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  1. #21
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbrede View Post
    I'm 48 years old and I'm trying to learn film for the first time. Well it's been about 6 months so far. I'm on the down hill side of life, so I don't want to spend a bunch of time testing, but I do want to start being more systematic about the process.
    You do realize that you might live for another 40 years, right?

    Here's the thing about running film tests: You need to see what works, from no density to max density. I have a densitometer I bought years back, and honestly I've never used it. I found that simply using a gray scale is just fine. You get a reliable reading of what is happening, from white to black, every time with a scale.

    Once you have your scale on the negative, see how it prints on paper. What grade did you use for all of the parts of the scale to go from black to white on the paper? Was it grade 0? Use less development. Was it grade 5? Use more development. Was it 2 or 3? Good enough, you are set to make some exposures!

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbrede View Post
    Thanks all for your responses. I've been in the darkroom (bathroom) most of the day trying to make prints, not testing, so I missed a lot of this.

    I'm 48 years old and I'm trying to learn film for the first time. Well it's been about 6 months so far. I'm on the down hill side of life, so I don't want to spend a bunch of time testing, but I do want to start being more systematic about the process. Up until now I've mostly flown by the seat of my pants, and I don't feel that's been working real well.

    I'm going to use one camera for my serious work, a Mamiya RZ67. I also have a Rolleiflex arriving next week that I'll use for a fun, walkabout/travel camera. I use a hand held meter. I want to shoot one, maybe two films. It will be either Delta 100/400 or T-Max 100/400. I've settled on DD-X for film developing and Ilford Mulitgrade developer for paper. Paper is Ultrafine Elite VC RC.

    I could forgo the testing and shoot box speed, but I think going through the exercise of finding my personal film speed and development time, will help teach me how all the pieces of creating an image fit together. I very well may end up where I am now, shooting box speed, but hopefully by testing I'll be a little more knowledgeable about what I'm doing.

    A couple people mentioned using a gray card for testing, which led me to an article by Steve Simmons that I think I'm going to try and follow.

    www.viewcamera.com/pdf/2006/VC_Getting%20Started.pdf


    If you visit Alan Ross's website here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the "products" link. He has a free PDF download available on practical film testing with medium format roll film. I think you'll find it interesting to your needs. It's free, but I had to go through the process like it was a purchase to get the download, you'll notice the amount is $0.00.

  3. #23
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    But Mark, you have already indicated in other threads you're not overly concerned about how much shadow detail you have. That is an important point.
    And I indicated that that was why I had so much latitude.

    It is not a lack of room on the negative that is at issue.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  4. #24

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    We'll have to agree to disagree regarding how much room there is on the low end.

    However since OP said he was going with DD-X, he'll likely get pretty close to box speed anyway with the films he listed.

  5. #25
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbrede View Post
    Thanks all for your responses. I've been in the darkroom (bathroom) most of the day trying to make prints, not testing, so I missed a lot of this. ...
    Good for you.

    We're all anxious to help you along your path. Passionate about it too, as you can see.

    None of us likes to have our ideas knocked down as "not necessary" when we think they are good ideas. But as has been clarified, this isn't the case today.

    I find my testing gives me slightly less than box speed. Maybe 2/3 stop. But I like shadow detail. I love when a waterspill under a rock can be seen in an original print but not on the Internet.

    I'll tell some secrets I've learned. This is how I keep testing from ruling my life...

    1. Speed test is the most important. Get the exposure right, (including filter factor and bellows extension and reciprocity failure). It's more important when you use a non-standard developer. Once you shoot film at the correct exposure - everything else can be figured out later*.

    2. After the white deer have run past (reference to Paul Caponigro) and you are sitting down putting away the gear. Now you can measure the Subject Brightness Range. Note your N+ N- notations if you choose to do Zone System.

    3. Home. Later. Maybe much later. Now you can run the development times tests.

    *It may be necessary to buy into the Delta-X criterion as explained by Stephen Benskin. I agree in principle with that paper, that you don't need to change film speed with changes in subject brightness range. I also support anyone who believes it's necessary to change speed with conditions. For me it's a journey.

  6. #26
    Stephen Benskin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    The most significant learning experiences I've had in photography and life have come where my basic assumptions for something were challenged.
    Mark, this is a really important insight. I've been toying with the idea of starting a thread to pose just such a question. What if some of the assumptions in a testing method are simply wrong, or are only accurate or acceptable under limited conditions, or contain justifications that require clarification? Wouldn't this lead to erroneous results? Sure, probably not disastrously so, but what's the point of putting in the effort if it's only going to be little better than using rule of thumb or guesswork?

    It's always a bit of a surprise when people accept a testing method without first questioning its legitimacy. Let's take as example that Steve Simmons' article that kbrede linked to. Within the first couple of paragraphs, Simmons introduces three concepts that are key to the methodology: just black printing time, a wall for a target, and stopping down four stops from the metered exposure. As they are stated in the article, all three are flawed. How will this effect the testing results? Without potential problems being described in the procedures, the uninitiated would never be the wiser and would confidently accept any results.
    Last edited by Stephen Benskin; 01-13-2013 at 10:01 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #27
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R 1974 View Post
    We'll have to agree to disagree regarding how much room there is on the low end.

    However since OP said he was going with DD-X, he'll likely get pretty close to box speed anyway with the films he listed.
    I'm comfortable with agreeing to disagree here.

    Yep, DD-X is really good that way.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  8. #28
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Benskin View Post
    Mark, this is a really important insight. I've been toying with the idea of starting a thread to pose just such a question. What if some of the assumptions in a testing method are simply wrong, or are only accurate or acceptable under limited conditions, or contain justifications that require clarification? Wouldn't this lead to erroneous results? Sure, probably not disastrously so, but what's the point of putting in the effort if it's only going to be little better than using rule of thumb or guesswork?

    It's always a bit of a surprise when people accept a testing method without first questioning its legitimacy. Let's take as example that Steve Simmons' article that kbrede linked to. Within the first couple of paragraphs, Simmons introduces three concepts that are key to the methodology: just black printing time, a wall for a target, and stopping down four stops from the metered exposure. As they are stated in the article, all three are flawed. How will this effect the testing results? Without potential problems being described in the procedures, the uninitiated would never be the wiser and would confidently accept any results.
    Go for it Stephen.

    I think being "right in limited conditions" is a big trap when that info is passed on because we each have differing sensibilities about the expected result. It is surely a trap that I fell into.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  9. #29

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    As Richard Henry noted (his work pointed in the right direction), myths abound when it comes to the behaviour of photographic materials, tone reproduction, flare etc. Too many methods and instructions published by people who may or may not have done proper testing, and present no data. Many of the books are written by fine photographers and printers. If their information is wrong, with experience they have learnt to work around it without realizing it.

  10. #30
    AndreasT's Avatar
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    If I may.
    I test all my materials, film, paper ,developer.It has helped me in getting better results. Some people shun away from doing this just the way like the way I hate, hate doing my taxes. Blimey some people enjoy doing their taxes, some do it as a living for others.
    How bonkers can you be doing taxes out of pleasure.
    What I like about doing this is I also learn something, it is interesting seeing the results. As long as one one doesn't test a "new" film and a "new" developer every 2 months it is fine. I use two film, two developers when it comes to film and I know how they work. I have tested a few more in the past. It takes up about one or two days a year, no more. For me it is worth it.
    I have decided to make my own developer. Some people ask me why do you want to do that. You can buy developer. But there is a sort of pride involved, and I know I will learn something doing it.
    There is always something to learn, and if it is fun, do it, if not leave it.
    As long as it doesn't keep you from taking photos it is fine.

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