4x5 Development Woes :(

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by CuS, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. CuS

    CuS Member

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    Well, I took the plunge and signed up for a 4x5 class at my local community college - wonderful place with great facilities and equipment. Even lent us all nice Cambo 4x5s with tripod and case.

    Here's my problem - all of my films are coming out thin by at least 1 to 1.5 stops. I have been shooting Delta 100 (@100) and HP5+ (@400). I am very anal about exposure (with grey card), focus, bellows draw and reciprocity failure. Shooting mostly at f64 because our instructor insists on "razor sharp" fore to back.

    I am tray developing in HC-110B at 20C. The Delta 100 gets 6mins and the HP5+ gets 5 mins. I can process 4 to 6 similarly exposed sheets without scratches and I'm using a 2 min presoak before development.

    i plan to underexpose both by a stop and see whats up but just underexposing to compennsate without some real reason really bothers me.

    help!
     
  2. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    In a nutshell, drop your exposure index until you see good shadow detail and increase your development time until you get good highlight density. I expose most black and white 4x5 films at half their rated speed and develop as long as it takes to get good highlight density. So *overexpose* by a stop and experiment with developing for 6/8/10 minutes.
     
  3. David William White

    David William White Member

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    If they are thin, they're either underexposed or under developed. Your plan to underexpose will make the negs thinner.

    How do you know your negs are underexposed? Did you contact print them?

    Consider that sheet film is perfect for bracketing and processing one at a time to see what's what.

    Excellent to hear there are still 4x5 classes being taught.
     
  4. OP
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    CuS

    CuS Member

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    Thanks!

    Dur! I meant to overexpose by a stop (shoot each at half their rated speed).

    Yes, my school has been really great! I'm taking 4x5 from David Allison at Northern Virginia Community Colleges Alexandria, VA campus!

    Photography is a long way from my engineering and law background - maybe thats why I love it so much :smile:
     
  5. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    OK, so how long are your exposures running at f/64? I'm guessing that your exposure times are running at least around 1 second, possibly longer. The reason I ask is because you will be running up against reciprocity failure problems with exposures greater than 1/2 second for both of these products. The problem worsens with longer exposures. See page two on each of the following documents:

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/2007321132461251.pdf

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20061301938422338.pdf
     
  6. David William White

    David William White Member

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    Law background? Well there's your problem!
    :tongue:
     
  7. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    As oftimes quoted ( David Vestal and others ), and often forgotten: Never underexpose, and never overdevelop. Thus, as has been said here and elsewhere over and over again, expose for the shadows, and develop for...well, you surely know what:}. DON"T UNDEREXPOSE.

    I am curious: Why does your instructor insist upon F64 with everything in sharp focus? Surely after the first few weeks when you have shown that you know how to focus, there must be some latitude. Everything must often NOT be in sharp focus if you want to convey a sense of your own vision, not to mention the reciprocity factors. Spend a few hours on APUG, and you might learn as much as going to class :}. And did I mention never to underexpose?

    Now, very, very important: Meter the shadows, but ask your instructor how a meter works in so far as the need NOT to follow the exact metering...if you meter the shadows, and set the meter accordingly, the shadows will end up as middle gray and you will underexpose. Could that error be the source of your problems? If you don't quite grasp the essential problem about meters trying to make everything gray then please let us know.

    Don't be concerned...you will eventually "get it"...just takes a little time...don't get discouraged!

    Ed
     
  8. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Ah...you are metering off of a gray card? That could be your problem...let us know ....

    Ed
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    fschifano's points are duly noted above. Make sure to check for reciprocity failure and to compensate for it. That's one of the inherent problems with shooting at such a small aperture. If you really want sharp from back to forth, it's better to use the camera movements.

    Metering off the gray card could be a culprit as that only gives you correct exposure for that tone. With sheet film you have the opportunity to optimize every negative by exposing for the shadows (which usually means more exposure than reading a gray card).
    Which part of your negative is thin? The shadow values? If yes - increase exposure.
    If highlights are thin after you adjust exposure for shadow values - agitate more often and/or develop longer.

    The above of exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights work well - if you take lots of notes when you're out there.

    And one more thing - It's good to read that there are classes still offered based on sheet film, but the teacher sounds a bit self important. Sharpness from back to front does not constitute a successful photograph. That is a matter of taste of the teacher and what he/she likes, and shouldn't be imposed on the students. Do they want clones of themselves, or students that are able to think critically for themselves what THEY like?
     
  10. Stefan Findel

    Stefan Findel Member

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    @ Ed: "if you meter the shadows, and set the meter accordingly, the shadows will end up as middle gray and you will underexpose. " Reading the shadows and using the meter-setting (thus placing them in Zone V instead of Zone III) would result in overexposure.

    @ CuS: "Shooting mostly at f64 because our instructor insists on "razor sharp fore to back. "
    Your instructor might want you to use camera movements (Scheimpflug) and not just simply stopping down a whole lot. Lens performance usually peaks at f16 - f22. This is what all Schneider and Rodenstock literature will tell you.
    And lastly: reading off a grey card can be tricky too. The card may be catching some glare and then throw off your reading.
    Who said this would be easy? :smile:
    Stefan
     
  11. OP
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    CuS

    CuS Member

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    Thanks!

    I really wanted to say thanks for all of your wonderful input and encouraging words.

    I think my main problems are three fold:

    • Failing to properly expose (I have always followed the expose for shadows develop for highlights in my 35mm and medium format work - you can see some of it at my flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/colusite/);
    • Neglecting proper tilt/shift principals and instead gong straight for f64 (reminds me of the sex ed scene in Monty Python's History of the World); and
    • Taking my time.

    As for exposure, I will be extra diligent n the use of the grey card and reflective versus incident metering. I will work harder on Scheimpflug rule which will require me - taking my time!

    In my professor's defense, his logic is that if he can teach us to focus to "tack sharp", we can do OOF easily. He is a good teacher and he has alot to offer - i'll just have to listen and learn. But I do agree, I use DOF all the time in my smaller format work to convey my vision and emotion of the scene.

    Again - thanks!
     
  12. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Stefan: Of course you are correct....thanks very much for the correction. I don't know what I was thinking...
     
  13. ghost

    ghost Member

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    wow thanks for the info on this class- i had no idea that was available...close enough for me to commute from Baltimore methinks...you might see me next semester!
     
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  15. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    Did you remember that Kodak recommends (and now includes this instruction with their new gray cards) to meter off the card and open up 1/2 stop?

    If you are not doing this, your negs will be underexposed. Then, per other recommendations here in this post, you can open another 1/2 stop and see what result you prefer.

    I also believe reciprocity failure may be entering the picture as well but I expect your instructor has already cautioned you regarding this possibility.

    -F.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 28, 2009
  16. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    You couldn't have a better instructor. I've known David for about 30 years. We were at GWU at the same time, and even spent some time studying in France. In France (before I started shooting large format), I spent a day with him while he shot 4x5. I learned a ton, that day, and bought my first 4x5 when I returned to the States.
     
  17. yellowcat

    yellowcat Member

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    As you are using sheet film, so long as your subject is stationary you could try a stepped exposure using the darkslide.
    Say you think the exposure should be about 2 seconds you give a 1second exposure then put the sheath back in about a third of the way and give another 1 second exposure. Then push the sheath back in about two thirds and give a 2 second exposure.

    You will then have a negative with bracketed stepped exposure of 1, 2 and 4 seconds.

    That should give you some idea of the correct exposure.
     
  18. OP
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    CuS

    CuS Member

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    You are absolutely right about Mr. Allison. Every class is a treasure trove of information - it's hard to believe that one person can know so much about photography. He often mentions his time in France and his exclamations are often peppered with French. "Mon dieu!" I am learning alot and thanks for all of your input.

    Mr Allison has spoken of all the things that have an effect on exposure such as reciprocity failure, bellows draw, metering, etc. And I have taken all of them into account.

    I think my major frustration is that I have never had such problems in smaller format and I just assumed my previous experince would carry over to large format. I now see that the amazing flexibility and precision of 4x5 also requires precision in operation.

    I really like the bracketing idea using the darkslide.

    He is also teaching a 4x5 class this summer which I will also take.
     
  19. OP
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    CuS

    CuS Member

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    new results - i followed your advice

    Well, I took your advice (and that of Mr. Allison) and exposed HP5+ at half the box speed (200). Exposure was f64 @ 1/15. I tray developed 5.5 min in HC-110B. Here is a scan slice of the film (I only have a 35mm scanner - I'll scan a contact print later). Looks better - we'll see how it prints.

    Again, thanks for all of your help - let me know what your think.
     

    Attached Files:

  20. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    By the way F64 guarentees diffracted results. Use only as small an F stop as you need between F16 and 22. Most of the time if your subjects are in a plane you can get most all in focus wide open.

    Try using a nice 35mm or digital camera as a meter. On matrix mode it will be a very accurate meter as long as it doesn't have filters.

    When I extend my cambo out to full bellows I lose 4 stops of light. There are calculations to use. You may be getting reciprocity as many of those films begin failing at 1 second requiring a half stop correction. When in doubt overexpose and or overdevelop. Try making a set exposure at infinity focus with everything zeroed at a reasonable aperture (f16) using matrix meter and box speed with standard development. If that fails you have major problems. I would bet developer if that fails.
     
  21. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Damn.
    First off, Mr. Allison did not tell you to expose at f64.
    You misunderstood something.
    If he did, he is an idiot. Run away, run away!
    f64 means you are shooting a 4x5 point and shoot. You learn nothing about exposure control, DOF, and image development at f64.
    Get a good book on LF photography.
    Use your teacher to explain what you read in the book about focusing, movements, reciprocity, scheinflug effect, and diffraction.

    Shakes head. Been there, done that. College professors be weird, very weird.

    tim in san jose
     
  22. OP
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    CuS

    CuS Member

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    I be the idiot


    He didn't say to expose at f64 - that was my idiotic decision. I think I now have it narrowed down to two main issues:

    1) I am rushing - getting a good enough focus and then stopping down.
    2) My development may be a bit iffy - which brings me to anotehr question all of you may be able to help me with.

    I have chosen to tray develop because I have the equipment and can do it pretty efficiently without scratches. I am using 8x10 patterson trays with HC-110B. The volume of developer is about 1500ml is its tray. My worry is that I may be underdeveloping because in trying to shuffle without scratching, my films may not "always" be immersed.

    I usually develop 4 to 8 sheets at a shot. They are all similarly exposed and bracketed within a stop of normal exposure. So, I will have 4 shots of the same scene: one at normal, one a stop under, one a stop over and a fourth again at normal (just to be safe).

    I have always taken into accout reciprocity failure and bellows draw (square of focal length over the square of the draw) when they rear their ugly heads.

    I think a good plan of attack will be:

    1) Take my time: use the tilt, swing and shift and do not necessarily stampede for f64.

    2) Meter carefully: I'll use both my sekonic meter and anotehr tool to get a really good idea on the shadow area exposure; and

    3) Develop carefully: Make sure I have enough developer to ensure complete immersion during development.

    I will also try the bracketing with the dark slide to get an idea on how to develop my otehr sheets of the set and also rate my films 9for now) at half-their box speed.

    This is a very tedious process, but kinda intriguing at the same time.
     
  23. Stefan Findel

    Stefan Findel Member

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    Two sheets at "N" doesn't make sense. If your "+1" turns out the correct exp, but is scratched, then you have 1 scratched properly exposed, and 3 underexposed sheets (2 at one stop under, 1 at 2 stops under). If the "N" one is the right one, but scratched, chances are the "+1" neg will still print OK.
    8 sheets of 4x5 in one tray will challenge most seasoned printers. When I process 8x10, I do up to 8 sheets at a time, shuffling the negs from one tray to the other and back, but always taking the TOP sheet, never the bottem one. (Same with presoak, and fix.) 8x10 trays, BTW.
     
  24. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Use the incident meter. Reflective meters lie.
     
  25. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    Would that be ye olde K-factor rearing it's ugly head for another go?
     
  26. OP
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    CuS

    CuS Member

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    thanks, but I'm confused

    If you are shuffling the TOP sheet, never the bottom, then you must be processing emulsion side up, right? I process emulsion side down and take from the bottom.

    How much developer (volume) do you use in your 8x10 trays?

    And, I will follow your idea of backing up the +1 shot - especially since I have been having problems with underexposure.