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Thread: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

  1. #4061

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Thanks Michael,
    That is a better, more complete answer than I think I deserve! Neat! I'm not much of a zonie, but I've got a superstitious dread of blocked highlights. Which, from everything you've told me is a total non issue for scanning, which would be the one place I'd be really worried about it. Awesome!

    One more question - what kind of light are you shooting in, that you are rating it at iso 50? I keep reading about the wildly different isos people use depending on time if day, or forest shade vs other kinds.

  2. #4062

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Ortho and blue sensitive films are very susceptible to color temperature changes. Daylight is very blue; with lots of blue, blue sensitive films act like they're fast. Tungsten lights can look bright, but with hardly any blue they don't write on xray film all that aggressively, and so the film acts like it's slow. I'm guessing that EI 50 in daylight might translate to EI 12-20 in tungsten. Likewise for time of day--bluest at noon, blueless at sunset, in between in between. It's not an inscrutable problem: it's simply a function of how blue the light is vs being yellow-red.

    I'm using mostly strobes--that's functionally daylight. When I'm shooting under primitive hot lights--100W bulbs or similar--I open up a stop or two from what I normally would.

    Yeah, scanning is a dream. One of the things you can do with regular film is drag out shadows and pop their contrast, and do the same in the other direction with highlights, pull them down and snap them up, so you can get a succulent dynamic range that is simply impossible with silver printing from film, without a whole lot of work. I love it. I can pull a solid 16+ -stop dynamic range out of a 35mm Tri-X neg--that's like a sunlit outside wall and under a table in a dark interior in the same photo--and make the resulting print look totally normal.

    With the inherently high contrast of xray film, this ability is even more valuable.

    I'm a good silver printer and spent a lot of my early life working as a custom printer in a series of labs, but there's no way you could drag me back into the darkroom for printing now. It would be like forcing me to eat with a toothpick. Silver is so dead. . . :-)
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  3. #4063

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Quote Originally Posted by mdarnton View Post
    I'm a 35mm, meterless, hip-shooting retro-Leica, don't-need-no-stinkin'-zones barbarian and all of that stuff doesn't mean much to me
    The thought of correcting your working EI from 80 to 50 while refusing to use a light meter is intriguing. :-)

  4. #4064
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Michael, for lower contrast with x-ray, have you tried rating the film at, say, 25, and developing by inspection until you see the shadows that you like? I used to do a fair amount of Lith printing, ala Tim Rudman. I got the best results right on the edge of developer exhaustion, but that was with printing. When the developer would go over the edge, all that was lost was one sheet of printing paper. With film development, though, something would be lost permanently when the developer gets too far gone.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing you don't already know

  5. #4065

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael E View Post
    The thought of correcting your working EI from 80 to 50 while refusing to use a light meter is intriguing. :-)
    When I got the strobes, I couldn't find a way to put up my finger to measure strobelight so for a brief period I did actually use the meter correctly until I understood the lights. Remember, I've been shooting film seriously since around 1961, but studio strobes were completly new, so give me a break. :-) Now that I have a feel for them, though, I change my exposures from my base according to the old way, as everyone did pre flash meters. How many feet away is it, how big is the source, is there anything coming off the walls, etc.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  6. #4066

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J. De Smidt View Post
    Michael, for lower contrast with x-ray, have you tried rating the film at, say, 25, and developing by inspection until you see the shadows that you like?
    With the developer as it now is, when things start happening, they happen too quickly for me to feel comfy ripping the film out. (Thinking about uneven developing, here.) I'm hoping that diluting the dev will slow down the short major activity period when everything is happening. The film acts a lot like old, pre-developer-incorporation photo paper, in that it sits there for about eight minutes, and then a lot happens suddenly, then after that it gradually matures. You'd want to be ripping it out during the phase when things are changing fast.

    Thanks for the confirmation about the possible effects of exhaustion. Maybe diluting it, and then adding some potassium bromide (thanks, Will!) might do what I want. That's certainly easy enough to try.

    I've always liked the look of old film and am a huge http://shorpy.com fan, so discovering xray film and trying to make it work is very exciting to me. The =1975 film price doesn't hurt any, too.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  7. #4067

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    A little bit of hydro-quinol will stretch out your development. Metol alone is a slow, very much nothing, then suddenly, bingo developer. That is why they developed a M-Q developer.

  8. #4068

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    Thanks. Maybe I should try hyper-dilute D76 instead of D23? What do you think of that idea? Or would that be too much hydroquinone and I could make a hybrid? I'm open to anything that I can mix up myself.
    Thanks, but I'd rather just watch:
    Large format: http://flickr.com/michaeldarnton
    Mostly 35mm: http://flickr.com/mdarnton
    You want digital, color, etc?: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradofear

  9. #4069

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    I use D-23 undiluted with Ektascan RA film in a tray with limited agitation.. It produces a beautiful long scaled image for palladium or salt printing.

  10. #4070

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    Re: Use of X-ray film: technical discussion with example images

    For me, the problem with D-76 is too much Metol. I would just try adding a little Metol to D-23. D-23 has a fantastic tonal range. I wouldn't want to give up that tonal range to get an easier development regimen. Bye the way, another way to slow down D-23 is to develop at a lower temperature. 65 degrees works for me.

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