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Thread: Developing for shadows

  1. #1
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Developing for shadows

    Let's suppose I am shooting sunrise, I expose for darkest shadows, sun is as expected. If I developed to N+1 or +2 wiuld ygat help with shadow detail as I have read? In doing so, would I blow out high lights if not originally blown out?

    I use regular, 2-bath and regular Pyrocat as well as working with SLIMTS.

    Looking for ways to develop shadows, not blow high lights without exposing like I have 100 iso instead of 400 iso and developing for the determined iso with N +1 or +2.

    Looking for technique to capture shadows and develop correctly, yet not blow out high lights.

  2. #2

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    Re: Developing for shadows

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Ruttenberg View Post
    Looking for technique to capture shadows and develop correctly, yet not blow out high lights.
    Steven, sensitometric curves explain all:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So, in practice... Exposure is what it will impose how your shadows are, you have to know how shadows are at -3, -2 and -1 ( say with normal development), spot meter an scene and locate -3, -2 and -1 areas. So also the way you want your shadows it will impose exposure. You know what detail you have at -2, so perhaps you want an spot i the shadows with that detail... then just adjust exposure to have that spot at -2. You have the exposure !

    You should also know how highlights are depicted at +1, +2,+3 and +4 with Normal development. With the exposure determined by the shadows then you evaluate (also with the spot meter) at what overexposure your highlights are. Say that an spot is at +5, it will be burned, but if you do a -2N development the +5 spot will move to +3, so by selecting the N you place your highlights where you want.

    Just remember that the N+/- development won't move much your shadows, that are determined by the exposure only, you may have a 1/3 stop shift, so when you have placed your shadows you are free to move the highlights by adjusting N development, and this won't move shadows.

    This works with any processing: regular, slimt, stand, stain... You only need the development times for each -/+N in your processing.

    -/+N Development times are in tables, you can (BTZS) calibrate those times, or you simply may guess those times and trying until it works.
    Last edited by Pere Casals; 20-May-2019 at 05:00.

  3. #3
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Developing for shadows

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Ruttenberg View Post
    Let's suppose I am shooting sunrise, I expose for darkest shadows, sun is as expected. If I developed to N+1 or +2 wiuld ygat help with shadow detail as I have read? In doing so, would I blow out high lights if not originally blown out?
    You can't really develop for the shadows. That's due to latent image -- either you have one, or you don't. If you didn't expose enough to form a latent image, you can develop for days and still end up with clear film.

    OTOH, if you did expose enough to form a latent image, typical development maxes out early in the development process -- that is, the development process runs to completion for that part of your image with the faintest latent image (deep shadows). And again, once the process has run to completion, you can continue development for days without any change.

    This is where the first part of the phrase "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights" comes from.

    All that said, I suspect that your problem might be reciprocity related. That is, I suspect that you are using an "old style" cubic grained film like Tri-X or HP-5+. These films have reciprocity characteristics that tend to push your shadow detail into reciprocity failure while the rest of the film is fine. This results in a sheet of film that looks fine on the light table but which can't produce proper shadow detail in a print. I'm familiar with this kind of thing because I fought it for years.

    Once I finally understood what was probably happening, I created a test to prove it one way or the other. I did the typical Zone System testing (personal exposure index, and "N" development) for the film I was trying to use (Tri-X), and for 400TMax (TMY-2, a "modern" t-grain film). Then I loaded up some film holders with one sheet of each film, and went out in the woods making identical photographs on the two different films. Then I came back and separated the films in the darkroom and ran each film in the same developer (XTOL 1:3 used one shot) for their respective "N" development times.

    As expected, the two different films of the same scene looked almost identical on the light table. But under a 10x loope, I could see density differences in the lowest density areas. And when I printed them, prints made from the different negatives showed that one (Tri-X) struggled to show detail in the shadows while the other (TMY-2) made it look effortless.

    Now, it could be just the difference between the longer toe on the sensitometric curve for Tri-X vs. the shorter toe for TMY-2. But without a better lab (and some assistants!) I couldn't prove it. But I'm pretty sure the difference was in reciprocity characteristics.

    Anyway, this might or might not apply to your particular situation. But at least, maybe, I've given you something to think about. ;-)

    Bruce Watson

  4. #4

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    Re: Developing for shadows

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    Steven, sensitometric curves explain all:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	_tmx.JPG 
Views:	45 
Size:	33.3 KB 
ID:	191438


    So, in practice... Exposure is what it will impose how your shadows are, you have to know how shadows are at -3, -2 and -1 ( say with normal development), spot meter an scene and locate -3, -2 and -1 areas. So also the way you want your shadows it will impose exposure. You know what detail you have at -2, so perhaps you want an spot i the shadows with that detail... then just adjust exposure to have that spot at -2. You have the exposure !

    You should also know how highlights are depicted at +1, +2,+3 and +4 with Normal development. With the exposure determined by the shadows then you evaluate (also with the spot meter) at what overexposure your highlights are. Say that an spot is at +5, it will be burned, but if you do a -2N development the +5 spot will move to +3, so by selecting the N you place your highlights where you want.

    Just remember that the N+/- development won't move much your shadows, that are determined by the exposure only, you may have a 1/3 stop shift, so when you have placed your shadows you are free to move the highlights by adjusting N development, and this won't move shadows.

    This works with any processing: regular, slimt, stand, stain... You only need the development times for each -/+N in your processing.

    -/+N Development times are in tables, you can (BTZS) calibrate those times, or you simply may guess those times and trying until it works.

    This ^ says it all.

    Expose for shadows, then develop for highlights. highs are effected more by development. The shadows actually stop or slow down to the point of exhaustion at a certain point and your highs continue to get denser as they race to their exhaustion point. To get that point of control in developing highs, you will need to do some experimenting till you find that delicate edge where a minute makes a difference.

    comparing different films complicates your life. Find one film taht gives you waht you want n stick with it. I was fiddeling with Berger, Arista n TMax... Tmax won hands down for those subtle details and control.

    .

  5. #5
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: Developing for shadows

    Use an unsharp mask to open up shadows. I've used denser than normal to do this.

  6. #6
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Developing for shadows

    Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights.

    I'm having déjà vu...
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | Portfolio
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

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    Re: Developing for shadows

    BIG +1, Pere, Bruce, Paul, Andrew, & Corran. No need to add more.
    Peter Collins

    On the intent of the First Amendment: The press was to serve the governed, not the governors --Opinion, Hugo Black, Judge, Supreme Court, 1971 re the "Pentagon Papers."

  8. #8

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    Re: Developing for shadows

    > I use regular, 2-bath and regular Pyrocat as well as working with SLIMTS.

    Keep in mind that with SLIMT you'll lose some shadow detail.

    If you want more detail in the shadows, give more exposure. Just like the others said. There's no way to magically make up what wasn't there in the first place.

  9. #9

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    Re: Developing for shadows

    Steven,

    Anytime you change your development time from "normal," you'll change the effective film speed (your E.I., not the ISO) of the film a bit. However, this is often not much; 1/3 - 2/3 of a stop, or maybe a full stop+ at most, at that only at the most extreme ends of the development spectrum. However, ~2/3-stop less exposure at N-2 can be troublesome if you don't compensate for your chosen development at the time of exposure; you'll lose shadow detail. If you find you need N- developments, add some exposure to support the shadows. I give 2/3-1 stop more at N-2 usually. You can reduce exposure a bit for N+ developments, but you don't have to. The bit of "overexposure" doesn't usually affect the image. And, developing N+ to try and recover some shadow detail when the scene was pretty contrasty to start with usually results in unprintable negatives...

    Assuming you have an E.I. that works for you at "N" development (i.e., delivers the shadow detail you want), then tweaking a bit for N-, SLIMTs, etc. should be easy. I think of it like a filter factor: N-2? Add 2/3 stop (that's for my SLIMT N-2, reducing development time to get N-2 requires a full stop).

    There's no free lunch when it comes to shadow detail.

    Best,

    Doremus

    P.S: check out this thread about a lost tripod; your name has come up there: https://www.largeformatphotography.i...9-tripod-found

  10. #10
    Steven Ruttenberg's Avatar
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    Re: Developing for shadows

    I get the concept of expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights, but now it is starting to click in. Currently, I develop using normal times and either play with 2-bath or something. But I was looking at one of my Grand Canyon Sunrise shots and noticed the pretty much unexposed portion due to the grad nd covering that area. Very hard to see what you are covering with filter pre-dawn. While not the darkest area on my image, once covered with the filter it then became so by 3 stops, so it went from say ZV to ZII or I, maybe even 0.

    Hence my question.

    So, if shadows go to exhaustion during development first, then the highlights, I really do need to understand now the little nuances of developing the film now. This is also why I wanted to try a double exposure of sunrise/suset. For sunrise, when there is enough light to get a decent exposure, say, no more than 3-5 minutes, I would use a 1 or 2 stop Grad ND to avoid over exposing the sky since it will already be well lit up. Then, using an ND filter to help control exposure, I can then photograph the sun only and get the rays from it etc as it peaks above the horizon. In the Canyon, streaks from shadows shouldn't be a concern as your shooting directly into the sun. Will take some practice, but can use this tecnhique combined with the above information on development to achieve a decent image, or so I think.

    I am now at the point of being a Sophomore in film. I know enough to be totally dangerous and I think I am totally smart. Can't wait to become a junior.

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