Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Kehler View Post
...If I spot meter off of the black board, the meter reads 60s @ f/64 which would give me 30s @ f/32 (my desired aperture for depth of field) for middle gray since I am adding 3 stops of light to get from Zone II to V. If I meter off a gray card, I get 30s @ f/32, so that is easy - however, I also need to add 3-stops due to bellow extensions, which gets me to 2m @ f/32 which translates into 12m @ f/32 once reciprocity failure is accounted for (I am using the formula from Way Beyond Monochrome to get the final number). I realize that I will need to do N-2 development to prevent too much contrast.

... I want a pure black background (with no detail) but it is the flowers (on Zone VII) that are important. I am worried that even with the N-2 development, I will not have sufficient detail in the leaves since the highlights are building up so much more due to the long exposure. How much past Zone VII will the exposure push the leaves? IX? X? XI? In all three scenarios, an N-2 development will not give sufficient detail to these highlights. Should I perhaps shoot the flowers as Zone V, let the exposure push them to IX and then N-2 to bring them back to VII? Perhaps underexpose the negative, sacrificing the minute amount of shadow detail to prevent highlight blocking up? Or should I use a 1:100 Rodinal semi-stand development to control these highlights as opposed to D-76 1:1 in a rotary processor, which is my normal method?

I hope I am making myself clear - what is the best way of ensuring my highlights are Zone VII given the lengthy exposure necessary?
Why meter and place your background in Zone V if you want it in Zone I or even Zone 0? Place the shadow/low values where you want them to be in the print.

Then meter the highlights and see where they fall. If the result is "N" development, then simply follow the trail of bellows extension compensation, reciprocity failure compensation and development adjustment and you should get the result you desire. The development compensation related to the reciprocity failure adjustment takes the expansion of the highlights into considerations and compensates for them. You don't need to do anything else (assuming, of course, that you have a tested and working system for your film/meter/development for reciprocity failure compensation...)

However, if you find an N- or N+ development is necessary before you start compensating for bellows and reciprocity, this "-" or "+" should be figured in to your final development compensation. Example, you want to expand contrast and choose N+1 development. After all the adjustments, you find that you need N-2 development for the reciprocity failure time you have chosen. Simply add N+1 and N-2 to get your final development time: N-1.

If you place your "black" background on Zone V and do everything, you'll end up with a negative overexposed by 4 stops. (Plus, by placing shadows correctly, you'll likely have less reciprocity failure to deal with!)

So, meter and place the background. Meter the flower and see where it falls. Determine a starting development scheme. Figure in all your adjustments. Adjust your final development scheme by your starting one.