Thanks to all who have responded and for the range of interesting answers the majority of which are that exposure and development are of equal importance.
The motivation behind the question is that the experiment that I mentioned in my original post involved developing 6 different films in the same developer. On my travels I make many photographs, mainly 35mm, for no other reason than I love to make them. I always give full exposure no matter what format I use, working on the basis that if it is not on the negative it cannot be printed, a point that has been made in posts in this thread. I have always been a believer in exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights, consequently I always check the contrast range I have to deal with.
The experiment I mentioned happened because I had 6 odd rolls of film that were of little importance so instead of loading and developing them seperately I was lazy and processed them all together in one tank. The films in question were FP4, TriX at 200 and 400 ISO, Neopan 400, HP5 and Tmax 400. The developer used was Fotospeed FD30 1 to 9 for 6 minutes. The interesting end result was that Tmax was the only film that failed, the negatives were extremely under developed but the other 5 rolls produced very printable negatives. The TriX rated 200 ISO was somehat more dense than I like but still printed well.
As a result of this experiment I reached the conclusion that exposure was the most important. I hasten to add that I do not advocate sloppy developement techniques.
Now do the same experiment, but with six rolls of the same film (and same exposure) in six different developers.
All the negatives will be printable, but some will be better than others.
Now if I could only learn how to get the best possible negatives, instead of selecting development based on "what I feel like trying"...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Originally Posted by Les McLean
BUT..... you say the other 5 rolls produced very printable negatives; that is not the same as an "expressive" negative.
I believe you can develop a negative in swamp water and get a printable negative but not the EXPRESSIVE negative you mentioned. No, with less than an 'expressive' negative you will print a less than 'expressive' print. And no special printing abilities will produce an 'expressive' print without the negative.
I remain that they are of equal importance and not mutually exclusive.
I beg to disagree with your conclusion.
"TriX at 200 and 400 ISO"
So, even with a full stop difference in exposure, you consider the negatives to be equivalent.
You're inferring that Les meant equivalent. I took what he said as printable. The ISO 200 prints are likely more dense but still printable.
As mentioned earlier, this is an overexposure by one stop. As long as the highlights don't get flattened on the shoulder the negative is still printable. Some people like dense negatives.
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I would tend to think that proper exposure is more important then proper development insofar as gaining an expressive print as the end result. The reason being with today's variable contrast materials we have the ability to alter contrast filtration to enable a expressive print from either a "flat" or "contrasty" negative. As other's have said, if it is not on the negative we have nothing to print. Most films have the ability to record greater luminance ranges then do the papers to print them.
Hmm, I've been thinking again...
This post got my wheels turning. I'd better answer and get back to writing my lecture for tomorrow.
This post got me thinking about how I approach an image. While reading and posting I concentrated on exposure and development; however, I had this nagging thought in the back of my head. What about the print? The whole purpose of a negative is to produce a print. IMO, we should start with the print. What is the contrast range of the paper we’re using? From this we can determine the necessary density range needed to achieve this range. This gives us the necessary information when we expose a sheet of film. After exposure, we determine the proper development to produce the range of densities we desire for our planned paper.
However, if we mess up the development slightly, which produces a change in density range. Then we can print on a softer or harder grade of paper. From this viewpoint it seems that exposure is most important (provided your using VC paper). If you’re an AZO user, then your negs had better be good!
Thus, I’m inclined to lean towards Les’ conclusion. Exposure is slightly more important since we can compensate for slight changes in development with VC paper.
This is all so subjective, one persons over is another persons under. I know I expose for the highlight and let everything else go. Then if theirs no highlight then expose for the grey . Once this is decided then quality of light, some light requires over exposure some normal exp. As far as processing I have no idea whether it is in line with the standard + N or - . It's a process I tested for, a long time ago and as film has disappeared been replaced by new I've tested those to my current process made adjustments to balance. I know it gives me the latitude I need for contrast changes and the grain when I ask it of the image is very sharp.
Stop trying to get into my mind, There is nothing there!
Les question was what is more important.
My answer was they are equally important.
His viewpoint is that exposure is more important.
Now, if one stop overexposed negs are still printable, then exposure is not more important (compared to development).
Pushed (underexposed/ovedeveloped) film , after all is still printable.
Dave Mueller, Thanks nice summary "in 25 words or less"..I been working through this, need to go back to the Negative. Been using Bruce Barnbaum book to work with. Damn, knew I should have paid more attention in those high school math classes....