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  1. #1
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Question on exposure

    Up until now, I realized I've been shooting just thinking about the outcome of the negative. Now that I'm starting to gear up towards getting a darkroom going, I'm trying to start thinking more in terms of a print. There's one thing I'm not sure about and I'm hoping you guys can steer me correctly as you always do. Say you're shooting a scene that you want to be high contrast. Would you be better of shooting/developing for the contrast in the negative and doing more of a straight print? Or would you be best to shoot/develop for better detail and printing at a higher grade for the contrast? Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Aaron
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    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
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  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Aaron, you have to make the decision based on how you want to interpret your negatives, and take into account you might want to use a different interpretation of the same negatives at a later date. So it's quite important to get plenty of detail in the negative.

    A good well exposed and processed negative can be printed in a variety of ways.

    Ian

  3. #3
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Good point. I hadn't even thought about the possibility of different interpretations in the future. Thanks Ian

    Aaron
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    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isn’t the decisive moment or anything like that – it’s getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  4. #4
    CPorter's Avatar
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    Getting the densities on the negative correct to suit your visualization of the end result is the most simplest and direct route to take to achieve your desired print. Other tonal adjustments such as paper grade (or variable cotrast filtration), paper developer, toning, etc...can be considered as integral to the refinements made in the printing. But IMO, the negative is your "bread and butter" so to speak, and how it is exposed and developed is key.

  5. #5
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thank you Chuck Sounds like I should keep doing what I'm doing and keep trying to get the best negatives of a scene I can.

    Thanks again guys,
    Aaron
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    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isn’t the decisive moment or anything like that – it’s getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  6. #6
    cosmonaut's Avatar
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    Aaron , never have being in a darkroom I would suggest you think in terms of a RAW file. Once you have a RAW file there is simply more you can do in processing. I would think contrast, burning and dodging could always be added later just as with a digital image. Once you add contrast to a negative in developing there is no going back. I think in the field and developing tank I would worry more about exposure. Just my two cents......

  7. #7
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    with roll film I have never developed for contrast, that can be taken care of in the print, to me its easier to meter a scene, placing shadows in zone III making sure you get good detail, being careful that your highlights arnt blown out, if your highlights dont fall above zone VIII you will be fine. your neg will have plenty of contrast, if your highlights fall below zone VIII with your shadows on zone III, you can use contrast filters to boost it up, thats what i do, seems to work well. good luck

  8. #8
    goldenimage's Avatar
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    cosmonaut has a good point about adding contrast to a negative there is no going back, there was a scene i was shooting with my view camera it was sort of low in contrast, i increased my dev time a bit but it was a bit too much, the result of a very contrasty negative, i used a lower grade filter when i was printing it trying to get the contrast down, my result wasnt that great, the print looked dull and lifeless, wasted lots of paper trying to get it right I finally gave up, its a pain to try to burn in highlights.

  9. #9
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thanks guys
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    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isn’t the decisive moment or anything like that – it’s getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  10. #10
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    It depends what kind of negative size you are using. With 35mm, adjusting contrast on the negative will mean more visible grain and blocked highlights. On the other hand, large format people do it all the time, because they enlarge less and/or contact print. For 120, it depends on the film, the scene, your taste, etc. Some people do it, some people don't.

    I shoot mainly 35mm, so when I need a higher contrast, I simply switch paper grades.

    However, if you want a high contrast photo, best to start with a high contrast scene:
    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphot...79&ppuser=6132

    In that photo, I metered for the highlights. Because the window was the only source of light, and the room was dark, the subject's left side fell into near black.

    If I had metered instead the shadow part, I could have raised it to a normal tonality, and got some blown highlights on the other side, which is a completely different photo.

    That's one kind of situation where using a reflected light meter is really useful.
    Last edited by Michel Hardy-Vallée; 01-20-2008 at 12:11 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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