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Thread: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

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    Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    I usually rate Tmax at 50 and develop 20% less, with Ilford DDX 1+4 (Stop and Fixer also by Ilford).

    Since it's usually mid-day (overcast or cloudy), they sky is significantly brighter than the rest of the scene. I can pull it down in photoshop but was wondering if there are better alternatives for retaining highlights.

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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    graduated nd filters .

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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    Expose at EI 64 and develop in XTOL 1+1. The curve will naturally roll off exactly where you need it to. See the characteristic curve here:


  4. #4
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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Santamaura View Post
    Expose at EI 64 and develop in XTOL 1+1. The curve will naturally roll off exactly where you need it to. See the characteristic curve here:

    +1. Try XTOL 1+1 or D-76 1+1 to put a gentle shoulder into the curve.

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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    Quote Originally Posted by Sal Santamaura View Post
    Expose at EI 64 and develop in XTOL 1+1. The curve will naturally roll off exactly where you need it to. See the characteristic curve here:

    This is an interesting site. Someone did a lot of work to create this.

    I use Tmax 400 and I've landed on XTol 1+1, but also tried HC-110 in Dilution B. Both of these combinations were testedat this site, and it provides the full resolution JPG versions of the small portions that are shown for each combination. I downloaded the ones for TMax 400 in Xtol 1+1 and HC-110 Dil B so that I could compare them side-by-side in Photoshop. The curves for these two developers on this film look quite different. How does that shake out in a side-by-side?

    Long story short in this comparison the differences are not dramatic. However, I don't think the author of this test used a scenario that stresses the highlights. I did a similar test that focused on highlight preservation, and it confirms what the curves show. In my test, I had a test scene that had even lighting over most of it, but I put a white object with lots of detail in one corner and shone a spot light on it to create something really bright. XTol 1+1 preserved those highlights much better than HC-110 Dil B, which is why I chose XTol 1+1 even though it's not as easy to use as HC-110.
    Having said that, if HC-110 was my only choice, I could make it work too.

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    Quote Originally Posted by rpagliari View Post
    I usually rate Tmax at 50 and develop 20% less, with Ilford DDX 1+4 (Stop and Fixer also by Ilford).

    Since it's usually mid-day (overcast or cloudy), they sky is significantly brighter than the rest of the scene. I can pull it down in photoshop but was wondering if there are better alternatives for retaining highlights.
    Retaining highlights? IIRC, TMX is linear out more than 20 stops. This could result in highlights so dense that it can only be seen in the laboratory. But it's there -- all that image information is retained. So the real question is, can you get to it? Perhaps more properly, can you print it? (or scan it?)

    And for that, we always return to the basic truth of chemical photography: Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. If you feel that your highlight density is too high, develop less.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7

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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    An issue I have with the "Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights" approach is that developing less reduces contrast across the full range. Picture an outdoor scene with a normal subject in diffused light. Two cameras are setup and fired at exactly the same time with the same settings and film. In one shot a long lens is used and the sky is excluded. With normal development this produces a perfect print. In another a wide angle lens is used and it captures some bright clouds. If developed the same as the first the foreground subject will print identically to the first picture, but the clouds will be blown out on the print. If developed less using that old truism the clouds will now print on the paper with a straight print because the contrast was reduced, but the rest of the print will look flat since all the contrast was reduced. You will then need to fix that with other tricks.

    I don't think there's one right answer, but if the offending extreme highlight is going to be easy to burn in I'd rather give normal development and fix it during printing.

    Having a film that rolls off in the highlights is another way to handle this. You get variable contrast on the film based on exposure.

  8. #8
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    The above is correct.

    If your global contrast is too high, pull development. If the local contrast/brightness is too high (sky), use GND filters.

    FWIW, I dilute DD-X 1:9 for T-Max and have been happy with the results. Rodinal is another good option. I think an EI of 50 is a bit low.
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  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    TMax films have a long straight line that digs well down into the toe, so if you meter shadows carefully, you'll get excellent shadow separation at full box speed of 100 with many developers. And yes, expose for the shadows and dev for the highlights. But don't overexpose the shadows. I find conflicting advice counterproductive.There's less toe on T-Max films than, say, Ilford films. They're different. I routinely get wonderful results with both speeds of TMax in numerous formats, but careful metering is important.

  10. #10

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    Re: Retain highlights with Tmax 100

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    TMax films have a long straight line that digs well down into the toe, so if you meter shadows carefully, you'll get excellent shadow separation at full box speed of 100 with many developers. And yes, expose for the shadows and dev for the highlights. But don't overexpose the shadows. I find conflicting advice counterproductive.There's less toe on T-Max films than, say, Ilford films. They're different. I routinely get wonderful results with both speeds of TMax in numerous formats, but careful metering is important.
    So you rate it at 100 and put the shadows in zone 3? Is there any difference, in practice, versus rating at 50 and under developing?

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