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"Counterintuitive Processing"


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#1 Evan Andrew John Prosofsky

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 04:58 PM

I know there has been much discussion already in regards to Savides' work on Birth. It seems to be confirmed that he underexposed two stops, then pulled two more stops. It has been stated that he did this to "break the black" of the film and get a more painterly image, in combination with baking the negative. All this I understand. But what I'd really like to know is.. what exactly is the point of underexposing and pulling? Why pull? Why not just underexpose four stops?

I'd love to know where exactly the pull comes in and what it does visually to the film. I'd also like to know if processes like these are meant only for photochemical finishes eg. can a telecine handle this kind of rough film treatment and still get the look savides would have gotten with a photochemical finish, or to put it another way, was exposing/processing the negative like this only half of the process for savides, where printing up the positive added the final touch. or would underexposing/pulling get me the same look as his in telecine.

Hope thats clear. And sorry for all the questions of late if anyone has noticed. Its just that recently I've discovered how incredible a resource this really is and decided to try and take full advantage. Thanks!

Evan
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#2 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:51 PM

what exactly is the point of underexposing and pulling? Why pull? Why not just underexpose four stops?
Evan


Short version is that the developing time not only changes required exposure, but also the Gamma of the film (think contrast) pulling will make for less contrast, pushing makes for more contrast.

While it is common to Push when they is just not enough light, it can also be used for effect, sometimes you hear adjectives like "Grainy", Gritty etc. Pulling will sometimes make Grain less pronounced, although under exposure can make it stand out particularly in shadow areas.

It is normal at this point in the discussion to mention "The Negative" as a good reference. Might be heavy reading...
>> The Negative: Exposure and Development (Basic Photo, No. 2) (ISBN 10: 0821207172 / ISBN 13: 9780821207178 ) Ansel Adams
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 09:48 PM

You are still recording more shadow information if you only underexpose by two stops rather than four stops, pull processing will then make the negative more low-contrast and darker, but with more detail than if you had just underexposed by four stops.
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#4 Evan Andrew John Prosofsky

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:48 AM

You are still recording more shadow information if you only underexpose by two stops rather than four stops, pull processing will then make the negative more low-contrast and darker, but with more detail than if you had just underexposed by four stops.

Ah, thanks david! So, essentially all this work to get a lower con negative with muted blacks? The underexposure results in the muted blacks and the pulling helps to reduce contrast? Is pulling then also just a tool to reduce grain? Eg. Would the negative been grainier had Savides just underexposed 2 stops and left it at that?

And -- Any insight into whether these processing techniques work when going into telecine? Or does Savides arrive at the final look via the print (something that can't be done in telecine perhaps?)

Thanks as always!

Really interesting stuff for me. Recently read that the DP of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" also likes to employ this technique. I emailed him and asked about his process. If I get a response I'll be sure to post it here, with his permission.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 01:22 PM

Is there a generally-accepted definition of what "painterly" means, anyway?
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#6 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 06:27 PM

Is there a generally-accepted definition of what "painterly" means, anyway?


I hate that expression. It's so vague it's meaningless, and is usually used by people who seem to be implying that a painting is somehow a more noble and artistic thing than a photograph.
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#7 Evan Andrew John Prosofsky

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:18 PM

Whoops! Let this thread slide just when it was getting interesting for me. I would love if David or someone else qualified could follow up regarding my questions above. I'll quote them here:

"Ah, thanks david! So, essentially all this work to get a lower con negative with muted blacks? The underexposure results in the muted blacks and the pulling helps to reduce contrast? Is pulling then also just a tool to reduce grain? Eg. Would the negative been grainier had Savides just underexposed 2 stops and left it at that?

And -- Any insight into whether these processing techniques work when going into telecine? Or does Savides arrive at the final look via the print (something that can't be done in telecine perhaps?"

I'm most interested in whether this look can be achieved even when going into telecine. As most of my work with film is done at HD telecine quality and rarely at a 2k/4k scan level, I'd want to ensure that I'm not screwing myself by only doing half of the process (underexpose/pull but without printing to a positive photochemically and telecining instead)

Thankyou!
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