Exploring one emulsion.
Old 08-19-2018   #1
Pfreddee
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Exploring one emulsion.

If I want to explore one emulsion to the point of becoming skilled enough with it to get more-than-everyday results, how much effort and equipment would you recommend? I can process film in my kitchen, but I don't have a darkroom to print pictures with all of the manipulation that implies. I have to rely on my local camera shop (Pro Camera, in Charlottesville, Virginia) to do the printing for me. Would this be enough, or not?

thank you to all who reply.

With best regards,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 08-19-2018   #2
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If you have already been developing film you have enough experience to know if you like or dislike a film. At a base level you should know if a particular film is capable of making the picture you want to make. If you would like to make naturally lit night pictures, you will quickly know if a film will work or not, and try one that may be better suited. When you find the film that seems to be the one that makes the image you are looking for, you will then explore it more deeply. I think experimenting with exposures, then developers and dilutions, time and temps doesn't take much more equipment, and the knowledge is out there to tap into.

As far as printing goes, a hybrid work flow, scanning & inkjet printing, is working for a lot of us amateurs, without the expense of a darkroom. It certainly isn't the pure photography approach, but the cost is less, and will let you know if you will need to move to wet printing yourself, or to farm that phase out. How will you know that you have to make your own darkroom for printing, without trying your local shop first?
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Old 08-19-2018   #3
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Effort is individual substance. I have taking it on BW film since 2012 in four+bulks per year in average. I have tried Kodak, Ilford, Kentmere and Ilford film. Polypan 50 as well.
I prefer Ilford non-Delta, but as of now only able to afford Kentmere at Ilford ex-price, before greed took over at Ilford. 40 bucks per bulk.

Equipment. Any print is often implementation of the negative. To have good negative it needs to be exposed correctly (box speed, pushed or pulled) and developed correctly.
Then the only equipment you need is bright lamp and one of your eyes. If negative is done right you'll see shadow details and highlight details. By naked eye. BW modern film is this good.
And just f16 is enough to expose it right.
To develop it right you have to do correct mix, time, agitation and temperature.
And you have to find correct developer. In general low ISO films are good in Rodinal, fast emulsion are good in HC-110. D76 and Xtol are working great with any film at box speed.
Another equipment I recommend is your rangefinder camera lens. Take it off from the camera, open aperture and reverse. Use it lamp - film - reversed lens - eye.
Emulsion towards light source.
If you play with light ange you might see it not as the negative sometimes.
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Old 08-19-2018   #4
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I’ve thought about this a lot as well. I’m very new to this still, but I’ve tried to shoot 10 rolls of a particular film at a time and settled on a couple developers to go along with all of them. So far, I find that Hp5+ is the most versatile. I can push it, pull it, or shoot box and it just works as long as I adjust development. I could use it exclusively if I had to. I think that’s pretty much my go to film along with some fp4+ as well. The ultrafine extreme films are decent enough for me to shoot a lot when I’m just messing about though. I do have to say, printing in the darkroom is VERY different to scanning negatives. The tonality is smoother and the grain isn’t anything like when I scan.

If you have a developer you like using, maybe pick a 400 and a 100 speed and force yourself to use them exclusively for a while.
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Old 08-19-2018   #5
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I've done it many times over the years. Some take time which is mostly bad information up front, or bad testing technique. Every once in a while you hit a home run the first time out. I was gifted a roll of Neopan Acros 100 and it was perfect the first time I developed. So don't expect wonders, just enjoy them when they happen.
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Old 08-20-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I prefer Ilford non-Delta, but as of now only able to afford Kentmere at Ilford ex-price, before greed took over at Ilford. 40 bucks per bulk.

Nobody is getting rich selling film. Your focus should be on your inability to pay a realistic price for film, not on those who are charging the realistic price.
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Old 08-20-2018   #7
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Nobody is getting rich selling film. Your focus should be on your inability to pay a realistic price for film, not on those who are charging the realistic price.
In reality I don't need film at all. It is nothing, but hobby.

In reality I'm still not able to figure out why Kodak increased price for TriX bulk above one hundred and then dropped to seventy.
And then Ilford run users questionary and realized what it is not just students, but age with most of the income, prices were rised in no time.
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Old 08-20-2018   #8
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I used to really like tmax 400 in rodinal 1:50. It was one of my favorite film and dev combos. As was tri-x pro 320 in a special dilution of HC110.

I think controlling the entire process by exposing for the way you are going to process and ultimately print is in my opinion just as important as getting the image in camera. It was all part of the process. Printing is how it is all finished or as Adams said the print is performing the piece. 10 different accomplished printer with B&W film will probably give you 10 different interpretations of the same B&W negative. The import thing that can get missed when trusting the part to someone else is you get their interpretation. What is important is what is your interpretation. So the entire process is important.
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Old 08-20-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfreddee View Post
If I want to explore one emulsion to the point of becoming skilled enough with it to get more-than-everyday results, how much effort and equipment would you recommend?
Hi Stephen,

the best way to learn about the characteristics of an emulsion+developer is using a technique experienced photographers are using successfully for decades: Use a densitometer and measure the characteristic curve of your film-developer combination.
By that you get all information you need at once:
1. Real, effective speed of this combination.
2. All information about real shadow detail.
3. All information about the midtones.
4. All information about real highlight detail.
5. All information about contrast.
6. All information about tonality.
I am using this technique for a very long time with perfect results.
I recommend a Heiland TRD-2 densitometer for BW. Heiland is the best on the market.
https://heilandelectronic.de/home/lang:en

Cheers, Jan
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Old 08-20-2018   #10
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I'm a hybrid shooter. I don't have access and/or not allowed space to have a darkroom.

I have developed my own times from experimenting. I started with something like massive dev, but found that I don't like my results.

Stick to the same chemical, and stick to one film stock. Then do not be afraid to tinker with your development times, how you agitate, and finally don't be afraid to change your solution.

I use Rodinal and HP5. I don't even know what ratio my solution is. I just know how much rodinal to how much water I put. It's not scientific, but it yields the results I like.
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Old 08-20-2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
In reality I don't need film at all. It is nothing, but hobby.

In reality I'm still not able to figure out why Kodak increased price for TriX bulk above one hundred and then dropped to seventy.
And then Ilford run users questionary and realized what it is not just students, but age with most of the income, prices were rised in no time.

It's called the market price and it changes as the market does. Just like virtually every other product.
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Old 08-20-2018   #12
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You won't need anything like a densitometer, which can cost a fair amount of money. I've never used one or known anyone that did. Some people like them, but you won't need it for sure.

This is a visual thing, and you can see everything you need to know w/ a light table and loupe to view your negs, and /or a scanner to scan them for proofs. It's important to be very consistent w/ your chemicals and agitation schemes.

It usually only takes 3 to 5 rolls of film to get things dialed in at the most, even if you're a newbie, but you need to keep accurate notes on shooting conditions and exposures (using higher or lower ISO speeds, exposing for the shadows if you have a spot meter on your camera, etc), as well as development times, temps, dilution ratios (if more than one) and agitation protocols. Stay w/ one camera to avoid variances in shutter speeds.

It's not difficult, but you do need to write things down or you won't know what is going on. I generally use a marker pen to write on the print files that I put the negs in so I know at a glance how they were developed.

Lots of things can be fixed in the printing process, but underexposed or underdeveloped negs will be a real headache and won't print well no matter what you do. I would go w/ Tri-X and D76 at full strength, or use Rodinal at 1:25 or 1:50 dilution. These are very flexible and forgiving combinations w/ a mountain of info on the web. Besides, the look is classic. Then later try another film and developer, or try a different developer w/ the Tri-X and keep accurate notes. It won't take long to get it down pat. The old APUG website that is now named Photrio has some excellent information. The folks there truly understand all the nuances of B&W developing and printing.
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Old 08-20-2018   #13
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When I was in college I had a couple of semesters of the zone system and the school had a densitometer. We did all the tests which took a long time to get through and the densitometer was an important tool in the process. Just depends on how precise you need to be. If you are shooting large format and want to get the zone system down then you might need access to one. If not then try some different film/dev combos. Different agitations and temp until you find something that you really like. Just remember that a developer like Rodinal is a true acutance developer and will give you the most grain and sharpness because it doesn't contain softeners like fine grain developers do. That really isn't an issue with large format film so much but will give you a grainy image with 35mm film. I always liked that sharp grainy look myself. Some don't.

So Steve you can now say that you know a photographer that has used a densitometer.
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Old 08-20-2018   #14
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DO NOT pick a film at random and force yourself to use it. Rather, try a variety of (readily available) films in a variety of (readily available) developers. Some will have "magic". Others won't. The experience of others is of very limited value: for example, I've never got on with Ilford's justly popular FP4 in 35mm, but I like it fine in roll film and LF and I love many other Ilford emulsions.

Simple rule with LF: expose generously (spot meter the shadows and use the shadow index on your meter) and develop for the manufacturers' recommended time. If that doesn't print well on grade 2 or 3, adjust the development time until it does.

Densitometers are useful for scientific applications, plotting D/Log E curves, etc. I have one. For getting exposures right they are even less use than the Zone System.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-20-2018   #15
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I would argue that for the zone system to work correctly and consistently finding your proper ISO is key. Thus getting the first perceivable density over film base + fog is important and a densitometer is much better than most peoples eyes even on an 8X10 negative with a loupe.

Zone system, way over simplified, is once you know the proper ISO for the camera, lens film and dev being used you can then really successfully use a spot meter and meter the shadows and then decide what zone that you wish to place that shadow at (II, III or maybe even IV) then see where the highlights are and decide whether you need normal development to give you the desired highlight in a print or can do an N+1, N+2, N-1, N-2 development time to control where those highlight will fall. So expose to control the shadow and develop to control the highlight. Then you can further get to where you need to be when finally printing by using a different paper grades, paper developer modifying burning and dogging etc. Now whether that is important to someone is another conversation. It does work.

I do agree that exploring all kinds of film and developer combos to get the look one desires is important.
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Old 08-20-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Striker View Post
It's called the market price and it changes as the market does. Just like virtually every other product.
Market is then multiple manufacturers are in competition. Like car makers.
As result, now I could buy new car for very low price even where I'm.
Or at least seven manufacturers of digital cameras.
BW film is manufactured mostly by four companies in comparison.

Price jumped up another five and ten dollars on Kentmere 400 and 100 in bulk within one month.
With two kids and me shooting film now it is time to switch back to the way we used to shoot film. One roll for month or months.

Do you actually shot on film in same volumes as I'm plus giving film and paper for two kids or just lecturing here about market, with single roll in camera from last year tactic already applied?
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Old 08-21-2018   #17
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Market is then multiple manufacturers are in competition. Like car makers.
As result, now I could buy new car for very low price even where I'm.
Or at least seven manufacturers of digital cameras.
BW film is manufactured mostly by four companies in comparison.

Price jumped up another five and ten dollars on Kentmere 400 and 100 in bulk within one month.
With two kids and me shooting film now it is time to switch back to the way we used to shoot film. One roll for month or months.

Do you actually shot on film in same volumes as I'm plus giving film and paper for two kids or just lecturing here about market, with single roll in camera from last year tactic already applied?

I have two kids, one about to enter college and shoot exclusively on film. While I lived overseas I would shoot 5-10 rolls per week. Every week. Now I shoot less but on occasion shoot 5 or more rolls in a week if I have an event of some kind or travel. For example, I shot about 25 rolls of film during my recent trip to Niagara Falls. Lots to shoot there.
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Old 08-21-2018   #18
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I have two kids, one about to enter college and shoot exclusively on film. While I lived overseas I would shoot 5-10 rolls per week. Every week. Now I shoot less but on occasion shoot 5 or more rolls in a week if I have an event of some kind or travel. For example, I shot about 25 rolls of film during my recent trip to Niagara Falls. Lots to shoot there.
We went to Niagara Falls two days ago for baptism in Ukrainian Church at Main St. It is fifty minutes drive in economy car with three kids crapmend on the back seat.
I exposed two frames. Why?

My wife is not working and we have four kids. My single income salary taxed as single person. On top of it current government cut several child support programs. Including tax return for public transport used by students.
More than half of the big family single income is taxed and return is next to none. It is anti-family state. They rely only on biggest immigration among all developed countries. People come, do many kids like we did, but their kids aren't. Too expensive for most of Canadians. You have to pay for education, for place to live and taxes like nowhere comparing to USA and Europe. With fake "free" health system, laughable benefits and not free college, university education on top of it. We are not getting tax return for mortgages like in USA and Belgium.
People here are pooling their teeths in garages with pliers because they can't afford dentist. People choose between food and medicine. And PM and finance minister of this country are constantly saying what we must take part time (no vacai) and no benefits jobs, because it is the only future of this country according to them and their policies.
Many Canadians haven't get salary raise or same level salaries since 2008 crisis. Except government and public sector.

What is your recommendations for following up "market" prices?
I'm eager to learn from you.
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Old 08-21-2018   #19
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I would argue that for the zone system to work correctly and consistently finding your proper ISO is key. Thus getting the first perceivable density over film base + fog is important and a densitometer is much better than most peoples eyes even on an 8X10 negative with a loupe.

Zone system, way over simplified, is once you know the proper ISO for the camera, lens film and dev being used you can then really successfully use a spot meter and meter the shadows and then decide what zone that you wish to place that shadow at (II, III or maybe even IV) then see where the highlights are and decide whether you need normal development to give you the desired highlight in a print or can do an N+1, N+2, N-1, N-2 development time to control where those highlight will fall. So expose to control the shadow and develop to control the highlight. Then you can further get to where you need to be when finally printing by using a different paper grades, paper developer modifying burning and dogging etc. Now whether that is important to someone is another conversation. It does work.

I do agree that exploring all kinds of film and developer combos to get the look one desires is important.
The Zone System is simultaneously a gross oversimplification and a gross over-complication of basic sensitometry established in the 1880s.

(1) Give enough exposure to get shadow detail. Whether it's 0.05 over FB +F or 0.10 over or 0.20 (or even 0.50) over is completely irrelevant with LF.

(2) If one of your typical negs won't print on grade 2 or 3 change the dev regime until it does

(3) For very contrasty subjects, reduce dev time by 20%. For very flat subjects, increase it by 50%.

(4) Remember why we have different contrast grades. Anyone who does not understand ISO(R) numbers is well advised not to waste their time with the Zone System.

(5) Ask yourself how many great photographers HAVE used the Zone System, and how many HAVEN'T. The ratio is a good pointer to the value of the Zone System.

The naming of Zones was a work of genius. The rest -- N+, N-, etc. -- is to a very large extend an over-complication combined with a search for a precision that doesn't (and cannot) exist.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-21-2018   #20
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Roger it is relevant because to do the zone system properly you need consistency in all aspects of the process and that all starts with the proper ASA/ISO. It is like building on a solid foundation and the tests all do away with all the variances such as lens manufacturing and variances in shutter speeds. It does work and did work for Adams and other B&W zone system photographers.

It won't make you a great landscape photographer and I tend to now be more like Winogrand/Eisenstadt street shooter. I sometimes don't even meter because I know that in the summer bright sun at 1600 ISO that my exposure will be f/11 at 1/2000 and in the hard shadow it will be f/8 at 1/1000 or there about.

But if I were to ever start shooting large format landscapes again I would use the zone system. I would redo all the tests for the camera and lenses I would be using but thats me. Flavor to test but it does work. Without the tests how do you know what the proper ASA is for the camera and lens you are using? How do you know the normal dev time is for the film/dev combo or the way you agitate or N -1 neg development is? Do you have to do it? No. It can give the photographer more control over the entire process and is a way to consistently visualize the way a final print will look like at the moment of exposure.

In the way I work today I don't use it but those sensitivities are all part of who Im as a photographer. It is there. When I was still shooting 35mm B&W film on the streets I did similar to what you say in #3.

Many greats like Winogrand and Eisenstadt didn't even use meters. They relied on their experience and knowledge. Weston, Adams and many of the f/64 crowd used the zone system. Many different ways to work but understanding how the process works is such valuable knowledge as well as knowing what film and dev combos work for the way you need your final images to be what ever road you take.
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Old 08-21-2018   #21
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Roger it is relevant because to do the zone system properly you need consistency in all aspects of the process and that all starts with the proper ASA/ISO. It is like building on a solid foundation and the tests all do away with all the variances such as lens manufacturing and variances in shutter speeds. It does work and did work for Adams and other B&W zone system photographers.

It won't make you a great landscape photographer and I tend to now be more like Winogrand/Eisenstadt street shooter. I sometimes don't even meter because I know that in the summer bright sun at 1600 ISO that my exposure will be f/11 at 1/2000 and in the hard shadow it will be f/8 at 1/1000 or there about.

But if I were to ever start shooting large format landscapes again I would use the zone system. I would redo all the tests for the camera and lenses I would be using but thats me. Flavor to test but it does work. Without the tests how do you know what the proper ASA is for the camera and lens you are using? How do you know the normal dev time is for the film/dev combo or the way you agitate or N -1 neg development is? Do you have to do it? No. It can give the photographer more control over the entire process and is a way to consistently visualize the way a final print will look like at the moment of exposure.

In the way I work today I don't use it but those sensitivities are all part of who Im as a photographer. It is there. When I was still shooting 35mm B&W film on the streets I did similar to what you say in #3.

Many greats like Winogrand and Eisenstadt didn't even use meters. They relied on their experience and knowledge. Weston, Adams and many of the f/64 crowd used the zone system. Many different ways to work but understanding how the process works is such valuable knowledge as well as knowing what film and dev combos work for the way you need your final images to be what ever road you take.
Well, EI anyway. Determining ISO is beyond most people, including me. If you can do it, I salute you.

Basically, ISO is a combination of opinion and arbitrary choice. EI is the same only more so. The only question is what degree of (sometimes false) precision you seek.

What do you LOSE by giving an extra stop, or even two stops, of exposure with large format? Nothing, as long as you are (a) consistent and (b) happy with the result.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-21-2018   #22
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Where is the OP? I feel as if we are talking to ourselves...
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Old 08-21-2018   #23
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"Where is the OP? I feel like we are talking to ourselves."

I'm still here. I have had my question answered, to my satisfaction and I thank you all again for your time and efforts.

With best regards, Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 08-21-2018   #24
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Yes, I'd say developing the film yourself and having it printed at a lab can lead to "more-than-everyday results."

How you go about this will depend a lot on how your lab will do the printing. Darkroom or digital prints? A straight print or with dodging and burning?

Since printing is sort of out of your hands, you may not get the results you want with the film and developer you initially choose. Read Mike Johnston's posts on FDP (film-developer-paper) to see how the characteristic curves of the film+developer and the paper combine to produce the tonal distribution of the final print. Like Roger says, you'll probably have to taste test until you find a FD that you like with the P that the lab uses.
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Old 08-21-2018   #25
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Perhaps a more experienced person can comment on this, but I’ve found using the zone system on 135 to be done in a sort of compromising way. In a 36 shot roll I am likely to encounter a variety of contrast ranges in my scenes. I can use the zone system to place my textured shadows accurately in zone 3 (or 4), but I can not control the development/highlight contrast of each individual scene. After reading “the edge of darkness” I have experimented with a two bath formula from Barry Thornton that seems to do a good job of developing to an average in the highlights. In 120 I use 3 Hasselblad backs with a n-1,n,n+1 and develop accordingly.

Am I missing something with 135 that I could be doing to get full tonal range throughout an entire roll that would work better than Barry Thornton 2 bath?
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Old 08-21-2018   #26
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Consider using this source:

http://www.precision-camera.com/rff-...solution-scans

Advertisier here on rangefinder.

I develop film and make a contact sheet of the negatives. Sometimes I make a few prints as I do have an analog darkroom. But it’s getting less and less use now. I can be much more creative with digital and it’s so much easier now using my iPhone or iPad to make photos and process on my iMac.

For me, helping those in front of the camera and using the skills I have learned over the decades is most important for me.
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Old 08-21-2018   #27
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Perhaps a more experienced person can comment on this, but I’ve found using the zone system on 135 to be done in a sort of compromising way. In a 36 shot roll I am likely to encounter a variety of contrast ranges in my scenes. I can use the zone system to place my textured shadows accurately in zone 3 (or 4), but I can not control the development/highlight contrast of each individual scene. After reading “the edge of darkness” I have experimented with a two bath formula from Barry Thornton that seems to do a good job of developing to an average in the highlights. In 120 I use 3 Hasselblad backs with a n-1,n,n+1 and develop accordingly.

Am I missing something with 135 that I could be doing to get full tonal range throughout an entire roll that would work better than Barry Thornton 2 bath?
Zone system really works best for large format and sheet film so you can meter and adjust for each image. I think Roger hinted at it and I responded to in a post up in the tread a bit. His #3 response is close to what i would do.
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Old 08-21-2018   #28
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Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
Well, EI anyway. Determining ISO is beyond most people, including me. If you can do it, I salute you.

Basically, ISO is a combination of opinion and arbitrary choice. EI is the same only more so. The only question is what degree of (sometimes false) precision you seek.

What do you LOSE by giving an extra stop, or even two stops, of exposure with large format? Nothing, as long as you are (a) consistent and (b) happy with the result.

Cheers,

R.

Roger the testing takes all the ambiguity out of it. You find the exact ISO/ASA for the film, dev, temp, agitation, camera and lens you are using. So you know once you have tested a camera with the lens and the same dev film combo if you agitate consistently and use the exact same temp you will get very consistent results. This is how Adams and others in that school of thought were able to full control the process and then they would fine tune it all in the printing. The testing is a major pain in the ass and took half a semester if I remember correctly. Then there is the entire printing side of it all which is a journey all it's own but we wont get into all that now ha ha...

You are right it is far beyond what many want to learn or need to. I haven't shot a zone system image in decades but I am so glad I know it.
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Old 08-21-2018   #29
Deardorff38
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Pfreddee....looking back on your original post. How will they print your negatives...Machine prints or enlargements? Analog or digital. These outputs and who is printing them...would reflect on how you process your negatives.
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