Wytham Woods (experiments in backlighting)

James T

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A couple of experiments with backlit trees in WythamWoods.
Both were shot with the Intrepid 4x5 on Ilford FP4+ at 200ISO, developed in ID11 (Fresh stock) 9:00 at 21°C.

Backlit Beeches: 135mm Graflex lens 1/25s, f/30.
IMG_0002.jpg

Beeches & Pines: 240mm Schneider Symmar, 1/5s f/22.
IMG_0005.jpg
 

Alan Clark

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Hello James. You say these are experiments, so I hope you won't mind a few suggestions. Not sure why you rated FP4 at 200 in this high-contrast situation. But this may be why you have lost the shadow detail.
Also not sure why you gave "normal" development.

My own approach would have been to rate the film at 64, then give reduced development, to tame the high contrast. ID11 at 1+2 for 12 minutes at 20 degrees C. This would have resulted in more shadow detail. And the dilute developer would have given a compensating effect and, among other things, lifted the values of the mid-tones, resulting in a brighter, more airy, effect. You get this in spades with FP4 and dilute ID11. Pyrocat HD gives an identical effect.
Hope you won't take this as criticism...

Alan
 

David M

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It's really quite difficult to compose any sort of image in random woodland and you've done that very well. It's a tricky lighting situation, too.
Although it's a matter of taste, I'd also like to see a bit more shadow detail. Alan's suggestion on process seem sensible.
There might be an alternative version where the trunks are rendered as solid black silhouettes against the sunlit leaves, but this is only speculation, not worthwhile advice.
But well done – an experiment worth making.

I must add the standard disclaimer: "On this screen." Shadow detail seems to evaporate in transmission.
 
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James T

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I must add the standard disclaimer: "On this screen." Shadow detail seems to evaporate in transmission.
On my screen, it's very dependent on where the image is, when the deep shadows are near the top (a bit above eye level) they are very dark, but when below eye level only the base of the big beech on the left of the first image is blacked out.

I probably overstretched the tone curve a bit after scanning. As I recall the metering (certainly in the first) was to put the shaded trunks on about zone III or a little below.
 

JimW

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I must add the standard disclaimer: "On this screen." Shadow detail seems to evaporate in transmission.
With that qualification, on this screen there is some loss of shadow detail, but they are far from from soot and whitewash silhouettes..... I really like the second image's composition.
 
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David M

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Yes. I think this rendering falls well within the boundaries of personal preference. Perhaps LF photographers are a bit more obsessed with shadow detail?
James, out of curiosity, may I ask how you arrived at 200 for FP4? Most people seem to arrive at a lower figure, but it's not a cast iron law. Zone testing tests your whole process and not just FB+F.
 
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James T

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James, out of curiosity, may I ask how you arrived at 200 for FP4? Most people seem to arrive at a lower figure, but it's not a cast iron law. Zone testing tests your whole process and not just FB+F.
Actually, there was not a huge range in either scene, maybe 4ev from the shaded trunks to the bright leaves hence the push to 200 as I wanted the shadows quite dark and the leaves bright. The developing time is the digitaltruth.com value for FP4+ at 200, in stock ID-11 (first use) corrected to 21°.
 
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