Switch to English Language Passer en langue française Omschakelen naar Nederlandse Taal Wechseln Sie zu deutschen Sprache Passa alla lingua italiana
Members: 70,685   Posts: 1,548,596   Online: 1289
      
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Baltimore
    Shooter
    4x5 Format
    Posts
    133

    The quest for glorious midtones

    So I guess you can say I'm relatively new at this. I've been doing it for about two years and I'm taking all sorts of classes (I'm a photo major at a major art school so I've got all the opportunity in the world to play around). I mostly use Tmax 100 as that is what I started with and at my old school we used tmax or sprint developer and now I'm using d-76 but everyone else around me uses x-tol.

    But anyways, last fall I used Pan-F for some unknown reason and developed it in d-76 and made really really nice 11 x 14s (two are attached). I have figured out that the T-grain films are somewhat lacking in tonality, am I right? I also recently tried Pan-F on a 6x9 camera and was surprised at how difficult it was to get those same creamy tones. This was a detailed landscape though.

    I have never really tried any of the traditional films like tri-x or fp4 or anything like that. I'm rambling so I'll get to the point now.
    Are the tones that I got that one fateful day related to the developer or film or just simply subject matter? Would a larger format help (I'm taking 4x5 next fall)? Should I try the traditional films? Should I mix new chemistry? It seems like everyone around me likes to set the enlarger filters on 4 or 4.5 and screw the middle but that's not really the vision I have for my work.







    I'll bet nobody read all that but thanks to anyone who did
    -Steven
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 2096849950_462a4dc790.jpg   2096073817_c6da6f0f20.jpg  

  2. #2
    dpurdy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Portland OR USA
    Shooter
    8x10 Format
    Posts
    2,055
    Images
    38
    Is it just my monitor or do those two examples look extremely contrasty and harsh to anyone else? All the elements have a bearing on the tonality, including your own understanding of them. Think of that thigh bone song. The low tones connect to the ..mid tones, the mid tones connected to the ..high tones. If you want to stretch out the mid tones, I have best luck doing that with a dilute developer like Rodinal or Beutlers. but now someone will come along and say no no that is all wrong.
    Dennis

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Baltimore
    Shooter
    4x5 Format
    Posts
    133
    yeah, forgive the scans, I made them at kinkos and then I think flickr made them worse It's really the backgrounds I want to reproduce. but it's not like I don't want any darks or lights...I just kind of feel like I need to either have my prints really contrasty or they get muddy.

  4. #4
    MikeSeb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Prospect (Louisville), KY, USA
    Shooter
    Medium Format
    Posts
    1,062
    Steven, I did indeed slog through your post. Good questions all.

    Perceived "tonality" is a function of film, subject contrast, and development. Slower films are generally more contrasty (ie, have fewer apparent gradations of tone between the extremes of black and white); faster ones are generally less so. Very contrasty subjects will appear to have little in the way of midtones, those being overwhelmed by tones at either end. And more dilute developers are better at delivering smooth creamy tones than more concentrated ones, because they tend to allow development in shadow areas to "catch up" to development in highlight areas without "blowing" the highlights out.

    Pan-F is an inherently very fine grain, high-contrast film. To tame its contrast you have to reduce development time, or dilute the developer, or both. Really, though, it's contrasty by nature and may not be the best film for you to learn with.

    T-grain films are not "lacking in tonality", but they are very sensitive to minute changes in development time, temperature, or agitation. They are unforgiving of sloppy processing technique. Again, they may not be the best films for someone just starting out, but if you can nail them, you can shoot and develop anything.

    D-76 is the reference standard for developers, and the most-used developer worldwide. No film manufacturer would risk making a film that doesn't look good in D76, so it's a fine choice of developer for most purposes. Xtol is also excellent--in fact, after a period of experimentation I'm returning to D76 (mixed myself from scratch, always fresh, dirt cheap) as my standard developer, with HC-110 and maybe Xtol/Mytol as backups for special situations. Likewise with films.

    I'd suggest two avenues for you by which to improve your understanding of films and developers: reading, and standardization. Anchell and Troop's Film Development Cookbook is a must-read, and I'm sure others here will chime in with others.

    Pick one or two films, like Tri-X or Plus-X or their Ilford cousins FP-4 and HP-5. (I'm fond of Kodak films and those two are classics.) Pick one developer--either D76 or Xtol would be fine--and stick with it for a while until you've learned what that combination will do under various lighting / contrast conditions. Try those developers straight or diluted 1+1. Don't skip around among a lot of developers and films at first until you've really learned the first ones well.

    Hope this helps.
    Michael Sebastian
    Website | Blog

  5. #5
    keithwms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Charlottesville, Virginia
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    6,079
    Blog Entries
    20
    Images
    129
    Steven, don't take this as a criticism, it's actually a kind of compliment. I have seen similarly snappy tonality in... low speed b&w polaroid and b&w slide film. By "snap" I mean there is very little in the midtones i.e. the highlights and shadows are well separated and the ambiguous greys are few. To use the prevailing digispeak, there is a well defined whitepoint and a well defined blackpoint anchoring the tone scale.

    When I first started with type 55 and some of the fuji materials fp100b material, I thought, geez, why can't I get my normal prints to look that crisp and snappy. I don't have the answer for you, I am still working on it, but pan f and 1+1 ID11/D76 sounds like a good path to investigate. Personally, I've gone the agfa scala or colour chrome -> b&w route, but I intend to start playing with pan f now that scala and 55 are no more.

    It must be possible to get the snap in the print phase from multi/split grade printing of a flat neg, but building the snap into the negative (or positive) seems to be the best way to start.

    Snap... bite... what else do I like... bling! Haven't figured that out yet either, but I think Volquartz is on to something with the bleach.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Oklahoma, USA
    Shooter
    Med. Format RF
    Posts
    680
    Buy the Film Developing Cookbook. Stick to one or two traditional films such as Tri-X or FP-4. Consider derating Tri-X to 200 and FP-4 to 80. Use one general purpose developer such as D-76 or XTOL. Medium format will improve tonal separation. It is critical to develop your film to match the paper curve and your enlarger light source. Paper makes a big difference but it often relates to how your negative was developed. I never got the great results friends did on Ilford's MGIV Fiber until I increased negative density. Glossy paper has a longer tonal range.
    RJ

  7. #7
    CBG
    CBG is offline

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    894
    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    I have figured out that the T-grain films are somewhat lacking in tonality, am I right?
    Tonality is rather a vague word so ... I'll just say that if Jong Sexton can make TMax films sing, maybe they do have "tonality".

    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    I have never really tried any of the traditional films like tri-x or fp4 or anything like that. I'm rambling so I'll get to the point now.
    Not a bad time to find out why millions of photographers used and use Tri-X / Fp4 etc. They have a different feel from TMax films.

    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    Are the tones that I got that one fateful day related to the developer or film or just simply subject matter?
    All of the above, especially film and subject / lighting.

    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    Would a larger format help (I'm taking 4x5 next fall)?
    LF can add a creamy smooth rendition, but the subject and light and film characteristic curve will do a lot by themselves. That said, LF is special unto itself and is worth trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    Should I try the traditional films?
    Yes. You have some sense of the response of modern emulsions. The Tri-X generation of films seets the world just a bit differently. Try them.

    Quote Originally Posted by srmcnamara View Post
    Should I mix new chemistry?
    Any time you think its old. You can do a clip test with a bit of a corner of film leared to be sure your existing batch is still active.

    Consider one shot usage of D-76 diluted 1 to 1 or a similar scheme. Mix your gallon of stock solution and store it in quart bottles, filled right to the cap so there's virtually no air. That will leave one bottle not quite full. Use that bottle first, since it would be more exposed to degradation from oxygen.

    D-76 is said by Kodak to be safe for 6 months in a full tightly closed bottle, and only 2 months in a half full bottle. Don't use a bottle wirh a metal cap.

    C

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    USA
    Shooter
    Multi Format
    Posts
    1,599
    Images
    116
    Steven, you ask some good questions, and there have been some excellent replies (especially Mike's, well done). However asking advice can at best only put you on a road, and a road that is of someone else's preference. Ultimately what you need to do is test, a lot. You can find out about the basic qualities of a film by asking, fine grain? High contrast? Extended tonal range? Etc. Slower speed films usually have finer grain, which helps for smoother tonality, but are also inherently contrasty. Higher speed films tend to have smoother tones but are grainier which hurts tonality. You then have to try out the film that has your basic requirements with different developers and under different conditions. You also have to match your film/dev combo to your paper, and if you really want to get anal, to even your lenses. There are contrasty lenses, and less contrasty lenses.

    The suggestion of working in a larger format to achieve smoother tones is a very good one. Especially as it allows the use of faster film but with less affect from grain. You'll see a huge increase in the smoothness of gradation going from 35mm to MF, and MF to LF. Subject matter and the lighting in the scene play a major role as well when it comes to tonal range. I think your earlier success with Pan F may have been subject related.

    Don't give up on T-max 100 it is an excellent film but has a steeper learning curve and requires greater consistency in it's processing. Nearly all of my work is shot with it and if there's one consistent comment I get from other photographers about my work it's about the smoothness of tones.

  9. #9
    jmcd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    715
    Images
    41
    I would start with the traditional films first because I think they are easier to get great results with consistently. One has to be very exacting with the super modern films—of course, many accomplished photographers use this to their advantage.

    My personal recommendation for improved overall tone is to shoot FP4+ at 50 speed and process accordingly. I shot it for years at 80-100, and finally tried it at 50, where I like it much better. Develop in D-76. I would stick to one film, possibly two if it helps work in different lighting conditions. I find HP5+ very good for handling light with high contrast.

  10. #10
    c6h6o3's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Shooter
    Large Format
    Posts
    3,181
    Images
    6
    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.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast


 

APUG PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Contact Us  |  Support Us!  |  Advertise  |  Site Terms  |  Archive  —   Search  |  Mobile Device Access  |  RSS  |  Facebook  |  Linkedin