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  1. #21
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    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.

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphot...83&ppuser=9768

    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 10:59 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
    APUG BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE
    DE Darkroom

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  2. #22

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    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.

    Ed

  3. #23
    timbo10ca's Avatar
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    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:

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphot...1&ppuser=12132

    Tim
    If only we could pull out our brains and use only our eyes. P. Picasso

    http://www.timbowlesphotography.com

  4. #24

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    excellent work guys, great images, interesting posts, lots for me (all of us) to consider

    more please

  5. #25

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    c'mon, where is the definitive, "this is a print from a perfectly exposed neg cause it has blah, blah, blah"

  6. #26
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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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--

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphot...1876&ppuser=60

    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.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #27
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    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.

    - Thomas

    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner View Post
    "Perfect" negatives exist only as a technical concept based on arbitrary and subjective values, or as perceived as perfect by someone for an individual printing style in a particular medium. "Perfect" really means you made a negative that prints the way you want it to, on what you want to print it on. "Perfect" in the case of negatives should be redefined to be "perfectly controlled"

    Like I said, I don't have two identical examples of hits and misses, but here are images where an exposure error in relation to my speeds and processing would have made a clear difference. These negatives were shot on J&C 100 (IRRC) rated at 64 (my tested speed for this film with PMK)Two were processed normally (my tested normal), in PMK. The third was shot and processed N+1. (N+1 means I exposed and processed the negative to "expand" it. "Expansion" or "contraction" of negatives is one of the most basic and important reasons for using The Zone System, and getting a handle on this is largely what all the testing is about. Many people who poo poo this stuff have no idea that it is possible to control tonal relationships independently from overall contrast, except with color filters. Filtering is useful, but is limited, and the most control over the process is best arrived at with a full tool box.)

    Although the development was "normal" the effective development on the first two images was N+1, meaning the highlights pulled up, but the low values remained near where they fell in the scene, because of reciprocity failure, as the exposures were long. This means the negatives were "expanded", an effect we test and plan for if we desire more separation of higher values from lower values than the scene possess. The Zone System is one of the methods that can be used to control the relationships of highlights and dark areas, not just arriving at an average exposure for a specific scene, but choosing an exposure and development to modify the relationships of the values found in that scene, beyond the natural contrast that exists within the composition with the conditions present at the time of exposure. Being able to move specific tonal values offers far more control of an image than merely adjusting the overall contrast with paper grades, or contrast filters, with the averaged contrast and tonal relationships present in a "box speed and developed" negative.

    The manufacturer has to put something on the box, and recommend some kind of development, and the numbers and recommendations that are usually arrived at are those that offer the most forgiving performance for an average situation, not the best performance for a specific situation, because it is impossible for them to predict specific situations. (one can, of course, consider forgiving performance at the expense of other factors to be paramount). The "forgiving exposure and development" is the method that you, Ray, are using and espousing, and is why you can blow an exposure, probably by a stop or more, especially with regard to over exposure, and get away with it. You aren't using all the film's capability, so there is room built in for error. What you are giving up in return for that is control of the tones within the negative, and the maximum lattitude the emulsion can deliver. A box speed and developing regimen is literally a "one size fits all approach" There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but some of us desire negatives that fit better, with the maximum lattitude the film can deliver.

    It's very much like a car. The average sedan gets ok mileage, handles ok, has a decent ride, and predictably average acceleration, because these characteristics are the compromises needed to mass produce and market the car. If that's what you want, that's what you drive. Some of us like to tinker and modify the sedan, push its perfomance to the maximum without regard to comfort or mileage, and drive it on a closed course at the absolute limit, with no margin for error. We do this because we want or need this kind of performance. Dismissing it out of hand, as you have tended to interject into exposure disscussions, is telling somebody who desires to race that they should drive a box stock sedan on race day, because the big brains in Detroit said that's how the car should be.

    In the first two examples the lighter values received more exposure in the highlights because the film was faster where the light was more plentiful. This was, as mentioned, accomplished as a side effect of reciprocity failure, but it can also be accomplished by modifying exposure and developing times, and it is mostly done that way. The ability to control tonal relationships through exposure and developing is what we test for. Had I followed box speed recommendation, and processed for this average, none of these images would exist as they are.

    If you combine the effect of the expansion of the upper zones as intended, and note where the highlights of these images fall, and also note that the highlights, and their relationship to other areas are extremely important elements of these images, its easy to imagine the havoc a one third stop error would have wreaked. There was no margin for error in these exposures, as the highlights in each are taken right to the limit. I might have gotten lucky with a WAG, instead being able to predict my results with a fair degree of accuracy, but not likely. Exposing at box speed using an incedent reading and processing according to the manufacture would have resulted in flat negatives with blown highlights, that couldn't in any case be coaxed to these kinds of light versus dark relationships without appearing very hard in contrast, or, for the last example I could have sat around on the beach at the Great Salt Lake, eating brine flies and cheetos for a few weeks, waiting for the conditions that would mimic the result of the expanded exposure and developing method, that would allow me to expose and print according to the manufacturer, to get the same result.

    If you are only using a portion of a films capability, an exposure error can be easily forgiven, and go largely unnoticed and therefore be ignored. However, if you seek to gain every bit of lattitude you can get, and take an emuslion to its absolute limit, you have to do better than a WAG, or your gonna have allot of unprintable failures. A "shoot and develop for box speed" photographer probably would have stood in the conditions where I made the waterscape negative, and said with conviction that it couldn't be made to look like I made it look.

    Here the three images that tell the same tale. The waterscape is an example of expansion by development.

    On the prints there are far more details in both the shadows and the highlights than a computer monitor can display.
    "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

  8. #28
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    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."

  9. #29
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    [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.

    Chuck

  10. #30
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    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).
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
    APUG BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE
    DE Darkroom

    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

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