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  1. #1
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Loss of continuity of tone

    Hi all,

    I've been using Pan-F at ISO32 in Rodinal on 35mm and it works very nicely - prints decently to 12x18". Looks better at 11x14" than HP5 does at 8x10".

    However, I recently ran 2 rolls of the same through my RZ and got poor results, specifically the shadows look as if the density is heavily quantized - areas of quite flat, constant density with sharp boundaries with their neighbours, nothing smooth. Now, the negatives were pretty contrasty as I was photographing waterfalls surrounded by dark unlit wet rocks (the rocks and grass are the problem), so I was printing at about grade 0.5 to get highlights and shadows all onto the print. Inspecting the negative tells me there's plenty of detail in the shadows but they've been lost in the printing process.

    Is the problem that I'm printing at such a low grade, causing small variations to be lost? How does one go about printing such a contrasty negative? The pattern of the waterfall is pretty complicated with a lot of misty subtlety so I'm not sure how I'd go about burning it down and using a higher grade.

    Would developing less help with the global contrast problem without destroying local contrast? I exposed for ISO25 (probably over-estimated reciprocity failure on a few), souped in Rodinal 1+49 for 9:00 but the negatives are too thick; previously I'd used ISO32 and 1+49 for 10:00 with good results.

    Is there some other newbie error I might be making?

    I can post a digital photograph of the print but scanning the neg is a little interesting as I haven't finished making the missing neg-holder for my film scanner, though I could maybe scan the offending part of the neg using the 35mm holder. Let me know if you think images would help.

    thanks...

  2. #2
    polyglot's Avatar
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    On second thought, the prints. First one:

    and the second one:


    Have a look at the horribleness of the shadow detail in the upper right corner in each case.

  3. #3
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Wirelessly posted (BBBold: BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    Something lost in the translation. Looks fine to me.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
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  4. #4

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    PanF+ is not the easiest film in the world to work with, and I've never been terribly pleased with the results I got when developed in Rodinal. To get a reasonably easy to print negative, I've had to rate the film at 1/2 box speed and pull back a little on development. However, when I tried D-76 1+3, at Ilford's recommended time, things improved considerably. I was able to get full box speed with good shadow detail. It is still a contrasty film, but this combination proved very successful for me. When Freestyle was clearing out the last of their Arista Pro 50, which was rebadged PanF+, I bought 800 ft. of the stuff and I love it. I have no problems with it in some of the most difficult lighting conditions, provided of course that there is enough light to work with. Try it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
    Frank Schifano

  5. #5
    polyglot's Avatar
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    Christopher: um, OK. You'll have to take my work for it that it looks badly posterised. Admittedly the lighting and reflectivity of the subject weren't helping but it really doesn't look right at all - all the subtlety in the rocks is missing, yet they're nowhere near transparent on the negative and not pure black on the print.

    Is it possible for shadows to "block up" into solid greys that are not solid black? (obviously other than by losing the shadow detail on the neg and then not printing long enough) That's what I think I'm seeing.

    Frank: thanks for the tip, I'll have to try it with D-76 next time. When pulled with Rodinal, what times were you using? With D-76, what sort of difference do you see between using 1+1 and 1+3?

    thanks.

  6. #6
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Overexposing your negatives should give you more shadow detail and separation. But EI 25 in Rodinal might be 'normal'. My experience with it is that you lose speed with it no matter how you use it, except for extreme minimal agitation (highly dilute developer, long processing times of 30minutes, and perhaps two agitation cycles, but this is a tough one to master for other reasons than you mention).

    Have you considered that your metering and/or shutter mechanism might be calibrated differently from camera to camera, and that this might constitute a significant difference from system to system?

    The D76 makes sense to me too. But Rodinal 1+50 with this film should be fine, and you may wish to tweak your development times more. Different lighting situations require different exposure and processing if you want absolutely optimum results, and it seems like your lighting situation above had a very long brightness range from deep shadows to very bright highlights. It could well be that this situation requires EI 12 and more reduction in processing.

    D76 is a solvent developer. Stock it makes for very beautiful and smooth negatives with glorious tonality. The more you dilute it, the less solvent action you will see, and you will likely gain in sharpness some while you should keep most of the tonality but gain some grain. Since you're using Rodinal, I'm sure you will not mind the grain from D76 1+3.

    Good luck. Your prints look fine to me, but it's difficult to interpret what looks right to somebody else. I think I understand what you mean by 'blocked up' shadows, where the tonal range in the shadows are compressed, but it doesn't really look like it to me in your scans. What time of day did you expose your film? How were the lighting conditions?

    - Thomas
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  7. #7

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    I don't think the problem is with the film. A few VC papers reportedly display discontinuous tones in parts of their curves, with certain filter settings. I believe there was a story about this in Photo Techniques a while back. In short, try another paper, or print your shadows with a harder grade!

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Thing is, though, OP was using 35mm Pan-F+ with great results, and it wasn't until with 120 that there were problems. Perhaps it was printed on a different paper, who knows...
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9

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    I agree with the above posts that it could be the paper.

    Jeff

  10. #10

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    Welcome to the difficulties of trying to print a contrasty negative.

    Ansel Adams said it's easier for him to start with a less contrasty negative and work his contrasts up. He said he found it more difficult working with high contrast and trying to print down. I'm like that too.

    You're on the right track - if there's alot of contrast in the negative, you really don't need to add any more.

    Maybe water bath development of the print will help slow down the chemical part so you can control your micro contrast areas a little better by buying yourself a little bit of additional time. It also keeps highlights from being blocked out.

    I've had a hard time with Pan F having alot of contrast. I also have some personal trouble printing Pyro stained negatives.

    Surprisingly, I've had more success darkroom printing with "second grade" films like Neopan in standard developer like Ilfosol S or D76 which created flat, ugly looking negatives, and then incrementally adding contrast one step at a time, making a test strip, then a test print, then writing notes, and then comparing dried test prints under daylight. Then refer back to my notes to replicate the test print I found most pleasing in order to continue with the printing process.

    I've only had success with exotic combinations inside of digital scanning so far. For example scanning pyro, because the stain sort of acts as a built in filter.

    You should be able to get the same blacks and whites out of both a high contrast and a low contrast print. Only the range of the tones is compressed. So if your looking for more range in the shadows, use less contrast ie. less compression.
    Last edited by WolfTales; 07-21-2009 at 09:29 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    I brake for fixer!

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