Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/10/12

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Subject: Thanks for [Leica] photo critiques!
From: 4season <>
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 10:32:23 -0600

Wow, what a great bunch of photo feedback from the LUG--many thanks! In
particular, the more critical remarks were most refreshing, and while I
don't agree with all of them, I do enjoy seeing things from another
perspective, and yes, I now see lots of things I can improve!

Somewhere on my site, I probably should've explained that the photos as
posted were largely unmanipulated PhotoCD scans; some overall brightness
levels were altered, but no filters applied, and no contrast
manipulation done. A few of the bright highlights fell just beyond the
PhotoCD scanner's Dmax, so there's some blocking up there too (most
evident in my Turpan corridor shot and somewhat also in the graveyard
shot), but probably nothing that a future drum scan can't handle. Oh,
and the default setting of my video card (Asus V3400-TNT running under
Linux 2.2 and Windows98) is probably Gamma at 1.0--quite a difference
from the stock Mac OS 8.6 setting of 1.6 or thereabouts. In the future,
I'd like to include on my site, some sort of video alignment guide
(Lenswork Quarterly's website has a nice step tablet) so that we can all
be looking at the same page, so to speak.

These photos were from the very first big batch in which I applied Zone
System contrast control techniques: What I took to be N(ormal) exposure,
development and contrast has turned out to be more like N-1, so a
quickie retest of this film is in order, but I've since greatly improved
my technique here. Obvious-in-retrospect no-no that I learned: When
doing various Zone test exposures, vary the aperture, not the shutter
speed! I made the mistake of running my tests down to the 1/45th and
below, when I should've stuck to 1/125th or 1/250th. Mechanical shutters
simply don't have ruler-flat accuracy, particularly at the extreme ends
of the scale. I suppose it's kinda tweaky of me, but I plan on buying an
inexpensive shutter speed tester at some point--I want to have an idea
of where the errors lie, whether my various shutters are matched, and
which ones need maintenance--nothing too rigorous.

Mistakes or no, I'm really excited by the potential here, and my
"amazing what a small camera can do" remark was not entirely in jest!
Tmax 400 developed in Xtol has virtually no grain at all, is clearly
capable of great tonality,  the reduced-contrast negatives make for very
flattering portraits, and have finally gotten me out of the gloom and
into direct sunlight!

There's lots more to be done: I'll be working on enhancing local
contrast (Tmax 400 in Rodinal 1:50??) soon enough: There's a particular
wooded scene that's been nagging at me for some time, and I think it'll
require great technique as well as great gear to realize. Boring? Never!