Zone System Development For Scanning

Discussion in 'Talk About Developing Film' started by Ian-Barber, May 21, 2018.

  1. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    For those that develop black and white negatives for scanning, do you develop them for Zone 7 or 8

    I have just exposed 2 sheets of FP4 and placed the darkest area with detail on Zone 3, the brightest area with detail was 4 stops brighter placing them on Zone 7

    In this situation, would you do a N development or an N+1 to try and expand the mid-tones to give them more separation
     
  2. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    I think this decision depends on the original scene.
    If the brightest part was on Z-VII and you wished to reproduce it naturally in the print, then N-0 development seems to be called for. If you want the bright parts of the scene to be brighter than the original, then N+X is needed. I don't like constantly quoting AA, but he describes making this decision for Clearing Winter Storm.
    So, if the scene contained say, clouds, you might want to brighten them and give N+X, but if it were say, a weathered wooden fence, there would be no natural ZVIII areas and Z-0 would seem to be right. In both cases, it would be an aesthetic, rather than a technical decision.
    The modest intricacies of the Zone System can sometimes allow us to forget that it was designed with the final print in mind. All our decisions are servants of the print.
    Visualisation (or for some authors, pre-visuaiisation) is the process whereby the photographer imagines the final print at the time of taking and makes exposure and development decisions with that in mind. Quite often, we have enough trouble with composition, the wind and dropping the cable release and may skip this stage. And inevitably, we may change our minds later.
    I'm pretty sure that I know much less about scanning, but I've found that if the scan fits reasonably within the histogram, I can usually get a satisfactory print. All other things being equal, it seems remarkably easy to move a slider a couple of millimetres. With the proviso that I'm a very simple-minded scanner, the greatest danger seems to be a neg with too much density. In the darkroom, almost any density can be printed with a longer exposure, but a scanner seems to simply give up.
    The AA book, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs is good source of of information on how he made his photographic decisions, together with pleasant anecdotes of the relevant trip.
     
  3. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    I replied to this over on LFPF, but will weigh in here, too. I don't differentiate how I develop film whether for scanning or wet printing in the darkroom. I measure critical scene areas where I want detail and expose/develop accordingly. That said, when I do scan for desktop output, I do a linear scan and convert using the ColorPerfect plugin which does a great job of holding all those details. Perhaps, if I did a normal grayscale scan I might develop the film differently because, in my experience, a normal scan (regardless of software used) reveals too much contrast. Contrast was, for me, a real problem with Silverfast Ai software.
     
  4. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Admin Staff Member Registered User

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    I read your comments on LFPF Alan and thanks for replying on here. I decided to develop the negative in Pyro and give it an N+1 and used the times from Eric Searing to see how it performed.

    I scanned it as a Linear file in Vuescan, used the MakeTiff program to assign the Grayscale 2.2 profile and then used ColorPerfect to do the conversion back to a positive. Right off the bat I noticed that ColorPerfect was showing 0 black clipping and only 0.12 white clipping which I was pleased with.

    This is the straight scan right after Colorperfect's conversion. I used Ian G's old Voitlander circa 1920's lens wide open which is about f/6.3 from memory.

    Cusworth-Bark-Path.jpg
     
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  5. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member Registered User

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    Looks like a good start to me! I'm sure you know that you can use the "Highlight" dropdown box to control the highlight clipping? I don't worry to much about the shadow clipping, but, personally, I don't like to see any highlight clipping. I'll set the plugin so that highlight clipping is 0.00, then use levels in PS if I feel a need to adjust that end. In my work, I don't ever want to have 255-255-255, unless it's a specular highlight.
     
  6. David M

    David M Well-Known Member Registered User

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    It's a delightful image, seen very well. It makes me want to be there and not in front of a screen.
     

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