Your Thoughts On Developing This

Ian-Barber

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Here is a light hearted question about how you would approach developing this scene.

Brief:
I have just returned from an overnight stay at Scarborough on the East Coast. Weather was good if you are into sunbathing but not particulary inspiring for photography to be honest.

I only exposed 2 sheets of 5x4 film. The second one was a view across to the harbour from the cliff top at the South Bay.
The following is a rough scene of what I was looking at. (I have just grabbed this from Google, this is not the actual weather conditions). today, there was some misty haze hanging over the horizon and cliff top.

scarborough.jpg
Now you have an idea of the scene, here is the light hearted question.

The difference between point 1 and 2 and 3 was 1 full stop. I actually measured this twice because it looked deceiving.
The difference between point 2 + 3 was the same.

I placed (1) on Zone 3 which now means 2+3 are roughly on Zones 4

My own thoughts is that I will probably do an N+2 or N+3 on this. What's your views ?
 

Ian Grant

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It's rare I have to use N+2 development let alone N+3. That would be Normal development for me especially with the current weather. We'd need to see the actual image/scan.

Ian
 

Ian-Barber

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It's rare I have to use N+2 development let alone N+3. That would be Normal development for me especially with the current weather. We'd need to see the actual image/scan.

Ian
I have pondered over N development but just not sure if its going to give enough separation in tones
 

Ian Grant

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I think you're Zone placements are erring on the low side, it's better to concentrate on the extremes first, 1 is your darkest area I'd place it maybe Zone IV, a very blue sky could be Zone V or VI, the sea about V but the clouds should be VII

The surf is the brightest highlight brightest and should be Zone VIII or IX just have detail, but that's in this example image.

Don't expect or want a lot of difference if there's misty haze it adds to atmosphere.

Ian
 

David M

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N+ in this weather, with white surf and intense shadows? If the lighting was anything like it is here, the contrast must be very high. If there's mist, then you wouldn't expect a full range, but I think you say the haze is there today. Was it there when you made the exposure?
What was your reading for that little white building at the end of the promontory and what was your reading for the breaking surf? These are the key measurements for development, not the shadows. Shadows readings determine basic exposure.
An iPhone snap would have been useful. Who knows what corrections Google has applied?
As Ian says, we'd need to see the image, but then you'd have developed it already and advice would be redundant.
If it were me, I'd play safe and give Normal development. If the sunlight is as harsh as it is here, I'd be considering Minus, not Plus.
 
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Ian-Barber

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I haven't developed it yet. Looking back, I ought to have concentrated more on the high values and like Ian suggested putting the low values around Z4. Yes the weather for photography was not good at all so which ever route I take its no big deal as its only a record of the day.
 

Alan Clark

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Ian, I am guessing that you used a spot meter when you measured the brightness of the lightest and darkest objects and found there was only 2 stops between them. I have noticed this repeatedly with my Soligor Spot Meter. It gives a totally false reading when used for distant dark objects. I have just been trying it outside, in hazy sun. The side of my shed -a silver grey - in the shade, looks like a perfect zone 5. Mid grey. Two fields away a group of trees with shady side facing me look much darker in tone. Yet they both register the same E value with the spot meter.
This is why I gave up using the spot meter in the classic zone-system method. I often wondered if there was something wrong with my spot meter. Close up it reads the same as my other meters. Maybe it had a problem with distance. But only a couple of weeks ago I checked it out against a friend's expensive Sekol spotmeter. And his gave the same (incorrect) reading for distant dark objects. It was a bright sunny day when we ran the check, yet neither of us could get more than 3 or 4 stops difference between distant trees in deep shadow, and white fluffy clouds.

Alan
 

David M

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"Only a record..." Who can tell? It's not always obvious what you've captured until you see it. I suspect we'd all like to see what you make of it.
 
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Ian-Barber

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Ian, I am guessing that you used a spot meter when you measured the brightness of the lightest and darkest objects and found there was only 2 stops between them. I have noticed this repeatedly with my Soligor Spot Meter.
Yes Alan, I did use a spot meter. You probably have a better understanding of where I was stood living fairly close to the area. I was stood on the South side of Scarbrough, next to where Holbeck Hall was situated before is slid away down the cliff edge in 1993
 

Ian-Barber

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Regarding the Spot meter from a distance, I thought this comment on another forum was interesting.
The Sekonic has 1º cone, a reading at some 15m away, this is (15000 x Sin(1º) x 2) so the metering spot diameter is 524mm
Which probably accounts for discrepancies when using a spot meter at some distance away for the target.
 

David M

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Alan, The eye adjusts miraculously well so what you see, or think you see, is unreliable. There are a number of visual puzzles that exploit this.
It's always possible that the meter really is at fault and of course all optical systems can suffer from flare, but the test would be examining the print, to see how dark the two things appear there.
If you have a reflection greyscale (sounds posh but you can generate one yourself quite easily; it doesn't have to be calibrated), hold it against each object on the print to see which tone it matches. If you have one, a densitometer would do this more directly on the neg.
A lenshood on the meter may help.
 

Alan Clark

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Alan, The eye adjusts miraculously well so what you see, or think you see, is unreliable. There are a number of visual puzzles that exploit this.
It's always possible that the meter really is at fault and of course all optical systems can suffer from flare, but the test would be examining the print, to see how dark the two things appear there.
If you have a reflection greyscale (sounds posh but you can generate one yourself quite easily; it doesn't have to be calibrated), hold it against each object on the print to see which tone it matches. If you have one, a densitometer would do this more directly on the neg.
A lenshood on the meter may help.
David, thanks for your reply. You say, quite reasonably, that the eye adjusts miraculously to what we see, or think we see. And I agree entirely. But I have taken a really good look at this. I studied painting at college -many years ago- and have painted all my life. So I am well practiced in judging tones. And I know all the tricks to aid tonal judgement. For the example quoted above I made a small hole in a sheet of paper, adjusted my position so the distant dark trees were adjacent to the shed side (but beyond it). All I could see in the hole in the paper was a small area of shed and a small area of tree. And the tree was noticeably darker, by at least 2 stops. Here we had two objects that definitely were different in tone, but registered the same with the spotmeter.

Alan
 

Alan Clark

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Ian, I am no physicist - I can barely spell the word! But I would have thought that if they were both reflecting the same amount of light they would both have the same tonal value.
To add a bit more to my earlier post, my shed side and the distant dark shady trees both had an EV of 13, though the trees look much darker than the shed. But the grassy field immediately in front of the trees, which was in the sun, had an EV of 14. Bright, light toned field, dark shady trees. Difference in EV, 1 stop only. But the difference in tonality was the same as looking at the dark and light squares on a chess board. The field was way,way lighter than the trees. The spotmeter hardly sees a difference, but the eye sees a big difference. (because there is a big difference!) And I bet the film sees a big difference, as I've got lots of black and white photos with distant dark trees with bright, light toned fields in front of them.
The above readings were done this morning. I've just done them again, and they are still the same.
So if I'd taken a photograph in which the exposure was derived from assuming the trees were on zone 3, I'd have under-exposed by about 2 stops.
Anyone want to buy a spotmeter? It works, honest! It gives very good "zone system" results when taking close ups of rocks and tree roots, etc. Where it lets you down is in mis-reading the tonal values of distant dark objects. My friend's was the same. Why don't you all go out and try yours?

Alan
 

Ian Grant

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I don't think it's mis-reading Alan, I just tried the same with a Minolta Spot F, soil in shadow under a tree gave a reading of EV8 from 10 metres away. Up close approx 1 metre the reading was EV7 and it also looked darker visually.

Now I know from experience that had I shot from 10 metres the area would have been Zone III and the exposure perfect. A patch of green grass in sunlight was EV10 so Zone V, blue sky was EV11 Zone VI, and the cloud patches EV11 so Zone VII they weren't light fluffy white cloud patches.

My rule of thumb is green grass is usually Zone V, another rule of thumb for caucasians is the back of your hand is Zone V, this was always useful with Weston meters. When I did my first Zone System tests that was with a Weston Euromaster you don't need a Spotmeter.

Alan I did the readings earlier before walking the dog, I just repeated the readings below the tree it's now cloudy, I get a slightly greater difference from10 meters compared to 1 metre a stop and a third less close up.

After 30+ years of using the Zone System, although not fanatically, the spotmeter readings you get from camera position are reflected in what you get on the film and in prints, or at least they are in mine.

Ian
 

Alan Clark

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Ian, Thanks for your interest in this matter. But I was talking about distant dark objects, i.e. a clump of dark trees in shadow about 200 yards away. Take your dog out for another walk and have another go!
Like you I took shadow readings from a shrub a few yards away and got EV 11. This was a typical Zone 111 for me. But the dark shadowy trees at 200 yards were EV13. Had I not had any close up objects and put the distant tree on zone 3 I would have underexposed by 2 stops.
When you say your rule of thumb is that green grass is Zone V this surely depends on whether or not the sun is shining on it. This can make a difference of 2 stops...

Alan
 

Ian-Barber

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Like you I took shadow readings from a shrub a few yards away and got EV 11. This was a typical Zone 111 for me. But the dark shadowy trees at 200 yards were EV13. Had I not had any close up objects and put the distant tree on zone 3 I would have underexposed by 2 stops.
If the distant trees were giving EV13 (zone 5) and you wanted them on Z3 would you not just adjust the meter to EV11 to place them on Zone 3
 

David M

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I agree with Ian G. The headland appears to be wooded and that would suggest about Z5.
There's a very dark area at the extreme left, which looks like dark-leaved trees, that you'd need to check in case it might lose useful detail. Z4 would be fine and Z3 tolerable.
After that, it would be a question of looking for the bright areas that are intended to render as Z8 or Z9 in the print. The breaking waves suggest themselves as the brightest part in this image, but the actual scene may have been different.
 

Ian Grant

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Ian, Thanks for your interest in this matter. But I was talking about distant dark objects, i.e. a clump of dark trees in shadow about 200 yards away. Take your dog out for another walk and have another go!
Like you I took shadow readings from a shrub a few yards away and got EV 11. This was a typical Zone 111 for me. But the dark shadowy trees at 200 yards were EV13. Had I not had any close up objects and put the distant tree on zone 3 I would have underexposed by 2 stops.
When you say your rule of thumb is that green grass is Zone V this surely depends on whether or not the sun is shining on it. This can make a difference of 2 stops...

Alan
We are talking about how recession, it's something many photographers have used, think layers of mountains getting lighter in tone as they progress into the distance. It's an atmospheric effect but it's also WYSIWYG from the camera position so has no effect on exposure.

Yes the Grass rule of thumb could be problematic, usually it'a wild grasses in my images but I measure the extremes then note where the grass drops in (and it's condition/type). But I've done it for so long with no exposure issues :D

Ian
 
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