B&W Portraits, Which film developer combo?

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RAP

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I will be doing some B&W portraits next week which is something I do not ordinarily do and I was wondering what the best combo is? I have used TRI-X in HC110 in the past. The lighting will be available, maybe some reflector fill of a young mother and 6 year old daughter. I will probably use my Hasselblad and my 80mm lens, though I have not ruled out my 4x5.

Blansky your input would be appreciated.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Tri-X and HC-110 are a good combo. Stick with what you know, I'd say.
 

blansky

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Hi RAP:

I'm not one who does much experimenting with different chemistry. I use FP4 with Zonal Pro Gamma Plus and have for a while. Unfortunately I don't have any definitive reasoning behind it except that it works well for the way I work.

I like my black and white portraits to have a fair amount of contrast and I don't usually like medium key portraits too much. My main concern lighting wise is to have a direction of light, which means with available light it has to be magic hour, or use reflectors. Once that is achieved I just work with the subjects to try to get great stuff.

MIchael McBlane
 
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RAP

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I appreciate the quick input! My main concern is what will give the best glow to skin and hair texture. I do want a full range of tones and well scultped faces.

I have never heard of Zonal Pro Gamma Plus developer but I see Freestyle carries it and will give it a try. Blansky, your website shows you know what you are talking about.

By the magic hour, I assume you are referring to a few hours before sunset.

Les, mentioned a agitation technique of 15 secs for every 2 minutes which I tried last week and the results were noticably better; sharper edges and what appeard to be finer grain with TRI-X and HC110. That is also an option.

I know there is a lot of portrait work in my area, b&w more then color, much more then fine art landscapes so I am considering branching out.
 

Jeremy

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another option if using the 6x6 is the chromogenic line of black and white films. I find them to give a very creamy skin tone due to their use of dye clouds as opposed to grain. Ilford's XP2super is reputed to print easier on traditional black and white paper than any of kodak's offerings. This is just a suggestion... I personally shoot FP4 and soup it in diafine, but will be moving towards pyrocat HD. I enjoy portraits with a wonderful range of the upper end of tones and I'm hoping that pyro is what the doctor ordered.
 
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My only humble opinion is to avoid TMX if you're not used to it. It will blow highlights very easily if development is not 'on spot'

Jorge O
 

Les McLean

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As has been said in earlier posts, stick with what you know, in any event the glow from the skin and hair is the result of good lighting in the first place and then enhanced by good judgement in the printing. I make lots of prints for clients from many film/developer combinations and they all glow when they leave my darkroom otherwise they go into the waste bin and the print is made again. When you print don't forget to take drydown into account if you are using fibre paper, it can be as much as 10%, and is the cause of dull muddy highlights in most prints. When my prints are wet the highlight is barely on the paper but when it dries the print glows.

Good luck with the portraits.
 

Doug Bennett

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While Tri-X and HC-110 are fine, here's another direction, just for the sake of discussion. I've been playing with Efke R25 and R50, developed in Rodinal. Very slow, yes; you'll be at a fairly wide aperture. But an orthopanchromatic film like Efke yields very pleasing skin tones. I've yet to try it, but J and C Photo, the source of Efke, tell me that R50 will push to ISO 100 very easily.
 
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RAP

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My primary conern is grain from enlarging a 6x6 negative. I have used TRI-X in HC110 diluted 1/62 from concentrate with decent results. I seem to get finer grain with higher dilutions of HC110 and was wondering what others have gotten?

I want this shoot to work well, not just to make to client happy, but to make me happy.
 
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I've used HC-110 at this dillution many times, and for portrait work I think you will have good results (I personally like 'punchier' negs)

See some examples at:

http://www.mironchuk.com/film.html


Jorge O
 
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RAP

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Thank you all for your input.

I have decided to shoot TRI-X and develope it in HC110 1/62 from concentrate and agitate 15 secs/ 2 minutes.

Thanks again!
 

Black Dog

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XP2 /T400cn are vg (prefer tonality of XP2 ). Portra 400bw should be good too (but I'm seriously tempted to boycott Kodak after they scrapped Verichrome and Ektalure).
I'll be largely sticking to Forte100 & Agfapan 400 (120) & Forte 200 (sheet) devved in PMK (the finest developer available to humanity). Nothing beats a tanning/staining developer for all round use (faster, old tech films work best) but others have their uses for particular applications (eg with Delta 3200). Anyway the main thing is not to keep chopping & changing. Doesn't hurt to try other combos from time to time though.

Black Dog
 

lee

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I say pay attention to the quality of light. I am fond of the John Sexton style of light. That open shade works for me I think best. Place the skin on zone VI or low zone VII and develop normally.

lee\c
 

matt.s.

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In 120 apx 100 rated at EI: 50 developed in rodinal 1:50 for 10 mins at 22 degrees. No pre rinse, 30 secs initial agitation then 4 gentle agitations per minute. This is really nice for portraits from my hasselblad.

The new tri-x also works well with this treatment but with an 8 minute process time.
 

modafoto

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I like portraits with the grain of Tri-X and Rodinal 1+50 when shooting in available light. In studio with flash I use Ilford Delta 100 in Rodinal 1+50.

Morten
 

Claire Senft

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If you are photographing men and if the film is available Tri-x Ortho can be wonderful Trix-Professional with green filtration can be extremely effective for men. For women Technical Pan without filtration or for special effect with red filtration can be wonderful if available. Tech Pan not only is extremely sharp but also the extended red sensitivity does wonders to make pimples, nicks freckles etc dissappear.

However, the most important thing you can do is to work with something that you well understand.

I believe that generally the most important part of portraiture is the subject's expession....10 times more important than the difference between 2 equally good films I will conjecture.
 
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