HP5 in D-76 = Thin Negs?? What am I doing wrong?
I recently decided to test Tmax & HP5 with several developers and dilutions for application in black & white portraiture. Starting with HP5 i exposed 2 sheets of film for each 1/3 f-stop between Iso 200 & 400 inclusively, using a Wisner Technical Field 4x5 with a Rodenstock Sirronar-S 150mm lens. I metered using a Seikonic L-398 ambient light meter. I decided to start my developer tests with D76, 1:1 - 10 mins @ 20-deg C, Jobo Expert Drum, bi-directional agitation setting "F".
The resulting negatives, though thin, seem to have all the shadow detail i could want, and the highlights, though perhaps slightly under pronounced, are most definetly there.
I tried contact-printing these negs using a contact printing frame and Oriental Seagull FB-VC Glossy. I dialed #2 on my Saunders VCCE XLG enlarger, set the lens at f/11 and ran a test strip for d-max using a blank strip of film which I processed together with the exposed sheets. I got 12-seconds for D-max, and started printing off the negs, one by one.
The results were, well.. baffling. Each and every one of the prints was dark! Surely HP5 rated at iso 200 should not yield dark prints! (or thin negs for that matter). So now as I see it, I'm left with two options:
1) I can consider the negs "under-exposed" (which i don't truly believe they are as I've got tons of shadow detail) and re-shoot, rating HP5 at ISO 100 -160.
2) I can print above d-max for the important shades, and then use contrast to acheive my blacks
As I'm not entirely sure which way to go here, any help and insight would be most appreciated.
I suspect the development time is on the short side. Standard times for HP5+ in D-76 1+1 should be around 13 min at EI 400. If you've got shadow detail, and you've determined print exposure for Dmax correctly, but everything looks dark, then you need to push up the highlights, and longer development time would do that.
Great minds, think alike - thought not always at the same pace :)
David I always thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and replies, finding them insightful and intuitive. Believe it or not I just spent about an hour or so dwellign on this (even passed up a movie with the lil lady) and couldn't put my finger on what was wrong until just a moment ago!
Immediately I fired up the jobo - lucky for me I shot 2 identical sets and still have the second. I was going to increase development to about 12 mins but will go with 13 minutes (as per your recommendation) just to be on the safe side. If the highlights get blown out, I can always reduce the time.
Another thought that occured to me was to increase agitation - perhaps to #2-3? Though with traditional emulsion that might yield coarser grain.
Hmmm... not sure of the definition of "should" and "standard," but Ilford calls out 11 minutes for D-76 1:1 at @20C. My limited experience with the combo puts 13 minutes squarely in the "push" range. Are you sure that your temperature control is up to snuff? Have you run a calibration check on temps? How about fogging from safelights or other sources?
Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
Did you do the test strip at say, six bursts of 2 seconds each, but then switched to a single burst of twelve seconds for the final exposure? This can be an issue also.
Hope this helps. Not gospel, just some suggestions.
Originally Posted by jon koss
ilford calls for 11 minutes when processing manually, suggesting that processing time be further reduced by 15% or so when processing in rotary drum. ilford is also situated in England, testing with their water and who knows what else!
Temperature is controlled by a practically brand new Jobo CPP-2 processor unit, with lift. Accuracy of processing temperature is furthered by the Expert Drum and it's hollow-core system allowing the cylinders which hold the sheets of film to be individually bathed by the tempered water. I should also point out that this unit has given me fairly consistent results with other work so I'm pretty confident in the accuracy of the tempering bath.
As for fogging, I presume you are referring to the paper. I don't suspect the paper is fogged as I've done quite a few tests on this batch, and in the same environment. One such test just earlier tonight to determine d-max exposure.
Also, when I test for d-max I never use bursts of light precisely for the reason you mention - inherent cumulative errors. I always use a consistent stream of light and slide a dark sheet of cardboard down the glass pane covering the strip of film & paper, at regular intervals. In this case, 10 x 2 seconds.
I'm confident that David Goldfarb is right on the money. I'm tempering the JOBO as I simply don't believe I'll get to bed before solving this caper. Thank you for the insights - I'll post my results.
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I've found that subtracting 15% for jobo processing is too much. I use 10%, and this is after adjusting for solution temperature.
I dont have an expert drum, just a plain old CPE2 with a 1500 drum.
I also rate HP5 plus at ISO 160, not anywhere near the Ilford ISO 400. I have no idea why Ilford rate that film at 400 when so many folks rate it closer to 200.
I didn't read all of the remarks but what quickly came to mind was that If there is some shadow detail and the highs are not too high.
Then you could Selenium tone the negatives.
No good news...
Well.. it's 4:39am and I'm throwing in the towel for the night, sadly, empty handed. I processed the sheets of HP5, exposed at EI 200 & 250 for 12 min 30 sec in the Jobo, again with D76 1:1 @ 20 C, bi-dir agitation "F". The negs are a bit denser this time, but marginally so. Again, pleny of detail in the shadows. Unless ilford HP5 is actually an ISO-50 film, I simply can't believe that my negs are underexposed. I'm shooting a female fair-skinned model with blue eyes - keep in mind that when i say "detail in the shadows", I'm referring to life-like texture in her ocean-blue eyes, and discernable strands of hair in the shadowy areas (shoulder pockets), just below and to the side of the neck, directly above the shoulder.
For the hell of it, I printed an enlargement and played with contrast filtration to see what I'd get as I'm so frustrated with contact printing for D-Max. Truth be told, there's no replacement for a good, full tonal spectrum, negative. The test prints looked muddy and flat, and this at constrast #3 @ f/16.
I'm going to try and reshoot sometime tomorrow, time and weather permitting. This time, I'll expose 3 full sets (2 sheets per set) for ISO 100 through 320 in 1/3 f-stop increments (there goes almost half a box of film -roughly 36 sheets) and start off with a 15 minute processing time.
I know that more often then not, sheer stupidity and human error lies at the heart of bad results. I may not be the most meticulous of the bunch, but I certainly strive to be careful and consistent with all my processing. My developer is mixed with distilled water - one shot use. All loading/unloading is done in pitch black. The film was fresh - bought less then 3 months ago from B&H, and the developer was mixed a few days ago - kept in a tightly closed full stoppered bottle. Light was metered using a Sekonic L-398 (ambient meter) prior to every other exposure to ensure no appreciable change. I'm baffled - I simply can't think of anything else.
Anyways - I'd like to thank everyone for their contributions to this thread and ongoing support. Please forgive the rant - after 5-7 hours of fruitless effort, I'm sure you folks can relate.
I'll post results from the next set of tests as soon as I have them, and I'll check back as often as I can for your comments & suggestions.
That's it for now - Thanks folks.
Thought I'd reply before hitting the sac as I just noticed your post. Selenium intensification makes for a great fix when one has a low constrast negative that is valuable or irreproducable. In my testing I'm trying to achieve optimum (as I see it) exposure and development for the type of black & white portraiture I find appealing. Though selenium toning would most likely beef up the emulsion somewhat, it's not something I want to be doing every day
Originally Posted by gbroadbridge
If you have a scanner, could you post a scan of a test print? That might reveal something about what's going on. Have you ruled out lighting issues? What's the contrast ratio?
It could be that HP5+ just isn't to your taste and you're just after a different look. Tri-X is punchier. J&C 400 is like Tri-X with more manageable highlights. Neopan 400 is smooth with a lot going on in the midrange and highlights.