Wanting more contrast...
What would be the recommended way to achieve more contrast? I want some good detail but I also want very deep blacks as well. Are they mutually exclusive?
I've been using Ilford Delta 400 for forever and D76 1+1 and am just not getting what I want even adjusting for more agitation.
As a new starting point would you start with a new film, new developer, new metering technique or adjust during printing?
A higher-contrast developer might help. I find DD-X to make my Tri-X negatives higher contrast.
Will that give the pretty much the same result as just giving more agitation? I'll research some DD-X thanks!
The first step is to look at the technical data sheet for your film. The manufacturer usually publishes a graph showing the gamma or contrast index of the film versus developing time for various developers. In general, contrast increases as you increase development. You can probably simply adjust the development time to get the contrast you want. You may have to adjust exposure for the new development time as well, but that adjustment will probably be minor. As a starting point, you might try a 15 percent increase in developing time and see what it does to the negatives. If you need a large increase in contrast for some special purpose, a high contrast developer like D-19 or Dektol could be used.
Good detail specifically with deep blacks require that you have information in the thinnest part of the negative. You may find that you might need to expose at less than 400 iso to get this detail, since the thinnest parts of the neg are more influenced by exposure than developer activity.
Good detial in the highlights means that you need to have the right amount of development to give enough desnity in the densest parts of the negative to match the contrast range of the photographic paper you are working to print on. While Barry Thornton has passed on, his web site is still alive. Read the barry thornton techniques section article 'the no zone system' for further giudance in fine tuning your exposure and development time. Do not be afraid to deviate from the manufacturers developer time recommendations to find a time that matches your usual development agitation, and any wiredness in your thermomenter, etc.
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As it has been since the creation of photography, it still is today: expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.
Originally Posted by synj00
So, if you want more contrast, develop longer. If you want less shadow detail and thus "very deep blacks" then expose less. It really is that simple.
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And as there is more contrast in the lower zones on H&D curves as a general rule of thumb, exposing the film less will produce some more contrast. 18% gray is Zone V but it is much closer tonally to white than black, hence more contrast beneath it and then you print for those highlights.
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How are you printing? It seems as if you need to adjust your paper grade to match the negative better. If you want whiter whites and blacker blacks then use a higher grade paper. Better yet, use multigrade paper, this will allow you to fine tune the negative/paper density scales so they match better.
Of course there is LESS contrast in the toe (slope in the toe area is a smaller number) and under exposure gives LESS overall contrast in the negative (smaller density range). So, perhaps your symptoms are related to underexposing your negatives.
In my experience: efke KB25, rodinal 1+25 = high contrast. Often too high (so I use now rodinal 1+100 for KB25).
Originally Posted by synj00
I don't see anything wrong with your film or developer. Switching to new materials is rarely the answer. Let us see a sample print. In most cases, the following initial suggestion work the first wonders:
1. overexpose for 1 stop from box speed (for you EI 200, just do it!)
2. underdevelop (yes!) by 15% from manufacturer's recommendation
Now print at grade 2-3! You'll love the results.
Other things to watch for:
1. light leaks in the darkroom
2. safelights too strong
3. developer concentration too weak
4. print pulled too early from the developer
It's not the materials, it's the process!