What does this image need?
Hi there. Here's a street image I took with my Olympus XA2 on Kodak Tri-X (400). It was underexposed by one stop (ISO set to 800) and developed in D76 1:1 with no compensation (i.e. not pushed). I'm trying to print it. At first, I thought it needed less contrast, but now I think it might need more. I want to open up the shadows but I still want some true black in the image.
My enlarger is an Omega C760.The print shown here was exposed at f/8 for 8 seconds holding an Ilford Grade 2 multigrade filter under the lens (with white light turned on -- I didn't feel I was getting good results trying to dial in the grade with the color knobs). It's on Ilford Multigrade RC paper and was developed with Ilford PQ paper developer (60 seconds). That's an 18% gray card shown alongside the image.
I think there's too much detail for dodging and burning (this is 5x7) but I don't want to do anything too advanced anyway. I'm hopeful there's a good combination of exposure setting and filter choice that will give me something better. I'd be grateful for some direction. Thanks.
I think you need more contrast and more exposure. Highlight seems to be fine but the image is quite flat. I would try going to #2 1/2 or even #3.
Your negative is quite thin isn't it? I would try to keep the woman's white shirt about the same but expose it so that the boy's hair is nice deep black.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Yes, it's too flat.
Also if the kid is NOT the main subject consider getting up closer and include both the interviewer & interviewee.
If that's not feasible or disired, get behind the interviewer and get the interviewee's face/reaction as the main focus and get the mike in the shot for context.
How does the negative look? It's kind of thin, isn't it?
Looking at what you uploaded, it seems there's lack of contrast but also lack of sufficient detail in the shadow area - indicative of rather severe under-exposure. If this is the case, what you can do is rather limited. I would still bump up the contrast quite a bit and see what you can get out of your negative.
If you want to dodge and burn, one area I would burn is the white shirt of the camera-man. It's quite distracting. I also agree the kid got to go but that's a little different discussion from what OP asked. I agree with the assessment though.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I also vote for more contrast.
The gray patina over the whole image says to me that the negative was underexposed. Again, voting with the group.
When I get into situations where I'm not sure what to do, I make another test strip.
Keeping your time and aperture settings as a base, add a notch or a half-notch of contrast and make another strip such that your current time is the middle patch.
For instance, 4", 6", 8", 10" and 12"... or whatever your usual method is. My point is that you want to see test exposures that are close to your original, a little more and a little less.
Yes, making test strips can be a P.I.T.A. but they can help keep you from chasing your tail.
You set a contrast and exposure, you don't like it, you try something else but you don't like that either. Every time you change one thing, you end up changing something else. It can never end. All you'll do is piss your self off.
One test strip, done right, can take the place of three or four junked prints. Plus, if you use half sheets or quarter sheets of paper, you'll save on supplies, too.
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Yes, I agree with the contrast.
The biggest issue I can see here with this image is that if you boost the contrast, you are going to loose the womans head in the background.
If this was my image, I would also crop tighter - I would leave the boy where he is. I would crop to just above the womans head and leave just enough of the cameraman in to show that its a camera man.
But this is just my opinion - YMMV
I agree about the exposure and contrast, (i.e., under, low) but the child's expression make the picture more interesting to me. Perhaps rather than trying to improve exposure to enhance the interview part of it, to me the story is an "irrelevant interview that could fade away, while the kid is interested in something else". That's what strikes me when I see the picture, anyway.
Thanks for posting it.
If you think you need more contrast and the consensus here appears to be that you need more contrast then you need more contrast
It is very subjective. Most of the print looks pretty good to me but like you until I see it at say grades 2.5 to 3.5 I won't know if it represents an improvement.
A quick and dirty way using very little paper would be to choose an area of the neg that is either the most important or has a good range of tones then using a Paterson 5 strip test printer go through the 3 grades mentioned. Each time and with the strip covers closed and red safety filter move the Paterson to get the same section of neg under a new strip.
Alternatively have a look at R Lambrecht's test strip printer on his site Darkroom Magic. It is a great tool for this purpose and not that difficult to make in wood and even easier if you can find a workshop with a small laser cutter that cuts plastic.
A good solution sometimes for thinner negs of contrasty situations (which you have here - direct sun on the woman, the boy and the "press" people, with the background in the deep shade) is split filtering. This is a big subject, and you can find out a lot about it by searching for it on this forum.
My approach here would be to expose with the lowest grade filter first, a test strip with several values running through the brightest highlight. Find the exposure that gives you just the value you want there (the shadows should be weak, and gray). Then expose another strip, running through that area and some deep shadows (or just make a whole print), with that exposure with the low contrast filter, then run strips with the highest contrast filter through the whole print, like you did before, except now you are looking for the exposure for the high contrast filter on top of the flat filter. From here you finesse both until you get what you are looking for. It's a more lengthy and complicated way to print, but affords much more control (and in my opinion, you learn a lot more about printing). I print almost everything with split filtering.
Yes you need more contrast and suggest you try a number 4 filter.
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