Moved one step closer

to my goal of high contrast negatives for printing

For some time now I have been trying out ideas to get away from the “50 shades of grey” approach to developing negatives for printing and moving more into high contrast being baked into the negative.

My main influence in this journey is the work of Anton Corbijn, specifically his Black and White work.

To achieve rich blacks with no or very little detail and close to blown out whites, with limited greyness in the mid tones, a characteristic of Anton’s work, I have been playing with the Underexpose and over develop method of taking and developing film.

Before I continue, I want to tackle the “to much grain” comment a lot of people pick on to dismiss this style of work.

My retort, agreed with and borrowed from many greats is, if you notice the grain then I have failed in capturing an interesting enough subject.

Here is a photo that for me showing promise of the goal I am after for my B&W film work.

This is a scan using my Epson V850 of the wet print I did in my darkroom and it is a close facsimile of the print to show my objective.

I used my spot meter to give a reading around the plant pot bottom right which gave for ISO 400, f/8 1/125.

This if shot at that, would make the pot grey and completely blow out the highlights given by the ever rarer early Autumn sun that graced this scene.

I was moving things around in our small London town garden planning works to do over winter when the sun came out giving the contrast image.

So I set the shutter to 1/500, -2 stops, to bring the blacks down close to zone 3 and in turn bring the highlights down also.

Camera used was Hassleblad 500 c/m with 50mm lens, mentioned as some are interested in those details, but is not important.

Using my favorite D23 developer (replenished) I overdeveloped, to compensate for the under exposure, by 50% of the normal time I use, 10 mins for Kentmere 400.

For most films the blacks are developed quickly, around 3mins , leaving the rest of the developing time to focus on developing the highlights.

The look I am hunting for is to print the negatives using no filters to give the extreme ends of the contrast spectrum already cooked into the negative, and this approach is showing signs of achieving this.

To fine tune this it is going to take many rolls of film and note taking of which I will gladly share here for others if they are interested in this kind of approach to b&w film photography.

My next move is not to worry about sending the background into near oblivion and punch the subject out from the page using this high contrast method.

Please pop back when you can to see how I am getting on.

I hope this is of some use to you if you are interested in high contrast b&w photography.

Wishing you well

DC x

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