Instructions for film development ... "develop as exposed"?

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by epp_b, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've just about finished my second roll of film since I started experimenting with 35mm. I noticed that, on my previous roll, there were some shots that I underexposed quite a bit (though, not on purpose).

    I've taken a lot of night time exposures on this second roll and have some pictures that will be intentionally dark. Should I leave instructions to develop the photos exactly as exposed with no pushing or pulling?
     
  2. Early

    Early TPF Noob!

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    They will develop them normally unless instructed otherwise.
     
  3. walter23

    walter23 TPF Noob!

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    Generally yeah, just develop normally.

    What pulling and pushing is mainly used for is modifying contrast. It can also be used to give you a bit of extra film speed when you need it, but contrast will change relative to normal processing/exposure.

    You can get really deep with this, as with Ansel Adams' zone system (and Fred Picker's Beyond the Zone System, etc) but basically here's how it works:

    Your exposure basically determines how much detail you will see in the darkest parts of your image (ie, the shadows). Your development determines how bright the brightest parts will be.

    If you underexpose your film and push process, you'll get higher contrast negatives because you've underexposed the shadows and then pushed up the highlights with development.

    If you overexpose film and then pull process, you'll get lower contrast negatives because you've brightened up the shadows and pulled back the highlights with shorter development.

    In other words, if you push process just to get some extra speed for hand holding in a dim environment, for example shooting HP5+ (a 400 ISO emulsion) at 800 ISO, you'll get higher contrast as a consequence. It doesn't just make the film faster (or slower).


    So you have to decide what effect you're going for. Obviously with rolls of 35mm film you are stuck with your development choice for the whole roll, so you can't get quite as elaborate as with large format sheet film (or medium format, if you carry multiple backs with film for different processing options - e.g. N, N-1, N+1).
     
  4. dxqcanada

    dxqcanada Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Walter23 is correct.

    If you push the film then you will induce more development in the highlights.

    This might be beneficial to your underexposed shots ... but it will also affect all the other images on the roll.

    The Ansel Adams book on the Negative is the bible of this kind of stuff.

    Using the Zone System is a little more complicated to use on roll film as you cannot make selective changes on an individual image (... I miss shooting 4x5).
     
  5. walter23

    walter23 TPF Noob!

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    Yeah, and in the case of "night photos" which tend to already be very high contrast (ie, bright street lights, bright windows, dark other-stuff), push processing will only make this worse. If anything, for streetlight lit scenes, I'd bet you'd want to overexpose (if reciprocity failure will let you) and pull process to bring contrast down a bit. I'm not sure though, just guessing here. I usually just try to shoot within the limits of 5 to 6 stops... and wait for better light if that's not working.

    I'm pretty lackadaisical with my processing and just kind of toss my sheets in a drum and turn 'em with some HC-110 until they've cooked "long enough". You've got a lot of lattitude with B&W and I'm more intuitive about it than methodical and zone-systemy.
     
  6. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    But if you're taking them a place that a single one hour sign of any sort on the premises, unless you specify 'PRINT EVERY FRAME' they will throw out the dark one with little or no detail, or simply not print them at all to save money. Learned the hard way a few years ago. Even with the very specific instructions they muffed it up. So I would take some extra time and talk to someone, look them in the eyes. MAKE SURE THEY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT DONE. And then still cross your fingers.
     
  7. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Well, for the previous roll, they printed all but loading frames (the first few exposures that were completely white because I loaded the film in light).
     
  8. walter23

    walter23 TPF Noob!

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    Oh yeah, I forgot about that quirk of running film through mall / drugstore labs. It's been awhile since I had to do that. I thought you just wanted the film developed for your own use (scanning / printing at home).

    If you're just going to scan it doesn't matter, but if you actually want the prints, yeah.. tell them you have some unusual exposures and to print them all. Maybe you'll get lucky and have an operator who's an amateur photographer and will enjoy mucking with your photos to get the best prints from them.

    But I think interpreting the negative to get your final print is kind of the point - it's best to either use a darkroom or scan your film yourself. Just like the advantage of digital lies in being able to control the whole process from capture to print, you should try to do the same with your film shooting.
     
  9. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Actually, I don't really care about prints. Ultimately, I prefer to have all of my shots in a digital format as they are much more malleable to me that way: I already have a computer and the know-how to work with raster graphics editors. What I do not have is a darkroom, development chemicals and equipment, and

    I've thought about that. Scanning is certainly something I can do myself. But, development...ehm...I'm not sure.
     
  10. potownrob

    potownrob TPF Noob!

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    If you're bringing your negatives to a 1 hour photo lab to be developed and printed, you definitely want to tell them you want everything printed and printed without any adjustments to contrast, color or cropping. Also let them know if you do not want the negatives to be cut. I work at a CVS photo lab, and we are trained to adjust contrast and in some cases crop (if it's a good shot but something needs to be cut out) and to not print exposures that are too dark or have fingerprints in them. Seasoned photo lab techs even adjust the colors; I usually leave the colors and size alone and just adjust contrast and don't print the really bad shots. As for the developing itself, we run all negatives through the developer the same way. All negatives are cut and put into sleeves after running through the printer scanner unless the customer asks us not to cut them. Not all photo labs (even within CVS corp.) are run the same, but this should give you an idea. Pretty much, when in doubt, specify what you want and/or ask how they normally do things.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008

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