and printed on grade 3 paper.
    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

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