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  1. #1
    bpm32's Avatar
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    Help with first exposed neg

    Okay, after much reading and thought, I bought a 4x5 camera. Today, I exposed my first neg... and I already messed it up. I'm trying out the zone system after having read The Camera, The Negative, and The Print by Adams.

    Film: Ilford Delta 100 pro b/w
    Developer: Kodak D76

    I metered on an "important" low, which at a shutter speed of 200, came in at f5.6. Then I metered an "important" high, which came in at f22. Now I don't know much about this system yet, but from everything I've read, that sounds like a pretty wide range. The worst part is, I never adjusted the camera... I just exposed the darn neg at f5.6 @200. I THINK I should've exposed the neg at f11 @ 200... that would put my "important" low at zone III.

    So, my question is... can I develop this negative in a way such that it would bring that "important" low down to where I intended it to be AND contract that range so the "important" high will be at or near zone VII?

    Also, everywhere I read about this, I see developments of N, N+1, N-1, etc, etc. I can't seem to find how I determine what +1 or -1 should be. I assume it's an amount (or percentage) of time. Do I have to run tests to determine this? I believe I have a book that suggests some tests, but it also says I need a densitometer, and I don't have one.

    Please keep in mind this is the first I've ever dealt with 4x5 and the zone system. So, if anything I've written or asked is way off, be kind.

    I really appreciate any guidance you folks can give me. Thank you kindly for your time.

    Brian

  2. #2

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    I am going to assume that your Normal time for D76 and Ilford Delta 100 rated 100 is that published by the Ultimate Dev Chart (whatever that is). Normal scenes will have about a 2 stop range, this is 3. You chose to expose more (5.6 as opposed to 11). This is a safer bet in my opinion - i.e get the shadows detailed and lets find a development time to control those highlights. So, this will be a N-1 scene or thereabouts. Take the D76 normal time you found in the published dev chart and reduce it by about 15% or 20% to start (I hope you have more than 1 neg of this scene, exposed similarly).

    This is my simple recommendation. My REAL recommendation is to make some tests for your personal N and other times. If you do not have the means to do so perhaps someone can do this for you (e.g. the View Camera Store can send you a film test packet and all you have to do is develop the 5 or so sheets of Delta 100 at the times specified and then dry the film and send it back to them - they shall give you all the data you will need to enjoy your photography without worrying about what to do next).

    Hope this helps, Francesco (www.cicoli.com)

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by bpm32
    Okay, after much reading and thought, I bought a 4x5 camera. Today, I exposed my first neg... and I already messed it up. I'm trying out the zone system after having read The Camera, The Negative, and The Print by Adams.

    Film: Ilford Delta 100 pro b/w
    Developer: Kodak D76

    I metered on an "important" low, which at a shutter speed of 200, came in at f5.6. Then I metered an "important" high, which came in at f22. Now I don't know much about this system yet, but from everything I've read, that sounds like a pretty wide range. The worst part is, I never adjusted the camera... I just exposed the darn neg at f5.6 @200. I THINK I should've exposed the neg at f11 @ 200... that would put my "important" low at zone III.

    So, my question is... can I develop this negative in a way such that it would bring that "important" low down to where I intended it to be AND contract that range so the "important" high will be at or near zone VII?

    Also, everywhere I read about this, I see developments of N, N+1, N-1, etc, etc. I can't seem to find how I determine what +1 or -1 should be. I assume it's an amount (or percentage) of time. Do I have to run tests to determine this? I believe I have a book that suggests some tests, but it also says I need a densitometer, and I don't have one.

    Please keep in mind this is the first I've ever dealt with 4x5 and the zone system. So, if anything I've written or asked is way off, be kind.

    I really appreciate any guidance you folks can give me. Thank you kindly for your time.

    Brian
    Ok Brian, lets start with the development numbers. Most people who calibrate their exposures for zone system use a 5 stop spread between the shadow with detail and the highlight with detail. In the example you gave of your first exposure, if you had the shadows at 5.6 and the highlights at 22, that is only a 3 stop spread, how many more stops you need to bring it up to the 5 stop spread?....2, so your N number would be N+2, or normal development plus 2 stops. Lets say for example your metering had given you the numbers 5.6 for the low and 64 for the high, this is a 6 stop spread, what do you have to do to bring it to 5?.....take one stop off, so your N number would have been N-1. I hope this explains it a little.

    For your negative, your exposure tells me you were shooting early in the morning, late in the afternoon or in an overcast day, you have a low contrast scene, since you have already taken the exposure, at this point you can develop your negative normally and when you are getting ready to print it use a high grade contrast paper, something like grade 4. The negative will be overexposed, but will still be printable.

    There are other techniques like bleaching and redeveloping, intensification, etc. But IMO is better not to mess with them, unless the negative is very valuable and impossible to re shoot.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by bpm32
    Okay, after much reading and thought, I bought a 4x5 camera. Today, I exposed my first neg... and I already messed it up. I'm trying out the zone system after having read The Camera, The Negative, and The Print by Adams.

    Film: Ilford Delta 100 pro b/w
    Developer: Kodak D76

    I metered on an "important" low, which at a shutter speed of 200, came in at f5.6. Then I metered an "important" high, which came in at f22. Now I don't know much about this system yet, but from everything I've read, that sounds like a pretty wide range. The worst part is, I never adjusted the camera... I just exposed the darn neg at f5.6 @200. I THINK I should've exposed the neg at f11 @ 200... that would put my "important" low at zone III.

    So, my question is... can I develop this negative in a way such that it would bring that "important" low down to where I intended it to be AND contract that range so the "important" high will be at or near zone VII?

    Also, everywhere I read about this, I see developments of N, N+1, N-1, etc, etc. I can't seem to find how I determine what +1 or -1 should be. I assume it's an amount (or percentage) of time. Do I have to run tests to determine this? I believe I have a book that suggests some tests, but it also says I need a densitometer, and I don't have one.

    Please keep in mind this is the first I've ever dealt with 4x5 and the zone system. So, if anything I've written or asked is way off, be kind.

    I really appreciate any guidance you folks can give me. Thank you kindly for your time.

    Brian
    Hi Brian, The first thing that we need to determine before we get into exposure and development considerations is whether F5.6 will give you adequate depth of field so that the nearest and fartherest object in your scene are at acceptable focus. In my experience using a view camera I don't ever remember making an exposure at F 5.6. All the proper exposure and development in the world is for nothing if the image is not sharp.

    Now that we have that out of the way, let me begin by saying that a F5.6 to F22 scene comprises five zones of brightness (in Zone System parlance). This would equate to Zone III through Zone VII or Zone II through Zone VI. Since you can represent tonal scale of Zone II through Zone VIII on paper, you can see that this scene could afford to have the contrast expanded and the way that is done is through N+1 or N+2 development.

    Now if you exposed this negative at F5.6 then you have recorded Zone V through Zone IX. The meter always indicates a Zone V value at the recommedation. You could also have exposed this at F8 at 1/125, or F11 at 1/60, or even F16 at 1/30 second. (nearest actual shutter speeds to the multiples or dividers of your indicated shutter speed). All of these combinations would have given you the exact same exposure that you have with the important addition of greater depth of field.

    Now let's take the F16 at 1/30 second...remember this is a Zone V placement in order to give a Zone III placement the proper exposure would have been F16 at 1/8 second. (Two stops less exposure then the Zone V recommendation of the meter).

    Always remember exposure (f stop and shutter speed) is about shadow detail and development is for print highlight values.

  5. #5
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpm32
    I metered on an "important" low, which at a shutter speed of 200, came in at f5.6.....

    The worst part is, I never adjusted the camera... I just exposed the darn neg at f5.6 @200...

    So, my question is... can I develop this negative in a way such that it would bring that "important" low down to where I intended it to be AND contract that range so the "important" high will be at or near zone VII?
    1) The only 'important' low as far as I'm concerned is the lowest one. Use a spot meter and find that low. Then calculate an exposure that will place that low on whatever zone is appropriate to your particular working methods. I put it on zone IV. Most people use zone III.

    2) Then scan the scene again in search of the brightest highlight. See where that falls at whatever exposure you obtained in Step 1). In my philosophy, if that highlight falls on zone VIII, I'll mark the holder for N development. If it falls on Zone IX, N-1; Zone X, N-2, etc. For each zone of minus development, I add 1/2 stop of exposure. If the brightest highlight falls on Zone VII, I'll mark it N+1.

    To summarize: You place the shadows where you want them. You then see where the highlights fall for that shadow placement. You control the highlights with development. This is because the shadows are affected mostly by exposure and almost not at all by development.

    Since your exposure in this case was at least two stops over (assuming that your 'important low' would've been placed on zone III), an N-2 development should get your highlights into printable range. The shadows won't be affected much by the development, but that's ok. You're far better off to have given them too much exposure than not enough. You'll still have a good printable negative. The answer to your question is 'yes', you can. Give it N-2 or maybe N-3 and it should be fine.

    Remember that a meter sees everything as an 18% reflectance neutral gray.

  6. #6

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    Now let's take the F16 at 1/30 second...remember this is a Zone V placement in order to give a Zone III placement the proper exposure would have been F16 at 1/8 second. (Two stops less exposure then the Zone V recommendation of the meter).
    Isn't going from 1/30 to 1/8 sec. increasing exposure?
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Isn't going from 1/30 to 1/8 sec. increasing exposure?
    Doug, Yes you are correct. My error. That should read 1/125 second. Thanks for correcting me.

  8. #8
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    I'd recommend finding a copy of Fred Picker's Zone VI Workshop book. I don't think it's still in print, but there are almost always copies on ebay and at used book sites. I think my library even has a copy. Fred, IMHO, did a very good job of boiling down the basics of the Zone System and getting one on the way to properly using it. Adams, again IMHO, goes into far more detail than one needs at the beginning.

    The Zone System is, in large part, a way of thinking, and I believe Fred's little book is a great way to begin.
    juan

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughowk
    Isn't going from 1/30 to 1/8 sec. increasing exposure?
    It is a two stop increase. Taking your zone five reading and nailing it to a zone 7. That is bright.

    Brian.
    It sounds like you are in the same boat I was in a few years back when I developed my first LF neg. Wow! that was five years ago. Anyway as you learn all of this I would stick to one thing while you learn the basics. Worry about shutter speed to adjust exposure not aperature. I set my aperature and meter the scene. Then I play with shutter speed at that aperature.

    Looking at your problem you exposed the shadows on zone 5 instead of zone 3. This means you are going to have some bullet proof highs. What you wanted in zone 7 or 8 is now in zone 10 and 11. I see two possibilities:

    1-go back and expose another negative correctly. develope both negs and look at the difference between the two. Use this as one of many, many learning situations. This will be quite an educational test for you

    2-If you cannot do number 1 then develope the neg and drop the development time by maybe 20%. This will flatten the negative out but with VC paper and patience you can get a decent print

    but with that much over exposure I would count on this being a learning situation. It is your first neg be happy if you get anything on the neg at all. My first one was totally blown out and my second was completely clear.

    It is possible to find your N, N+ and N- development times without a densitometer. But it is not very accurate. I do not think I ever really have found mine. Now that I am looking at doing Alt processes where it is more crucial I will be sending my stuff to the view camera store sometime this summer. For me this is cheaper and more realistic than buying a densitometer right now

    For now why don't you get used to your camera and getting the image on the negative. D-76 1:1 at 68 degrees for 12 minutes works fine. I love Delta 100. Actively look for scenes that have a 4-6 stop range, adjust your exposure with the shutter speed keeping your aperature constant, and print your negs on VC paper using the filters to adjust contrast. This may not be ideal but you will have more successes than failures and want to keep at it. When you are comfortable doing this then branch out. Come here to ask lots of questions. I know my technique has improved greatly.

    Some of these guys like nothing more than to test stuff. I have not gone wrong using their numbers yet and I am eternally grateful to them.

    Oh yeah read the Info on the View Camera mag website. And I did learn a lot about my camera from Steve Simmons' book. There are others out there as well that are just as good.

    I hope this helps
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  10. #10

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    There are some decent intros to zone system on the web:

    Norman Koren's site
    Lars Kjellberg's
    Zone to Tone
    Cicada's
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

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