Welcome to APUG Clay, great photo, and great advice.
if the midtones and highlights are great (i.e. exactly as you wish), another paper grade wouldn't help you.
Sometimes it is hard to decide whether there is enough shadow detail on a negative or not. Try dodging at least one shadow area to determine whether you can pull someting out of the shadows. If that helps, your negative is simply too dense and you may try dodging all shadow areas. The suggested N-1 exposure and development would have helped in this case. However, you may find it difficult to apply N-1 equally well to all pictures on a roll of film. And you can't apply this afterwards. Masking the negative would help, too. But I would not suggest that to a newbie.
great advise all ...
i dont process my own negs anymore, but i did for years...and would just like to add, that the slower the film the more detail in shadow areas generally ...all the faster films like tri-x , are far more contrasty....
also diluting the developer to say 3:1 , also helps.....(check your processing times re chemicals being used)
I would recommend reading Fred Picker's "The Zone VI Workshop" and performing the tests and methods described there to achieve the results you want.
Fred Picker's book is about _previsualization_, i.e. when you take a photograph you will know exactly what the finished copy will look like.
He describes tests for finding true film speed, correct development time and so on.
Woody, check out my post on "Creative Black and White Photography By Les McLean" in the books forum for info on a great book.
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What do you mean by "no shadow detail at all"? what is your subject?
It's not possible to give you a useful answer without seeing the negative and the print you made. If at all possible, show the actual negative to an experienced printer in your area. Or at least post a jpg image, and give as much info as you recall about the shot. Otherwise, we'll just repeat theoretical possibilities.
You are probably underexposing and then to compensate for the bad negative, printing with higher than optimal contrast to make the midtones "look right". Or perhaps, your expectations are too high for this medium.
Greetings everyone from Prague,
Overall very good comments from previous posters.
However, Corrie...I hate to dispell your theory but in fact it is the opposite. Higher speed films such as Tri-X, HP5, APX400 etc are lower in contrast by nature than slower films such as PanF50, FP4+,APX100,Plus X etc. All films are capable of "decent" tonal range if exposed and processed for that result...keeping in mind that tonal qualities are rather subjective as with many photographic issues. All films have different charcterisitics and behave differently under the multitude of methods of handling them, but as a rule, higher speed emulsions have lower contrast characteristics than that of lower speed films.
Density is controlled by: Exposure.
Contrast is controlled by well lets see: Type of film, Film Development (time, temp,dilution,agitation etc.), Enlarger type, Type of Paper, grade of paper or filter grade, Paper developer, method of print development (agitation, temp,dilution,two tray or not...), potential toning/intensification of the neg and or print etc... I'm sure others can think of things I didnt mention.
Try the advice you get from others, such as on this forum, if it seems sound. Otherwise just keep working at your method of achieving the results you are looking for, knowing that the above factors are most of the major factors that determine the technical and to a certain degree the esthetic nature of your image. I do, however, recommend sticking with one film/dev/paper/enlarger/combination and using the other variables to experiment with how you can affect change. If you like Tri-X/Rodinal stick with it and get it down cold!...then try other combos if you feel you want to.
Good Luck, you're on the right track! and if you need any particular help with Tri-X and Rodinal E-mail me as I have been using this combination almost exclusively for 25 years.
If it helps you, my usual procedure with Tri-X is:
Tri-X Pan 400 (EI 320) Rodinal 1:100/ 21mins./23-24C/Cont. Agitation, 1st 30secs. then 5 inversions (approx 10secs.) every 3 mins.
This gives me (what I call) very nice tonality, reasonably fine, very sharp grain, and a contrast range that suits my work, which is documentary...I print with a Magnifax Diachroic head on Oriental Graded Paper, and Agfa Multgrade glossy. I use LPD and sometimes Moersch SE 6 Blue in various dilutions to control warmth/coolness. I tray bleach some of prints and Selenium tone all my prints. This is my standard process. Yours will be unique to your style and vision.
BTW were you shooting with TXP 320 or TX Pan 400 rated at 320?
Prague, Czech Republic
All meters are calibrated to Zone V or mid grey therefore when you take a reading no matter how your meter is set up, it thinks that the subject is mid grey and the exposure indicated will produce mid grey. For example, if you make three photographs of white, grey and black material using the exposure indicated by the meter in each case you will produce three identical negatives which will print as mid grey.
When exposing for shadows you must adjust the meter accordingly. My method for calculating exposure and development is as follows; meter the shadow area only, do not allow any other area to influence the reading and close the lens by ONE stop from the reading indicated by the meter. This is placing the shadow on Zone IV rather than Zone III the zone that is the generally accepted zone for shadow detail. I then take a reading of the brightest highlight and if there are three to five stops of contrast I expose and develop normally; if there are less than three stops of contrast I underexpose by 1 stop and increase development by at least one stop in order to increase the overall contrast of the negative; if there are more than 5 stops of contrast I overexpose by one atop and underdevelop for 1 or sometimes 2 stops to reduce the overall contrast of the negative. The Zone IV shadow placement is a personal preference for I like to see all detail in that area and if I so wish I can easily darken it when I make the print
This is by no means the total answer to exposure and development but if you use it as a starting point you will soon learn when to make adjustments. Depending on contrast levels, for example 10 to 12 stops of contrast, I have increased exposure by 2 stops and reduced development by 3 stops to produce a very printable negative that is very different from a negative that is exposed and developed normally in the same lighting conditions. The rule to remember is that you expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. Exposure is linear but development is not and therefore has a more significant effect on the highlights than on shadows and the same amount of underdevelopment reduces density of highlights more than in the shadows
When you place your shadow on Zone IV instead of Zone IV what are you rating your film at? Are you able to get a full EI out of the film this way or are you judging the zone I at .10 >b+f? This seems like excessive density for the film to handle and you to have to burn through. Ansel always talked about the LEAST amount of exposure necessary to record the shadow needed. I think that is correct. Pls don't think me impertinent as I am just trying to understand.
Please don't apologise you are not being impertinent, you are asking a perfectly logical question. I use the manufacturers suggested ISO and control the density of the negative by development which has been determined by testing. My reasons for placing the shadow on Zone VI and not Zone III relate to a growing concern over a number of years of using Zone III. I grew increasingly unhappy with the lack of detail in the shadows in my negatives and decided to give them an extra stop of exposure which resulted in an immediate improvement. Clearly I had to modify my development times but that was relatively simple. I have always felt that to over expose and underdevelop would produce a better and more printable negative. Incidentally, at the time that I went through this trauma I spent some time with Bruce Barnbaum when he visited Scotland (I live on the English side of the Border) and he told me that he had come to the same conclusion about shadow placement.
Please don't think that I am trying to sell my current book in this fine forum, I happen to think that commercials are not really acceptable, but do have a look at it for I do comprehensively cover film exposure and development in the first chapter.
I hope that this answers your question, if not please get back to me.
Thank you for the interest.