Quote Originally Posted by pellicle View Post
I've got a question relating to getting at detail in the dense areas of negatives when using direct optical processes compared to scanning.
However, I don't recall finding any of my black and white negatives became problematic in printing them how I liked when setting exposure for the shadows and letting the highlights fall where they fell.

Now, certainly last time I was contact printing I was photographing in much "softer" light ranges than I am now. So I'm wondering if I continue this way will I be having any trouble with printing some of these in the future?
I hesitate to answer a scanning question on APUG for fear of getting my ass kicked about -- this is an analog forum after all. So I'll keep this answer as short as possible.

Basically, if you can contact print it on silver gelatin paper the negative should scan well on just about any scanner. That is, the Dmax of the negative won't be that high and therefore even consumer flatbed scanners will have little trouble.

Some of the alt. printing processes that require higher Dmax from the negative can result in negatives that are harder to scan. This is because the higher Dmax means more metallic silver in the dense areas which means more Callier Effect. The net effect is usually a decrease in local contrast in the highlights from these negatives. This can be corrected with a Photoeditor program, but it's can be a bit of a pain to fix.

Some scanners, like enlargers, are more susceptible to Callier Effect than others of course. Drum scanners for example use highly columnated light and therefore respond better to lower Dmax from silver negatives. That is, a thinner negative scans somewhat better on a drum scanner. In Zone System terms, drum scanners tend to like negatives developed to about N-1 or so. Flatbed scanners with a more diffuse light source are less effected.

The blown out highlights from your example are almost certainly due to the scan -- black and white points not set properly. The information is on the film, but the scanner didn't capture it. Operator error most likely -- this from a drums scanner operator who has made plenty of such errors! ;-)