To push or not to push? (FP4 @ 320)
I've been having a great time getting into film and processing with a Yashicamat and Tri-X the last year or so, but I ran into a bit of a snag last week when I was shooting some "fun" shots at a friend's wedding.
I couldn't find any Tri-X in any of the few remaining fridges in Edmonton before I left for the wedding, but I did find some HP5 and FP4. I bought enough HP5 to cover the shoot, and a roll of FP4 for later experimentation--just for the hell of it.
All went basically as I expected, and the Yashicamat (with a Metz potato masher and bracket for indoor shots) made an excellent impression on the lady photographers. ^_^ The wedding was well covered by professionals and friends with more "modern" equipment, but I'm sure that the couple would really appreciate an album of nice 8*10 prints (printing questions to come at a future date, as I'm just getting started there) so I tagged along with my antiques.
Trouble is, I packed that roll of FP4 in the film bag when I left, and accidentally loaded it instead of HP5 halfway through the shoot. I shoot Tri-X (and now HP5) at 320, so it's not a full two-stop underexposure, but it's close. I only realized that I'd loaded FP4 about halfway through the roll, and decided to keep going.
Shoot was outdoors on a hazy/slightly overcast day, pretty much ideal lighting for the purpose, and I used a K2 yellow filter (so exposure was basically within half a stop of the film rating, but with the filter factor taking it away again.) Some close-to-mid shots had the benefit of a good reflector--so I'm not overly worried about losing too much detail in facial shadow areas, but black suits are tricky to get detail from in the best of conditions. (And white dresses are pretty easy to overexpose. Sigh.)
Would you push this roll one stop in a normal developer?
Would XTOL at normal development be basically the best I can expect? (I've read that XTOL's compensating effect basically gives you one extra stop in shadow detail.) XTOL's not something I've done before, I'm willing to try it if it's going to make a noticeable improvement.
Would a longer development with a more dilute developer be more likely to save some shadow detail without blocking highlights? I'm not 100% sure about the effect of dilution compared to time-based push. Adams gives a bit of info on dilution and compensating effects in "The Negative," but his chemistry seems a bit different, and he's using push/pull in more deliberate ways than I am. I've seen the numbers on the Massive Dev chart, but they don't come with example shots or descriptions of the other effects that come with the dilution.
Mostly, I'm asking if you experts think a change in dilution/time can improve these negs. I'll then shoot and process a test roll (cut in half, processed half normal, half pushed/diluted/whatever) and decide what to do for the "real deal." The HP5 I'll develop normally.
I would give it 25% - 30% extra development time.
I have done the reverse - I had HP5 in the camera which I thought was FP4 so it got two stops extra exposure. A 40% cut in development time sorted this out.
"People who say things won't work are a dime a dozen. People who figure out how to make things work are worth a fortune" - Dave Rat.
Answer 1: Have Elevator Gallery in Toronto do it for you.
Answer 2: Do it yourself, with some developer you have experience working with.
Were it me, XTOL would be my first and second choice, and only choice.
If I had only one chance, I'd use the Kodak published time for FP4 in XTOL @ 1+1. I would use the EI 500 time, and agitate the film every other minute ( 14.5' 20˚ ). That ought to put you close to a normal shaped curve for 320.
EVEN better would be to expose a test roll, and test drive it !
Xtol is great for this because it is a very efficient developer: it naturally developes shadows to a higher EI than other developers, without over developing the midtones and highlights. FP4 is a pretty good film for this- you may find you've found a look that you like !
Last edited by df cardwell; 07-22-2008 at 08:36 AM. Click to view previous post history.
What you need to do increase the effective EI of your FP4 (not hard) while preventing the contrast from screaming skywards and making the pictures on this roll look totally different from your HP5+ shots (much harder). As a life-long devotee of Ilford chemistry
I would reach for some Microphen and use it 1+3 for 30 to 40 minutes using a semi-stand technique (agitation continuous for 1st minute and then 10 secs. every 3 minutes). I'd definitely try a test roll first - if I had to choose, I'd rather have negs that were a bit thin and needed hard paper than negs which were overdeveloped and had blocked-up highlights. Good luck in any case!
It also wouldn't hurt to buy another roll of FP4, rate it the same, shoot a test roll in similar conditions (with flash, etc.) and then do a trial development of the test roll. Chop it up into thirds and you can experiment a little bit to see what works best.
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Diafine would be another option - you can get an easy EI250 out of this combination, so the extra bit to 320 shouldn't make too much difference.
Thanks for all the suggestions!
As I stated in my original (overly long ^_^) post, I will shoot a test roll and try a couple of methods.
Originally Posted by nemo999
I looked at The Negative again last night, and this is what I'm getting: The reduced concentration and agitation from these recommendations will bring up the low values without overly affecting the high value areas, due to the higher availability of active chemistry in the low-value areas (and corresponding lower availability in high-value areas.) Thus, shadow values will be "pushed" without the drastic increase in contrast.
Originally Posted by df cardwell
Have I got that right?
Are XTOL and Microphen actively compensating as well, (I know that they're both popular for push processing, but I'm thinking of something a bit more subtle than that) or is this more a function of dilution/agitation? Would Diafine work differently? (two-bath processing sounds fun... but tricky in a small tank.)
Your summary is partially complete, and you raise so many possibly misleading side issues, it is incorrect to agree with it.
You have raised two issues: How to develop an underexposed film which needs normal midtone contrast;
and how does compensation work.
The second, first. Compensation is caused by reduced agitation and increased time. There will be no 'pushing', the shadows will develop to their normal densities.
How to do it ? 20 years ago, the best choice might have been Microphen. XTOL will give you more shadow detail, normal midtone contrast, and normal highlight densities... if you do the requisite work to sort it out.
A shortcut is as I suggested. It will print normally, although probably on a #1 paper instead of #2.
All the other 50-years-ago-methods, water bath and so on, work to the degree they incorporate reduced agitation.
See Sandy King's and Steve Sherman's discussions about minimal agitation.
I have found that minimal agitation works great for underexposed film. It really is true that Xtol is good for pushing, and I have tried using it at 1+3 at 70*F for 30 minutes with Plus-X film that was exposed at an EI of 400 roughly. I agitate the whole first minute of the development time, and dislodge air bubble by rapping the tank very firmly a few times on a counter top before I set it still for the remainder.
It did indeed give me full shadow detail, and normal midtones and high values.
I have also done this with Pyrocat-HD and Pyrocat-MC, and it works perfectly with those developers too. I have only tried it with Fuji Neopan 400 and Kodak Tri-X, though. They are great developers for FP4 too, but I don't know if you can bring back almost two stops to look normal.
Don's advice is really good. He has a lot of experience and is very knowledgeable.
Good luck, and have fun printing!
"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
Thanks for the great response, guys. I'm learning a lot here.
Off to pick up some XTOL and shoot the test roll...
Originally Posted by df cardwell
I'm still not getting the nuances of what reduced agitation is actually doing for the development, and what XTOL is doing, and how either factor affects shadow detail. Sandy and Steve mostly discuss "micro-contrast" in mid-high value areas, and low value areas are still developed normally. Steve's shots seem to be mostly low-contrast, and he's using the method to increase subtleties in the (not especially high) high value areas that will stick out in a print.
Steve's discussions of this always note that the low/high contrast effects sound counter-intuitive, so I guess I just need to try the method already and see for myself. ^_^