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Old 4th May 2015, 02:51 PM
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Default Tonal Range? What does it mean?

I see the term "tonal range" used all over the place but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't mean anything. It is undefined and as far as I can tell just suggests that whoever is using the term means they just like the look of the prints they get from the product they are referring to. You might as well say "lovely plumage" which doesn't really tell you anything except they like it.

So what's your take on what "tonal range" means if anything?

Last edited by Argentum; 4th May 2015 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 4th May 2015, 06:22 PM
JOReynolds JOReynolds is offline
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Default It yields such luminous images...

Agreed. I hate woolly language. How can one product be compared with another without reference to a curve, a set of data or a stepwedge? And what does 'good shadow detail' mean?
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Old 4th May 2015, 07:27 PM
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Tonal range means exactly what it says for black & white. It's not woolly and means the range of tones between black & white. One intermediate shade of grey, or several thousand.

Last edited by cliveh; 4th May 2015 at 07:31 PM.
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Old 5th May 2015, 07:02 AM
Dave miller Dave miller is offline
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Originally Posted by cliveh View Post
Tonal range means exactly what it says for black & white. It's not woolly and means the range of tones between black & white. One intermediate shade of grey, or several thousand.
Very well put young man.

Tonal range to me is the bit between the soot and the whitewash, so we are on the same wavelength on that.
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Old 5th May 2015, 07:45 AM
JOReynolds JOReynolds is offline
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I joined with Argentum in criticism of the term because it is too-often used to describe a sensitised product, usually film, rather than a carefully-made print.
I was taught, long ago, that the toe characteristic of the H&D curve is defined by basic physics, not wizardry, and is therefore common to all comparable camera films.
Is that why film manufacturers do not publish H&D curves?
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Old 5th May 2015, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by JOReynolds View Post
I joined with Argentum in criticism of the term because it is too-often used to describe a sensitised product, usually film, rather than a carefully-made print.
I was taught, long ago, that the toe characteristic of the H&D curve is defined by basic physics, not wizardry, and is therefore common to all comparable camera films.
Is that why film manufacturers do not publish H&D curves?
The "Tonal range" of a film is dependent on the inherent characteristics of the film and the exposure and development of that film. There are too many variables to assume a commonality.

The Tonal range of a print is a combination of what range the film holds and the desired tonality at the printing stage. The two go hand in hand.

Ian
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Old 5th May 2015, 09:27 AM
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Analogue photographer's to do not make and print there images to follow a graph like our digital friends do. We print by eye and by doing so we can detect the subtle differences in the films and papers that manufactures provide us we.

The terms used maybe woolly when compared with the cold hard facts of science but this a visual art born of science. So poetic licence is rife because of it.
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Old 16th May 2015, 03:49 PM
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Has anyone tried improving tonality by printing a deliberately overexposed negative onto very soft paper (or 00 filter on VC)? This would place the negative image wholly onto the straight-line portion of the film curve and exploit the benign curve of soft paper. Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer Sven Nykvist is said to have used this method. The release prints of Bergman's films were made directly from the camera negatives and were exquisite examples of B&W technique.
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Old 16th May 2015, 08:31 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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Originally Posted by JOReynolds View Post
Has anyone tried improving tonality by printing a deliberately overexposed negative onto very soft paper (or 00 filter on VC)? This would place the negative image wholly onto the straight-line portion of the film curve and exploit the benign curve of soft paper. Ingmar Bergman's cinematographer Sven Nykvist is said to have used this method. The release prints of Bergman's films were made directly from the camera negatives and were exquisite examples of B&W technique.
Is this an overexposed but "correctly" developed negative or has it been given extra meatiness by over development as well? I think I recall Les McLean saying that he preferred "meaty negs"( my words not his but that was my inferred gist of what his meaty negs were). What I can't recall was whether he expanded on what the meatiness gave him.

It is an interesting idea and runs contrary to what a lot of experts seem to say which is to overexpose and under-develop as in setting the film's ISO to less than box speed and developing to less than the manufacturer's suggested time.

Barry Thornton certainly suggested that after doing film testing correctly it almost always resulted in the above two conclusions.

I suppose we are back the question: Does an overexposed( and over-developed?) neg printed at a very soft grade produce a better print than a neg that has been slightly under-developed and then printed onto a hard grade such as 4/5?

Mike
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Old 16th May 2015, 11:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike O'Pray View Post
I think I recall Les McLean saying that he preferred "meaty negs"( my words not his but that was my inferred gist of what his meaty negs were). What I can't recall was whether he expanded on what the meatiness gave him.
If memory serves me correctly, it was that for split grade printing he prefers a higher contrast negative which he said gives better printing results with that specific printing technique.
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