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Monday, November 14


These are all SL66E shots on T-Max 100. I was going to call the pic above "Squall over the North Sea". The only problem is that what looks like a squall is actually uneven development. Yes, it's better to be lucky than good! I'm going to have to have a careful look at my two-bath development technique as there were a few frames on the latest two rolls that exhibited these markings.

It's not something that's noticeable in a lot of photographs and it is probably more apparent in a scan than it would be in a darkroom print but I want to make sure it doesn't become a regular feature. I'm going to re-think my agitation scheme which basically involves no agitation at the moment - or virtually none.

What I do is pour bath A into the tank and agitate at the start and half-way through the four minute development time. That gets drained and bath B goes in with absolutely no agitation. Two-bath development works by the film soaking up the chemicals in bath A and then having those chemicals activated by bath B when almost all the development occurs. Dense areas of the negative - the highlights - see a lot of development action and consequently the chemicals are exhausted faster and the highlights are prevented from becoming too dense. The shadows, meanwhile, make less of a demand on the developer and continue to build up for longer.

Given that scenario, it stands to reason that the greatest degree of compensation occurs when there is no agitation - and hence no replenishment - in bath B. That's all well and good but it looks as if I'm going to have to work out a minimum amount of agitation that prevents uneven development but ensures a good degree of compensation. I'll start with a ten second agitation half-way through bath B.

I can't say this uneven development is something I've noticed before but it could be that it happens more readily with T-Max 100 which is what I've shot for the last eight rolls or so. Anyway, less of the whinging and on to the other pics in this post!

I've developed a thing about long exposure photography - or rather, I developed a thing when using my Nikon D700. Digital makes LE photography easy as it's never really possible to be sure just how the photograph will turn out when shooting film but, guess what, I don't care. Most of these scenes are re-shootable even if I don't get it right first time. And I'm sure the darkroom prints will look great and much better than the scans.

I bought a B+W 10-stop ND filter, size 62mm, for my Nikkor lenses but it obviously doesn't fit the Rollei's bayonet VI filter mount. However, I picked up a bayonet VI filter with no glass (or just a filter mount if you want to look at it that way) for a couple of pounds on Ebay. I smashed the glass out of a 62mm skylight filter and glued that to the bayonet mount and now I can screw my 62mm B+W filter and a three-stop Hoya ND filter to it. The 80mm Planar and 150mm and 250mm Sonnars all take the bayonet VI filter. The 40mm Distagon is so big and weird I haven't even bothered to find out what the exact filter fitting is but it's not a lens I would use often for LE photography anyway.

The pic above, taken with the 150mm Sonnar, is of old bridge piers that were constructed to take materials across the harbour when the breakwater was being constructed. The exposure was around 50 seconds and included two-thirds of a stop for reciprocity failure. When I'm doing this kind of work, I find the NDCalc ap for the Iphone indispensable. Once you've worked out what the shutter speed should be without the ND filter in place, you dial the speed into the ap and it tells you what the resultant ten-stop slower speed should be. You could work this out for yourself but it's great if you're in a rush to capture certain conditions and prevents a simple mistake that could screw up the exposure.

This is another scene I've photographed a few times with the D700. It's an interesting subject as it was once a walkway to a natural bathing pool just the other side of the rocks in the middle distance. The pool stopped being used probably about 30 or 40 years ago I think but the bridge has survived the worst the North Sea can throw at it.

It's only a couple of feet wide and is pretty slimy, as you can imagine, so there's no way I'm going to venture along it carrying an expensive medium format outfit. I prefer to stay on dry ground on the Esplanade and shoot it with the 150mm. But I have bought a pair of wellies and I might get my feet wet a little to go in a lot closer to the bridge and make the most of vanishing point perspective.

Here's a simple shot which I quite like. The negative is very low contrast and all attempts to push the highlights a bit higher in Photoshop have so far failed as they simply blow out or look very harsh. I like to take LE images in fairly flat lighting but I think the conditions here weren't the best match for the compensating two-bath developer. The negative shouldn't be as big as problem in the darkroom as it is in an image editor. In fact, getting sufficient contrast in all of these images without them looking harsh or over-processed  is difficult. How much more fun it will be working on them under the Durst.


Anonymous said...

the blog looks very nice after the change.
are you sure that these marks on your scans are uneven development? do you see it on the negs as well? you may wan't to check your scanner... sometimes they do crazy stuff like that. of course, there is a very elegant solution :)


I'm pretty sure the marks are from the development process but it's something that's more noticeable on the scans than the negatives. Now that I've got my Durst up and running, there will hopefully be less need for the scanner now anyway!

Al Denholm said...

Nice shots,when I first started using T max films I was using the T max developer,the negatives were coming up superb,,but at a 1+4 standard dilution quantity the bottle wasn't lasting very long,so I stopped using it,very nice stuff tho.

Ksenija Spanec said...

I am enjoying your photos as well as text, which I find very useful. The last photo in this post is really beautiful and I wish I made it myself.