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Thread: Processing for images shot in fog?

  1. #1
    Scott Davis
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    May 2002
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    Processing for images shot in fog?

    I shot some photos yesterday in the fog out at Lands End in San Francisco. I gave them all N exposure, but what should I do for processing? process as N, or should I give N+ or N- development? I'd like my fog to have a little texture and print somewhere around a zone VII/ zone VIII, not paper white. I'm shooting 4x5 Ilford FP4+ and will process in PMK Pyro. Many thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    Processing for images shot in fog?

    A foggy scene will generally be low in contrast and especially low in local contrast. Development that emphasizes this will tend to increase the "foggy" feel of the final print. You're on the right track using a staining developer, which will reduce the tendency of the fog to look grainy and give a more "liquid" feel to the light.

    Were it my film, I'd probably give N or N- development, with the expectation to add contrast in printing if needed. It's much easier to increase contrast during enlargement than to decrease it without getting a "gray" or "muddy" feel to the print. However -- I'm a relative novice, the only good fog shots I've done were on 35 mm Tri-X (developed in coffee, and they came out very nicely), and I have a very limited repertoire of films available in the 9x12 cm format I'm currently able to use.
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  3. #3

    Processing for images shot in fog?

    Ditto about the contrast, it will be very low. As for what to do with that, you don't give us enough information. Donald gives good advice for a certain look, but keep in mind that giving the foggy scene some serious grin can be very, very nice. A quick look through Lee Frost's The Simple Art of Black and White Photography should give you some ideas in that direction.

    The best way to go, of course, is to experiment. You may have it in your head that a certain look will do, but why not try to opposite approach as well, just to see?

  4. #4

    Processing for images shot in fog?

    Next time shoot a couple of film holders for each scene you think worthy of printing and experiment with development. I would give each image an N+1 development. You can tame the extra contrast in the printing more easily than printing in contrast without making it muddy and introducing more grain although grain in foggy looking images is cool. It's already muddy enough. You can also write to Michael Kenna and ask him what he does. He's very nice and writes back if he has the time. He's shot in both English fog and SF fog which I'll bet are much different beasts. And I would also like to have a little more info on what you were shooting. Lots of deatil or simple subjects? And why printing so high on the scale? 6 or 7 at the most will suffice for fog. 8 is really high. Or are we missing something you are looking for in the look and feel of the images? Most of MK's images are around 5 and 6. More details please. One other thing. There is little detail in fog shrouded images. So it is the graphic nature of the objects and their relationship to the fog and frame that make them interesting.

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