I read only the darkest shadow and the brightest highlight, but not specular highlights such as sun on water, to determine the contrast range of the subject. I always expose for the shadows, placed on Zone IV or reduce exposure by one stop from the metered reading for those who do not use the Zone System, to ensure that I have information on the negative so that I can print it if I choose to. Depending on the contrast range and where the highlight will fall after choosing to expose for the shadows I adjust my development accordingly. For example, if there are 6 stops of contrast in the scene and I placed the shadow on to Zone IV the highlight would fall on Zone X, paper base white, which is unacceptable so I reduce development by 2 stops to bring the highlight back to Zone VIII. I would also increase exposure by 1/2 stop to compensate for reduced development. If the same scene had only 3 to 4 stops of contrast I would expose and develop normally. The old addage, expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights is my first and most important rule. Those who advocate bracketing are certain to get the correct exposure but if the contrast range is high or low they will not give the correct development and therefore still not produce the optimum negative. In my view bracketting the hell out of it only completes half the job.
Thank You all for your response. Think I should have given a little more information about the image - Ilford HP4+, 120, ei of 80, Rodinal 1+50 for 13 min. at 68 degrees F.
Jorge - you are correct when you ask about the light, it was slightly overcast and early morning, I was afraid that the contrast might be too much on a sunny day. The image printed is at grade 3, using dichro head.
JMoore - Yes, this is a location near by, I actually have gone back and burned another roll but the results (contact sheets) were not much different. At that time, I was more concerned with getting the image square, no tilt, etc.
Will try to get back today or tomorrow, with more light and as Jim said, bracket the hell - film is cheap so, just not time to go out. Will try one roll bracketed, then another one using the zones as Jorge suggested, betting that the two rolls will match when I compare the exposures.
I will post the results when I get through.
Was working on the reply while Les was posting..
Les, your point about bracketing is well taken, now I will have to consider your advice - Thanks.
Mike, if you are using roll film, then attempting to use zone placement without using development controls seems to me an exercise in futility. If you are not busy today, why dont you try toning the negative in selenium and then printing it? You might be surprised as to the results you have already.
OTOH, why dont you try grade four, if you get too much contrast you can use some water bath, or preflashing techniques to lower the grade 4 a little bit. If you are using VC paper, then perhaps this is the time to use split filtering.
IMO I think, specially if you have gone back and reshoot the structure, that you have already the negative with all the info, you just need to do a little of darkroom work.
Perhaps a little story will give you the idea. I read somewhere that Fred Picker was making a print an he could not get the water portion just right. At the time he ran into Paul Caponigro and he asked him "How do I get the water to look like water?", thinking Caponigro was going to tell him a special technique. Caponigro's response was:
" Stay in the darkroom until it does!"....
Originally Posted by Les McLean
OK, how about bracket the hell out of several rolls and give each roll a different development time??
Originally Posted by photomc
Take good notes and you will end up with a very good learning experience.
I have had good results with 4x5 color transparency film using a standard Kodak 18% gray card and hand held meter. I hold the card as near as possible to the scene I am shooting. I have read posts suggesting that a 12% gray card works better for black and white film because it results in more exposure and better shadow detail.
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I know this is terribly heathen but I tend to use sunny-16 and drop 3 stops for shadow. I have some other exposure values in my head that I know are fairly constant, like the brightness of typical office interiors and stadiums and of course my own home I have mentally metered with great accuracy. After that I feel pretty confident exposing B&W by eye. I often meter my palm and open a stop too.
Color I shoot negs the same way, slides (and digi) I meter for the highlight (more or less) and often guesstimate, though more conservatively.
(Shinjuku, Astia, metered for the vendor)
Got to love the answer, and this may indeed be the correct answer for this image. Just work on it until it is right. Even with the even light from the cloud cover, it should have more umph! than it does and that is probably due to my lack of printing skills. However, once I get it there, the learning curve will have changed and that is a good thing.
Originally Posted by Jorge
Thanks for you advice.
Well it was an interesting an educational evening. After the negative was toned in KRST and dried, I proceeded to print it. A little tuning of the exposure time and son of a gun the darn thing started to look a lot better to me. Now, there were a couple of things that struck me while working with the print - 1. I think that one reason I can't get that zing from the print, is the plane of focus is at the doors themselves. The curb is not sharp and not all of the doorway appears to be (at least to me). 2. Since the brick is red, and I want it to be a bit darker than it seems to want to print, I plan to re-shoot the image using a Green 11 filter to see if I can punch the contrast up.
Now 2 may give me more problems, or new ones so I plan to shoot one roll without a filter and one roll with - at least as long as the sun will come out. Am I looking at this all wrong, or does it make sense to anyone?
Thanks again to everyone for your comments and advice.