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  1. #21

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    I really love the flexibility of B&W film. You can decide where to place tones, and you can expand or contract overall contrast to create whatever negative you want (but watch the local contrast, too). I don't classify this as myth - it is fact.

  2. #22
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    I’m afraid your problem is not the exposure and/or processing, but your monitor calibration.
    Exposure and contrast are fine, so must be the development.
    Still, if your expectances are higher, remember these images are only negative scans, not prints or print scans, so this must be the best you can get until you find a place for your darkroom.

    Besides, I love your first picture here above: composition and lighting, tones (all) and textures, contrast and mood, everything is beautiful!
    In the second one, I totally dislike the central composition and the flat light providing not much textures. But contrast and tones are still there. Would I have chosen, just for the mood, to replace the lake of textures with more grain? - Maybe, but with this subject I cannot be sure. First, I would have changed the composition, and only after I would have looked back into the mood and the technical options to emulate it.
    Last edited by phenix; 07-27-2008 at 11:25 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    B&W is silver.

  3. #23

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    The quote from Vestal is "right on".
    RJ

  4. #24

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    I think phenix has a point. A typical consumer scanner these days has a Dmax of 3.5 to 4. A typical B+W neg has a Dmax of around 1.5. That means it will always look soft when you scan it unless you adjust levels in the scan. So that means judging contrast from a scan is only good for scanned prints and not printing to paper. Unless you have calibrated your scans.
    But the shadows still look a little dark to me and a little more exposure would push them up the curve and increase shadow separation.
    That is why I asked how the metering was being done.

    Note that the shadows are the thin part of the neg so what you get on the scan should be fairly representative of what you would get in a print. Its the highlights which are likely to look flat on the scan but it does depend how you do your scan.

  5. #25
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    I am using a Spider2 colour calibration system for monitor calibration, so while it is possible it is my monitor that is wrong, I suspect not (I recalibrate once a week). I tend to meter by one of two methods, either by placing an 18% gray card in the scene and reading from it or by using my meter's highlight/shadow function by finding the darkest/brightest part of a scene and metering from there. I like to see the picture in my head prior to pushing the shutter, knowing whether the emphasis will be shadows, highlights or somewhere in between. I have never worked with the Zone System as: (1) my initial photographic instructor thought it to be a waste of time and never encouraged anyone to study it and; (2) given that I shoot medium-format (as opposed to large format), my understanding was that it would require the entire roll to be exposed along very similar lines otherwise the development process would erase any gains made from the exposure calculations. Perhaps my assumptions/training are wrong (it wouldn't be the first time) and I need to study more.

    When I scan a negative, I adjust the levels prior to the scan to encompass all light points present, which leads to a flat scan but gives me maximum information in the Tiff for when I adjust levels after the scan. While I appreciate your comments Phenix, to my eyes, the first shot has large dark splotches that don't seem to have details and second shot is a series of gray areas. Perhaps I am being overly picky but I have never found that to be a bad thing (in photography, of course).
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  6. #26

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    Firstly, grey cards are not as accurate as your meter.
    Secondly, depending on exactly how you use your minolta spot meter, you will have varying results. If you point it at the brightest part of the subject and use the highlight button, that will give you a reading of 2.3 stops brighter than exposing that highlight on the actual metered value. If you point it at the darkest part of the scene and use the shadow button, that will give you a reading of 2.7 stops less exposure than the actual value. Neither of these will be correct unless by chance. If you use the average function with with the highlight/shadow buttons then that will give the average between the two points which again won't be right unless by chance.

    Your instructor was wrong. The zone system is as good if not better than other systems for very accurate metering and you have the meter to do it.
    The highlight/shadow functions on the minolta are ideally suited to slide film which only has a scale of 5 stops. For B+W I would recommend you use zone system metering. Pick a shadow area in which you want full textural detail and meter from that area. That will be a zone 3. Then adjust metered reading by closing down 2 stops (see note below) and expose at that adjusted reading.

    Note: As I explained in my earlier post, how much you close down to place something on zone 3 is dependant on what you have calibrated your film development to. i.e. a 10 stop range or a 7 stop range or some other range. In your case you seem to be using Ilfords figures for dev so I reckon your development will be calibrated more towards a 7 stop range. Therefore close down 2 x .7 stops = 1.4 stops or 1.5 which is closest doable exposure. You would close down 2 stops if you were sure your film was calibrated for a 10 stop range.
    Forget about the highlights for now and just try this technique. The highlights will still be captured on film. You really need to do the print tests to determine exact film dev time.

  7. #27

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    And by using the zone system to place shadows with full textural detail on zone 3, you ensure that your shadows are never blocked up. Most modern films have a plenty long enough scale to capture the highlights regardless.

  8. #28
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Thanks Rob, I will try that out.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  9. #29

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    Just to add in the hope it makes it clearer what I think is happening:

    I don't how you metered the first of those two images you posted but taking the first one of them, the washing machine, I'll assume you metered the darkest shadow area and then pressed the shadow button on your minolta.

    The darkest part is the skirting board on the bottom left of the image. Now if you had wanted to just retain full textural detail in that area, then using zone system placement, you should have placed it on zone 3. That would mean metering it and then closing down 2 stops from the metered value. Your minolta shadow function automatically gives the metered value minus 2.7 stops. Almost a whole stop less than it should have been for a zone 3 placement. If you wanted it on zone 2 (faint detail), then it would have been almost correct.
    However, because you are using standard dev times I beleive you are working on a 7 stop range which means each zone is only .7 of a stop and not 1 stop. Therefore you should only have closed down 1.4 stops (2 zones lower than metered) and because your meter shadow function has automatically given 2.7 stops less exposure, you have given 4 zones less than metered (4 x .7 = 2.8 stops). The result is that the skirting board is placed on zone 1 and not zone 3. Thats 2 stops too little exposure which is why it has turned out black and the rest of the shadow values are very dark with little separation.

    I hope that illustrates why you have to be careful of how you use your spot meter functions and that what you pick to meter is very important. But again, the only way to calibrate accurately is to do an actual print test to prove a zone 1 and zone 9 negative print as they should.

    On the other hand, if you always intend to scan, then you have so much Dmax lattitude in the scanner that scanning and retaining full detail from the neg should not be a problem. Then you only have to worrying about giving enough exposure to get detail in the shadows and exposing for zone 3 will do that.

    Real scan problems start with slide film which has a much higher dmax than negative film and usually hits the limits of the scanners capabilities.

  10. #30

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    And I forgot to add that, as someone else mentioned, reciprocity would have pushed the skirting board even lower which is why it is completely black.

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