Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: adjusting contrast

  1. #1

    adjusting contrast

    Is there a difference in the final print when adjusting the negative, N+1 or 2 and N-1 or 2 compared to making a print with a normal negative with no expansion or contraction and adjusting the contrast with a multigrade filter and variable contrast paper. An example would be a waterfall in the forest. For me this usually exceeds the contrast range of the negative and when I print I have to choose the 'best' filter and do extensive burning in to reveal texture in the 'white' water and I still loose detail in the shadows. Should I overexpose and underdevelop in this situation N-1 or 2? or would I get the same result with a low contrast filter? I shoot with FP4+ and develop in D76 diluted 1:1.

    Scott

  2. #2
    4x5 - no beard Patrik Roseen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Stockholm, SWEDEN
    Posts
    533

    Re: adjusting contrast

    When you say 'Normal negative' I assume you mean a negative where the range of the scenery fits the range of the film,or.

    I always assumed the N-2, N-1..N+2 was the procedure to make good use of the negative range...i.e. if the range of the scenery is larger than the film can handle you would do the proper n-x to make it fit on the film...and when you do you might also need to do some overexposure not to loose details in the shadows.

    If for some reason the scenery will still not fit into the 'normal' range (say ZIII-ZVII), i.e. you still have e.g. two zones too bright scenery (after planning n-2 development) you can then follow the process through in your head and assume a low-contrast filter say filter 0 instead of filter 2 at the time of printing ,since moving from 2 -0 could give another total contrast reduction (compression) of two zones.

    But my own limited experience is that when I choose a lower contrast filter it will effect the shadow-normal parts of the scenery at printing too, making these very dull.
    So in your case the waterfall might look good but the forest with shadows and sunlight passing trough the leaves etc might become grayish.

    You might instead consider Split-filtering or use different filters for different parts of the picture as I learned recently.
    Last edited by Patrik Roseen; 27-Jun-2006 at 18:20.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,952

    Re: adjusting contrast

    If, because of lighting conditions a scene has less contrast than you would like you can increase that contrast by developing it longer, or compensate to some extent by using a higher grade paper or filtration.

    If it has too much contrast the situation is somewhat different, because if not enough shadow detail registers on the negative, and/or if the highlights block, then changing grades will not recover the lost information. Then you should place the shadows so they get adequate exposure, and underdevelop.

    But often with +1 or -1 I develop normally and alter contrast at the printing stage.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,695

    Re: adjusting contrast

    "Should I overexpose and underdevelop in this situation N-1 or 2? or would I get the same result with a low contrast filter?"

    "Overexpose" isn't the word I'd use but yes, you should base your exposure on the forest. In zone system terms you would place the forest on the zone you want, probably III or IV if you're aiming for a "straight" print. If that puts the waterfall up around Zone VIII or IX as it probably would based on what you're saying here then you can bring it down to the zone you want, probably VII, by minus development.

    It's unlikely that using a low contrast filter would produce the same result. If you exposed for the forest and developed normally the waterfall would probably be "bullet proof" and the filter wouldn't fix that, plus using a very low contrast filter probably would result in a very flat forest (i.e. little if any local contrast). If you exposed for the waterfall and developed normally with the idea of using a high contrast filter for the forest, the forest would probably be underexposed, lacking detail, and no contrast filter would fix that. It's possible that in a given situation variable contrast paper might replace the zone system or produce the same result but I don't think it would in the situation you're describing.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #5
    Robert A. Zeichner's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Location
    Southfield, Michigan
    Posts
    1,119

    Re: adjusting contrast

    You might find that when you are shooting moving water with relatively dark forest areas surrounding the falls, that early morning or evening is the best time to make your exposure. When direct sunlight hits the water, the brightness is so great that minus development may be your only chance of preventing overly dense water or entirely too thin shadows in the forest. I have made such adjustments in the negative development that I seriously doubt I could ever achieve with printing contrast adjustment alone. When doing minus development, I have found that local contrast in the shadow areas begins to suffer. A solution to that might be making an unsharp mask, but that is an entirely different topic for disucussion. The examples below were made early in the morning with normal development. The shadow areas with textural detail were placed in Zone III and the white water fell in Zone VII.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    949

    Re: adjusting contrast

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrik Roseen
    I always assumed the N-2, N-1..N+2 was the procedure to make good use of the negative range...i.e. if the range of the scenery is larger than the film can handle you would do the proper n-x to make it fit on the film...and when you do you might also need to do some overexposure not to loose details in the shadows.
    Patrick, this is not correct. Remember that Adams printed on fixed grade paper. Normal development was and is designed to take the contrast range of a scene and make it fit your normal paper at normal filtration (none for graded paper) or thereabouts. It is not designed to make the scene fit the negative. Most modern B+W films have a very long scale, perhaps upto 14 stops. B+W paper only has a range of approx 7 to 8 stops when measured with a densitometer and only upto 5 stops in normal viewing conditions, 5 being the maximum in extreme viewing conditions. If you take AA's numbers 1.3 logD for zone VIII then you are looking at a neg of approx 5 stops range being optimum assuming you agree with AA's numbers (note that materials may well have changed significantly since AA's time).

  7. #7

    Re: adjusting contrast

    Thanks for all the advice. If I get the water where I want it using multigrade filters and printing a 'forest waterfall' the rest of the scene is flat. I usually shoot this type of shot in overcast midday conditions but early morning and late in the day would help 'compress' the range of light intensity. If I shot this early in the morning under overcast conditions would that help more than clear skies or would the scene appear flat? I know I should just go out and try it myself but I don't want to 'reinvent the wheel'. The particular waterfall I'm thinking of isn't a long hike in, but rather a long drive to get to the trailhead.

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    4x5 - no beard Patrik Roseen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Stockholm, SWEDEN
    Posts
    533

    Re: adjusting contrast

    Quote Originally Posted by robc
    Patrick, this is not correct. Remember that Adams printed on fixed grade paper. Normal development was and is designed to take the contrast range of a scene and make it fit your normal paper at normal filtration (none for graded paper) or thereabouts. It is not designed to make the scene fit the negative. Most modern B+W films have a very long scale, perhaps upto 14 stops. B+W paper only has a range of approx 7 to 8 stops when measured with a densitometer and only upto 5 stops in normal viewing conditions, 5 being the maximum in extreme viewing conditions. If you take AA's numbers 1.3 logD for zone VIII then you are looking at a neg of approx 5 stops range being optimum assuming you agree with AA's numbers (note that materials may well have changed significantly since AA's time).
    Robc, I'm sorry if there was something I said that was wrong...however I do not really understand what you mean. I thought the purpose of the negative was to use it for prints, and if the print can only handle 5 or 7 stops..then what good does it do to spread out the interesting parts of a scenery into 14 stops in the negative.
    Isn't this really what Scott was complaining about?

    I know I'm not an expert of this but the recommendations I have seen talk about placing the parts including details into e.g. ZIII-ZVII...if the scenery is more contrasty then I should use N-x development...and if that's not enough for the print range I could use lower grade filters...

    Sorry if I messed it up even further, Patrik.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    949

    Re: adjusting contrast

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrik Roseen
    Robc, I'm sorry if there was something I said that was wrong...however I do not really understand what you mean. I thought the purpose of the negative was to use it for prints, and if the print can only handle 5 or 7 stops..then what good does it do to spread out the interesting parts of a scenery into 14 stops in the negative.
    Isn't this really what Scott was complaining about?

    I know I'm not an expert of this but the recommendations I have seen talk about placing the parts including details into e.g. ZIII-ZVII...if the scenery is more contrasty then I should use N-x development...and if that's not enough for the print range I could use lower grade filters...

    Sorry if I messed it up even further, Patrik.
    The point I was making is that film can handle much more range than paper can. Therefore you are not doing n or n+ or n- to make the scene fit the film. You are doing n or n- or n+ to make the used portion of the film fit the paper. Also AA did this because he didn't use VC paper, so could only adjust dev to make the used portion of the film fit the paper.
    If you made the scene fit the available range of the film it would be way too contrasty to print.
    Last edited by robc; 28-Jun-2006 at 15:18.

Similar Threads

  1. Print exposure time vs. contrast
    By Scott Hamming in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 5-Nov-2001, 13:21
  2. Is B&W Print Contrast Affected By....
    By Andre Noble in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 12-Oct-2001, 01:58
  3. Tonal range of B&W contact prints.
    By James Phillips in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 10-Mar-2001, 21:01
  4. contrast
    By Anausagi in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 15-Nov-2000, 12:18
  5. Altering the contrast of color papers?
    By Stpephen Willlard in forum Darkroom: Film, Processing & Printing
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 25-Oct-1999, 12:07

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •