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Thread: Metering Technique...any problems here?

  1. #21

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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    This is awesome!!

    Doremus, are you simply saying that you find your darkest shadow area you want detail in, meter that value and then set your exposure 2-stops above that value??

    Example:
    Your dark area meters 1 second. You set your lens to 1/4s.

    Correct?

    Basically correct.

    As Drew above so succinctly formulated it, "I always spotmeter for the specific film and lighting situation actually at hand, along with a general ideal of expectation in the print."

    I base my exposure on the shadow rendering I want. However, that's not to say that everything gets stuck in Zone III (so, not just a rote 2 stops under the meter reading). Often, I want a luminous feel, and place important shaded values in Zone IV. Or, I'll want a real dark area with just a hint of substance; then it goes in Zone II, etc. Important snow shadows I like in Zone V.

    However, once I've decided that, read the area with my meter and applied all the exposure factors for whatever I need (including small exposure tweaks for different development schemes), then that's the exposure I use.

    Highlight values are evaluated when metering and where they fall and how I intend to deal with them at the printing stage determines the development time I choose. Often, as mentioned above, I'll develop contrastier than the classic Zone System calls for and count on working harder in the darkroom (I'll often make notes about this in my exposure record, like, "Burn and dodge like hell," or whatever).

    The possibilities are myriad; knowing your materials is key.

    Best,

    Doremus

  2. #22

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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan9940 View Post
    What I don't like about simply basing my exposure on the shadow areas is: What if the high values are beyond the shoulder of the curve? In Zone System parlance let's say my important highlights fall on Zone X? Yeah, I've read the arguments that one can "print through" densities that extend well above Zone IX, but in my 40 years of LF photography I've never myself seen nor have seen an example of where a fine print was pulled from that style of negative.
    I just wanted to chime in on this particular point to say I have to do this all the time, and Iíve seen many awesome prints from negatives that required exposing highlights way up there - in zone parlance XI, XII and higher.

    Most of my photographs are made under extremely high contrast conditions, and being the obsessive weirdo I am, in addition to rich shadows and midtones, I want detail in light sources.

    Luckily, current films accommodate these long luminance ranges beautifully - as long as you donít destroy those highlight separations (along with shadows and midtones) with too much minus development.

  3. #23
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Not long ago, I did a thick negative trick like Doremus described, not with Tri-X but 8x10 FP4, which has a slightly longer straight line. I wanted almost unnoticeable deep shadow texture in some huge backlit oaks to become very delicate and silvery, but against a blank sheet sky backdrop. So I overexposed the shot two stops, yet fully developed it. Then I made a gentle contrast mask to more fully accentuate the detail, and printed it on VC paper through a blue filter for high contrast. That left the highlights the only remaining issue. I wanted character up there, but no detail, so I used slightly aged glycin in the developer for a bit of staining warmth, plus some very subtle split toning with gold followed by a pinch of sulfide toner - nothing brown, just a gentle warm background glow effect. A bit of print bleaching was also involved.

    A well-known photographer who routinely uses overexposed thick neg technique with Tri-X to expand shadows is Roman Loranc. His highlights are always shouldered off. Since he also routinely split tones, when this goes well, the highlights have inviting character, and when it doesn't go so well, they're outright blank and boring. This was a strategy he developed working with the blank tule fog skies of Central Valley winters, just like today's parallel thread about that kind of fog. The only time I've ever spoken to him, I asked him how he felt driving through that to get to his favorite riverside setting. He's not a man of many words, so just gave a wide-eyed stare and said it really scared him, and that's why he moved on to different subject matter.

  4. #24
    Joe O'Hara's Avatar
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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Agreed with the above that the middle tones and highlights will pretty much take care of themselves if the exposure is set correctly for the shadow areas, if one is using modern film (e.g. Ilford, Kodak, or Acros). One of the nice things about B/W is how far you can move tonality around both during film development and printing to change how things look. It is a very flexible medium.

    FWIW, I extend development when I am working in low contrast situations (e.g. overcast light) because relying entirely on contrast filtration during printing can make getting the overall print exposure (including the dodging and burning) kind of fiddly at high contrast settings (higher contrast after all means the material responds more to small changes in exposure). I'm not fanatical about it but I am most comfortable when printing at contrast grades below "4". Of course, we do what we have to do in a given situation. All other things being equal, you'll also get a bit more density and contrast in the shadows when development is extended.

    Separately, I found Bruce Barnbaum's advice in his "Art of Photography" helpful, that if you care about shadow detail at all, place it on Zone IV not Zone III. Films like TMY have so much ability to preserve details in the high end (as Doremus noted) that it's not likely to hurt if your negative is a little denser than theoretically necessary. Your base film speed of course depends on your developer and film choice; I usually use Tmax 400 and D-23. Since I started exposing that way I find I rarely have to fight to bring out the shadow areas when I'm printing.
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  5. #25
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    I have not used 'development controls' in 30 years. Ever since I got my first multigrade enlarger head.
    You don't worry about controlling your developer's dilution, temperature, or length of development of your negatives? odd ...

    That is all I am talking about. It might be interesting to allow those factors to be random.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #26
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    Using B&W film, expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.
    Yep. This. Exactly this.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #27
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Joe, I'm one of those persons who finds Barnbaum's advice ludicrous and counterproductive. Why even buy a light meter if you have to be that paranoid about shadows? With certain films like Super XX or Bergger 200, I've even placed the deepest shadow values on Zone 0 with complete predictability. Only with Pan F do I ever use ZIII for sake of shadow detail threshold. Is Barnbaum's meter three stops off, or does he just think a good negative is one that needs dynamite to crack through all that needless extra density?
    TMax 400 will begin to hit the straight line around Zone 1-1/2 with most developers except compensating ones like D23. And I never need to fight shadows; they do exactly what I want. Crisp separation, no problem. And not overexposing the shadows is the best way not to blow out the highlights with TMax films, while retaining excellent tonal separation in between. Glad I never spent a dime on any of Barnbaum's how-to books. I like many of his pictures, but am convinced he did some the hard-headed hard way.

  8. #28

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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    One thing so far needs to be said: those less concerned with going up to zone X and beyond are doing printing in a dark room. The same approach wonít yield as good results if youíre scanning. In that case you should strive for a little flatter, less contrast and dynamic range, to match the scannerís linear range, and you add it back in post processing.

  9. #29

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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    You guys are losing me in the weeds!!! It's interesting, but, I'm kinda getting lost.

    Shadows with desired detail...."put it on Zone III" Translation = your selected exposure should be 2-stops higher. 2-stops higher means you are exposing for Zone V. This also means the really dark areas of the scene that are lower than Zone III will appear more black.

    Assuming this is all correct, then, well that's how I at least try to do it. And again assuming I have this understood, I want to ask this question in the form of a comment....

    Let's say for the fun of it, I wanted a bush or rock to be in Zone III, but I made a mistake and and actually set the exposure for the rock. I think that means I just set that rock to Zone V. And the final results is an image that has the dark area looking more grey than black and the light grey areas ending up looking white and the darkest of the dark areas will look "ok" but weird. Basically I under exposed the shot.

    Is this what you'd expect to see?

  10. #30
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    Re: Metering Technique...any problems here?

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    ...Let's say for the fun of it, I wanted a bush or rock to be in Zone III, but I made a mistake and and actually set the exposure for the rock. I think that means I just set that rock to Zone V. And the final results is an image that has the dark area looking more grey than black and the light grey areas ending up looking white and the darkest of the dark areas will look "ok" but weird. Basically I under exposed the shot.

    Is this what you'd expect to see?
    If you are using B&W negative film, you over-exposed. That rock you wanted to place on Zone III was given two more stops of light to be placed on Zone V. All other values you measured in the same scene are also exposed two stops brighter than what you measured. A dense negative at normal development.

    When it comes time to print, it will just take a longer exposure to get that rock back down to Zone III -- and depending on where the highlights fell and how you developed the film, the highlights might take some skill to handle nicely.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

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