Re exposure, I have one 'secret'. I still treasure a note I had from Dick Henry mentioning the discussions he had with Ansel Adams after I broke the news to both that exposure meters are (and since the early ASA standards, always have been) calibrated for 12% grey, not 18% grey. Somehow this important fact had eluded virtually every single popular American writer on photography for decades, but it had been revealed by the UK writers Dunn and Wakefield, and I subsequently confirmed it with one of Kodak's great experts on sensitometry, C. Nelson.
Re developers, I have one secret that I learned from Bob Schwalberg, the late, great photographer and writer for Popular Photography, during the time he was testing some of my early formulas.
It's so simple,
yet nobody ever does it
because it's annoying
and - - - myth-breaking.
Are you ready?
It's just - - -
whenever you are testing a film developer
always, always, always, always,
always test it against D-76 1:1.
D-76 is the eternal and immutable gold standard for b/w. Simple as that. Do you think you are achieving something different? better? etc ? Make sure you have comparison negatives with D-76. It's the only way to make sure you really are getting something notably different.
Now, as we all know, D-76 can be variable in use, upon storage of several months or upon excessive aeration when mixing. So mix it slowly and always mix it fresh. Or use D-76H.
Speaking of D-76H, I have been discussing that with Ron lately, and he thinks I should change the formula, but that's a subject for the future. For the sake of this argument, let's just stick to D-76 made from scratch.
And, it should go without saying: working with D-76. Really get to know it. Understand what it will provide for every film you work with. That way you'll have a secure basis for making informed comparisons with other developers.
Simple. Annoying. But it's the best secret I've ever learned.
Shouldn't that be XTOL 1:1 nowadays?
Doesn't Sylvia claim it's the best alround developer these days?
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!
AFAIK, Kodak still uses D-76 straight for release testing of films.
Another secret with developers is that you will often get very different results with type of agitation. Rotary agitation, as in Jobo or BTZS type tubes, gives very even development, but sharpness is often increased by letting the film sit for a while in the developer with no agitation. And of course, the extreme of that is pure stand development.
Kirk, just because XTOL is 'best' -- which some would agree with and some wouldn'n-- doesn't mean it makes a good standard. A standard must be published and fairly well understood by everyone. Only D-76, in spite of its faults, fits the bill. I don't think a phenidone/dimezone developer will ever be considered standard because it can't, unlike metol, function as a single-agent, normal contrast pictorial developer, and because its interaction with HQ is still not entirely understood, much less its interaction with ascorbate or anything else.
Sandy, you are right to focus on agitation because this is where a lot of testing falls down. For example, Altman/Henn's influential paper on acutance developers is hopelessly marred by the fact that they used a continuous agitation system for their automated testing. Dickerson and Zawadzki, decades later, had a much more sophisticated system that allowed for consistent intermittent agitation. I do believe that some sort of standardized intermittent agitation should be used in all developer testing that hopes to be standardized. Unless, of course, you're testing agitation itself.
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The biggest secret is that one needs to tune their entire process from film exposure philosophy to print finishing and mounting, it's completely personal for art photography...Evan Clarke
It's all too easy to forget that and start drawing lines in the sand...
Originally Posted by eclarke
Last edited by Ray Rogers; 05-06-2009 at 09:51 AM. Click to view previous post history.