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  1. #21
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bond View Post
    I know this is about exploring tonality as a function of film and developer, but I think the largest influence of tonality is lighting.
    I've made beautiful full range prints with plenty of midtone separation in bright sunlight, at sunset with 20 minute exposures, indoors under ambient tungsten light and outdoors under overcast skies. In other words, under every possible lighting condition.

    I believe that the quality of one's prints has nothing to do with the quality of the light under which their negatives are made. It has everything to do with what the photographer does in relation to that quality of light. If the scene is flat and I want to accentuate micro contrast in the middle tones, I'll use semi-stand development in tubes. If the scene is full range I'll use tray development and go for smoothness. I can adjust development in trays over a five stop range to achieve desired tonal range.

    As Stieglitz said: "Wherever there is light, one may photograph".

  2. #22
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c6h6o3 View Post
    Try exposing more and developing less. I call that "compressing the scale from the bottom up". I get much better separation in the midtones that way. I use 400TMax in 120, 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. I think it's the finest black and white film made, but Pan F is also a great film. If they made it in a sheet film I'd use it a lot.
    Add a third vote from me for exposing more and developing less. Two ways to approach it that I know of (there may be more). Use half the box film speed as others have suggested or, set your shadows in zone 4. Either method amounts to about the same effect. Then develop for an approximate "normal" time or a little less. Works on just about any B&W film whether its a T-grain or traditional emulsion.
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  3. #23

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    If your prints are muddy at times, and if you want better tonality in your prints, then your negatives may be underexposed or overdeveloped. You could stay with either TMAX 100 or Pan F and D76 and probably get what you are looking for. Do a simple test. It sounds like you are using roll film. Pick a subject and meter and expose it the way that you have been doing. Take one frame at that exposure, then another frame at one stop more exposure, then another frame at 2 stops more exposure, then another frame at 3 stops more exposure. Then repeat the process throughout the roll so that you have 3 or more sets of 4 consecutive frames with increasing exposure. Then in the darkroom cut off something that feels like about 4 frames and wind it onto a reel. Develop it the way that you have been developing. Then wind on a second 4 frames and develop that in fresh developer but decrease the developing time by about 15 to 20%. Keep going in that progression, the next 4 frames developed 30 to 40% less time, etc. If you keep your developer the same temperature for all of the different strips, you will see the effect of decreased development on each set of 4 frames. One frame out of the 4 at one of the developing times will probably give you the tonality you want with a subject of that brighness range. If you make negatives of subjects with different brightness ranges always using the same EI and developing time, sooner or later you will stumble onto a subect that has the correct brightness range for your exposure and development time and that photo will come out the way you want, but if you don't figure out how to determine brightness range and how to adjust exposure and development to fit that, you won't be able to repeat your success.
    Good luck

  4. #24
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Hawley View Post
    Add a third vote from me for exposing more and developing less. Two ways to approach it that I know of (there may be more). Use half the box film speed as others have suggested or, set your shadows in zone 4.
    Or, as I do, one can do both of these things. I rate my TMY at 200 and place the darkest shadow on Zone IV. If I'm using an incident meter (for studio strobe lighting) I rate the TMY at 100.

  5. #25

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    I think this underexposed and overdeveloped thing holds the most water. I think light, detail, and format are minor participants. I will definitely try Doug Webb's test whenever I get a chance (finals crunch). I read the Ansel Adams books and understood them pretty well but I don't have a spot meter so I kind of read them just for entertainment and never read the appendices on film testing and such. I am grateful for all the advice. Thanks!

  6. #26
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    I will definitely try Doug Webb's test whenever I get a chance (finals crunch).
    The test he describes is a good one, as long as you do two things, to wit:

    1) Photograph a subject, not a gray card.
    2) Print all the negatives. The mistake most people make after doing all that work of photographing and developing is trying to judge what they've got from the negative alone. We're after fine prints. Only printing the negatives will tell you anything useful.

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