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Thread: Tonality in B&W Photography.

  1. #1

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    Tonality in B&W Photography.

    When choosing B&W films, some photographers will look at technical aspects and choose materials based on low RMS figures and high resolution depending on emulsion type in their respective ISO speed groups. With LF, there is much less concern over sharpness and resolution than with 35mm and to a lesser extent medium-format. Some `films` have a quality that is difficult to measure and quantify. That quality is when a photograph has a particularly very pleasing look that is sometimes described as `tonality`. You might read that one photographer loves the `look` of Tri-X developed in D-76, another might like Delta 100 in FX-39 or another might like FP4 in DDX or TMY in Pyro.
    I know that there are many factors involved here such as choice of film and developer and choice of photographic enlarging papers etc, but what is it that you folks like about your choices of photographic materials or that of a favourite photographer whose work that you greatly admire?

  2. #2

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    Post Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    Pyro ABC, Azo and amidol here. I like the straight line H-D curves, small toe and shoulder so less likely to run into the problem of areas where the local contrast becomes very low compared to other areas. Its also easy enough to distort the curve if needed. Cheers, DJ

  3. #3

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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    I continue to use Efke Pl 100 and Pyrocat. I have become familiar with those materials and that, I think, is the important thing. To become familiar with the materials and then to exploit those characteristics to the expression of a personal vision. In the case of Efke, I like the tonality which comes because of the films characteristic curve in combination with the developer. The papers I use are either Oriental (graded and VC) as well as Adox...all of which are developed in Amidol.

    I have shot Tmax 100 and it is clearly a good film (for those who print silver). If I were to choose another film I would go with Tmax 400...it has a very nice long straight line.

  4. #4
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    Ilford FP4+ for me. It is available in all sizes, consistent, has nice smooth tonality, lots of tolerance (i.e. it fits my aging unreliable shutters), and also has somewhat lower blue sensitivity so a yellow filter is less important for outdoors use.

    I develop it in Ilfotec-HD - there are many other good developers, but this one works, lasts a long time, gives results that I like, and I have a lot of it.

    I prefer to print on graded paper, Ilford Gallerie if I can find it in the size and grade I need. Paper developer depends on the negative I'm printing, Ilford PQ Universal if I don't need anything "fancy" to make it work.

  5. #5

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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Tjugen View Post
    Ilford FP4+ for me. It is available in all sizes, consistent, has nice smooth tonality, lots of tolerance (i.e. it fits my ageing unreliable shutters), and also has somewhat lower blue sensitivity so a yellow filter is less important for outdoors use.
    I have ordered a 25 sheet pack of 8x10 FP4 Plus this morning. I have two developers in my darkroom cupboard, Kodak D-76 and Tetenal Neofin Blue. I am thinking of processing two sheets at a time in my Jobo 28** series print-drum. There are two times given by Tetenal for an inversion agitation rhythm of every 3 seconds which are also the times recommended for rotary discard processors. 4 minutes @ 20C for beta= 0.55 and 7.5 minutes for beta= 0.70 with the former value for condenser enlargers and the latter for diffuser enlargers. Has anyone tried this combination? The developer is said to fully exploit the manufacturers ISO speed rating.

  6. #6
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    Neofin Blue gives a slight speed increase compared to D-76.

    I haven't tried that combination in LF, but used it a lot in 35mm and MF while my local shop still had Neofin (the shop is no longer local - I've moved, and no longer has Neofin reliably). My SF (small film) enlarger is a diffuser enlarger, and the 7.5 minutes are just fine. I like to develop a bit longer and agitate a bit less with the small thingies, though.

  7. #7

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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    For some of us that are less mathematically analytical we arrive at the same place by "finding the combination". For me it seems Efke 100 / PyroCat is very flexible to my shooting style which includes much work at wide apertures with Packard shutters, ie. less than perfect exposures. I've always been envious of some of the buttery things I see with Kodak Tri-X and D76 but I was always too cheap to use Tri-X. Many have found the "combination" right there though.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  8. #8

    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    The combination that works for me is, TMY- 400 developed in either PMK or Pyrocat. I find the result's great for both Silver Gelatin and Albumen printing. Gelatin papers are developed in either Dektol or Amidol depending on the negative. I care little about H&D curves and plots on a chart. Instead I came to these combinations through experimentation, ease of use and visual appeal. All images are contacted printed as well.

  9. #9

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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    Phil Davis used to do a demonstraton in his workshops showing that choice of developer has a far greater effect on the negative (and therefore the print) than the film choice. Partly for that reason I've never been much of a film experimenter. I settled on TMax 100 and HP5+ early on and have stayed with them. TMax 100 because it's the only b&w film available in Readyload, HP5+ because I like the faster speed (EI 200 for me compared to EI 50 for me with TMax) and it seems to have very nice gradations in the midtones though that's just an impression, not the result of any testing. I've experimented some with developers, including pyro, Rodinal, and LFN, but always come back to D76 1-1.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10

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    Re: Tonality in B&W Photography.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Galli View Post
    For some of us that are less mathematically analytical we arrive at the same place by "finding the combination". For me it seems Efke 100 / PyroCat is very flexible to my shooting style which includes much work at wide apertures with Packard shutters, ie. less than perfect exposures. I've always been envious of some of the buttery things I see with Kodak Tri-X and D76 but I was always too cheap to use Tri-X. Many have found the "combination" right there though.
    JIm,
    I am trying to home in on the best combination of time/temp/dilution of Pyrocat HD and Efke 100. I generally print palladium, but also some silver with the same negative.
    Do you mind sharing your time/temp/dilution info?
    Thanks,
    Jim

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