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  1. #1

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    Exposing for shadows developing time.

    Hello -

    I've read quite a bit about the benefits of ''exposing for the shadows, developing for the highlights.'' Last year, I was shooting tri-x 400 at 200 and developing normally and ending up with negatives that were REALLY dense. Here's what I've been working with now: Tri-x 400. Fm2n. I've been cutting the film speed in half and shooting at iso 200, and then cutting the development speed in half by 20%. Our darkroom water is pretty consistently 68 degrees, so according to kodak, I should be developing d76 at 9+3/4 minutes. So cutting that by 20% leaves me at 7:45s or so. My negatives are coming out pretty thin, which makes me think I'm under developing. Can anyone give me some advice?

    Thanks -

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    Run a sequence through your camera where you start at a small aperture and slow shutter speed and change that by a stop till you run out of aperture/shutter speeds. Should be all the same exposure if you brighten by one stop and reduce exposure time by one stop each step. Gotta make sure it's being exposed uniformly.

    When developing be absolutely boringly consistent in agitation and tell us how that works. Is it straight d76 or 1:1? If it's the same batch of developer from last year, it could be going bad depending on how it's stored.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    Run a sequence through your camera where you start at a small aperture and slow shutter speed and change that by a stop till you run out of aperture/shutter speeds. Should be all the same exposure if you brighten by one stop and reduce exposure time by one stop each step. Gotta make sure it's being exposed uniformly.

    When developing be absolutely boringly consistent in agitation and tell us how that works. Is it straight d76 or 1:1? If it's the same batch of developer from last year, it could be going bad depending on how it's stored.
    Thanks. It's d76 1:1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    When developing be absolutely boringly consistent in agitation and tell us how that works. Is it straight d76 or 1:1? If it's the same batch of developer from last year, it could be going bad depending on how it's stored.
    I've been following Kodak's recommendations for developer agitation, but what do you recommend for stop and fix? I'm reading different opinions online, and kodak is not really clear on it. They said 30s for stop and 2-4 for fix with tri-x 400, but they don't specify what agitation method you should use.

    Thanks.

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    When you develop your film, the thinnest part of the negative (corresponding to the shadows) develops first, and then as time goes on, doesn't change very much. The parts of the negative which had the greatest exposure - your highlights, will get denser and denser as your development time increases.
    "Exposing for the shadows" means that you determine your exposure by metering in the shadow area - and this part of the negative will come out right pretty much regardless of how long you develop the film.
    In terms of figuring out what the exposure should be - you normally want your shadows to be about 3 stops down from the mid tones in the image - your camera meter is set to make the mid-tones come out in the middle, so if you get close to the shadows with your camera, and take a meter reading, the exposure that you will get will be what it takes to make that part of the image a mid-tone, but that's not what you want - you want the shadows to be dark, so you want to expose less by 3 stops. One way of doing this is to set the ASA on your camera 3 stops faster than the film - so for TRI-X, set your camera ASA dial to 3200 - then either use a long telephoto lens or get up close to the subject so that the shadow area fills the view finder and take your meter reading. This will give you an exposure where you should have sufficient density in the shadows to keep some detail there.

    The second part of the adage is "Develop for the highlights" The longer you develop the film for, the more density you will build in the highlights, and the greater the contrast of your final image. Since you are shooting roll film, you will have to treat the whole roll of film the same. If you are taking pictures in a bright sunny area, where there are deep shadows and very bright highlights, you are going to have more contrast than you want, so you will want to develop for a shorter amount of time than usual. If you are taking pictures of sand, under overcast skys so there is very little contrast in your image, you will want to develop for a long time to increase the contrast.

    TRI-X is pretty forgiving, so you should be able to get pretty close with just metering the whole scene. What you may want to do is to set the ASA to 3200, meter on the shadow area, and let's say that it says to expose at 1/60 and f11. Then set the ASA to 400, step back and meter the whole scene - you should get something close to 1/60 at f11 unless there is something really strange about what you are metering.

  6. #6
    ROL
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    Who told you that ''exposing for the shadows, developing for the highlights.'' is usefully related to film speed in that manner? You tried it once at half rated speed, then decreased dev time by a small amount and got the opposite result. That should suggest to you that your approach is random and based on a false assumption.

    Your film speed is based on the way you expose and develop film. You should test specifically for that, with each film, developer, camera, if other's findings don't work for you. That will also give you an idea of how much to decrease or increase developing to contract or expand development. You have to know where you are before you can know where you're going.

    How can any of of us know how to help you without your exposure information? Perhaps it is incorrect exposure, by you or your tool or both – based on the scene, and not the 20% less contraction. I would be very surprised, if given what you said is accurate, that the issue is in any way dependent upon developing time/temperature at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ROL View Post
    Who told you that ''exposing for the shadows, developing for the highlights.'' is usefully related to film speed in that manner? You tried it once at half rated speed, then decreased dev time by a small amount and got the opposite result. That should suggest to you that your approach is random and based on a false assumption.

    Your film speed is based on the way you expose and develop film. You should test specifically for that, with each film, developer, camera, if other's findings don't work for you. That will also give you an idea of how much to decrease or increase developing to contract or expand development. You have to know where you are before you can know where you're going.

    How can any of of us know how to help you without your exposure information? Perhaps it is incorrect exposure, by you or your tool or both – based on the scene, and not the 20% less contraction. I would be very surprised, if given what you said is accurate, that the issue is in any way dependent upon developing time/temperature at all.
    You are likely correct. I have much to learn! That's why I post, and get advice from those with much more experience/knowledge.

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    Arista Premium 400 at 200

    Hi,

    I used Arista Premium 400 at 200 EI once:

    Film: Arista Premium 400 (TriX equivalent Freestyle Film); fresh roll cut from 100 ft film.
    Camera: Nikon FE
    Developer: D76 1:1, 150ml D76, 150 ml water.
    Agitation: 30 sec inversion then 5 inversions per half a minute.
    Temperature: 20 C.
    Developing time: 9.5 minutes.
    Result: It was a little dense but shadow detail was well preserved in a sunny day.

    If I develop it today I would go to 9 or 8.5 minutes to start my experimentation.

    Exposure information: The Nikon FE I used (average metering) under exposes about 1/3 stops compared matrix metering of early film Nikons and Nikon DSLRs in most cases. All my three FEs measure the same. In an average sunny day Nikon FE shows me f/11 and 1/125 sec (50mm lens) when I measure mixed foliage and asphalt covered street with some shadows.
    I hope this helps.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by al5256 View Post
    Hi,

    I used Arista Premium 400 at 200 EI once:

    Film: Arista Premium 400 (TriX equivalent Freestyle Film); fresh roll cut from 100 ft film.
    Camera: Nikon FE
    Developer: D76 1:1, 150ml D76, 150 ml water.
    Agitation: 30 sec inversion then 5 inversions per half a minute.
    Temperature: 20 C.
    Developing time: 9.5 minutes.
    Result: It was a little dense but shadow detail was well preserved in a sunny day.

    If I develop it today I would go to 9 or 8.5 minutes to start my experimentation.

    Exposure information: The Nikon FE I used (average metering) under exposes about 1/3 stops compared matrix metering of early film Nikons and Nikon DSLRs in most cases. All my three FEs measure the same. In an average sunny day Nikon FE shows me f/11 and 1/125 sec (50mm lens) when I measure mixed foliage and asphalt covered street with some shadows.
    I hope this helps.
    Yea, thanks for the advice. I'm going to continue experimenting with tri-x until I get satisfactory results.

  10. #10
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    Hi mporter012,

    When you exposed at EI 200, you exposed for the shadows. That part you got right.

    Now the "develop for highlights" part is what you need to get your head around.

    First off, if the scene was "normal", then all you have to do is develop normal.
    Yes the negative will be dense. But it will have a "normal" range.

    You would confirm by printing it on Grade 2 paper where it would probably look right.

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