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.

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.