Sky Starts As Grey Value In Test Strip

Ian-Barber

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I have performed several test strips on a variety of negatives and the sky is producing a darker grey value than I would like, right down to 3 seconds of exposure at f/16 on the enlarger.

Would this indicate that these negatives could be a little on the thin side ?
 

Ian Grant

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Sounds like it. Just hold the negative to some light and photograph it for us.

Ian
 

David M

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Yes, but there are several routes to thin negatives. Ian is right. We can't tell without seeing them. Were you using a filter?
 

Alan Clark

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Ian, this doesn't look to have enough contrast. You should have given it more development. Exposure looks ok as there is detail in the shadows.
And I know where it is. The Warrenby steelworks with huts at Paddy's Hole in the foreground. Teesmouth.

Alan
 

David M

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Yes. The identification numbers are very pale, too. This looks like one of Ian's "perfect scan" negatives.
If I may propose something without intending any disrespect, Ian might benefit from a brief period of taking pictures whilst following the instructions on the packet. (Something like FP4 and ID11, but there are other combinations) It's where most of us started, but Ian is coming in the other direction, from his huge knowledge of digital imaging. His curiosity and energy are enviable and admirable.
I really hope this doesn't sound patronising. I've hesitated before posting. Please remove it if anyone is at all offended.
 

Alan Clark

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More development as in the length of time the film is in the developer or more vigorous agitation?
Ian, increasing the amount of agitation, increasing the development time, and increasing the temperature will all lead to more development. There are potentially too many variables here, which can cause problems. So I do what most people do and always keep to the same temperature, always stick to the same agitation method, and vary the amount of development by changing one thing only - the time.

Alan
 

David M

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Yes. Manufacturers specify time and assume that you have sorted out a consistent scheme of agitation. They may give alternative times for different temperatures and most will specify a different time for rotary processors. One variable is quite enough for most people.
 

Ian-Barber

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Its teaching me a lot about my own work-flow which has always been for scanning.
Its taken me quite some time to get the workflow just right for the digital side which is o produce a fairly flat negative and then separate the mid-tones in Photoshop using accurate luminosity masking.

I am beginning to understand now that a good developed negative for digital is not always a good negative for darkroom printing.
 

martin-f5

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I think well exposed and correct developed negatives should work in both worlds.
You probably have to readjust the digital workflow afterwards.

This negativ will really be difficult for a contrasty print in wet darkroom.

I remember John said exposure for the blacks and devolve for the highlights.

btw. which camera did you use for this negativ?
 
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Ian-Barber

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Ive just finished a roll of FP4 walking round the garden, its a bright sunny day today so good brightness range. I'm just about to develop it and compare them to my others low contrast negatives
 

Ian Grant

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I suspect a touch of under-exposure as well as under-development. I'd give half a stop more exposure as well as increasing dev time by 15-20%

Ian
 

Alan9940

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I am beginning to understand now that a good developed negative for digital is not always a good negative for darkroom printing.
Ya know...I've read this same statement so many times in various places and I truly don't understand it. I regularly use the same negative for both darkroom printing and desktop printing without any changes. As an example, I just recently started playing around with Shanghai GP3 developed in D-23 and the first roll came out slightly over-developed; the highlight density ran about 1.41 - 1.43 over fb+f. In the darkroom, using split-grade printing, I was able to get an acceptable print. On the desktop, scanning to a linear file and using the ColorPerfect plugin with 0.25 adjustment dialed in to control the highlights, I was able to get an acceptable print. Not saying either way is right or wrong...just interesting to me.
 

Ian-Barber

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Ya know...I've read this same statement so many times in various places and I truly don't understand it.
I think what I was trying to say is that my type of exposures are usually on dull overcast rainy days, I guess I just like these lower contrast moody images. In the digital side, this has never really presented a problem because we can change contrast so easily right down to a blade of grass.

With this type of negative, very short tonal range I have found their is insufficient tonal separation to get any contrast especially with my limited (novice) darkroom skills. As everyone has told me, I should have extended the development time to try and get more contrast in the negative.

the highlight density ran about 1.41 - 1.43 over fb+f. In the darkroom, using split-grade printing, I was able to get an acceptable print. On the desktop, scanning to a linear file and using the ColorPerfect plugin with 0.25 adjustment dialed in to control the highlights, I was able to get an acceptable print. Not saying either way is right or wrong...just interesting to me.
This interests me because now I having to re-think my development process but try and reach a compromise for both systems. If I can get detail using the Linear scanning method and ColorPerfect from 1.41 - 1.43 over fb+f then this gives me wiggle room.
 

David M

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Half a stop more shadow detail is always welcome.
It's curious how different people have different results. You see it when people swap their Zone EIs.
The point of the Zone System is to tune each detail to the photographer's individual preferences and practice. Some may be more demanding than others of course, and everybody has different equipment in the LF world.
I found that I prefer flatter negs for scanning, but I used to aim for G-2 when wet printing. If I'd been aiming for G-3, my negs would have been flatter and might have been perfectly scannable. I've resisted the siren call of the densitometer. I already spend too much time in the crouching position and who would want to see my lovely graphs anyway?
As Alan says: interesting anyway.
 

Alan9940

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I've resisted the siren call of the densitometer. I already spend too much time in the crouching position and who would want to see my lovely graphs anyway?
Ever since I started into "serious" B&W LF photography using the Zone System, I always wanted a densitometer, but couldn't afford one. One of my early jobs that I had for several years gave me access to one that I could use anytime during off-hours. Of course, life moves on and so did I... ;)

Then, a few years ago I picked up a really nice condition Gretag D200-II with a full complement of apertures, dust cover, case; basically, a complete kit. Just the other day, when I was reading the highlight density of those GP3 negs I mentioned above, I couldn't help but smile a bit because I didn't have to go into the darkroom for a couple hours to get the info I got on the densitometer in less than a minute. I was, once again, reminded of how glad I was to have found this unit! :)
 

Alan Clark

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I always try to get the contrast of my negatives so they will print in the darkroom on a middle grade, and I have found that these negatives scan well too. So you can have your cake and eat it!
Ian, you have found that your flat negatives scan well, and contrast is easily restored digitally. But if you gave more development, your negatives would have more mid-tone separation and you may then find that less work, digitally, was needed to get a good print. So what works best for the darkroom could also work well digitally.
Some of us like to take photographs when the sun shines. This can result in a very contrasty negative; difficult to print in the darkroom. The traditional way this is dealt with is to give the film less development. This keeps the highlights from getting too dense, resulting in a not too contasty negative. But this can cause a problem. The highlights have been held back, and come down in value to where you want them. But the mid-tones also get held back somewhat, and can end up slightly too dark, and compressed together. The solution to this is to give more exposure to a film that is going to get reduced development. Maybe one stop more exposure. ("overexpose and under-develop") This puts the mid-tones back up to where you want them. By using a compensating developer, shadows are allowed to build up, while highlights are held back, and mid-tones are not compressed.
The result is a negative that should print easily in the darkroom. But because there is no great density range from shadows to highlights it should also scan well. And the mid-tone separation is already there in the negative so should easily be achieved in the digital print.

Alan
 
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