First Post...Am I developing right?

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by BGAndrea, May 11, 2009.

  1. BGAndrea

    BGAndrea TPF Noob!

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    Hello,
    I have just joined this site and am excited to be learning from all of you. I have been shooting digital casually for a few years but am just taking a 35mm b/w film class in college now. Anyway, I am trying to get a jumpstart on the class so I am practicing developing my own film. I have done a few rolls and have negatives but I am not sure if they are any good or not. I have been trying to research properly developed negatives online but can't seem to find anything that matches what I have. Please let me know what you guys think. Thanks!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    A better direct scan of the negatives is needed. It looks like you took a picture of the negatives on a light table or something, other than that in general they look flat, which could be from a number of things.

    Frankly, people worry way too much about what the best negative should look like for printing. What matters is how the negative prints and having a solid understanding of the exposure/development relationship. Obviously if it is too thin the information is not going to be there and vise versa for over exposed negatives.

    The best explaination I have ever read for understanding the exposure/development relationship comes from David Vestal's book The Craft of Photography, no longer in print, but can easily be found on used books sites.
     
  3. BGAndrea

    BGAndrea TPF Noob!

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    I tried scanning them on my cheap flatbed and it did not work at all.
     
  4. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hi!

    And welcome to TPF.

    What a developed negative looks like is a combination of the effects of the original exposure and the development process used. The 'standards' available to the amateur wishing to 'fine tune' this include grey scales and the 18% grey card. This is covered in the 6th of a series of 7 articles on b&w photography here on TPF. [The 2nd article covers film development.]

    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/articles-interest/147250-b-w-film-photography-part-vi.html

    If you have any questions regarding the articles, please PM me. I have some slight acquaintance with them and may be able to help.

    And again, welcome to TPF.
     
  5. BGAndrea

    BGAndrea TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the link to that article. It is very interesting.

    Another question: I have used the same gallon make up of Tmax developer for about 15 rolls now (same development time) with no noticable difference in the negatives. Can I continue to re-use it?
     
  6. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  7. BGAndrea

    BGAndrea TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again. I showed my negatives to my photo teacher and she said they looked fine. She also said that development does not affect contrast, the actual shooting of the image does. Is that true? She informed me that it is hard to tell if a negative is good or not until it is under the enlarger...so we will see in a few days when we begin printing.
     
  8. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Extending development time will increase contrast. The change is not easily predictable, though.

    You can evaluate a negative by looking at it through a powerful magnifying glass. The dark areas can be judged against the film numbers printed on the edge of the film. These numbers are as dark as it is possible to get. The light areas can be judged against the unexposed film between frames. A negative with a wide range of grey values [normally considered a good thing] will have darks almost as dark as the film numbers and lights almost as light as the 'tween-negative spaces. You should be able to make out details in both the dark and light areas.

    The final print will usually 'compress' the range of greys in the negative somewhat. If we consider a good negative as having a range of 9 'zones' of grey, a good print will have perhaps 7.
     
  9. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Its all but impossible to describe the appearance of a properly developed negative. Some characteristics can be described, but you really have to print it to see for yourself. With experience you begin to get an eye for it.

    Your "scan" is rather poor, but the top row looks reasonable. You are at least in the ballpark. The bottom row seems reasonably well developed, but also seems overexposed. Again, the quality of the reproduction prevents any accurate description.

    The classic rule of thumb is that you expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights. You judge developement by the shadow density (the darkest part of the negative) and not the shadows (the clearer parts). You want to see that the highlights in the image reproduce very dark in the negative but still retain detail. You also want to examine the light greys (dark but not "black" in the negative) to see that uniform subjects (e.g. skys) are uniform in the negative.

    1. shadow detail missing (clear parts of neg are a blank clear without detail) means under exposure.

    2. shadow portions of image are noticably denser that the "clear" area between images means over exposure.

    3. highlights too light/thin means under developement, either too little time for the temperature or too low a temperature for the time or too little agitation.

    4. highlights too dark and lack detail means too much developement.

    5. uneven and/or blotched light greys (dark greys on neg) means too little or too inconsistant agitation.

    6. streaking of denser areas aligned with sprocket holes means excessively vigorous agitation.

    Judging what is "too dark" on a negative takes having a proven good negative to compare to, either one at hand for side-by-side comparison or from the experience of seeing and printing a large number of negatives.
     
  10. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    About your negs, just by glancing at the image you proffered, they actually look a little overexposed. Most of the negs are predominantly dark so the prints are going to come out on the light side.

    As to the longevity of you developer. You will notice a difference in both the consistancy of your developer chemical and the tone of your negatives. As the developer ages and loses action it will become more slimy, not a liquid as it seems pouring it in. And the negs will be lighter on the whole. Of course this could also be cause by improper exposure at such an early stage in film photography. So I would rely more on the consistancy of your developer.
     
  11. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    OMG, what kind of "teacher" would say that development of b/w film wouldn't affect contrast????

    Contrast is highly affected by developing. The more you agitate, or the more concentrated your developer the higher the contrast.

    The chemistry behind this is simple: well exposed areas will exhaust developer quicker, and if you don't agitate those areas will slow in development and allow the less exposed areas to "catch up" because the developer in their vicinity is less exhausted. The more dilute the developer/longer the development times the greater the affect of agitation is.

    Your negs look okay to me... the lower strip may be a bit over exposed, consider lowering your developing times a bit, but keep in mind it's the quality of the print that matters, the ideal negative density varies depending on the film.
     
  12. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    You, and your teacher, should pick up a copy of The Film Developing Cookbook(Anchell & Troop) and The Darkroom Cookbook (Anchell).

    Film contrast is discussed in the first few pages of the FDC.
     

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