Extreme zonal contraction

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Alright, here's my dilemma: I exposed a few sheets of a church interior, placing the brick wall in shadow on zone III (12 second exposure, 30 seconds adjusted for reciprocity effect), but the stained glass window fell on zone XIII 1/2. I used Ilford FP4+ for three identical shots, so I have a few negatives to experiment with. I also exposed a fourth negative at the metered time. Any suggestions for extreme contraction of this negative, like bringing the zone XIII 1/2 down so it is somewhat printable? My standard developer is Kodak HC-110, and that is what I have on hand, so I would prefer to use that if possible. These are for my personal use only, so it's not terribly important if I botch the negatives.

-- Erik Asgeirsson (erik2@mediaone.net), December 02, 2001


I don't believe you need to go to extremes to process a useable negative based on your metering. An N-1 is probably all you would need, maybe 20% less time in the developer I'm guessing. You can burn the windows if you need more highlight detail in the print. It sounds, though like you have an excellent candidate for some D/B masks described by Howard Bond in the latest 3 issues of Photo Techniques. I would process one of the negatives as an N and try this technique. Keep in mind that while most of the change that occurs in expanded or contracted development happens above zone V, there is always a slight change in the lower zones. If you try contracting too much, you may drive the detail you thought you had in zone III down toward zone II!

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), December 02, 2001.

You might try compensating development in a highly dilute solution of HC-110. This is described in Ansel Adams's book "The Negative" at 226-228 and in Bruce Barnbaum's book "The Art of Photography" at 82- 84 (in the 1st edition). I haven't used FP4+ and don't know what the range of development times would for that film. But I have had very good results with Tri X in highly dilute HC-110 as recommended by Adams and Barnbaum and with TMax 400 in TMax RS developer (used one shot after both concentrates have been mixed together) at a 1 to 15 dilution, 75 deg., and 8 to 11 mins, agitating gently for the first minute and gently 10s every 2 mins thereafter. With the Tri X in highly diluted HC110, I typically give 2 or even 3 stops additional exposure, depending on the contrast range, to give good shadow detail. With TMax 400, I may give 1 or 2 stops additional exposure; but it isn't always necessary with this film. I photograph interiors at churches and meeting houses frequently and have had my best results from compensating development. TMax 400 and TMax RS 1:15 are my usual combination these days for this exposure problem; I get good shadow detail, good mid value contrast, and printable highlights. John Boeckeler

-- John Boeckeler (boeck@midcoast.com), December 02, 2001.

you want to bring the highlights down to VII? If so you have other choices, you can use a contrast reduction mask, even better use unsharp masking. Another thing, Oriental seagull FB grade two could probably handle this exposure if developed in a two bath developer. I personally like negs that have a little bit more densities in the highlights, heck you might even use it to print pt/pd..... OTH, a N-1 contraction does not seem too extreme, even a N-2 would bring your highlights to VI or VI 1/2 seems to me your film should be able to handle this contaction easily.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), December 02, 2001.

Erik, It seems some of the former posters mistook your Zone XIII placement for a Zone VIII placement. I would seem to me that to get Zone 13 down to Zone 8 or so you would need an extreme contraction of 5 Zones. Unfortunatley, N-5 development of your negative would lose a lot of shadow detail. Also, it seems you did not increase your exposure to compensate fo the loss of film speed from reduced development. Therefore I recommend a combination of techniques to get the detail you want in both shadows and highlights. First, a compensating, contracting development is called for, either very dilute developer with minimum agitation, or a water-bath development. My water bath techniques have worked well on Tri-X and BPF 200 films and are as follows: After pre-soak, immerse the negative in normal strenth developer (dilution B for HC-110) with agitation for 30 seconds (including a 10 second drain!). Transfer the neg immediately and carefully to a tray of plain water. The object is to get the film into the water with minimum turbulence and let it sit there undisturbed for about 90 seconds. During this phase, the carried-over developer continues working in the emulsion. It exhausts itself quickly in the highlights, but keeps working on the shadows for quite some time, thus the compensating effect. For me, four of these cycles gets me a nice N-2. You could try one with 4 cycles and one with three. The rest of your contrast reduction will be then accomplished at the printing stage. Burning in the highlights if practical, flashing the paper, using lower contrast paper, using lower contrast developer or developing methods. You should be able to get this to work. Hope this helps a bit. ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (ScudderLandreth@compuserve.com), December 03, 2001.

Doremus is right and I did in fact mistake your highlight placement. You definitely need to do something in development and the compensating route seems very appropriate. I am also now convinced you need to read the three articles on D/B masking that Howard Bond wrote in the last three issues of Photo Techniques. This is exactly the situation that these sorts of tools were designed to deal with. Another possibility (and I mention this because you have several negs to play with) might be to post flash the negative. Adams describes pre-flashing in The Negative, I believe, but I'm sure a number of contributors to this forum have done this kind of thing before if you need suggestions.

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), December 03, 2001.

I would definitely not recommend "pull" processing for this problem, it will not allow full separation of the middle and lower values and you'll end up with a muddy mess.

I haven't used HC-110 for a long time, but with any developer, diluting it by 1/2 or even 1/4 from normal concentration, then reducing your agitation cycle from every 1 minute to 3 minutes and *extending* your development time by 75% for 1/2 strength dilution or 150% for 1/4 should put you in the ballpark. This will allow full development of the lower values and bring the highlights down to a managable level. Just be sure use enough developer to fully develop the film; for example, if you normally use 500ml of working developer at normal strength, then use 1000ml at 1/2 strength or 2000ml at 1/4 strength.

-- Ted Kaufman (writercrmp@aol.com), December 03, 2001.

A jeezzz...what a fool I am, I too misread the zone placement, Thanks Doremus!

Maybe another option would be developing by inspection. On the other hand, no contraction will work for 5 zones, barring developing by inspection I would do compensating developing. Depending on your developing technique I would try a 2 bath (for tray) or a dilute staining developer with inspection. Sorry for the previous idiotic response.....hope this helps, check Ed Buffaloe's site, I belive he has many formulas for compensating developers.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), December 03, 2001.

Unfortunately you didn't give enough exposure to preserve your shadow detail. And I'll bet that your metering technique was flawed and you really only have an N-2 or N-2 1/2 development problem here. When you metered the stained glass windows your meter, even the best spot meters, can't see the small darker areas within the windows and so gave you an erroneous reading. Try Doremus' development scheme and then with a little added burning of the windows along with some judicious flashing of a VC paper at grade 2 you will get a good print. Read Barnbaums book. It is one of the best for N minus developing. But to have a 10 stop contrast range you would be looking at coal with the sun behind it. Rethink your metering and you'll see the contrast range you thought was there was not what really existed. You were metering the light streaming through the clear or very light colored part of the stained glass. James

-- bigmac (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), December 03, 2001.

Thanks everyone! Since I had three negs to work with, I just developed the first with highly dillute HC-110 (1:30 from *stock*) for 19 mins, 1 min agitation to begin with and 15 seconds every three minutes thereafter (recalled reading about this in The Neg, and sure enough, it was there). Athough I have not printed it yet (it's still drying), the negative looks quite nice: detail in the brick (though just barely) and the highlights don't look all that horrible. I'll still probably try the water bath developer with a second neg to see how that compares and to have an idea of what to expect next time.

-- Erik Asgeirsson (erik2@mediaone.net), December 05, 2001.

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