Dead photo formula

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by mr.buttle, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. mr.buttle

    mr.buttle Guest

    I'm new on this newsgroup, and I'm from Poland.

    For many years I have followed Massive Dev Chart with developing my
    films.. until now.

    Many experienced photography teachers used to say, that one should -
    as general - expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.
    Isn't this best advise for the lazy ones, who don't want to be
    creative in the image creating process and just want to have
    a c c e p t a b l e results?
    I can not really comment on this D-3 type of negative method, for I
    followed it only twice and got what I was afraid to get: open shadows
    and the flat, dull highlights.

    Wouldn't it rather be arguable to meter and expose, for what's the
    most important in the scene (be it the highlight reflection on the
    face, pear, melon, wet sand on the beach, graded wall of the building,
    or anything we want it to be) and have it tone separated thus? Then
    adjust the rest with developing and printing?
    mr.buttle, Oct 19, 2008
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  2. Welcom to this newsgroup.
    I have never looked at that chart.
    If you need a rule of thumb, that is a pretty good one, IMAO.
    I would not be so critical of this. I do not think it is for lazy people who
    mostly cannot be bothered to do even this. Lazy ones use cameras with
    automatic exposure that assume what is in front of the camera is an
    "average" scene and expose only for that average. Some use a weighted
    average, giving more emphasis to what is in the middle of the subject on the
    theory that most people take pictures of stuff and point their cameras at
    the thing they find most interesting and assume that is where the exposure
    should be.

    Less lazy (to use your word) photographers use a spot meter and look at
    various parts of the subject and decide what the darkest part of the subject
    is where they want detail in the image, and likewise, what the lightest part
    of the subject is where they want detail is. They then meter those parts of
    the subject, determine if they will fit on the film (and later, the paper)
    and if they will, they make the proper exposure such that the darkest part
    of the subject falls on the film high enough on the H/D curve to get
    suitable contrast, and then develop the film so that the significant
    highlights also fall on the curve low enough to also have detail on the
    print. For many images, this is entirely suitable.

    Now some subjects have a contrast range so great that to get the highlights
    to fit on the paper, reduced development is required, and, per contra, some
    have a contrast range so small as to result in a contrast in the print too
    low to be interesting. For the former, reduced development is sometimes used
    to control the contrast, and this can be effective sometimes. But in my
    experience, when the contrast is very high, this also results in boring
    images. I recall once trying to make a photograph in the daytime inside a
    blacksmith shop with a window showing outside. I did the expose for the
    shadows and develop for the highlights, and it worked, technically speaking,
    but I had to reduce the development time considerably to achieve this.
    Everything fit on the film (rarely a problem) and the paper; i.e., the
    overall contrast was controlled, but the local contrast was so low that it
    was an inferior image.

    In a case like that, what should be done is either increase the lighting
    level inside the blacksmith shop to reduce the overall contrast (not always
    possible) or revisualize the whole thing; i.e., make a different image
    altogether -- perhaps by omitting the window from the scene altogether.

    Where the contrast is too low, one can increase the development time to
    raise the contrast. This is more likely to achieve success, but it is not
    something I frequently encounter.

    For small changes in contrast, I just develop the film normally and use
    different paper grades, either by using a different grade of paper, as I did
    in the past, or by changing the color of the exposing light when exposing
    variable contrast paper.
    I do not know what a D-3 type of negative method is. Is that a kind of
    developer? Or do you mean that you reduced development time so that
    something that would normally fall on Zone X of the film curve would end up
    on Zone VII? In the latter case, it is just the problem I had in the
    blacksmith shop. For something like that, either filling in the shadows
    somehow might be the way to go, or getting the window out of the image
    altogether is a better approach.

    Can you explain what you mean by open shadows and flat dull highlights?

    It sounds as though the film was not developed long enough.
    All these things should be at the command of the photographer so (s)he can
    achieve the results desired.
    Jean-David Beyer, Oct 19, 2008
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  3. mr.buttle

    mr.buttle Guest

    Lazy ones use cameras with automatic exposure
    Geez, I forgot they exist, welcome to the XXI

    and control the highlights with agitation, I like low contrast range
    scenes, since I like that kind of flexibility :)

    Did I write D-3? Oh my, I meant 3-D,
    according to this typology < is the third example from the left. In this case slightly
    overexposed and uderdeveloped (7-D is the opposite)

    Technically everything was okay, but the impression of the unmasked,
    expanded shadows and compressed highlights wasn' refreshing.
    mr.buttle, Oct 19, 2008
  4. You probably did it wrong.
    If you want total creative control over the photographic process, you
    should study the Zone System, which is a calibrated metering, exposure,
    developing, printing methodology. I've been using it for years for my
    black and white film work, and with it you can make your prints look
    anyway you want.

    Stefan Patric, Oct 20, 2008
  5. That is a ring-around. I still do not know what you mean by third from the
    left. That would be the one on the right, but there are three on the right.
    If the image was like that in the ring-around, then only image number 5
    would be what one would normally want for the final print. (Depends, of
    course, on what you actually want.)

    If your shadows were "expanded" then it sounds as though you overdeveloped
    and overexposed the film. If the highlights were compressed, then it sounds
    as though you were so overexposed that they got up on the shoulder of the
    film (very rare with modern films: the only film I ever used that had a
    shoulder in the useful range of exposure was Kodak's Panatomic-X). Since you
    claim both, it sounds as though you severely exposed your film (by three or
    more stops, I would expect).
    Jean-David Beyer, Oct 20, 2008
  6. mr.buttle

    mr.buttle Guest

    That is a ring-around. I still do not know what you mean by third from the
    I am sorry, this is picture number 3
    here is Motensen's legend:

    1. Underexposed, underdeveloped
    2. Normally exposed,underdeveloped
    3. Overexposed, underdeveloped
    4. Underexposed, normally developed
    5. Normally exposed, normally developed
    6. Overexposed, normally developed
    7. Underexposed, overdeveloped
    8. Normally exposed, overdeveloped
    9. Overexposed, overdeveloped

    Thank you all for the responses, thanks John J for the inspiration!
    mr.buttle, Oct 21, 2008
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