+2 and maybe +3 development + zone question
I am working on a little project where I am photographing some dried leaves in black and white. I have my lights set up how I want, and have a good composition.
My problem is that there is only about two stop of brightness between the shadowy area of the leaves, and the surface portions most directly illuminated by my lights.
I would like to have a longer tonal scale so the final print won't look too flat. These negatives will probably be scanned, and I know I can artificially bump up the contrast in photoshop, however, I would like to do most of the work with added development.
So, now I am wondering where in my zone scale I should place the shadows. Nornally I would put them at about two, but placing them here, there would be a very slow reaction to increased development (am I right here?). Or, I could place them at about zone 4 or 5 and pull in the shadows on the level adjustement in photoshop, yet theoretically have 4 or so stops of brightness over and above that.
Any thoughts? I am thinking of of putting the shadows at about 4 or 5. I haven't done a lot of strict development +1 +2 +3 tests with my materials (Tmax 400 and HC110). Can anyone suggest a rough percentage development time increase to achieve a +1 +2 +3 using these materials?
Thanks for any and all comments.
Just remember the old axiom: Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. You should place the shadows wherever you want them on the tonal scale, then meter the highlights and adjust development to keep the tonal range between their visual density and the shadows such that it prints on your paper. It sounds from you example that you have an N+2 situation. Just meter normally and develop for N+2.
Chris Johnson's book, The Practical Zone System recommends these times:
T-Max 400 (rated at 200) HC-110 Dilution B 1:7 from stock -
N= 6 minutes
N+1= 8.5 minutes
N+2= 12 minutes
If you're doing this in the studio, why not just use a more contrasty lighting setup--either a harder reflector/less diffusion or more key/less fill? The Zone system and BTZS are great for bringing natural light under control, but in the studio it's usually easier to adjust the lighting for N development.
If you want to try to boost contrast try increasing development times in increments of about 20% as a starting point.
I use the term "studio" loosely- my spare room in the basement, with a couple of houshold lamps and a bulb mount in an aluminum reflector! I don't know if there is much i can do with the lights.
As far as placing my shadows at precisely zone 1 or zone 2, then I would need a *huge* amount of development increase to get a couple of stops of contrast increase. It is my understanding of viewing + development charts that that it almost exclusively only affects exposure above say zone 4. The toe, where you suggest placing my shadow, would probably not be affected much. I may be wrong here, but this is what I have learne through a little research.
Normally, you would place the area in the shadows where you want to see detail on zone III (or maybe zone IV for a film with a longer toe) and see where the highlights fall, and adjust development time to bring the highlights up or down. Since this is a still life setup, you can shoot a sheet of film, process it, and if you don't like it, shoot another one.
There are things you can do with a few simple lights. Say your bulb in the aluminum reflector is the main light and you've got a household lamp as fill. Moving a light closer to the subject will make it softer and relatively brighter, while moving it away will make it harder but relatively less strong. Say you want a higher contrast ratio, you can reduce the fill by using a neutral density gel or whatever diffusion material you have handy (translucent cloth, paper, etc.) or by moving it farther from the subject. If you want the main light to be more specular, move it back, and reduce the fill by adding neutral density or diffusion.
Is your spare room a small space with white walls? That will also reduce contrast by giving you unintended fill from overspill. You can control this by using black cards to flag the light from where you don't want it to come.
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I would suggest that you place the shadow on Zone III and increase development by two stops thus giving yourself 4 stops of contrast where the brightest highlight will fall on Zone VII. You could also increase the contrast by using a harder paper grade. To increase development by 1 stop increase the normal development time by 25% and add the two times together before calculating 25% of the answer to arrive at the second stop increase.
For example if your normal dev time is 10 mins, divide by 4 = 2.5 mins therefore 1 stop increase = 12.5 mins divide by 4 = 3 mins therefore 2 stops increase =15.5 mins. Ignore the few seconds difference in the second stop calculation.
My take on it is that yes, you should place the shadow on IV.
Under the existing conditions, you only have two stops difference between the shadow and hightlight. Placing the shadow on III will,indeed, put the highlight on V. To develope V to VII is possible - but it is not a standard +2 scenario.
The lower you are in the scale, the more development you need for any relative difference. Moving Zone VI to Zone VIII takes less extended development than moving Zone V to Zone VII.
Of course you need to be mindful of where your particular film/developer combination maxes out and the curve shoulders off. Expanding the Zone VI are to VIII may depress some of the highlight separation that you are looking for.
Another side note - I took a workshop ( many years ago ) from Oliver
Gagliani. He was quite pointed in saying that our modern films don't offer as much expansion possiblilities as older films did.
His approach was to let his negs sit in a nitrogen burst development setup for hours at times. He held that " back in the day" there was enough silver in the films to allow for extreme expansion.
I honestly don't know what the limits of expansion are these days. Technically you should be able to shoot with your shadows in II or III and expand as you like.
At some point, the developer will be exhausted and/or the silver will be reduced as far as it will go.
Bottom line - the previous post was probably right - try it - and let us know
Since you're using TMY, which expands better than any other contemporary film that I've tried, it's a piece of cake. Place the shadows on Zone IV and then you'll only need to give the film +2 development to yield a negative which will print well on grade 3 paper. (at least that's what I do for Azo). Drop it a half stop on the exposure and give it N+2-1/2 development and it will print well on grade 2. Since you haven't done formal testing of your materials, you may wish to wait until you do if the pictures are important to you.
Originally Posted by JeffD
Great suggestions! Thanks everyone! I'll give it a shot- I think I'll put the shadows on 3 or 4, and give plus 2 development, and we'll see how it works out. I'll scan and post my results when I finish up...
I suggest you draw a characteristic curve (H&D curve) for normal development and see if there is a place on it where you could place the shadow to get the change in density you want between that point and the highlight. You can get mightily confused if you try to make Zonespeak tell you everything. The toes of various films differ in the same developer, and the toe of any given film may differ with developer, so you should have at hand a family of H&D curves for the film and developer you intend to use. Maybe you will get a wider density range simply by sliding your exposure range up the scale, but maybe you will not. I would expect that placing what you call Zone 2 where Zone 4 would normally fall on the H&D curve would give you lot of excess density, especially if you must develop more anyway to get Zone 8 where you think it ought to be.
Whatever way you make the adjustment, you will not know for sure why it did or did not work unless you know the shape and speed point of the combination you used. You could, of course, try various combinations and take the one that works.