Friday, October 28, 2005
I’d like to learn how others are dealing with the following, thus I’ll start with a given set of input factors:
Black and White films – landscape/abstracts/arch subjects.
Hassie H1 and Arca Swiss 4x5 formats
Howtek HiResolve 8000 – scans down to 3 micros with dmax of 3.9 per manf. specs. and DLP Pro software
Epson 4800 with Red River Ultra Pro paper as norm
X-Rite 810 densitometer available if needed
Photoshop CS2 on G5/2.7GHz with 8GB RAM
Now, if I refer to all the articles/books (Adams – The Negative, etc.) I’ve found so far, they are making an assumption that the negative is taken into the wet darkroom and that environment is what the film density needs to be calibrated to – diffusion enlarger, etc.
That may work in the wet darkroom, but the drum scanner should allow me to go further than that; i.e. what works in the darkroom is NOT going to be the OPTIMAL for the photographer equipped with high res drum scanner.
The 8000 line scanner is capable of extracting a tremendous amount of detail from a VERY dense negative – the film density Mr. Adams was looking for is not what I’m pondering the scanner is capable of pulling out – ie; their Zone 1 density may actually have detail in it on the drum scanner, thus making it a Zone II for me.
In talking with a Mentor of mine, he suggest just shoot a given/standard scene – take high, mid, low readings, average, shoot at different ASA’s, develop, scan. Simple, yet logical – that’s a nice attribute to this Mentor – keeps me from overcomplicating the solution!
However, here’s what I’m thinking (yes, I know I just departed from the KISS principal that my Mentor has championed!), and this is an attempt to compromise between the KISS principal and my normal mode of thinking:
How to Define the ASA of a given film when a high res scanner is the “enlarger”/capture device -
Take a scene with broad range of latitude -
Set spot meter to film manf. ASA rating
Select a portion of the scene you want as zone 2 – faint texture/detail.
Shoot it –
Note in your shot record the other Zones that the mid Zone objects are sitting at and a Zone 8 object.
Now, repeat this for the 3 ASA ratings below the manf. ASA rating.
Develop at manf. time recommendation in your favorite brew.
Now Scan all frames – examine each frame on calibrated monitor and select one that has presented the best Zone 2 exposure – make a test print to prove the retention of texture that you want.
Once the films Zone II ASA is defined (densest negative that the scanner can still extract texture from), then work on the Zone 8 details through the development time.
I’m expecting that if I then took the density values of these negative, the values would differ substantially from the “guidelines” I’m finding in the published material.
Seems logical to me – and that should be the first clue that the proposed procedure is flawed!
I’m expecting to learn a lot from your feedback and hopefully produce a far better path to mastering the Zone Systems use with a high res scanner.