View Full Version : I need N+2 in the shadows and N-2 in the highlights

Eric Woodbury
26-Jul-2015, 10:56
I recently made a 360 degree image inside of a auto shop. Inside I need more contrast and outside I need to keep the clouds under control. If I can't have both, I'll let the highlights go. I have a roll of FP4+ and six sheets of 4x5. I also have two 4x5 test shots. I figure this will need to be a semi stand development, a split development, or some other magic. My standard developers are XTOL and WD2H+, but I can make most anything. Have you experienced a similar problem and solved it?

Thanks, EJW

26-Jul-2015, 10:57
I need N+2 in the shadows and N-2 in the highlights - you need a digital camera.

26-Jul-2015, 11:18
I am not aware of a 360 degree large format camera, so I presume you are using 120/220 or 35mm.

Solution? Very large hot light (not flash) bounced off the ceiling. Expose for interior. Exterior will come down.

Someone might suggest making contrast mask(s) but not me. I couldn't manage it.

Peter De Smidt
26-Jul-2015, 11:31
Jac makes a great suggestion. In addition consider using divided Pyrocat. When making an optical print, print the inside with a higher grade setting than that outside.

Michael R
26-Jul-2015, 11:57
Most of my work has always been done under very high contrast and/or low light conditions. Over the years I have explored about every development trick there is for this sort thing. Some of them worked ok (many of them don't work) but they involve compromises. After all the deep diving, my conclusion was that in the context of exposure/tone reproduction, particularly given current materials, N+/N- isn't the best way to manage things. I prefer to think of the negative as a recording of information. Since most current films have very long exposure scales, trying for too much control at the negative stage can often result in more loss than gain, and actually make it more difficult to print. I want as much information as possible in the negative, which I can then extract using printing techniques. The most control we have in the (non-digital) photographic process is at the printing stage, so even under extreme contrast situations, I now often give the negative normal development, or perhaps a mild contraction. This makes it a lot easier to keep the print "rich" in the dark areas (which usually comprise most of the subject area), and I can bring in the highlights, which retain good detail.

Depending on subject matter and printing (or hybrid/scanning) preferences, certain compensating developers/procedures (highlight flattening, sometimes increased edge effects) or divided/split development (tends to give a relatively linear curve) can be useful.

Just some thoughts.

Eric Woodbury
26-Jul-2015, 12:46
koh303, I design digital cameras for living. I don't need a digital camera (and I have one).

Jac, the image was taken in 6 x 60 degrees, both on 120 roll and 4x5. I will make six prints and paste them together the old way. It has been made and now there are no do-overs, as it is a thousand miles away.

Peter, it isn't that cut and dried. Highlights are through windows with light bouncing all around. A mess.

Michael, I agree. I will probably develop for the shadows in this case and pre-expose the paper a bit to hold something in the highlights. I'm sure the film can take it as long as I don't completely saturate the film.

Peter De Smidt
26-Jul-2015, 13:13
There is no one quick solution, but there are many things that can help. The best development that I know of for that kind of situations divided Pyrocat, as I said. If you are optical printing, than using multiple settings with a dichroic head, or contrast filters, is very effective. Dodging and burning can be very precise, and using a low contrast light to burn in difficult bright areas is very effective. Who said anything about simple? I've had back-lit ice images need many, as in 20+, separate burns to print how I envisioned them. You can also make various masks to sit about the negative in the enlarger. I've never done that but many people have to good effect.

26-Jul-2015, 13:39
Hello Eric,

Do you have a Spot Meter?
Did you perhaps... Already measure your Subject Brightness Range (S.B.R.)?

What was the difference in Exposure Values? Just curious...
This information of course, will help us to determine your 'specific' needs more fully.
Your situation, 'may or may not' be as bad... As you initially think (Hopefully it isn't).
Perhaps, Ken Lee might be able to 'chime in' to this thread. :)
Although, the specific images have since been removed... I 'think' that this is the thread where I remember originally seeing them:


IIRC, Ken has previously handled a 14 Stop S.B.R. ('Beautifully', I might add)...
With Divided Pyrocat-HD. Thank-you!


Maris Rusis
26-Jul-2015, 13:47
The easy if slow way to combine good exposure for the lit interior of a building and the outside scenery (as seen through windows) is to make the exposure when both areas are the same brightness. This happens twice a day, once at dawn, once at dusk.

26-Jul-2015, 15:35
The easy if slow way to combine good exposure for the lit interior of a building and the outside scenery (as seen through windows) is to make the exposure when both areas are the same brightness. This happens twice a day, once at dawn, once at dusk.

Very good!

26-Jul-2015, 16:12
Windows and doors... how big and how many? Is the inside very well-lit? Depending on conditions it might be feasible to use cheap window darkening film attached to lightweight frames outside the window and door openings.

Tim Meisburger
26-Jul-2015, 17:08
I think the OP has indicated the shots have already been made, but if the haven't, I agree with Maris. I've made some really pleasing interior shots at our house in Indonesia around dawn, with the mountain view out the window perfectly exposed. Its fun for early risers...

Doremus Scudder
27-Jul-2015, 11:51

A couple of thoughts: First, keep in mind that reduced development alone affects highlight contrast more than shadow contrast, as do many other methods. The main consideration is to be sure you have exposed well enough to retain the detail and separation in the shadows that you need.

I've been in your situation a number of times and tend to agree with Michael that you don't really want to fit the overall negative density range to your printing paper, i.e., detailed shadow in Zone III and contracted development to get the highlights to print with detail. I like a bit too-contrasty neg and then deal with the highlights during printing.

My "bag of tricks" for developing in such a situation would be:

Develop at N-1 (or maybe even N-1/2) with a compensating regime. This could be a divided developer (although I don't use that), a reduced-agitation scheme, a dilute developer with extended time, or a combination of the above. Perhaps my favorite method here is to use SLIMT, but you really have to test, test, test to make sure you have a scheme that works first. At any rate, you want to end up with a negative that straight prints with fair shadows and blown highlights, but has a distribution of tones that has reduced separation in the higher values as compared to the lower (i.e., "compensated" highlights).

Then at the printing stage, you can use dodging to liven up the shadows and burning for specific highlight areas. In the process, you can use VC paper and a rather high-contrast filter for the base exposure and then burn with the highs down with a lower contrast filter. If the highlights are stubborn, flashing is a good tool to reign them in (and reduces contrast a bit in the highest values), Bleaching of selected areas to bring them up after fixing will help give muddy areas a sense of luminance and separation that you can't get any other way. Advanced techniques include masking and retouching, but I find these are rarely needed.

You'll have to find the right combination of manipulations for your particular image, but the above are the basics and should serve you well.



Steve Sherman
27-Jul-2015, 15:53
I've been interested in this type photography for 25 years and therefore have used all methods available during those times. It would be hard to judge what the final approach would be without first knowing exacting what the contrast range was and the shapes of the extremes of that contrast to gauge what type of printing manipulation could be used.

In my experience over those 25 years no technique begins to approach that of Reduced Agitation forms of Film development when controlling and Preserving negative information is paramount. Divided Pyrocat will compress highlights but the technique is mostly used by Film shooters who intend to scan their negatives as opposed to printing them in a Silver process. Gaining the necessary highlight density with Divided Pyrocat for Silver Gelatin printing is not easy.

Lastly, your most successful means to arrive at a high quality Silver Gelatin rendition of an interior and exterior would involved three factors, first, shoot on an overcast day within 3 hours of the sun rising or setting, expose outside values no higher than Zone 14 - 14.5 and use a Reduced Agitation method to develop the film using Pyrocat and have a high degree of competency with the Split Contrast technique used for Silver Gelatin printing. In the hands of a skilled Split Contrast printer Multi-Contrast papers can do things that will surprise even that printer, it is that powerful a technique

Cheers !

Joe Smigiel
27-Jul-2015, 19:04
Someone already mentioned David Kachel's SLIMT method. Here's a link:http://www.davidkachel.com/assets/cont_pt3.htm

27-Jul-2015, 20:10
This suggestion is probably outside of the desired parameters, but......

In 35mm I habitually shoot in high contrast situations--interiors with windows are a good enough example--but I really abhor blank white and black areas. That's one of the things that quickly turned me off on digital cameras because Tri-X in D76 will easily renter 15 or more stops range of good data, much more than digital. The only problem has been printing those, and I was delighted to discover that those wide-range digital negs are easily scanned, photoshopped, and printed digitally much more easily than I used to do in the darkroom. When I discovered this, I made hybrid my habit.

This shot, for instance, has an actual metered range of 16 stops between the dark areas under the desk (there's a small amount of detail there on my screen) and the sunlit wall outside.: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdarnton/6929081535/

29-Jul-2015, 08:16
Perhaps use a tabular grain film such as 400TMY or 100ACR (they work better for this than most cubic grain films) for the following process. Place your shadows as normal and over expose 3 stops. Then cut your normal development time by about 1/2 (or a little less) using PMK Pyro to compress the highlights. It will yield finer grain than box speed, good tonal scale and huge dynamic range. I've been doing if for years now. You can also work the dev time out for 1 or 2 stops over exposed to compress your highlights as well. Works best on a high contrast scenes, of course.

Bruce Watson
29-Jul-2015, 08:17
I need N+2 in the shadows and N-2 in the highlights.

Doesn't work that way. The "secret" is: Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights. So what you might need is to properly expose (based on your experimentally determined PEI), then develop to your N-2 development time.

But what the architectural photographers usually do is light the interior to a sufficient level to match the light outside, which is much easier to do at dawn/dusk as has already been pointed out. If you can't do that, gel down the windows with an application of ND gel (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=rosco+nd+gel+roll&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma&Top+Nav-Search=) to knock down the exterior light levels a stop or two. Gelling windows is done for video productions all the time.

Gary Beasley
29-Jul-2015, 15:18
This looks like a situation where some stand development can tame the wide range a bit. Best done with tray development for the sheets, immerse and agitate for maybe half a minute then let the film settle face up so the reaction products pool on the highlights and the shadows continue to build as the highlights get held back. Experiment with some test sheets before deciding how much agitation and how long to develop. The roll is a bit trickier, semi stand may be better to avoid bromide drag.

4-Aug-2015, 11:43
This looks like a situation where some stand development can tame the wide range a bit...

Stand development is developing the film to completion. Highlights develop faster than shadows. Stand development does little to compress the highlights and that is what is needed. With the highlight compression I described, I have captured, with ease, shadows placed at EV3 and EV4 with my middle gray exposure at EV6 and highlights outside the window at EV15 and EV16.

Eric Woodbury
4-Aug-2015, 12:00
Thanks everyone for your inputs.

I have developed 1.5 sheets of my two test sheets. I did a split development with WD2D. This did not achieve sufficient density. I then tried a developer of my own design, amidol/pyro that I call Pyrodol, that worked well in the shadows but produced a 2.0 density in the highlights. Then I tried this same developer again diluted at 1:200 (instead of 1:100). This produced highlights at 1.4 with obvious details. This looks pretty good. The last half sheet is saved for a go at bleaching the latent image and then developing as described by Ed Buffaloe. I'm very curious about this process (Sherry method) as a new tool that I might use in the future.

Again, thanks for all the help. -EW-

4-Aug-2015, 12:25
A test shot with a 4 second exposure of 400TMY at f11 and compressing the highlights during development. The girl's pants measured EV4. The sunny 16 rule says a summer, mid day, outside exposure would be f11 at 1/500th or 1/1000 (depending how deep you like your shadows and your geographic latitude) as a reference point.

https://farm7.staticflickr.com/6071/6123000665_c44aeebee7_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/ak4YLZ)

And here a 1/30th @ f11 test shot of 400TMY and compression. Exposure derived from the shadow area inside the airplane. So you can see compressing the highlights costs you shutter speed big time if you want any DOF at all.

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8315/8069822432_ea117d06eb_o.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/di6X4w)

Gary Beasley
6-Aug-2015, 18:37
Stand development is developing the film to completion. Highlights develop faster than shadows. Stand development does little to compress the highlights and that is what is needed. With the highlight compression I described, I have captured, with ease, shadows placed at EV3 and EV4 with my middle gray exposure at EV6 and highlights outside the window at EV15 and EV16.

Although you are quite right about the scanning technique and it's success in handling the brightness range I don't think you understand what stand developing is doing. The object of that technique is highlight compression and shadow enhancement by using the developer activities reaction products to mask the most active areas, the highlights and allowing the shadows to catch up. This being caused by carefully controlled lack of agitation with the film faceup in the bottom of the tray. It is prone to uneven development if push to extreme, if you want absolute control, use that scanner. However there may be a time where both techniques used together may save the shot.