Controlling your Dynamic Range in B&W Film photography
Stormy Seas in a approaching storm!
Stormy Seas a the dock… 6×12 medium format Tmax 100 film
Dayi 6×12 showing the ground glass and shade and my custom dark cloth attached.
This Super Pano was taken on my Dayi 6×12 medium format view camera. Lens is a Rodenstock 90mm f/6.8 Super Grangdagon N and while it is a bit slow it is VERY sharp and quite beautiful! This is a very different style of camera and will take 5 images per roll of 120 film.
Dayi 6×12 Grand Glass Back
This is an amazing combination of a ground glass focus and calibrated distance focus system.
Dayi 6×12 with the Rodinstock 90mm f/8.6 installed showing the alternative, calibrated focusing system
Shrimp boats are one of several subjects that I will drive hundreds of miles away to photograph! I am very lucky to live so close to a lot of them locally! Because of the continuing loss of our shrimp fleets here I am both driven and inspired to document them every chance I have. You have to admit that they are very beautiful when done in B&W and what better way to document them if not film?
This was a very difficult shot to achieve! To get it I had to overcome the super bright sun coming over my shoulder highting the boat and buildings to the point that they were totally burned out. The storm in the background was dark and foreboding…
The lesson here is to learn and realize that you can control all aspects of your image’s exposure along with taming the dynamic range of the scene through use of thoughtful developing and scanning.
I used a Sekonic 758 to get these results by using a combination of exposure averaging with 6 one degree spot metered measurements, saving each reading in the meters memory then telling the meter to give me the zone 5 average which then became my base exposure. The 758 then showed me the the exposure with a chart of any data over or under exposed thus out of the film’s dynamic range.
Knowing this, I then used a technique where you can either compress the the dynamic range of the image into a smaller space thus allowing the film to compensate for a wider dynamic range that it was designed for! This is called +/-1N developing. You can change developing time down to compress the dynamic range of the image by squeezing the image down from the whites towards the blacks which compresses the highlights into range! The opposite is also true by going +N. But for this image the -1N was enough. I then then used another creative process during the wet mount film scanning by expanding the dynamic range to fit into the wider print profile by +1 to the highlights in Viewscan to put them where I desired for a powerful and moody print. There are a lot of books out there that will teach this technique, but my favorite is CreativeExposureControlby Les Meehan which will teach you the development side of the process. The scanning side is easily done in Viewscan and there is a good book on that on Amazon.
I will also expand upon this in future posts as well!
Rodenstock 90mm f/6.9 Grandagon N, while a slow lens it is super sharp and beautiful!
The wet mount scanning technique will be taught in a future post here along with a video on Youtube! But to do it you will need an Epson 700, 750, 800 or 850 scanner as those are the only ones that the wet mount kit will fit!