Nature closeups from the darkroom

Alexandra

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Been printing a lot over the holidays... Thought I'd share.
Tri-X in Rodinal, printed on Ilford RC satin.

And excuse the mediocre scan quality... I don't scan much, and haven't been investing in scanning gear :greenpbl:


1
Scan10044_zps6f20f021.jpg


2
Scan10043_zpscfedb97d.jpg


3
Scan10045_zps52b20ffb.jpg
 

timor

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This is not that easy to evaluate scan from the print, especially if there is a lot to talk about.
I start with the choice of film and developer for this kind of shots. IMO it doesn't work here too well. Why. The two first pictures have only about 5% of the area in acceptable sharpness, the rest is well beyond DoF creating so called bokeh. In #1 BG is very weak, just a few shadows and with strong, well pronounced grain it looks like dirty bloches. #2 similar, #3 BG is richer and it looks better. Well, it is a matter of aesthetics and personal perception, so it is only my opinion. I would use smoother emulsion.
Composition in any of this shots is weak. In two first pictures I wouldn't give much chance for anything nice with this subjects, but the third subject has much better potential. The subject is well define and plentiful enough to fill much of the frame, BG has a structure. Here is a room to work out a good composition.
The light you worked with was not the greatest, in general too dark. Close ups should reveal some delicate textures in the main subject, maybe play of the light etc. For that stronger light is needed, dispersed, but stronger. Otherwise you will get, what you have got. I am almost sure, that you used camera with own metering system and you relied on it. Well, there was too much bright sky in the frame and camera meter was fooled, that's why bright parts are in zone 6-7 and darker parts in 2-3. It was rather wrong exposure and too much time in Rodinal.
Now, all three pictures are showing traces of dust and dirt. Maybe on the negatives, maybe on the enlarger glass, maybe on the scanner glass. On the #3, bellow the grapes are clearly visible two white lines, like two hair, quite parallel. That shouldn't happen on the print for presentation. We can't avoid all of that, to eliminate the small points made by the dust you should get a spotter kit, special very dark gray ink and good quality, small, pointy brush.
I hope you will not come to Toronto, to shoot me in the head for this commentary. I print myself, and I know, how much effort is needed for a good print. But the satisfaction is there.
 
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Alexandra

Alexandra

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I hope you will not come to Toronto, to shoot me in the head for this commentary.
Why on earth would a Montrealer ever want to go to Toronto :greenpbl:

But tell you what. My company makes all this software for scanners, so once I'm back in the office I'll go look if I don't have access to some better machines than my 10 year-old. I'll re-scan and re-send, see if that doesn't eliminate most of the technical concerns. The tones look absolutely lovely on the prints. I'd hate for that to not come across 100%.
I was shooting in the snow, with pretty diffuse light, so I definitely didn't rely solely on my light meter. I know just how treacherous that thing can be... ;)

As for the more subjective aspects... I dunno, I really liked the compositions.
I agree that #1 is probably somewhat weaker in that respect, but in general I was very pleased with the results.

TBC with rescans...
 

dxqcanada

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Hmm, yeah I can feel that the second print would look great. Not crazy about the first and third.
I like the look of it (hard edged grain) ... but I personally like Rodinal.
What was your Rodinal dilution ?
 

timor

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OK, I breathe easier. Montreal is just too close. ;-) But too far again to meet and discuss things looking at the real matter, not virtual one.
There is a big problem with scanning prints and I didn't see much discussion about that. Many guys on FADU just stopped posting print's scans, and that is the only allowed form of picture presentation over there, because of the this difficulties. Others seems to have no problems or less of them. I use an old cannon scanner and simple scan is never good, I always have to tweak the contrast to match the real thing. The only samples of that are here:
http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/photo-challenge/343798-perfectly-imperfect-4.html
Scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Beside this all I still question the choice of film and developer for this work. Do you use anything else ?
 
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Alexandra

Alexandra

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What was your Rodinal dilution ?

It was my first time using it (usually stick to d76), so I didn't play around too much. 1:25, 20C, 7min as it said on the bottle.
I wasn't all that pleased with the contrast, so on my next roll I tried it at ~25C for 7min, and I liked it a lot better.
 
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Alexandra

Alexandra

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Beside this all I still question the choice of film and developer for this work. Do you use anything else ?
I usually use d76 with tri-x. Also not the finest-grain combo, but I don't usually mind grain unless it's all reticulated and messy.
I'd heard that Rodinal promotes a fair amount of grain, but when I saw my negatives I was very happy. It's a nice and even grain, and it's very very sharp so I'm definitely going to use it again.

I think the choice of film is more of an issue. Since I usually just carry my camera around for whatever may come my way, I tend to use 400iso to have my bases covered. But if I were to revisit the place where the above were taken, I'd think about some slower stuff...
 

timor

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I usually use d76 with tri-x. Also not the finest-grain combo, but I don't usually mind grain unless it's all reticulated and messy.
I'd heard that Rodinal promotes a fair amount of grain, but when I saw my negatives I was very happy. It's a nice and even grain, and it's very very sharp so I'm definitely going to use it again.

I think the choice of film is more of an issue. Since I usually just carry my camera around for whatever may come my way, I tend to use 400iso to have my bases covered. But if I were to revisit the place where the above were taken, I'd think about some slower stuff...
You may try to use Tmax 100 or Delta 100 with Rodinal. I use Polymax T (yes, paper developer) with this films and it looks very smooth. But than again, I tend to produce low contrast, compensated negatives, that leaves room to crank up contrast under enlarger if I need to. It works well.
 

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