Artistic nudes : need recommendations on low iso 120 film, Kodak, Fuji or Ilford
This coming weekend I have an artistic nude shoot. The model and I have been talking about doing this for a long time but we've spontaneously decided that this weekend would be IT. Usually, I shoot pretty much everything with Ilford HP-5. I know it pretty well and am quite pleased by the tones. However, never having printed anything large (20x30 and up) with it and with little time to test, the grain has me a bit nervous. Don't get me wrong, I love and embrace grain, but this time I don't want it to be a distraction. So I'm looking for recommendations of combinations based on these factors :
-Caucasian young woman, shot with strobes on black background
-Shot with RZ-67
-Ilford, Kodak or Fuji : this is what I can get locally and don't have time to have anything else shipped out.
-I have HC-110 and Rodinal. Would prefer to stick to these, but will consider other liquid developers if they are said to be *AMAAAAZING*.
-Will consider C-41 emulsions.
-Looking to get deep blacks and crisp whites.
-BW films I've shot before :
Ilford Pan-F 50 : Shot in studio, have had mixed results
Ilford FP-4 125 : shot it once, outside with a cloudy sky, seems okay, lacks a bit of punch in the midtones, might be the lighting
Ilford HP-5 400 : shot in natural or studio light, at rated iso or pushed to 800 or even 3200 iso, I enjoy this film immensely for it's silvery tones and deep blacks
Fuji Acros 100 : shot in studio, liked the tones but disliked the actual film substrate, it was really thin and flimsy
Kodak T-Max 400 : shot only once at 800, which might be the reason why I prefer the traditional-grain HP-5 when pushed
Any and all help will be greatly appreciated!
Stick with what you know. You'll have enough to worry about if this is the first time you're shooting nudes.
It's not my first time shooting nudes, it's just my first time since I've gone back to film
They will all work fine, it's a matter of personal choice. I use an RZ and find that you will get grainless prints from Acros, TMX or Pan-F at 16x20; the Pan-F starts to show grain a little before the others but it might be worth using for its tonal curve. All three require more-careful exposure and development than HP5. Rodinal looks great on them all, but you probably want to shoot at about half box-speed in that developer. If you need speed then TMY2+Xtol will give you a tiny hint of grain at 16x20 EI800 and looks great; I have that on the wall next to me and you need to stick your nose in it to see the grain patterns in the eyelashes, otherwise it's grainless.
By crisp whites, do you mean good highlight contrast? If so, Acros has a bit of a steeper curve in the highlights which means it can look very crisp but it's a little harder to control. It also has less red sensitivity, which isn't the best for portraits. I suspect your highlight contrast will depend more on the paper you select as that is what has the biggest effect in rolling off the highlights; most of these films have many stops more highlight latitude than you typically use.
Lighting will have a far greater effect than your film choice, IMHO. They will all give you deep blacks if you control your lighting properly and print appropriately. Your experience with FP4 was no doubt due to the flat lighting you used it under.
I've shot more rolls of Ilford B&W films than I can count, mostly FP4 and PanF. (I was never a fan of HP5 - always preferred the tight and clear grain of Tri-X.) In my experience, PanF is THE most awesome black & white film I have ever used. Skin tones are gorgeous, landscapes are sharp, resolving power of this film is tremendous. I used it a lot in the studio (I haven't shot film for many years but I still have a freezer full of PanF.) T-Max 100 is a good smooth film, but for skin tones there's just something organic about a PanF image. And for detail, I have a 16x20 print of a close-up of a section of a barn I shot about 30 years ago and when I exhibited it in our local art show I had more than one person argue with me that the print couldn't have been made from a 35mm negative ... it's virtually grainless and the detail is amazing. FP4 is also a really good film but you have to play with developers to get the tonal range out of it. I shot thousands of feet of it in the 70s, 80s and 90s using ID-11 straight up – worked for me. I also had lots of luck back in the day using CroneC Additive (APUG post http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/8...c-formula.html) added to D-76 - guess it was a bit of phenidone added to isopropyl alcohol. It boosted Tri-X to a nominal ISO of 640 and decreased the apparent size of the grain.
With the large frame size of the RZ, a PanF neg in the studio would, in my opinion, be awesome. To be honest, I would shoot a couple of test rolls (or do some snip tests) and check out Ilford's ID-11 developer at 1:1 ... it really seems to work well with PanF processed in a Jobo CPP-2. I've used Rodinal extensively and had little luck with consistency, although it showed a lot of possibilities for versatility ... I guess I just didn't have the patience.
So my vote is PanF in ID-11 1:1. Keep in mind that PanF appears to be a bit overrated at ISO 50 when used with ID-11 1:1; you may want to play with ISO 32 and 25, or just bracket your RB lens up in thirds twice. I haven't had problems with blocking up with moderate overexposure but, as with most films, an accurate meter reading (once you determine optimum ISO for your conditions) will obviously be the goal.
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Thank you Polyglot and cobmuts! The scales are tipping really heavily in PanF's favor, but I'm still scouring the web to find that magic combination. I do realize that most of that is experience, but in this instance, I'll try to feed off of other people's experiences and hope for the best.
desertratt : I just might do that. I've just reserved an additional back at my local rental shop for that very purpose.
I would like to give a third vote for PanF+
I shoot many nudes and that's my film of choice for strobe work. If you were a subscriber you could see my gallery images of nudes
Not sure if you're able to access the MSA area as a non subscriber but there's also an example here... the one of just the butt with hands behind back is PanF+ in Rodinal, dark skin, not light, but it will give you an example of the tones, that was however pushed 2 stops (but on purpose) so you can see the highlights have been "washed out" on her hands which were lighter toned than her skin.
Hope that helps.
Thank you StoneNYC! Yes, I can see the image you are referring to. I tend to try and avoid APUG, the compulsive buyer in me has spent way too much in the for sale section, hence the non-subscriber status. :P
Quick question : when you guys talk about shooting at half of box speed, would you develop at box speed (as I do with my color film)?? I'm aware of the implications of that (higher shadow detail, highlight details preserved as long as I don't agitate too much), I'm just missing a piece of the puzzle here, thanks!
Generally, I'll scan my negs, but if ever I have something I really like, I'll have it printed optically.
The way things seem to be going, I'm probably going to shoot both films at half box speed (25 and 200) and develop them normally (50 and 400). I figure it'll give me denser negs and better shadow detail.