Gibraltar (high contrast scenes) Exposure, development changes?

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by Svenedin, Apr 6, 2018.

  1. Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I am based in the UK where contrast is very moderate even in the Summer (allegedly we do have a Summer in the UK). I've never had issues with contrast being too high (sometimes too low though). My prints print readily at grade 2 most of the time and occasionally need the printing contrast raised to 3 or 3.5.

    I am posted to Gibraltar 4 times a year. For those who don't know, this is a strategically important overseas territory on the Southern tip of Spain, approximately 15 miles from the coast of North Africa. It is a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean Sea with numerous military installations including a navy base.

    In Gibraltar the weather can be very variable. The Rock influences the local weather to the point that it can be overcast in Gibraltar but sunny a few miles away. Often there is blazing sun and light reflected off the sea. This creates challenging light for photography and the contrast can be so high that some of my frames (never a whole roll) are almost unprintable even at very low printing contrast. The pale limestone of The Rock also reflects light strongly in sunlight.

    1) I wonder whether I should adjust my exposure and developing to deal with this. I often (but not exclusively) use the Kodak TMax films. This time I will probably just take 35mm equipment. Kodak recommends overexposure of 1 or 2 stops (which would take TMax 100 down to EI 25 or 50 a bit slow for handheld) or TMax 400 to EI 100 or 200 (very usable). If the roll is a mixture of high and "normal" contrast scenes I don't want to ruin the normal contrast shots by altering anything too drastically.

    2) As above but any adjustments to make with Ilford FP4+?

    3) The same but what about colour films e.g. Ektar 100?

    PS: I will often be using a yellow filter for B&W landscape shots. This has a much stronger effect than in the UK mainland where sometimes the effect of a yellow filter is minimal even with blue skies and fluffy clouds. In Gibraltar there is significant darkening of the sky.

    TMax 400 is probably the most versatile option as sometimes I will use longer focal length lenses to photograph wildlife and a higher EI helps to keep the shutter speed up for handheld shots without shake.

    Here are some example shots from the gallery which include films details:

     
  2. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,929
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I can’t help with color film at all. In black and white I face the same high contrast in Florida and manage it with BTZS in sheet film. However you are using roll film. This is one of the few situations where I would consider a two bath developer. There are a lot of threads here on PhoTrio, and a lot of disparaging remarks, but you are in a special situation. I have used Farber’s Divided D76 and Divided D23. You’ll have to mix them yourself. Generally, they allow full development of the shadows but don’t over develop the highlights.

    I think the yellow filter is a good idea.
     
  3. David Allen

    David Allen Member

    Messages:
    888
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Location:
    Berlin
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Invariably I photograph high contrast scenes as much of my work relies on shadows as part of the composition.

    What I do is meter for the important shadows to land on Zone III (get close with the meter and measure the shadows where I wish to retain detail and then stop down two stops from what the meter indicates) and develop in Barry Thornton's Two-Bath developer.

    You will probably receive a lot of comments such as 'two-bath developers are a waste of time', developer xyz is a better choice, etc but I can honestly state that this exposure/developer regime has always worked for me and it has been my sole method for the past 15 years (previously I used another replenishable two-bath developer but, with the rise of dyes in modern films, this led to the Bath A turning a very unpleasant colour).

    In my case I use Ilford Delta 400 which, following tests, I rate at an EI of 200.

    Barry Thornton's Two-Bath developer is cheap and simple to make:

    Bath A

    750ml Distilled water (relatively warm)
    80 g Sodium Sulfite

    6.5 g Metol

    Make up to 1 L with Distilled water
    (dissolve a little bit of Sodium Sulfite (1-2 grams) first, then the Metol, then the rest of the Sodium Sulfite. Having your water pre-heated to 30-35C will help).

    Bath B
    750ml Distilled water

    12 g Sodium Metaborate (Kodak defined ‘Kodalk’ as Sodium Metaborate Tetrahydrate )
    
Make up to 1 L with Distilled water
    (temperature doesn't really matter, as sodium metaborate is quite soluble).

    A note on mixing the chemicals and use
    I mix up 1 litre of Bath A (my tank is the 1 litre version that can accommodate up to 4 films) and store in a 1 litre dark brown glass bottle. This one litre is sufficient for 24 films (but note the following point about Bath B).

    I mix up two litres of Bath B at the normal (which are stored in two 1 litre dark brown glass bottles) and use each bottle of Bath B for 12 films and then discard.
    I mix up one litre of Bath B at the N+ dilution of 20g of Sodium Metaborate (which is stored in a 1 litre dark brown glass bottles) and use rarely when needed.

    A note on the N-, N and N+ dilutions
    99% of all my photographs (many of which you can see on my website - although modern computers have higher contrast screens than when I created my website) are developed with the N version of Bath B. I have never had any negative where I felt that it should have been developed using the N- version of Bath B.

    The N+ version of Bath B is useful but not in the sense of a strict +1 stop expansion (which can be much better achieved by selenium toning the negative). If I photograph something that has dark shadows and bright highlights but also a significant part of the scene is relatively lacking in mid-tone separation then I use the N+ version of Bath B. This has a significant effect on expanding the mid-tones of a scene that was lacking such a mid-tone separation.

    Hope you find a solution that works for you.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    @juan @David Allen Thank you for your advice. I have never used a two-bath developer or made up anything from scratch. It sounds like it may be worth a try. The difficulty is I cannot say that a whole roll of film is filled with high contrast scenes as I don't shoot film that fast. I could for example, over expose the high contrast scenes by a stop or two and develop the roll normally in my usual developer (Xtol or DD-X). That is what Kodak suggest in the TMax instructions but I have not tried this as it is not a problem I usually encounter. Perhaps I am trying to have my cake and eat it by wishing for a way to expose and develop rolls of film with both high and normal contrast scenes on it without sacrificing either. My present way of doing things makes for easy to print normal contrast scenes and (sometimes) very difficult to print high contrast ones.
     
  5. Jim Blomfield

    Jim Blomfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2006
    Location:
    Waterloo, ON, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To handle your problem, I travel with 2 camera bodies. In your case, one for normal contrast and one for high contrast. You can then develop each film accordingly.
     
  6. David Allen

    David Allen Member

    Messages:
    888
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Location:
    Berlin
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    As a follow up: two-bath developers work fine for normal and high contrast scenes.

    However, they are no use for low contrast scenes.

    If you have a roll containing both normal and high contrast scenes you will be fine using a two-bath developer.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Good idea. I am going to travel with 2 bodies (OM4-Ti’s). I was going to use colour in one and B&W in the other but maybe your suggestion is better.
     
  8. halfaman

    halfaman Member

    Messages:
    127
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Location:
    Bilbao
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The answer is yes, you can go down to ISO 25 and there is no need to adjust develeopment in color negative film. Take a look to the following thread:
    https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums...ion/66735-ektar-exposure-tests-2-2-stops.html

    I recently overexposed 2 stops a Protra 400 film and results were simply perfect developing normally.
     
  9. howardpan

    howardpan Subscriber

    Messages:
    179
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2014
    Location:
    Taipei
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I was under the impression that you would have to over expose and under develop in order to compress the high contrast scene to make it easier to print. In other words, it’s not enough to simply over expose. In other words, the normal contrast frames on the same roll will suffer from under development.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Yes so was I but overexpose and develop normally is what the Kodak TMax instruction sheets say. Since I’ve never tried doing this on purpose I wondered what effect it has and whether it would be sufficient.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Actually further to above I have actually deliberately overexposed TMax and developed normally and recently too but what I was trying to do was to ensure enough shadow detail rather than control contrast. The picture concerned is this one and now I think about it the contrast has actually been reined in and it printed normally with no dodging and burning.

     
  12. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    27,387
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    In Southern California and the US Southwest, I regularly take photographs in high contrast light with large subject brightness range [SBR] and I shoot box speed with color negative and black & white negatives. Modern negative films have a very wide exposure range and shooting box speed puts you in the middle of the range. Just make sure that you do not take light readings of the sky, because that will throw the exposure off.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    OK. Haha. No I don't take readings of the sky. I use the built in spot metering. I will do some experiments. I will take frames as I normally would and do some brackets of +1 and +2 and see which ones cut the mustard when I print them. Whilst my trip is work, the programme is usually not too onerous and I have time to wander about especially before and after work. There is light now until 7.30pm which is a bonus. Now that I have asked this question I see the weather for next week is bad and it could rain for a week!!
     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    27,387
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    Rain gives nice light reflections on the pavement.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    Yes indeed. I always worry about getting my cameras and lenses wet. I am reluctant to take photographs when it is actually raining. I have a system of dry bags so thus far I have never damaged any equipment even high up in the Alps and on Mount Kenya but that is by keeping the kit stowed. I suppose providing it is not too windy an umbrella would suffice to keep the wet off the camera.
     
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    27,387
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    You need one of these
    https://www.samys.com/s/rain
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
  18. howardpan

    howardpan Subscriber

    Messages:
    179
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2014
    Location:
    Taipei
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Please share your findings and your prints. It’s always nice to see someone else’s print and learn something new. Thank you.
     
  19. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,799
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Svenedin,

    Your work already looks great! I wouldn't change too much. If you are basing your exposure on shadow values, you really don't need to add extra exposure to assure shadow detail. That admonition is for those who use averaging meters, which have a tendency to underexpose in contrasty situations. Just be careful metering and placing the shadows. (If you are using averaging techniques or through-the-lens matrix metering or the like, then you do, indeed, need to recognize the contrasty scenes and add more exposure.)

    If you are getting results with good shadow detail on the negative that are too contrasty to print with a low-contrast filter, then taming the highlights with development is the easiest method. Two-bath developers, as mentioned above, do this and work well for some. I've never used one, since I shoot sheet film and simply adjust developing time for each sheet.

    Applying a bit of the Zone System by carrying two camera bodies (one for contrasty scenes, one for everything else) works too. However, I would simply keep track of what I had on what roll and reduce development for rolls that contain contrasty scenes by 15% or so. Yes, the "normal" scenes on that roll will have to be printed at a higher contrast setting, but should still print well. The contrasty scenes will print better because they got less development. My "ideal development time" for roll film is the one that allows me to shoot in both flat and contrasty situations and still be able to print the resulting negatives at the respective extremes of the contrast filtration available. There are, however, situations that exceed the limits and need special treatment. You'll have to recognize those and simply adjust for them.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  20. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,929
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another technique I’ve used to reduce contrast to printable levels is to use extreme minimal agitation. Use something like Crawley’s FX2 for an hour. Agitate fully for a minute and a half then for ten seconds at 20 minutes and 40 minutes. You could also use very dilute Pyrocat or Rodinal or HC110 at something more like 30 minutes. This has been discussed in numerous threads here and elsewhere.

    There’s also an argument made that you gain nothing by allowing the film to stand more than five minutes, so some say to agitate for a few seconds every five minutes. There are a lot of things to try and they work. It’s a matter of finding what works for you. Try everything, use what works.

    I agree with Doremus that you seem to be exposing well.
     
  21. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    You are very kind Doremus. Thank you. I do base my exposure on shadow values using a spot reading. I don't meter the deepest shadows but I suppose what you would call shadow with detail that I want to retain. Usually I just expose at whatever that shadow reading is. It has been suggested in this thread to meter the shadows and stop down 2 stops but if this is a high contrast scene where it would be advisable to add 1 or 2 stops the net effect of exposing at the shadow reading is to take the reading, subtract 2 stops and then add 2 stops i.e 0 adjustment of the shadow reading.

    Yes sometimes the negative is well exposed but has to be printed at a very low contrast (e.g 0.5, 0) but this does not happen that often so I may be making a mountain out of molehill.
     
  22. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I'll certainly do that if it doesn't rain the whole time!
     
  23. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

    Messages:
    1,799
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Svenedin,

    I'm not sure I follow the logic here regarding exposure compensation... If you place the lowest shadow value you wish to retain some detail in on Zone III (i.e., meter the shadow and close down two stops from the meter reading), then your exposure should be close to optimal (assuming, of course, that you have a good working E.I.). Of course, values lower than this will print close to max. black. And, you may sometimes want to place an important, luminous shadow on Zone VI (one stop down) or even higher. If you are taking a meter reading from a shadow and not stopping down from the meter reading, you are, effectively, placing the shadow value in Zone V (=middle grey) and overexposing a stop or two, depending on the situation. This is not all that bad, since most modern films retain detail quite a few stops into the "overexposure range." However, If you do this latter in a high-contrast situation, where the high values already fall very high on the scale, then you risk them getting up onto the shoulder of the film, which will kill the separation of detail there.

    And, if you use roll film (i.e., smaller format film) and enlarge more than 2-3x, then overexposing two stops can significantly increase the apparent graininess of the print.

    So, if I were to make a recommendation on refining your metering/exposure technique it would be: Use your spot meter to meter the lowest value you want detail in, realizing that everything below that will have no printable detail in the negative. Give two stops less than the meter reading (your meter wants to put things at middle grey; you want a detailed black). This is your optimum exposure; i.e., the minimum exposure needed to get the detail you want, which is the least-grainy neg and the one that will retain the most highlight separation in contrasty situations.

    In situations where there is no appropriate low value to meter, meter a higher value and stop down only one (or no) stop(s), erring on the side of overexposure when in doubt. And, since you are shooting roll film (I believe), you can always bracket an exposure; one where you think it should be and one a stop over for safety.

    Maybe you're already doing all this and I just misinterpreted your post. If so, disregard the long-winded recommendation above :smile:

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  24. OP
    OP
    Svenedin

    Svenedin Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2016
    Location:
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    @Doremus Scudder Thank you for your detailed explanation which is appreciated. I think generally I am doing what you suggest. Yes it will be roll film, 35mm on this occasion. When I do overexpose on purpose I tend not to be troubled by grain but I don't make huge enlargements, mostly 8"x10" sometimes a bit bigger using Xtol 1+1 as the developer. With T-grain films I can't really see a difference in the grain but I accept what you say about tone separation.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies. If you have a Photrio account, please log in (and select 'stay logged in') to prevent recurrence of this notice.
,