B+W photo question

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am trying to make a beautiful dark image of a standing human figure. I decided the compsosition and lighting which I use. Now, I'm stuck in the darkroom process. I have posted a couple of days ago about B+W printing and many people gave me very useful advices. THANKS!! And, now, I am trying to figure out how to make the image which I want. The image is people standing straight in a dark and his figure fades out into the dark as it goes down. I can barely see his legs the photoghraph. I have a pretty big soft box over the camera and it's aiming down to people standing in front of black seamless. So, the top of the figure (face) is brighter than the bottom(leg), but a lighting contrast is not too strong. Here, let me explain what I've done in the darkroom process to approach my fanciful vision. 1. I exposed and developed a film normally and printed dark and it came out terrible. 2. I printed from the neg which was nomally exposed and developed and gave it a little extra flash without the neg.--looks better than #1, reduced contrast, but it's not what I wanted. 3. I underexposed a film, developed it normally and printed normal. --looks OK-- but lack of shadow details. I have to sacrifice rich black to get the detail in the shadow. (I see the details in the neg, but couldn't get it as I questioned in my last post.) 3. I underexposed a film, over-developed it and printed normal.--looks OK--a little too contrasty. I don't have much knowleage on photo, so what I'm doing here may sound stupid to you, but if you know anything which might help me to express my vision onto the print in beginer's term. I use Ilford Multigrade paper and filter. THanks in advance,


-- usagiana (inugasuki@lycos.com), January 16, 2001


Hi again, I beleive that you might want to try flasing your paper a bit. Your process #3 got you closest to what you want but you lost the detail in the black to get the highlights to come in. If you would flash your paper for 2-3 seconds with the diffused filter over the lens then expose as normal. You should get a build up of the highlights into acceptable contrast and still keep detail in the shadow. You will have to experiment with the times for flashing the paper to bring the threshold of the paper up but you will get it. Hope this solves your problem. Doug

-- Doug Theall (dpt@bare-wall.com), January 16, 2001.

Usagiana, I would recommend that you consider re-shooting the scene again (if it is possible...). It sounds like your scene needs a bit more attention to lighting. The reason that you are sacrificing a rich black background for shadow detail in the leg is because the dimly lit legs and the black seamless have the same densities on the neg (dodging and burning will probably remedy this during printing). The black seamless reflects a lot of light. However, if you attach a "honey comb" to your softbox, you will be able to "direct" your diffused light. That will create a dark background and still maintain detail in the legs. Additional detail can be added to the legs by reflecting some of that light back with a reflector.

This sounds more like a set-up problem than an exposing/processing problem. Anyway, if I understand your question correctly, I think this will give you the desired effect.

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), January 16, 2001.

I think your try #3 is just the opposite of what you want to do. You said that when you "flashed" the paper without the negative, it looked better, but you have no shadow detail - That additional exposure should be made in the camera - "Expose for the shadows and print for the highlights!" I would add a bit more time to the exposure (or lower your EI) and shorten the development. The reason you have little shadow detail is because it is probably not registering on the neg in the first place. Try dropping your EI 20%, Once in the darkroom, develop the neg based on the highlights. A test print will help. Dodge/burn as necessary. Doing this, your shadow details should be apparent at the darkest level of perception, without washing out the highlights.

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), January 17, 2001.

I believe if you re-shoot your image and add a bit more light to the legs you will be fine. You can either lower your soft box just a bit or add additional light with something else. Perhaps even a flashlight if you do not have an additional head. Also it sounds like you could increase your exposure by 20% or 50% and reduce your film development by 10-20% to keep your highlights where you want them. Burning and dodging is always and option, but if its not on the neg it won't be able to be printed. Good luck.

-- jacque staskon (jacque@cybertrails.com), January 17, 2001.

OK, let me try. It sounds like you're trying to get more separation between your shadow detail and a full black background. Is that close?

A large white reflector (foamcore) on the floor in front of our model might raise those values enough to work.

To get better separation of the low values, you don't want to decrease exposure, you probably want to increase exposure, and then if you need to reduce the high values, you need to decrease development some. But only decrease development if you need it to keep the hilights from blocking up.

Flat black seamless is not the blackest background you can find. It does reflect some light. Black velvet gives a darker background, at a higher cost.

-- mike rosenlof (mike_rosenlof@yahoo.com), January 17, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ