Placing The Shadows on Zone 4

Discussion in 'Talk About Techniques' started by Ian-Barber, Aug 6, 2016.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Recently, I watched a video on Youtube by Bruce Barnbaum where he talks about placing the shadows on Zone IV as opposed to Zone III.

    Whats your view or experience on this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  2. raiderofthelostseoul

    raiderofthelostseoul New Member

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    Well, interesting. Worth experimenting with a couple of negatives to see if there's really that much difference, or if it's a mountains out of molehills situation. My darkroom is so hot these days (it was 27°C yesterday) that development times are too short for me to have confidence in replicating test results a few months down the line (at which point the heater will be on).
     
  3. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Thats the video I was referring to. I think you maybe right in doing some tests with different situations to see if it does actually make and differences. I can see the theory behind his argument though.
     
  4. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    Well, I will admit that when Bruce Barnbaum speaks I listen! But, as with all things photography I think...it depends. If you're shooting a normal range scene--say, something in the SBR 5-6 range--then placing important shadow areas on Zone IV will push the high end upwards toward or on Zone IX, given normal development. IMO, at Zone IX we're looking at featureless white. Yes, I've read that Bruce and others can print Zone IX, X, and higher, but I've never seen that bear out in my darkroom.

    Developer plays a role here, too. If you're using a pyro staining type developer, then pushing the upper end isn't that big a deal because these developers tend to "soften" and/or control these very bright image areas. A lot depends on the paper you're printing on; a contact printing paper with a long tonal scale (Lodima, for example) can handle negative contrast that would kill any enlarging paper. A lot depends on the characteristic curve on the film used; straight line vs a rolling off of the upper end. Etc...etc.

    Testing is really the key here. If you know what exposure your equipment will provide a dead-on Zone I value of about 0.10 - 0.15 over fb+f, and you know what development time/temp/agitation will provide a Zone VIII print value, then you're good to go! If you have all the variables locked down, then placing shadow areas in Zone III or IV becomes an aesthetic decision. Zone IV will certainly provide better shadow separation, but is that what you want?

    Great discussion....
     
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  5. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura New Member

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    Barnbaum uses 320TXP sheet film. Almost irrespective of developer, that film is (by design -- it's intended for studio portraits) all toe. Its characteristic curve almost never stops rising. Thus, even though my testing yields a classic 0.1 over film base + fog EI of 500 in XTOL 1+1.5, I expose it at EI 250. This gets everything up off the flattest part of the toe and results in a tonal scale close to other film/developer combinations, but with more "highlight sparkle." I still place scene elements the conventional way, e.g. shadows on III, but relative to EI 250.

    Other film/developer combinations with short toes and long straight line curve sections can be used at their 0.1 density Exposure Indices while still "placing the shadows on III." Barnbaum's approach applies only to the way Barnbaum works, i.e. the film he uses. If his method is employed when photographing with a film/devloper combination that has a long shoulder, bad things can result. Beware of dogma. :)
     
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  6. Peter Lee

    Peter Lee New Member

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    I also expose Tri X 320 at 250 and have been reducing development (XTol 1:1) by 10/15% and placing important shadows in Zone 3 , not 4.Does everyone else reduce development
     
  7. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura New Member

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    I can't speak for "everyone," but my experience is that published times are mere starting points and usually far from where I end up after testing. It's important to do the work using one's own meter, shutter, water and procedure when establishing developing times.
     
  8. David M

    David M Member

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    I've just watched this video and read the comments.
    It seems to me that it's not possible to distinguish between exposing the shadows at Z4 and adjusting the personal EI downwards. The result in both cases is that the negative gets more exposure. It would be the same negative in both cases and both would place Z3 on the straight line part of the curve as Bruce wants. He talks about "printing down the Z4 to Z3" but in practice we don't do that; we make a test print and follow that, irrespective of any actual negative values. (On screen, we might adjust Levels to give us the same result. The screen acts as a continuously-variable test strip.)
    If you watch his video, you will note that he concentrates on the negative and its curve. We do not exhibit negatives, still less their curves, so for most purposes, the absolute numerical values on the negative are irrelevant. I suggest that what counts is what translates into print values.
    The logical thing to do, if numerical values are so important, would be to be consistent and use a reflection densitometer on the print. I don't think this is the way anyone makes expressive prints.
    I'm not really a fan of the late Fred Picker but he had a way of determining Z1 exposure using eyes and an enlarger that avoided obsessive attention to the negative.

    To avoid making an even bigger fool of myself, I've just re-checked the video and noted that he doesn't show any prints to back up his proposition, so essentially, despite sounding so convincing, he doesn't demonstrate that what he says is true.
     
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  9. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Is reducing the film speed to say 1/2 box speed to match your personal EI the same as increasing exposure by 1 stop.

    I can see where he is coming from in relation to a safety net, whereby you may think you have metered Zone 3 but in essence, you may have hit zone 2.

    From the hybrid setup, I constantly do various number tests for both scanner and print. I have always maintained that that the important textured shadows should be around RGB 7 and RGB 247 for the highlights.
     
  10. David M

    David M Member

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    Yes, indeed.
    Halving the speed is the same as reducing it by one stop. When you click the aperture ring around by one click, you are changing the amount of light that reaches the film by one stop. You might expose Tri-X at 200ASA instead of 400ASA for instance and the film will receive twice as much light. "Twice as much" isn't quite as drastic as it sounds, which is why we use logarithmic scales for characteristic curves.

    There is a one-stop difference between the top of this MacBook and the beech table top it sits on. ISO numbers are not quite so obvious as ASA. "Clicks" might be a useful generalisation, as it could be applied to shutter speed too.

    In normal Zone testing, I would have expected that Bruce's Z2/Z3 problem could have been more simply resolved by the establishment of a personal EI. Depending on the film, that would probably have been about a stop lower. He is quite right that in an actual scene, there are no perfectly accurate zones and so each zone represents a range of values and texture within each zone which is pictorially important. It might be that Bruce is unusually conscious of texture in the lower values. Or is it possible that this is only part of his talk, which assumes box speed? I don't know.

    You are ahead of me on the histogram numbers. Empirically, I like to keep a little bit of space at both ends to allow for some dodging and burning. Next time I am at the keyboard, I shall have to check this. This won't be soon, because my printer is sulking, Epson want quite a lot to repair it, and it's not long since Christmas
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2017
  11. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Interesting, I agree he doesn't mention his film speed so there is a possibility he is using box speed.

    What Epson is it and whats wrong with it
     
  12. David M

    David M Member

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    3800. Refuses to print any kind of black even after prolonged cleaning. A man is coming next week. You have galvanised me.
     
  13. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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  14. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    I personally knew Fred Picker, attended his workshop in 1979, and, eventually, lived not too far from him. I can assure you that this statement is dead wrong! He used a densitometer to determine his personal EI for his film (Tri-X) and his equipment. Correct development for proper Zone VIII print value was determined in the enlarger exposing his preferred paper (early on it was Ilfomar and, later, Ilfobrom) to the minimum exposure needed to obtain paper dMax.
     
  15. David M

    David M Member

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    Wow! That was brave, Ian. I've surrendered and the Man from Epson is coming next week. It does look as if the changeover valve might be my problem too. That changeover is my own (and everybody's?) major dissatisfaction with Epson. Why not have the two blacks operate like normal colours. Better still, why not have only one full black and a gloss cartridge so that you could control the degree of glossiness? Perhaps it's not practical but it would be useful, wouldn't it?
     
  16. David M

    David M Member

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    Hello Alan,
    This is very interesting. I have all his newsletters and one of the versions of his 5x4 camera. I shall have to look them out and re-read them. Somewhere, I think I have one of his prints – one-and-a half horses in a field. Thank you for the information.
     
  17. David M

    David M Member

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    Help again, Alan.
    I've been trying to locate my ZoneVI Workshop book and the Fred Picker newsletters without success. We recently had to dismantle a bookcase to have some work done on the floor and many of my books are still boxed up. I had felt sure that Picker suggested a practical method that was based on his own excellent idea of The Proper Proof.
    I've re-read my own entry and I don't think I've suggested that Fred never used a densitometer, just that he described an alternative and simpler method. Did he offer a service where you sent him a series of exposed and developed negs and he calibrated them for you?
    In the absence of the Picker book, I've checked both The Negative and John Blakemore's Black and White Photography Workshop. John does describe a method using eyes, so I may have conflated John's and Fred's methods. John's book is well worth reading.
    My understanding is that in person, Fred was an inspirational teacher. I never met him.
     
  18. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    isn't that Fred Newman of The Camera Store ?
     
  19. David M

    David M Member

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    I believe that several people offered this service, but as we are demonstrating, I may not have a perfect photographic memory. It would be mentioned in the Zone VI newsletters, if I could find them.
     
  20. David M

    David M Member

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    Out of curiosity, I looked up Fred Newman. The 11x14 camera looks very tempting, but would I use it more than once? Probably not, or only if I made a serious commitment to Platinum printing. A 35mm outfit can be very heavy indeed and a full DSLR kit is paradoxically even heavier than a modest 5x4 kit. (...although there's the tripod, too.) Above 5x4, weight and unwieldiness increase rapidly.
    Then I found the U-tube videos of nice Mr Newman demonstrating Part one, Part two and How to do it yourself.
    The thing that kept coming into my mind was: "What problem are you trying to solve?" I think of the images that have impressed me and I and wonder even more.
    Did Edward Weston, Eugene Atget, Edwin Smith, Frederick Evans, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weegee, Bert Hardy, Cecil Beaton, Frank Sutcliffe, Hill & Adamson, Henry Peach Robinson, Jane Bown, (...stop, stop!) even the great WHF Talbot himself, go through any of this?
    I admit the need to know our equipment and materials well, but how much of all this information can we actually use? I'm asking because I'd like to know.
     

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