Originally Posted by ulrich.von.lich
I would like to photograph some night scenes that are very contrasty. Imagine a scene where the Eiffel Tower, all lit up, is sitting on the top of a dark mountain at night, my goal would be to make the silhouette of the mountain visible, so the mountain can be distinguished from the sky. It happens at times the rest of the picture is totally dark due to the fact the subject is too bright. I don't need any detail from the mountain, obviously, but wish to have a sky that is not totally darkened.
The reciprocity failure is not a problem because the exposure will not last more than a couple of seconds, even if I slow down the aperture a bit.
I have excluded all slow films because it seems to me they are all quite contrasty themselves: Acros 100, Pan F 50 etc. They are good for long exposures, which is not my case. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I don't know them well.
For night shooting when using a tripod Acros at box speed and developed in Diafine 5+5 is kinda unbeatable.
Diafine is a compensating developer that is purposely designed to lower contrast. I shoot NYC at night so I have bright lights and black, but with Diafine I get mids because I slightly underdevelop by only doing two inversions on my stainless steel tank instead of three. I also discovered that this also reduces grain, and with Acros it is almost no grain.
I will also tell you that forget seconds. Stopped down you are talking exposures in minutes not seconds. A minute and a half exposure will give you a nice negative with a full range of tones, but a three minute exposure will be a lot better, and for maximume detail you might even consider 5 minutes.
Understand that Part "A" Diafine in theory only soaks into the film, and is then drained, but little or no development takes place during those first 5 minutes.
When part "B" is in the tank the Part "A" gets activated, but the highlights kind of get a stand development because the amount of part "A" that soaked into the highlights gets depleted. Kinda impossible or hard to blow the detail in the highlights.
The 5 Minutes in Part "B" usually produces enhanced shadow detail, more then you generally see when using any solvent developer, so there is an enhanced "film HDR" effect, but it is only using one exposure and not stacking exposure.
By moderating my agitation this is really done as not blowing out the mids into shadows. No need for that because Diafine creates mucho shadow detail.
With Diafine, when in doubt overexpose.
I get full tonal range, even though these are urban night shots. And yes I have wet prints. The twist here is not that you are lowering contrast really, but are trying to shoot using a high dynamic range.
POSTSCRIPT: I forgot the best part: there is no reciprocy failure with Acros. Don't be shy with heavy exposure. I think you will find the negatives with the longest exposures will be your best.