ROL - your website is very informative - both your link and other pages. I have bookmarked it! I'll look forward to your zone system article as I've read several of Ansel Adams books without major success.
If you are going to use a commercial lab, shoot at proper speed or tell them to reduce development 20% for each stop over. Otherwise you just get heavy negs that need a lot of printing thru. The can be improved with longer printing times, but someone has to care.
I strongly urge you to develop your own. 6 exposures, 12" of film is enough for a test. .
Did I read you correctly? One to two stops added exposure and normal development? So that if I use TMax 100 I have to shoot it at 50 or even 25?
Originally Posted by ROL
Tell you what. If you develop that roll of TMax normally, while shot at 25, you're going to have a very difficult time in the darkroom printing it. And I can see how shooting a roll of FP4+/Plus-X at 32, Delta 100/Acros/Foma100/Efke100 at 25 would give equal amounts of trouble with a tone scale slid way up the film curve and the highlights at risk of completely blocking up, so that the enlarger can't shine through them (let alone a scanner).
For what it's worth, I get the 'best' tonality with TMax 100 shot at 200. For normal contrast. For high contrast it's 100. And for low contrast 400.
The real recommendation that needs to be made is to test the normal speed of the film by shooting in normal contrast and exposing at lots of different exposure indexes, develop normally and see where the shadow contrast is what you would like it to be. And that will be different for everyone.
"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
Just for clarity, contrast relates to the subject here, not to the negative. I lost my footing for a moment
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
I read your inquiry and the replies with considerable interest. Your pictures do not seem altogether bad, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you may have expectations of more contrast than the next person. If you want to see more contrast, you will need to expose and develop the film to maximize the contrast range. This will occur at, or near, the rated speed of the film. Film speed ratings are intentionally skewed toward the faster end so you have more latitude in shooting it at a slower speed than at a faster speed. A typical film may produce the optimum contrast at 1/2 stop above the rated speed, but may also produce equal contrast at 1 1/2 to 2 stops slower speed. Companies want to convince people their film is fast so they use ratings that are very near the upper end of the optimum exposure range. Taking your 125 rated film and using it at 150 or higher is almost guaranteed to result in loss of contrast in the negatives. Some of this can be corrected by push processing but there is never a free ride and you will increase the grain of the negative.
Here are some suggestions. First, get yourself a gray card. In a pinch, you might find a "dove gray" matte board or even paper at an art supply store. This is to produce the 18% reflectance that your camera's meter is designed to work with. No matter what meter arrangement you use, your camera is attempting to AVERAGE the light in the scene you are photographing. The contrast you are looking for is not based on the average light but on the darkest and brightest parts of the scene. If you want to conduct a test of this, try taking a picture of a gray card against a dark background, and then another one against a light background. The card will come out two completely different shades because the background throws the light meter off.
Now, place the gray card so it is at the same angle as the primary subject of your picture.
Take a light meter reading from the card and the meter will figure the proper exposure based upon the sun angle and the light available. Use this exposure for your pictures.
If you use a fill flash, do not change the exposure. Changing the exposure will underexpose the rest of the image because the flash will only illuminate objects within about 12 feet of the camera. If your flash washes out the subject, then your flash is too bright or too close to your subject.
All that stuff about commercial photo printers is pretty much true. Some do use color paper. Some even print digitally, on printer paper, not photo paper at all. Their ability to properly process B&W is often limited. However, I have found places that did an excellent job and use good, quality B&W paper. If you mail it to them, you may have no way of knowing what they do. If they are local, ask them for a tour.
I hope this information is useful,
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I know this instance of contrast problems sounds like it was due to 'drugstore processing', but, for completeness:
A common cause for complaints of low contrast is a fingerprint on the camera lens (or, worse a bad case of fungus). The degradation is especially bad when shooting into the sun or against a bright sky - which picture #3 is - as a modern multicoated lens will have almost no flare.
You say you have had good results with Acros & Neopan - was this with the same processing firm?
Last edited by Nicholas Lindan; 05-24-2012 at 03:41 PM. Click to view previous post history.