4×5 project, August 2016 #4

August 24, 2016

On this day I decided it would be a good idea to compare FP4 to CHS II, rating them both at 100 and processing for the same time together in the tank. A reasonable idea, however things didn’t go as I’d hoped. It was a sunny winters day which is good for this sort of comparison testing as I get directional, contrasty light. As I set out to look for suitable subjects I was a bit concerned about some clouds that were moving in. Overcast means flat, low contrast light; moving clouds can give fluctuating light levels so sequential exposures are not comparable. The sun lasted until I had set up my first shot and then was covered by clouds. I was waiting for it to reemerge, however for five or so minutes it didn’t change. I wanted to get the exposures done as I had set the tripod up on the road. It was a quiet road, and I was right against the gutter, but still a somewhat risky position. Therefore I felt compelled to take the photos just so I could move on to a more sensible location. In retrospect I should have abandoned that setup without using any film and moved on to something better. A poor decision made under self imposed pressure.

4x5 fp4 CHS flats compare 210mm

This is a red brick block of flats and when I first got there most of this side of the building was in direct sun. If that had held it would have been a useful comparison subject as I could have seen the contrast range that each film could record. The only contrast difference as it was taken is that the sky was much brighter than the ground, so I exposed for the building and decided to pull the developing. My stock dev time for FP4 is 9 minutes so 8 seemed reasonable. There isn’t much to see in the comparison, with FP4 on the left and CHS II on the right. The building has more local contrast in the FP4 whereas the CHS II looks a bit flatter. I do feel I can see more tones and tonal separation in the sky on the CHS II sheet, which is what Adox say is a characteristic of the film.

4x5 FP4 CHS skyview compare 210mm copy

For the other two sheets I found a lookout that has a view across Sydney harbour to the CBD. It was still overcast and didn’t look like clearing up so I was just trying to get something exposed so I could develop the films that night. By the time I had the framing set up there was some weak sun emerging from the clouds but then being covered over again – fast moving clouds with few breaks. I decided to try to expose both sheets during the next bright period, so as soon as I saw a bit of contrast coming into the scene I quickly exposed first the CHS and then the FP4. Here I had misjudged again as the scene continued to brighten and after a minute or so the scene was in full sun that lasted for about ten minutes. By rushing it I had missed the best light and also had two exposures made in slightly different lighting conditions – the FP4 sheet is obviously a touch brighter and with more contrast than the CHS. However I can still see more tonal separation in the clouds on the CHS sheet despite the fact it was made in flatter light. So as far as getting some useful data on the differences between the films, I pretty much failed. On the other hand I did learn a lesson about being more patient, being prepared to abandon something that isn’t working, and trying to be more in tune with the light. I’ve also decided that CHS II needs different dev time than FP4, next time I will try 9.5 minutes.

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