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. » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:47 am

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 » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:35 pm

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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