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  #1  
Old 2nd February 2017, 08:37 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is online now
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Default Needing grade 5 for a neg - a puzzle

In the late summer last year I took a picture of the grandkids in the garden on a clear sunny early afternoon on HP5+ 120. The exposure was 1/180 at f11 with a pale yellow filter which seems about the right exposure under the sunny f11 rule.

My analyser, a Philips, which recommends the "right" grade said it was grade 4 and certainly the seemed commensurate with the neg which looked a bit thin with an overall greyish look to it.

In fact the print looks to have the right contrast at grade 5 in my eyes rather than 4 so it was on the extreme edge in terms of grading. Even at grade 5 the print didn't have any of the "soot and whitewash" effect but had a reasonable range of tones which suggests, I think, that the neg was either under-developed or under-exposed and yet I am fairly certain I used the Xtol recommended time and under sunny f11 I think the exposure was correct. I don't recall having such a grey and thin neg in the past with Xtol and HP5+

I had taken earlier negs on the same roll a few days earlier in similar light conditions and those negs looked to be "meatier" and needed grade 3 or 3.5 which is what I would have expected.

There are a number of possibilities such as needing longer development than is recommended or extra exposure but the grass in shade under the tree and even the foliage in darker shadow has detail.

I hesitated to post this thread as it looks as if I am asking for comments, help etc in a situation where I give the appearance of believing I have covered all the bases so any advice will be rebuffed and I hate those kind of threads that resemble Eric Berne's book "Games People Play" and the chapter on the "Why don't you( the helpful advisors) and the "Yes but " (recipient who doesn't really want any advice "

Anyway, any comments you care to give will be welcome.

Thanks

Mike

P.S. I had changed the filters for a brand new Ilford MG set so I am pretty sure the filters are delivering the correct grade
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Old 2nd February 2017, 10:25 PM
NJHrs NJHrs is offline
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Mike I had some shots on a 120 roll of Tri-X that I wasn't too worried about marking so I decided to use them to measure density with my swanky new to me densitometer (thanks to a tip off to the e-bay auction on here). What I found was that fairly similar looking negs had a fair difference in contrast range. I guess that is just what we have to put up with, with roll film.
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Old 3rd February 2017, 05:06 PM
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Martin Aislabie Martin Aislabie is offline
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Buy a handheld meter Mike and stop guessing

I'm not sure I would bother with a yellow filter when photographing children - it would only make them look paler and more washed out.

Children/Grandchildren don't come along too often and they are not young for very long - you don't get many second takes with them.

Martin
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Old 3rd February 2017, 07:30 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is online now
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Thanks for comments so far. Seeing your comment, Martin, I realise I may have misled readers. The camera was a MF P654N and I used its matrix metering which I have always found to be very accurate. The focus point was the grandkids who were on the lawn and in sunshine. The strange thing is that the bubbles they were blowing have come out very well which wasn't what I would have expected in a less than ideal neg. Most of the shadows beyond the kids and caused by an apple tree were far from solid black. The dog was relatively featureless in shadow terms but it was a coal-black labrador and under the shade of the tree

It is almost as if the print could have done with being grade 6 to get the ideal "snap and sparkle" I was looking for.

It may be that the film required longer development, although normally the manufacturer's times are designed to give a contrast index that ensures reasonable prints on grade 2.5-3, although as I said even the meatier looking negs on the roll needed grade 3.5.

Convention seems to say that a lower ISO and less development time are called for.

You are probably right about the yellow filter in terms of it being unnecessary but the exposure compensation for it at 1/180 was there.

In similar sunshine and on the same lawn( zone V) with the same camera I had tried to test the sunny f11 rule without a filter and the reading over several days in the same time window gave me 1/350 which is close to 1/400.

I am still a bit puzzled

Incidentally but somewhat irrelevant to the main topic I came across the same phenomenon that others have mentioned, namely the need to increase grade when the enlargement is large. My lens was a 75mm and I was further away from the kids than was ideal so the print of the full size neg looked OK or OKish on grade 4 but the print from the more enlarged and cropped projection to make the kids stand out certainly needed grade 5 in my book

Mike
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Old 3rd February 2017, 08:27 PM
big paul big paul is offline
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Mike all I can say is you have not got enough alcohol in your darkroom ,you know it makes you see things in a deferent way ,what you need is a bottle of old scrumpy jack and all your problems will disappear.....HIC




www.essexcockney.com
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Old 3rd February 2017, 08:46 PM
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cliveh cliveh is offline
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Use any development tables or manufacturers recommendations as guide rather than a rule. Keep increasing or reducing development time/temperature to produce negatives that print what you believe is right for you.
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Old 4th February 2017, 09:26 AM
John King John King is offline
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My philosophy is if it looks OK to me then it is OK. You cannot always depend upon analysers whatever - I tried once and it was completly wrong.

I use my eyes to provide judgement with B&W and they are usually right.

The closest thing I use to an analyser are Kodak viewing filters to judge filtration when printing RA4. The difference between very slight, green/cyan/blue can be so little, and even having perfect colour vison I sometimes need a little help.
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Old 4th February 2017, 12:42 PM
SvendN SvendN is offline
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Mike, just curious...was your print exposure time much longer than typical? You mention greater enlargement than usual, which would mean enlarger head higher and longer exp. time....no? Is it possible that the longer time on the easel resulted in some safelight fog, making the print appear lower contrast? Have you tested for this? Just a thought....
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Old 4th February 2017, 01:47 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is online now
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Thanks, a good point, Svend but a few of the prints were equally large with similar exposure times. The difference was that they all printed at grades 3 to 3.5 and look fine i.e. have that slightly more contrasty look and "sparkle" for want of a better word.

I had even wondered about the developer being slightly exhausted but I was using fresh from the winebox that night. I keep my stock solution in winebags.

The developer however is stock from 2009. Could it be that stock of this age might give OK prints at say grade 3 but not grade 5? I somehow doubt that developer need to be more robust for higher grades but maybe I need to use some Tetenal sample kits that Matt from AG Photographic supplied as a check.

Mike
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Old 4th February 2017, 02:43 PM
SvendN SvendN is offline
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Puzzling indeed, Mike. My first thought was some fogging from safelight or stray enlarger light bouncing off something when head is up high. Sure you didn't have a crystal tumbler with yer finest medicinal malt parked next to the easel?
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