Learning the zone system isn't easy and you seem to have learnt quite a bit so far. I recon it's a good idea to go through the whole piece of quite tedious work at least once in order to grasp the whole concept.
Now, there are many variables where changing one will affect others. So it's very important that you don't change more than one at a time. At least until you've become familiar with how each one works.
Developers does have different characters, so changing developer will probably not give you an identical curve. As others above have pointed out, it seems like you should add a bit more contrast to your negatives, as they are a bit soft. Most developers does have a linear behaviour in between say 20-30 centigrades, so it's fairly safe to say that if you rise the temperature from 20 to 24 deg. you will have to cut the time by e.g. 25%. There are tables which can be found at e.g. Ilfords website which will sort this out.
Also, part of this linearity is that you can vary the developing time to affect where the zones fall. This linearity does vary with different films and developers (and concentrations of developers). With most common film/developer combos you can quite easily adjust the developing time to accomplish from N-2 to N+2. Part of the testing that you are doing is finding these developing times, where it seems like you are trying to find the correct time for N+-0 at the moment.
(There are some films which doesn't respond very well to e.g. N+2 or N-2. The same goes for some developers which may exhaust if you are trying to pull to much out of it. I would for example not use D76 1+3 if I wanted to do N+2.)
Anyhow, the times that Ilford suggests are starting times, intended for the beginner. These times should give "acceptable" results and they are very much "middle of the road". I.e. they will give contrasty negatives from full sunshine, but on a soft grade paper they will give a decent print. A harder paper is needed for the overcast sky shots... What you are doing now is to fine-tune this developing time so that you get a "perfect" negative which will print very nicely on grade 2 paper. But if I use a coldlight enlarger, I would need a grade 3 paper instead (or develop some 15% shorter time)...
Another question is "Why do you calibrate?". I cannot speculate in your reasons, but I know why I do some calibration work: I have my own working place, with my own equipment. If I develop by hand in e.g. a Paterson daylight drum, I have a certain agitation pattern. My thermometer may be off by say one degree. My water supply may be very alkaline or acid. ... In short, there are many variables which need to be spotted down. For myself, I have invested in a used Jobo CPA2, so that I get similar results in terms of agitation and temperature from one occation to another.
But this is only part of the whole deal. If Ansel Adams would have made his tests today, he would have found that using modern state of the art Schneider/Rodenstock glass would affect his results a great deal. With this I mean to say that part of what you are calibrating is your own equipment, ALL of it. While I do use Stoeffer step wedges, they are of limited value, as they don't show how my lenses, exposure meter, shutters etc. affect the film.
To make a long story short: The results of your tests shows that you need to add some contrast to your negatives. This is (hopefully) why you conducted the test in the first place. All of the advice above says what I'm about to say. It seems like you are some 10% short in developing time, so add another 30 seconds. It's as easy as that.
Then, do yourself a favour and stick with Ilfosol for some time, say some 200-300 rolls or more of actual photography. Once you come to terms with it and can figure out its pros and cons, this tedious calibration work will have paid off. If you are impatient and switch developers you are not really learning from the experiences you are having right now, but you are rather having the same problems over and over again.
By the way, personally I don't do the full zone system calibration anymore. It's too much work. But I do test the paper, so that I know what grade it really is at different filtrations. I also find out (more like ballparking really) what my developing times are for N-1½, N and N+1½. But if I come home from a trip, I develop one film and check if I'm pleased of if I need to compensate. Then the rest of the film is developed.
The +1½, 0 and -1½ comes from what I think Phil Davies calls this "the five finger method", which suits me and my Hasselblad with three backs very well.
Originally Posted by Bennett Brown
By the phrase "full calibration print run" , what exactly do you mean, how did you do it? Did you create a scale of zones from 0 - X by photographing an evenly textured surface at each zone, if so, how did you print them i.e., how did you determine the exposure time in the enlarger?
Perhaps Bennett there is another issue, that development time is so short that any variations in temperature, time, particularly filling and emptying the tank can play a far greater part in any possible fluctuations and inconsistencies.
And to follow on Ian's thought, you could dilute the developer more than you currently are to get a longer development time.
If II and III are darker (in the print) than expected, your film/developer combination has a pronounced TOE. Diluting the developer may make it worse (might help, under the right conditions). Giving more development time will make your II and III even DARKER in the print (because the higher zones will be way more dense and require a longer printing exposure.)
You need two things.
1) A developer that will straighten out the toe somewhat. T-max developer can do this.
2) Increase your exposure by a stop or so, to move those values off the toe area and into the straight portion.
Your scenario is consistent with the black line on the diagram. What you want is something like the red line.
Last edited by ic-racer; 11-27-2008 at 11:21 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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What you have discovered is that not all film developer combinations do what is considered normal. It is also why I calibrate around (as Adams did) Zone V as to add development time from where you are will expand the middle tones. ( A very useful combination in the cloudy northeast but confusing if you call it normal)
To get an idea of what full normal looks like try tmax 100 in tmax rs. It does normal very well and unfortunately IMO not much else.
You will find that "commercial developers" such as hc-110 (with a persistant agitation plan) DK-50 and to a greater extent Ansco 47 will give "normal" (Zone V placement, ZoneV in the print) with lighter zones VII + VIII to the point VIII does not exist in the print. "Compensating" developers give a result more similar to what you are seeing. The exact differences vary with the emulsion you are useing.
The other variable you do not mention is agitation. Agitation should be according to a plan so that it is repeatable just like every other part of your working technique. In my experience constant or 5sec every 30 sec agitation gives the most vigorous highlights. Frequent agitation also will minimise the effects of dilution. The curve shape of HC-110 does not change with dilution and constant or frequent agitation (when time is compensated for dilution) Less frequent agitation trailing down to stand or semistand techniques will augment exaustion effects depressing higher zones in favor of the shadows and is further influenced by dilution- the more dilute the greater the effect.
The short answer is that you may not like a film developer combination or might find one for one certain senario. I always find the differences in rendering to be enlightening doing only normal is boring. There is a tremendous array of developers out there most are very similar, some are wonderfully different. Only you can choose those right for you. That is the real reason for calibration to find the combinations you like and why.
If you want more separation in the higher zones try more agitation, you may have to trim development time a little to hold V but your higher zones will move.
I'm not that unfamiliar with the zone system and don't really want to change developers and start all over again but...............developing at different times with my existing developer will likely adversely influence the proper rendering I have already achieved with zones 1 through V don't you think? My challenge is to change (lighten) zones V11 and V111 in partiular, without changing zones 1 through V.
Thanks analogsnob for the suggestions:
I know that agitation is not the problem and I've already trimmed development by as much as 30% AND, normal minus 20% holds the lower values 1 through V (a la Ansel Adams)....so far so good.
I might not mind zone V111 tending to "disappea" just a bit and might be tempted to try D-50 as an other alternative (to D-76). What do you think?
This is just getting way too complicated. The zone system is very simple, which is the main reason why it has been so successful, IMO. It leads to a way more simple process than standard methods of exposure. If it didn't, what use would it be? If it is too complicated, then it ceases to become a practical tool. It needs to be kept simple, especially at first. On a technical level, there are four basic things you need to do, and then you are ready to employ it outside the lab:
1. Pick a film, developer, and process that you keep as constant as possible batch to batch
2. Find a working EI that lets you place a zone I.
3. Find a normal development time that simultaneously renders a zone I placement as a zone I print value and a zone VIII placement/fall as a zone VIII print value.
4. Find your pluses and minuses. Using the same printing parameters as those you used to find your N time, your +1 time will render a zone VII placement/fall as a zone VIII . +2 will print a zone VI placement/fall as a zone VIII. Vice versa for minuses.
It has to be done in that order.
Notice that futzing and putzing about changing materials and methods is not on the list.
Once you have plotted your S curves for N and pluses and minuses, you can start all over again trying alterations such as different developers, dilutions, etc. to see how they change the curve. Then, you are even better prepared to choose how to expose and develop based on the particular composition and what shape curve you think would render it most easily printable.
However, until you have done steps 1 through 4 with one set of parameters, changing ANYTHING is counterproductive and/or downright useless.
The zone system is something you should NOT use unless you understand why you want to use it in the first place. It absolutely cannot be used if you are unwilling or unable to visualize the print you want.
All it is is a tool that helps you achieve your visualization. It is not something to be employed just because. It is a method that helps you solve your artistic problems via manipulation of your materials. This means that you need to know what you want, and know the problems that are making it difficult to get it, before you need the zone system.
That is all you can really get from us. The rest is in the book.
It sounds like you have done none of this. So, I would get to it, and see what happens. We cannot help you with the information you have given us, except to tell you, very generally, that you should increase your development time.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 11-28-2008 at 03:32 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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