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Thread: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

  1. #1

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    Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    I have been reading the forum here and watching videos trying to gather as much info as possible as not to irritate more experience folks with this, however at this moment i'm stumped.

    I'm new to LF and I have a Zone VI 8x10 camera. I'm using Ilford Delta 100 and Ilfosol3 for developer. For the exposure: After reading and watching videos, it was recommended to spot meter the highlights and shadows and get an average. I have a Sekonic 758DR meter. For todays shoot, it was about 2:00 p.m. and we had full sun with puffy white clouds here in Florida. I metered the shadows in the bushes (2" @ f/45) and put that in memory and then metered the brightest part of the clouds (1/30 @ f/45) and locked that into memory. I then choose the average function and it told me to expose 1/4 @ f/45. I them scanned the scene to see where the EV would land. The darkest shadows was -3 and the brightest part of the clouds were at +3. I made notes of all these settings. I was told that import shadow detail should be on Zone III if not Zone IV. I adjusted my exposure to 1/2 at f/45 moving the shadows up to Zone III. Realizing that the highlights have also moved, I was going to have to do n-2 developing to get the highlights down to Zone VII.

    I took two sheets of the same scene at the same settings so I could do a test in the darkroom. Ilford states for Delta 100 to start at 7:30 for a 1+14 solution. For a drum I'm using a Unicolor motor base and a Cibachrome tank for development. This is only my second development sessions so I'm new at this. Since I'm using constant agitation, Ilford recommends taking 15% off the 7:30. For the first set of negatives I did this (used 6:22) and there was no sky detail, hence why for this session I really wanted to try to wrestle some cloud detail in. Since there wasn't any detail in the sky last time, I was going to make sure to reduce my time. This time I took the 6:22 and reduced 10% and then reduced another 10% for a time of 5:10. I was advised not to go below 5:00. I made sure the developer was at 78F/20C. Again, no sky detail. I checked the instructions for the Cibachrome and they said to use 3 ounces, I was advised to fill the cup with water and see how much chemistry I needed (I was using 6 ounces all along from this advice). Ok, for the last sheet I reduced the developer to 3 ounces with the appreciate dilution of Ilfosol 3 developer. I processed the same time. The negative over all has less contrast but no sky detail with the clouds.

    The negatives are drying as I type, however I'm at a loss on where things are going wrong and how to adjust. If anyone could recommend something to try I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks...

  2. #2

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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    Now... you call yourself a newbie.... Does that mean 8x10 is new for you? Or is the Zone system new to you? Is B&W film developing new to you?
    What you're describing feels like a very sophisticated and complex, almost scientific approach to me.

  3. #3
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    Analysis Paralysis.

    Making a good photograph is not rocket science unless you make it so. Making it so has no relation to what we call a good photo.
    .

  4. #4

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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    Quote Originally Posted by macmaster77 View Post
    I have been reading the forum here and watching videos trying to gather as much info as possible as not to irritate more experience folks with this, however at this moment i'm stumped.

    I'm new to LF and I have a Zone VI 8x10 camera. I'm using Ilford Delta 100 and Ilfosol3 for developer. For the exposure: After reading and watching videos, it was recommended to spot meter the highlights and shadows and get an average. I have a meter. For todays shoot, it was about 2:00 p.m. and we had full sun with puffy white clouds here in Florida. I metered the shadows in the bushes (2" @ f/45) and put that in memory and then metered the brightest part of the clouds (1/30 @ f/45) and locked that into memory. I then choose the average function and it told me to expose 1/4 @ f/45. I them scanned the scene to see where the EV would land. The darkest shadows was -3 and the brightest part of the clouds were at +3. I made notes of all these settings. I was told that import shadow detail should be on Zone III if not Zone IV. I adjusted my exposure to 1/2 at f/45 moving the shadows up to Zone III. Realizing that the highlights have also moved, I was going to have to do n-2 developing to get the highlights down to Zone VII.

    I took two sheets of the same scene at the same settings so I could do a test in the darkroom. Ilford states for Delta 100 to start at 7:30 for a 1+14 solution. For a drum I'm using a Unicolor motor base and a Cibachrome tank for development. This is only my second development sessions so I'm new at this. Since I'm using constant agitation, Ilford recommends taking 15% off the 7:30. For the first set of negatives I did this (used 6:22) and there was no sky detail, hence why for this session I really wanted to try to wrestle some cloud detail in. Since there wasn't any detail in the sky last time, I was going to make sure to reduce my time. This time I took the 6:22 and reduced 10% and then reduced another 10% for a time of 5:10. I was advised not to go below 5:00. I made sure the developer was at 78F/20C. Again, no sky detail. I checked the instructions for the Cibachrome and they said to use 3 ounces, I was advised to fill the cup with water and see how much chemistry I needed (I was using 6 ounces all along from this advice). Ok, for the last sheet I reduced the developer to 3 ounces with the appreciate dilution of Ilfosol 3 developer. I processed the same time. The negative over all has less contrast but no sky detail with the clouds.

    The negatives are drying as I type, however I'm at a loss on where things are going wrong and how to adjust. If anyone could recommend something to try I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks...


    First, to conserve sky detail you can use filters, perhaps yellow+polarizer, or even a orange filter. Another option is graded density filters.

    This said the metering you did looks ok, if you did no mistake.

    I'd recommend you start calibrating your film under your development process. Here you can buy a highly regarded bible "Beyond The Zone System" : https://www.amazon.com/Beyond-zone-s...oding=UTF8&me= this is $3 used. Better if you get last edition edition.

    It will teach you how to calibrate your process. You'll need an Stouffer density gauge. Your sekonik may work as a luxometer, then you will need a densitometer, I obtained a RX service one (Nuclear Associates ) like this $43 http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nuclear-Asso...sAAOSwx2dYGcyZ

    You can also use scanner as a densitometer: scan your test negative at the same time than with the Stouffer gauge and then comparing values, but disable image engancing features.


    When you are finished with Beyond The Zone System (BTZS), then you'll have new duties: "Way beyond monochrome" and "Darkroom Cookbook".


    Another suggestion is that you start controlling well your exposition with roll film with an SLR, developing N-0, and makng exposure bracketings, this if cheaper with small format. Delta 100 roll film 35mm works very close to how sheets do. When you control that you may add N+/- development to your process.

  5. #5

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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    To answer some questions, LF, the Zone System and film developing are all new to me. I have been studying all of this for months and decided last month to buy a camera, film and chemicals. Now I'm in the learning phase working with all of this stuff.

    I think Pere is on to part of the problem. I need to get a graded density filter. Granted, I'm not looking for a Ansel Adams negative, I just want to keep moving along and trying to get the best I can. Here are a couple from the finished negatives if anyone would like to comment:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Second Try_Highlights.jpg 
Views:	72 
Size:	26.9 KB 
ID:	157607

    Never attached a photo before here. These are pretty low res, not sure if you will be able to determine anything...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Second Try_Shadows.jpg  

  6. #6
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    Forget the Zone System. It based upon obsolete film and printing paper.
    When trying to capture sky texture, use a yellow or orange filter.
    Work from there and be happy.
    .

  7. #7

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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    If you insist on using the zone system, you'll have to do some calibration first. You know, shooting grey cards in flat light and then exposing step wedges under an enlarger and explore all development regimes in a controlled fashion. You may actually get somewhere.

    Or you could go out and shoot some more sheets.

    I'm not a good adviser in this matter, I'm sorry. I like shooting images too much.

  8. #8

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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    Forget about the Zone system. Use a good light meter and apply simple corrections for the most obvious deviations (e.g. a very bright sky). I would even recommend: start with 35mm and practice that for a couple of years. Use a simple developer / film combination, like FP4, Tri-X, Tmax 100 or 400 or any other common standard film, developed in - for example - Rodinal (probably the most fool-proof and universal developer on earth). You're trying to run long before you even learned to crawl.

  9. #9
    David Lobato David Lobato's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    I would not use Cibachrome drums. 3 or 6 ounces of developing fluid seems like too little. That may explain the lack of sky detail. I'm not familiar with Ilfosol developer though. If you put more fluid in, it runs out when you rotate the drum. Not ideal. Another quirk with Cibachrome drums is a hazard. The long tray that extends inside the cap can scratch the film emulsion when you open the lid with an angle. it's too easy to do. I did that one time, and have not used Cibachrome drums for film again.

    I use Unicolor drums on a Unicolor and Beseler motor bases. The 8x10 drum takes one 8x10 sheet. Two 8x10 sheets fit in the 11x14 drum. I use 300ml of fluid per 8x10 sheet. This is about twice as much as 6 ounces. I use Xtol 1:1. Kodak recommends at least 110ml of undiluted developer per 8x10 sheet. I use 150ml so my total per sheet is 300ml. It has always worked well for me.

    I recommend Steve Anchell's Film Developing Cookbook.

  10. #10

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    Re: Newbie Needs help on B&W film developing...

    I appreciate all of the feedback. I'll keep at it and see what comes out. Thanks...

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