Water Pump

Two images of the same subject. One is a straight scan from the negative with ‘auto levels’ applied in Picasa. The other (the featured image) is a photographic print on fibre based paper. I reversed the negative when making the print so the image would read ‘correctly’ i.e from left to right and printed with a middle grade filter (2 1/2).

The more printing I do the more it becomes apparent that my scanned images are coming out with much less contrast (but lots of detail) than a print from the negative made at normal contrast. To get my print to look like the scan I would have had to print at grade 1 or maybe even softer.

My quest now is to try to maintain the contrast I’m getting when printing (at a middle grade) but to improve shadow detail (at the same grade)

So…. I’m going to try rating my film at half box speed and continue to develop normally (for ‘contrasty’ scenes) and see what happens.

West Cumbria, UK, March 2013

5 Replies to “Water Pump”

  1. omnia says:

    The scientist in me instantly thought: John Snow. Great pictures.


  2. Hi John,
    We could not agree more. Our scanned negatives are always off in some way, either too contrasty,too flat or with odd coloring. No amount of work in GIMP seems to fix them. We spend a lot of time in the dark room to get an image right. Even when scanning the print some of the detail is lost. As far as rating the film, we almost always shoot at half speed- IE 400 ASA at 200 ASA and then develop for the times of box speed. Normally most of our prints are printed without a filter and usually not more than a 2 or 2 1/2. Once in a while we use a 1 or 1 1/2 for a complicated and unexpected exposure. Right now I am using Tanol by Moersch and finding the negatives to be of excellent contrast, shadow detail and very fine grained. Will know better as we use this Tanol more (we just switched over from Xtol) But the results so far are magnificent. The large picture of the pump above is very good, great detail.

    Keep us informed as you move ahead with your trials.



    • John Pickles says:

      I forgot to mention the materials! The negative is TMax 100 developed in Rodinal at 1+25 for the ‘standard’ time of 6 minutes at 20c using Ilford’s agitation method. This is an unusual film choice for me in 35mm (although I have about 15 rolls still to get through) as I tend to shoot mostly Tri-X in this format and have just started developing that in Rodinal 1+25 with (to my eye) really great results (I like the grain!). I’m now rating my Tri-X at half box speed and developing for the standard time of 6 minutes. I haven’t had the chance to print anything yet but the negs look good and are scanning well.


      • Hi John,
        I also forgot, We shoot medium format 6×45 and 6×6. Our primary film is Ilford HP5 and FP4. I tried Tri X and for our taste and style always found it a bit too contrasty no matter how we developed or shot it, but that’s just us. Anyway have fun with the trials and keep us informed,



  3. This is very useful information. Thank you.


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