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esearing
20-Jun-2015, 09:17
Thanks to purchase of a spot meter I now see that I am often drawn to subjects within 2-3 stops/ev range. Grey rocks with medium brown trees/bark and maybe some red GA clay, all about the same tone in B&W. Or twisted roots with some variation in tone but not much. I tend to shoot nature/scenics in shade where very little sky or brightness would be found to cause contrast.

I've read about various methods for dealing with High subject brightness range, but have not seen any for lower contrast subjects. Is there a method/developer for boosting contrast during the negative development, or should I merely do that in the print stage with higher contrast paper as needed?

tgtaylor
20-Jun-2015, 10:13
You can try Negative Intensification which is described in The Darkroom Cookbook along with Print Intensification.

Thomas

Doremus Scudder
20-Jun-2015, 10:13
The classic Zone System method of increasing overall negative contrast range is to simply develop longer. In the days when I tailored everything for grade 2 paper, I had schemes up through N+3. This method still works well for many film/developer combinations, so, depending on what you're using, this may work fine for you. You'll have to test out the times, of course.

That said, many modern films and many developers tend not to yield a lot of extra contrast with radically increased development. For example, PMK (which I use a lot) just adds extra overall density after about N+1. Therefore, I have come up with other ways to get more contrast.

Here's what I do now in order of preference.

1. If I have a subject that would benefit from more local contrast, especially in the midtones (most of them), but would be a classic Zone System N+1, I develop normally and increase contrast at the printing stage with grade 3 or a bit higher paper.

2. I develop N+1 for any negative that needs N+2 or N+3 (or those that I don't want more local contrast on above) and after that use paper grade changes to get more contrast. For example, N+2 = N+1 development plus grade 3 paper.

3. If I can't get enough contrast that way, I'll use either bleach/redevelopment or selenium intensification to get more contrast. Selenium intensification works well for negatives developed in non-staining developers. It increases contrast about a Zone (perhaps a bit less).

Since the selenium toner removes the stain from negs developed in staining developers, a bleach/redevelop in staining developer will add a gratifying amount of contrast. The technique is described in many posts here but, in a nutshell, one bleaches the developed neg in a rehalogenating bleach of potassium ferricyanide and potassium bromide. When the image is completely gone (or just a faint stain image remains), the negative is briefly rinsed and then redeveloped in a staining developer like PMK or Pyrocat. This adds an additional layer of image stain and thus, more contrast. The technique works well for negatives developed any way.

4. If I know I have a real low-contrast scene, that would need N+4 or more, then I'll switch developers and use very dilute HC-110 and a long developing time. I've found that, with the films I use, I can get a good N+2 or 3 with HC-110 diluted 1+63 and developing times about 3x normal. This, in combination with the above methods, will get me quite a bit of extra contrast. Of course, you'll have to test your film/developer combinations to see what you can get.

5. There are some print bleaching techniques that give more apparent contrast. Often, the contrast of a print will be fine except for the highlights, which can then be selectively bleached to bring them up a bit. Search for more info on techniques here.

Hope this helps,

Doremus

RSalles
20-Jun-2015, 10:52
You can find a copy of "The Negative" from Ansel Adams for a very good price these days and you'll find exactly what can be done with negative development in this book to stretch or expand the negative density range, or contact it, as needed.

Cheers,

Renato

Heroique
20-Jun-2015, 10:59
I am often drawn to subjects within 2-3 stops/ev range ... twisted roots with some variation in tone but not much ... very little sky or brightness would be found to cause contrast.

Sounds familiar!

Except for dark patches, the roots, trunk and grass fell on a two-zone spread:

135772

Under thick rain clouds and soft light, I wanted more contrast.

Type 55 to the rescue – my favorite b/w film for low-contrast landscapes.

Tachi 4x5
Schneider XL 110mm/5.6
Type 55
Epson 4990/Epson Scan

jp
20-Jun-2015, 11:21
I like low contrast scenes as well. A yet unmentioned option is to use a filter to create some separation based on color differences. A little bit of over exposure will create additional shade contrast. No need to worry about affecting the highlights. But most of the time I a happy with a low contrast result as long as it's not scanned or printed muddy. Keep the shadows in mind when printing and let the highlights be a little moody or dim or foreboding if it works with the scene.

esearing
20-Jun-2015, 13:58
Type 55 to the rescue my favorite b/w film for low-contrast landscapes.



Would Slow vs Fast films make a difference or is it the slope of the film? Does Kodak offer more contrast than Ilford? Or Ilford Delta 100 vs FP4? Trying new 55 soon to see if it gives a look I like. Is x-ray film more contrasty or less than standard films?

Peter De Smidt
20-Jun-2015, 14:02
I would use a slow film, Acros, Tmax100, or Delta 100. Develop for longer than normal in Xtol, or another fine-grained developed that doesn't lose activity with prolonged development. Longer development leads to larger grain, but these film and developer combinations are so fine-grained to begin with, that grain is unlikely to be a probably. Try starting by developing about 30% more than normal.

Remember that you can use colored filters while shooting to lighten the same color as the filter and darken the complementary color. For example, a red filter lightens reds and to a lesser extent yellows and magentas, and it darkens cyan, blue, and green.

tgtaylor
20-Jun-2015, 15:19
You can also try the Developer Kodak D-19. It was discontinued by Kodak but available as a Formulary product: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/123314-REG/Photographers_Formulary_01_0035_D_19_Developer_for_Black.html

The formula is published in the Darkroom Cookbook and very inexpensive to mix from scratch if you already have the components.

Thomas

mdm
20-Jun-2015, 16:11
Or a film like foma 100. Contrasty as all hell.

LabRat
21-Jun-2015, 00:54
Or maybe you can try filters such as med. or dark green or blue... These will put pan film into the range it is most sensitive, darken red/orange colored stuff, and lighten green/blue, using the blue skylight in the shade... Or test x-ray film...

Steve K

plaubel
21-Jun-2015, 02:50
Haven't try this, but as A.Weidner said, a bath in Borax gives stronger shadows.
Bleaching with Farmer's may be helpful, and don't forget the good old Retusche (something like painting and scratching into the negative).
I am thinking about a lith bath, too.

Otherwise, low or high key with a contrast less then 3 EV give nice results, too...

""A little bit of over exposure will create additional shade contrast.""

JP, isn't under exposing and over developing the best solution for pushing the contrast ?

Cheers,
Ritchie

John Layton
21-Jun-2015, 04:50
A couple of things to remember - that a scene which might register a two to three stop span with a given spot meter will actually have more like four to five stops in reality...as even a 1 degree spot is often not narrow enough to accurately assess narrow margins (the only meter which can truly do this to my knowledge would be the old SEI). Also...reciprocity failure can be your friend. If I am in a situation with very flat lighting at a low enough level to allow a longish exposure...I simply won't "correct" (in exposure or development) as much as I might otherwise for reciprocity failure - and as a result am rewarded with a contrasty negative. Furthermore, if I can use a particular filter which will both add contrast plus time via its "filter factor" - this can push things even further.

Ken Lee
21-Jun-2015, 14:32
http://www.kenleegallery.com/images/forum/img380framed.jpg
Massachusetts
Sinar P, 300mm Heliar
5x7 TMY, Pyrocat HD

In many cases, if the subject doesn't look nice as it is, it won't look nice after boosting. If it looks nice as it is, no boosting will be required.

Peter De Smidt
21-Jun-2015, 14:34
Terrific work, Ken!

Ben Calwell
21-Jun-2015, 14:54
Right on, Ken.

ic-racer
21-Jun-2015, 16:13
Thanks to purchase of a spot meter I now see that I am often drawn to subjects within 2-3 stops/ev range. Grey rocks with medium brown trees/bark and maybe some red GA clay, all about the same tone in B&W. Or twisted roots with some variation in tone but not much. I tend to shoot nature/scenics in shade where very little sky or brightness would be found to cause contrast.

I've read about various methods for dealing with High subject brightness range, but have not seen any for lower contrast subjects. Is there a method/developer for boosting contrast during the negative development, or should I merely do that in the print stage with higher contrast paper as needed?

An advantage of the spot meter is that you can determine if you need extra development before you get to the printing stage. In cases of pronounced under development, even #5 paper is inadequate. I use multigrade paper and don't vary development much, but I probably take different pictures than you take.

tgtaylor
21-Jun-2015, 20:22
If the negative is low contrast, then you may want to try printing it with a low contrast filter.

Thomas

plaubel
22-Jun-2015, 02:42
isn't under exposing and over developing the best solution for pushing the contrast ?



Sorry, I meant increase.
Having some problems with the language from time to time..
Ritchie

Steve Sherman
22-Jun-2015, 04:16
Thanks to purchase of a spot meter I now see that I am often drawn to subjects within 2-3 stops/ev range. Grey rocks with medium brown trees/bark and maybe some red GA clay, all about the same tone in B&W. Or twisted roots with some variation in tone but not much. I tend to shoot nature/scenics in shade where very little sky or brightness would be found to cause contrast.

I've read about various methods for dealing with High subject brightness range, but have not seen any for lower contrast subjects. Is there a method/developer for boosting contrast during the negative development, or should I merely do that in the print stage with higher contrast paper as needed?

Google Reduced Agitation / Semi-stand methods of film development. Add my name or Sandy Kings name to the search and your question will be addressed and explained.

Cheers

Doremus Scudder
22-Jun-2015, 10:25
One more method to get more contrast that I forgot to mention earlier: Use a neutral density filter, etc. to get the film well into reciprocity failure. A 10-minute exposure will boost contrast quite a bit with most films and gives a very pleasing rendering. I've used this a lot with good results.

Best,

Doremus

Chuck Pere
23-Jun-2015, 06:08
Make sure you give Tri-X a try. The film curve will give the high tones more contrast. Give enough exposure to get things up on the long toe. It also will give you a good reciprocity boost.

Old_Dick
23-Jun-2015, 07:30
I'm just asking, what about increased agitation? I've been reading AA "The Negative" and it shows a contrasty photo as a result of too much agitation.

jp
23-Jun-2015, 12:04
""A little bit of over exposure will create additional shade contrast.""

JP, isn't under exposing and over developing the best solution for pushing the contrast ?

Cheers,
Ritchie

I'm not suggesting pushing (which increases overall contrast).
More exposure will increase shadow contrast by moving things up the curve (where contrast is more than the toe), but in a low contrast scene will not affect highlight contrast. If there is no shadow detail, there is no contrast within the shadows.

arthur berger
23-Jun-2015, 13:26
Check out Oliver Gagliani's work. He was known for his extreme expansions - N+ whatever. He used D 23 for these extra long developments. One negative was developed for 48 hours. Talk about a bullet proof negative, You need to give considerably less exposure for a negative to be developed to these extremes; but I have seen it work.

Vaughn
23-Jun-2015, 15:08
...Also...reciprocity failure can be your friend...

It is a shame to call it a "failure"! With exposure times from 30 seconds to 3+0 minutes under the redwoods, contrast is no problem! And I second the use of filters if the colors are there. A yellow filter in the redwoods in the Fall pops out those yellow leaves!

Doremus Scudder
23-Jun-2015, 15:10
I'm just asking, what about increased agitation? I've been reading AA "The Negative" and it shows a contrasty photo as a result of too much agitation.

Increased agitation has much the same effect as simply extending development time, which is more controllable and generally preferred to changing agitation schemes. Increasing agitation can cause surge marks, etc. Also, it's possible to get the benefits of reduced agitation (good shadow detail, more local contrast, edge effects) and still increase overall density range by extending development times.

Best,

Doremus

miltonkeynes86
23-Jun-2015, 16:14
Thanks to purchase of a spot meter I now see that I am often drawn to subjects within 2-3 stops/ev range. Grey rocks with medium brown trees/bark and maybe some red GA clay, all about the same tone in B&W. Or twisted roots with some variation in tone but not much. I tend to shoot nature/scenics in shade where very little sky or brightness would be found to cause contrast.

I've read about various methods for dealing with High subject brightness range, but have not seen any for lower contrast subjects. Is there a method/developer for boosting contrast during the negative development, or should I merely do that in the print stage with higher contrast paper as needed?
I like low contrast scenes as well. A yet unmentioned option is to use a filter to create some separation based on color differences.
http://aaswall.tk/28/o.png

Old_Dick
23-Jun-2015, 16:24
Doremus, thanks for the clarification on increased agitation.

HTTY
Dick

Steve Sherman
23-Jun-2015, 18:21
Thanks to purchase of a spot meter I now see that I am often drawn to subjects within 2-3 stops/ev range. Grey rocks with medium brown trees/bark and maybe some red GA clay, all about the same tone in B&W. Or twisted roots with some variation in tone but not much. I tend to shoot nature/scenics in shade where very little sky or brightness would be found to cause contrast.

I've read about various methods for dealing with High subject brightness range, but have not seen any for lower contrast subjects. Is there a method/developer for boosting contrast during the negative development, or should I merely do that in the print stage with higher contrast paper as needed?

There are in fact many ways to expand contrast, the most dramatic that I know of will be the result of "anchoring" the low values, extended development time, reduce dilution strength and intermittent agitation will yield "adjacency effects" leading to increased micro contrast. The greater the dilution and length of time between agitation cycles the greater the adjacency effects. Adjacency effects give the impression of a dramatic increase in contrast while when controlled correctly have little impact on global contrast.

Cheers

redshift
25-Jun-2015, 04:02
If the option was available I'd take the shot when the light provided more contrast and then get the look I wanted while printing.

Drew Wiley
25-Jun-2015, 10:24
While an old classic book like AA's "The Negative" is fine for giving an impression of general technique, like developing film longer for high contrast, specific films have changed since that was written. Not all modern "thin emulsion" films yield good "Plus" development past N+1. TMY400 is one which does, reasonably. Another thing which has changed is the current dominance of high-quality variable-contrast printing papers, as opposed to graded papers. With some of these, a very soft negative can be boosted significant by printing through a deep blue filter in order to give maximum exposure to the high-contrast emulsion. But very few scenes are actually only two or three stops of range. There will always be cracks or texture than doesn't so easily respond to a general meter reading but is nonetheless there, and maybe bright specular highlights too, in the other direction. There are numerous other techniques you can employ, but these are the easiest.