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Thread: Film and contrast

  1. #1
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    Film and contrast

    Hi,

    I never processed film so I am not familiar with all the ins and outs of the process.

    What I would like to know is, at what stage do you increase contrast: development of film or printing?

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Film and contrast

    You can control it at both. Obviously, you have more flexibility at printing time (since you can try again . Others here can add more detail, I'm sure.

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Thanks.

    The reason I'm asking, is that I sent a roll to the lab for development and it was flat (the scan). I'm not sure if it was done in purpose since you can bring the contrast back up later, or it's not possible to develop the film to be more "contrasty".

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Contrast control was most commonly done in the printing phase.

    Traditional photo paper was available in different contrast "grades", from 1 (soft) to 5 (very contrasty), with #2 being the grade most commonly used. Each grade yields different results from the same negative.

    The "flat" scan may be a strategy to retain maximum detail in the end zones from your negatives. High-contrast scans will obscure detail in both the highlights and shadows. As you said, it's always possible to increase the contrast in the final print, but you can't reduce it.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Thanks Leigh.

    OK, what is the best procedure then:

    1. rate the film slower and process normal
    2. rate the film at speed and push at the develop stage
    3. rate the film at speed and process at speed and do all the adjustments in the printing process

    When I was shooting on film (years ago), we used Kodak Portra 160NC and rate it at 100 but I don't know how it was processed (I was working for another studio).

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Just to clarify, I will be shooting people for most part (engagements, bridals...).

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    Re: Film and contrast

    I've used your option #3 for over 50 years, and have been pleased with the results.

    Options #1 and #2 are useful in special situations. However, deciding what constitutes a "special situation" requires experience that only comes from practice.

    I suggest using standard exposure and processing guidelines for the film, then evaluating the results. Carry a notebook with you and make comments about unusual subject or lighting conditions. Then evaluate the negatives in that context.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    I've used your option #3 for over 50 years, and have been pleased with the results.

    ....Carry a notebook with you and make comments about unusual subject or lighting conditions...

    - Leigh
    Thanks Leigh.

    I was looking for a shortcut . I already spent $200 in the past week or so on film processing and I didn't even start some serious testing ...

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Yeah, I know what you mean.

    One way to economize... skip the scanning.
    Evaluate the negatives directly with a magnifying glass. You can probably get all the information you need this way.

    Select the images you want to work with and have only those scanned. This should reduce your costs significantly.

    - Leigh

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    Yeah, I know what you mean.

    One way to economize... skip the scanning.
    Evaluate the negatives directly with a magnifying glass. You can probably get all the information you need this way.

    Select the images you want to work with and have only those scanned. This should reduce your costs significantly.

    - Leigh
    I don't have a light table .. and looking on the screen is easier ... the good part: the Mamiya AFD that I got will superimpose the data on the side of the film so I can make easier determinations.

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    Senior Member M5-Guy's Avatar
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    Re: Film and contrast

    What I do:


    1. Develop normally, BUT, agitate every 90s or 120s, (this will help elongate the gray scale.. especially the shadows).
    2. Scan just a bit below normal contrast... and bring it up in your Editing software, you can adjust the histogram if needed also.
    3. Don't sharpen or use the NR that comes with the scanner
    4. Rate at the box speed
    5. If your scanner can do multiple passes (exposure) for each scan, use at least 2 scans or 4 scans (but it will take longer), This helps reduce film grain
    6. Set your resolution for at least 5000dpi (90mb file)... Most modern editing software can handle a large file easily.. speed wise...

    Enjoy

    A Light box is under $130.00 or so, I have a "Porta Trace" 12x19 with Oak casing. Daylight balanced bulbs


    Last edited by M5-Guy; 6th November 2010 at 16:58.

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    Re: Film and contrast

    i assume you are talking black and white..two good books on processing are:
    fred picker: Zone VI Workshop; a great application for 35mm and med format
    ansel adams, The Negtive and The Print, best for large format, but excellent

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    Re: Film and contrast

    Thanks Jim and M5.

    I will definitely not start to process the film myself (although a little tempting ).

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