High Contrast Development Techniques
I apologize if this is a basic question, but I am fairly new to developing my own film.
I am doing some photos of sculptures and am looking for methods to maximize contrast to bring out the details of my subject.
Recently, I have been using Arista and Tmax (120) film. I have been using the Tmax and Arista liquid premium developer. The Tmax film has nice balance of tones, but doesn't have the contrast I'm looking for. I have tried both developers with the Arista film, but the Arista developer seems to give better results overall.
Still, I feel like I need more contrast for these sculptures. I have heard Rodinal exaggerates contrast. Are there any film/developer combinations I should use? This is a situation where I need more contrast than I do for more general situations.
Secondly, could I make any significant difference by changing development technique? I have been using standard procedures, agitating 10 seconds every minute at suggested times.
Thanks for any help and suggestions.
Try increasing the development times by 15-20% that will give you an increase in contrast. Rodinal doesn't give any higher contrast.
There are developer formulae that would give you far higher contrast but you would struggle to print the negatives, stick with what you have and adjust the development time..
If you're trying to bring out texture and detail, I'd start with how you're lighting the subject rather than how much you need to overdevelop the film. Sharp, specular light brings out detail, soft, diffuse light reduces it. As long as your normal development routine brings out good contrast in normal scenes, it should do the job. Make the light sharp and contrasty instead.
What have you done to increase contrast when you are printing? I apologize for this question but you do say you are new to film developing so I am going to further assume you are new to printing.
Ditto pgomena's answer. Start with getting your lighting right. You shouldn't need to mess all that very much with the contrast of development when your lighting is happy.
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Originally Posted by Lruw
Neopan is also another choice - it's contrast is inherently higher.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
As always, thanks for help.
I would like to say that I have plenty of opportunities to manipulate the lighting. The room has very good natural lighting and plenty of artificial lighting to utilize. I practiced on a similarly styled sculpture/statue in a local park using the arista film and developer. I was able to get good contrast and precisely the texture I wanted. Although the conditions are somewhat different, this already gives me more confidence.
I am in between leases, so I have to borrow equipment and space to print on my own. I have been scanning the negatives. I know this allows me some space to touch up in photoshop, but I don't want to touch up a poorly done negative. The artificial means of adjusting contrast don't look as good as adjusting contrast in development or printing. Still, the printing knowledge would be relevant for the future. I am not greatly experienced with printing myself.
I am ordering more film this week and will give the suggested film/developer combinations a try. I like the look of Neopan.
This is not a professional gig and I am certainly not a professional, so excuse my amateurishness. Thanks for the advice.
If your scanning, that changes the rules:
Originally Posted by Lruw
You actually don't want that initial contrast boost, for a couple of reasons. One is that you actually want the contrast low in a scan, so that the scanner doesn't block up the shadows or blow out the highlights in the digital file. I've seen digital cameras manage to do both in the same shot. Instead use levels adjustments to readjust the contrast digitally.
Secondly, you make it much harder to print the negative optically, if you choose to do so at some point.
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