View Full Version : Very High Brightness Range

11-Apr-2005, 00:49

I've been trying to capture a scene with texture in a brightness range from around EV 2.5 to EV 16 but without getting a useable neg and I'd like to ask your advice on how to improve my success rate!

The story so far... I'm using 5x4 TMX (possibly not the best film in the situation but the only one I've got); I've tried exposing (on separate negs!) for both the shadows (placing EV 2.5 on Zone II) and the highlights (EV16 on Zone IX or X) and processing in either highly dilute Rodinal (1+200 stand development for time from 30 mins) or DDX 1+4 at ridiculously short times trying to emulate N-4. When I can get the highlights under control it's at the expense of any shadow detail at all. Or mid-tone detail come to that!

Any assistance greatfully received.

Thanks, Ian

Henry Friedman
11-Apr-2005, 04:31
You must lower the ISO of the film if you are going to do minus development. Testing of your materials is the only way to know how much. The shadows will fall also (though to a lesser extent than the highlights), so you have to start higher. In lieu of comprehensive testing you might try to place your important shadow detail on Zone V and do the same stand development.

Please, don't try this with irreplacable negatives.

Roger Scott
11-Apr-2005, 05:17
Hi Ian,

You could try a pre-flash before the main exposure along with a metol only developer such as D23 (avoid hydroquinone as it builds contrast). Two bath developing may also help although it'll be similar to stand development. Someone who uses TMX more than I should be able to tell you more about how the film responds and how far you can go with minus development. Printing might prove interesting.


11-Apr-2005, 05:22
Henry, thanks.

I didn't mention it but I've been trying with the TMX at EI 50, 64 and 80 without much success.

Another question for you... if I place the shadows on Zone V, as you suggest for the stand development, won't this result in even less exposure for those so-far-missing low values and push the highlights even further up the scale?

My testing technique is basically trial and error so for me comprehensive testing means patience and few more wasted sheets. Or I could stop being stubborn and go find a less challenging scene...


Jay DeFehr
11-Apr-2005, 06:14
Sounds like a job for POTA, or a similar compensating developer, but an 18 stop range is extreme for any film/developer combination. I think it might require a combination of pre-exposing your film, and developing in a highly compensating developer, but without testing, It's a longshot. Good luck.


Henry Friedman
11-Apr-2005, 06:27
Exposing the shadows for Zone V will give more exposure everywhere. So there will be more density in the shadows - not less - and the highlights will get pushed further up the scale also. But TMX has a pretty long straight line, so the highlights might well be OK.

Don't give up on the scene, especially if you can go back and create more negatives under the same conditions. Learn to deal with it as best you can; it will likely happen again.

Gem Singer
11-Apr-2005, 08:02
Hi Ian,

Using TMX film with a scene of such high contrast, and attempting to tame those blown-out highlights, is an exercise in futility. Select a different film. There are many more choices available, in both film and developers, that are better suited for that type of subject.

Paul Fitzgerald
11-Apr-2005, 09:06
Hi there,

You could try RA4 bleach/fix as a proportional reducer, test times on the scrape negs.

You could try the classic 5g metol+ 100g sulfite /1.oL water, try 20 minutes as a start time.

I think TMX has about the longest straight line curve for any film on the market, it should handle the scene if any film can.

Good Luck with it.

Jorge Gasteazoro
11-Apr-2005, 09:53
I have tested TMY for an SBR of 18.6 which is what you need for your neg. My EI for TMY at this range is 40 and I develop for 2 min with constant agitation at 74 F in pyrocat HD. YOu dont mention what developer you use, but you might want to try exposing TMX at an EI of 6 and developing for 1.5 to 2 min.

Good luck and let me know if it works out...

Bruce Watson
11-Apr-2005, 10:16
I suspect that the easiest way to deal with this is going to involve some digital work. If you are up for it, here's a workflow that might work for you:

1) Expose for the shadows and let the highlights fall where they may. Develop at N-2 or better. In other words, get this sheet's Dmax down as much as you can, but don't obsess about it.

2) Drum scan the resulting negative. The drum scanner will be able to read through the negative's Dmax, whatever it might be, and fit the negative's dynamic range into the 0-65535 digital range. A 16-bit grayscale scan will probably do nicely for you.

3) Pull the resulting file up in an image editor and clean it up. That is, crop it, spot it, set your levels and apply whatever curves you need. If the negative needs work on local areas (dodging, burning, whatever) do that too.

4) Output to 4x5 film with a film recorder. Alternatively, output to an inkjet printer or B&W photopaper on a Lightjet or Chromira printer.

5) If your output was film, take it back to the darkroom and print it normally.

There are many ways to do it; this is just one. Clearly, YMMV.

Philippe Bedfert
11-Apr-2005, 11:30

I am very surprised with your DDX dilution. I use Ilford D100 and DDX at 1+9 for a SBR of 14/15. For a normal SBR of 7, I use a 1+6 or 1+7 dilution with a constant agitation in tube.

Hope it helps you !

Ole Tjugen
11-Apr-2005, 11:42
In similar or even worse situations I have used two-bath developing with good success, and Windisch' compensating pyrocatechin developer for the extreme cases - also successfully.

D-23 for 3 minutes followed with a borax afterbath pulled a EV 3 to EV 17 range nicely together without getting the midtones too flat - although I have seen better midtones.

Armin Seeholzer
11-Apr-2005, 11:56

I would recomand the Gigabitfilm from germany makes about 11 F stops. Its the best film for largest contrast.

Good luck!

Jeff Dyck
11-Apr-2005, 14:27
There are some numbers here (http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/PC-HD/pc-hd.html) from Clay Harmon for developing TMY in Pyrocat-HD to capture ranges of up to 13 stops (and a suggestion in the article of getting 18 stops (!) out of Fortepan 400). His numbers are targetted at higher density ranges for Pt/Pd printing, but you could use them as a start.


ronald lamarsh
11-Apr-2005, 15:41
I'd try a zone 2 pre-exposure with divided D-23 give an extra 1 stop exposure. I carry a piece of white pexiglass just for the purpose of pre-exposure. I just hold it up to the lense and meter it set my exposure for Z2 and expose with the pexi in front of the lense.

Michael Rosenberg
11-Apr-2005, 16:31

You are describing a situation that I have encountered frequently in photographing the American Tobacco Factory in Durham NC (see www.mpr-photography.com). I use T-100 exposed at 80 and place shadows on high Zone IV or even V. I then develop the film as Bruce Barnbaum describes in his Photographic Arts 3rd edition book. I use XTOL diluted 1+3 and agitate continuously for 45 seconds, let stand another 45 seconds to 1.5 mins. (1.5-to-2.5 mins.), and then quickly put the film into 1+5 dilution and develop for another 6-to-8 mins. with intermittant agitation (time in the dilute developer can vary according to how much density in the high tones is desired). The initial development gives the shadows the boost they need, and the highlights then develop slowly in the more dilute developer. This is very similar to the water bath development described by Adams, but it gives more shadow detail. You may still have to burn highlights, but it becomes much more manageable.

I have also tried this in Gainer's HC110P variant of ascorbic acid developer. Both give excellent grain and fine control over development. Be sure to use distilled water for XTOL.



Jay DeFehr
11-Apr-2005, 20:53

when I develop by inspection I can see that the highlights are the first parts of the negative to develop, so how does using a more concentrated developer initially, build shadow density in the negative?

Hans Berkhout
11-Apr-2005, 21:10
If you find it, read John Sexton's approach to high contrast situations with TMX 100: highly diluted TMAX -RS, in tray with "slosher" partitions (Summitek product), agitate every 2-3 minutes.

Michael Jones
13-Apr-2005, 07:56

As a BTZS student and user, I plugged your data into my computer and here's what came up. Assuming a normal developing out paper with an scale of 1.1, typical flare from lens and bellows (just work with me here) using TMX 100 with your EV readings and zone placements, the computer says you have a subject brightness range of 13.5 and should develop the film to a CI of approximately .25. with DI#13 developer (created by Phil Davis for TMX under these brightness range:


at 1:9 for 6 minutes and 34 seconds at 70 degrees in BTZS tubes. You can use this as a baseline for tray development, but the key is a developer matched to what you want on the film.

Non analogue process such as suggested above should work, but if you want to use silver paper and TMX in the darkroom, the above should get you started. Good luck.


Michael Jones
13-Apr-2005, 08:00

Not enough coffee: you need to expose the film at F22 for 27.2 seconds. If you want different times or f stops, email me. Thanks.