I'm with joe in that the negative is only as perfect as YOU perceive it to be, Ray. Others may like it, others may not. But you have to see and feel what you wanted at the time of exposure. It only needs be perfect to one person, the photographer. And it doesn't stop at the negative. It goes through the print and reprinting the neg until you arrive at the image that most reflects your initial feelings and subsequent desires. I have one such posted in my gallery. Water #1.
I got good info across the negative and it has a soft flowing feeling to it that I had when I made it. I am very proud of this negative. I accidentally deleted this one a while ago but when I first posted it someone remarked that the branch in the lower right could have been moved and that I should pay a bit more attention. I thanked them for their thoughts and went on my merry way. It is exactly as I enVISIONed it when I tripped the shutter.
Last edited by Christopher Walrath; 02-23-2008 at 11:59 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Ray: Many of us don't have scanners and simply cannot complete the exercise you request. However, rather then continue in the same manner, there are any number of photography books which will have, in great detail and very well printed, illustrations of what the authors concieve as being perfectly exposed negatives and prints. Furthermore, many of the same books will show variations ( using the exact same scene for clarity ) of exposure and how the negatives appear with normal, plus, and minus devlopment,i.e., over exposed with normal development, over exposed with plus development,.....you get the idea I am sure. If you are looking for good examples of the information you desire it is possible that your local library will be able to help you both faster and more completely then many of us here can.
By the way....I thought your image was pretty remarkably well done, and that you deserve lots of credit.
I don't have any pictures to post, and don't have a flatbed scanner anyway. I wil say, however that when I first started in B&W, I was not at all happy with my negs. Since I have started testing, I am getting reliably much better negs. If I have a poor neg, I am now able to look at the contact print and *understand* why it is poor, and where I went wrong. I still have a bit of trouble with judging over/underexposure and over/underdeveloped (especially when both are occuring), but this is usually when I have either a very flat or contrasty scene requiring some adjustment to "Normal" exposure and development. Before, I had no clue that I had to even make adjustments, let alone where to start.
That said, one of the closest thing I've come to a "fine print" was a complete screw up in both exposure and development. If I had these right however, I'm sure it could truly be a "fine print". You can see it here:
excellent work guys, great images, interesting posts, lots for me (all of us) to consider
c'mon, where is the definitive, "this is a print from a perfectly exposed neg cause it has blah, blah, blah"
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I think of this in a fairly practical way. It's not like the "perfect negative" has mystical properties other than printing easily onto the target paper.
This is a scan of a neg that was targeted for Azo on the basis of testing I had done previously and prints perfectly on Azo G2 with no manipulation--
Sorry it's a neg scan, but when I tried scanning the print, I got too many surface artifacts on my scanner, so the best I could do was to scan the neg with the print in hand and match it as best I could on screen. You're welcome to stop by and look at the print.
When I was trying to determine how much contrast I needed for albumen printing, I tried this negative and it came out too flat, but I was able to figure out that I needed one zone more contrast for albumen than I needed for Azo G2, and I could use most of my existing development charts to determine the development time required for negs to be printed on albumen without too much additional testing.
Having seen the spun aluminum lamp print in the flesh I know that Jason hit goodness one way or another. The print is remarkable in its presence and quality, so there is evidence that his method of extracting the most out of the range of a negative works for taking it to the limit.
Interesting examples, Jason. If I was more organized I probably would have done film speed testing. When I come back from photographing sheets I don't even have a system of knowing which sheet is which. I am too lazy for it, and too eager to burn film. Taking notes slows me down when I hold the camera. That's why I started developing film by inspection. I made sure that I got enough oomph in the shadows and would then proceed to develop the negatives until they looked right under the dark green safelight. Worked for a couple of years until I found myself with a severe backlog of sheets to process and finding no time to set my darkroom up to do the film developing. So I bought a Nikor tank and run it all through at a standard time... At least that's the plan. I just bought it and the initial tests were looking much less than promising... But that's a different story.
What I'm trying to say is that a part of my wishes I had more time and patience for a more scientific and precise approach. The other part of me wishes me to shut up and just go with the flow and enjoy my indulgences in photography, and if there is one thing I do not enjoy it's processing film. I love printing, and that's why I like processing film by inspection. If only I had the time to do it.
Originally Posted by JBrunner
"Make good art!"
- Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera".
- Yousuf Karsh
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit".
I like John P. Schaefer's take on the "the perfect negative":
"The ultimate goal of the Zone System is not to create a "perfect" negative from which a "perfect" print can be made without dodging, burning-in, and the like. The perfect Zone System negative simply embodies the right amount of negative density and contrast to allow the photographer to create an expressive print with a minimum amount of effort and darkroom gymnastics."
[QUOTE=JBrunner;591607 Many people who poo poo this stuff ..........[/QUOTE]
LOL, this slays me.
And nice communication on the subject all the way around.
Ray, I gave you mine. I don't give a rat's holy hell what anyone else says about it. (just for emphasis you realize).