Exposure and development of B&W Films.

Film Photography & Darkroom discussion

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Keith Tapscott.
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Joined: Tue Jan 17, 2006 8:58 am
Location: Plymouth, England.

Exposure and development of B&W Films.

Post by Keith Tapscott. »

There have been a lot of questions posted here lately about uprating film speeds and push processing, particularly by beginners. Personally, I like to do the opposite and err towards the generous side of exposure and controlling contrast by adjusting the developing times to avoid over development. The usual advice from experienced darkroom users is to expose the films enough to record details in the shadows, but not more than is necessary and to control contrast by developing long enough to obtain the desired level of contrast to produce a print at what is considered a normal paper grade (usually around 2 or 3) but not too long as to cause the highlights to block up.

The link I have posted below may be of interest to those who are starting to print in a traditional darkroom and for experienced printers. I hope you find this article useful.


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Re: Exposure and development of B&W Films.

Post by monday317 »

You could fill a library on this topic... While “Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights...” is a general rule that works in many cases, understanding the Zone System truly leads to more repeatable and predictable results. Therefore, a study of Ansel Adams’ The Negative is a requirement for the fine photographer.

That said, Adams’ volumes should be considered valuable primers—but not the last word on photographic theory. Many of his preferred materials are no longer available, and his technology doesn’t always translate to the modern era, e.g., using a spot meter for every shot.

Now the Zone System does work, and is applicable to digital photography, if one studies its principles. Once that is accomplished, a photographer can begin with the F/16 Rule, chose a zone or exposure value for a given subject, and the rest is easy if the math isn’t beyond one’s capabilities. While no math genius myself, I carry no meter, whether in bright sunlight, or a dimly-lit cabaret, and only use a spot meter app on my iPhone in those few occasions where my estimate is uncertain.

Bottom line to any bugshutter is this: learn your equipment, materials & techniques, and you’ll rarely go wrong!

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Re: Exposure and development of B&W Films.

Post by Yak_Forger »

I've got a question regarding exposure and development of B&W film in general: I only take "classic" pictures in black and white (I use a digital camera for color pictures because the two have very different purposes: my B&W pictures are supposed to be aesthetic/artistic, while I mostly use my digital camera when traveling so that I can quickly take lots of pictures... But that's not the point of my message) and am used to developing them in my bathroom.

However, my wife and I were considering buying one of these houses in Greece for the holidays. Of course, I'd like to take B&W pictures and develop them there, but many of the houses we're looking at don't have fully enclosed rooms, all of them have windows. Of course, my ideal pick would be to find a house with an appropriately enclosed room, but it isn't worth spending thousands of euros and/or getting a house in a worse place either, so I may well end up without such a room.

If I were to be in this situation, how could I create a "dark room"? Putting heavy blinds on the windows might not work if you're under the Mediteranean sun in summer, not to mention that it significantly raises the temperature, and nights are short, so I can't develop at night if I want to do something the next day.

Did I overlook something? Is there a solution to my issue that I didn't think of and that could be applied without too many issues?

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