film for lanscape work : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I scanned through the archives, but didn't see anything that directly dealt with this question. I'll be heading to southern Utah for a week and plan on doing some B&W landscape work (35mm) while I'm there. I've purchased some Ilford Pan 50, and I'll also take Delta 400 with me. I'm thinking about getting some Tmax400 as well, just to compare. These faster films will be used for candid portraits as well.

I've also picked up a 25A red filter for extra contrast in the skies. I'll be in the desert, so vegetation won't be as much of an issue.

Does anyone have suggestions for other films I might want to try? I do my own processing and BW printing at home, and am still on a fairly steep learning curve.

Thanks in advance!

-- Kendra Wise (, June 18, 1999


A few suggestions: 1) Don't limit yourself to a #25A filter. Try a #8 (Yellow) and a #15 (Orange) as well. 2) Overexposure and underdevelopment will give you better shadow detail and will tame the highlights. Don't assume that just because a film is rated at, say, 100 that it has to be exposed that way. 3) PMK Pyro is a great film developer. Cheap, easy-to-use, indefinite shelf life...and the best tonal scale of any developer I've ever tried. Available from Photographer's Formulary: 4) Unless you have a very specific vision, where grain and lack of smooth tonality will add rather than detract from your images, 35mm is the wrong format for landscapes. Invest in an inexpensive medium format camera (twin lens reflex), such as a used Yashica, Minolta Autocord, or Rolleicord. Under $200. 5) Oriental Seagull graded paper is back. Try it, you'll like it. 6) IMHO, the T-Max films are problematical, difficult to develop and fix properly. Forget them. 7) Ilford Pan-F and Delta 100 & 400 are excellent films. Remember them. 8) Try Ektaflo Type 2 or Selectol paper developers. IMHO, Dektol is too harsh for anything but specialty use. 9) Use a tripod and cable release whenever possible. 10) Lock the mirror up on your SLR whenever possible. 11) Print using diffusion, rather than condenser, light sources: cold lights or dichroic color heads. 12) Use fiber-based papers for serious printing. 13) Tone all prints in *something*. An untoned print is an incompletely processed print.

-- Peter Hughes (, June 18, 1999.

If there is a film that you know well and with which your images look good to you, use that film. You will know from previous shots how that film reacts to more or less contrasty situations, and what its other limits are. I have screwed up a lot of times because I thought I had to have this or that special film or piece of equipment for a particular opportunity. I have read that previous answer to your question, which gives a lot of arguably useful hints which OTOH could almost scare you off trying to shoot landscapes with your 35 mm equipment. It is evidently true that with medium format or large format negatives it is easier to produce prints with a rich tonality, particularly at the extremes of the density scale. I doubt, however, that you will print all your images in large formats, and with rather small prints (up to 8 by 10), the loss in contrast is in my eyes acceptable when compared to medium format. Also, 35 mm has the great advantage of being affordable, and you need not take along three sherpas to carry your equipment through the desert. So my suggestion would be this: 1) Stick with a film you know and you have tested. 2) Don't let anybody scare you from shooting landscapes in 35 mm.

-- Thomas Wollstein (, June 21, 1999.

Tonality is the issue in landscape work, not grain. The best tonality around these days appears to be in Kodak Technical Pan and Ilford XP-2. Tech Pan is easy to process in the Photographer's Formulary kits, which give a useful increase in film speed. XP-2 can be run in any 1-hour-photo-lab's C-41 (color!) line, though if you get proof prints they'll look terrible (all brown and gray). Avoid anything that says T-Max. Avoid Tri-X Profesional, though the ordinary Tri-X is only marginally bad. Above all, use a tripod. Shoot everything you see; film is a lot cheaper than the cost of getting back to Utah to reshoot. Good luck and bes

-- Wayne (, July 01, 1999.

In my experience keeping all the tones is the key to good landscapes and an orange filter is a sine qua non. For a virtually grainless B&W I would use ILFORD XP2 but to achieve perfect expanses of cloudless sky careful home processing is best. Handle the negatives very carefully as XP2 is a little soft but the results are marvellous. Good luck.

-- Anthony Brookes (, July 03, 1999.

I shot my first roll of Ilford SFX 200 on 35mm in Western Colorado. Used a yellow filter and was very well satisfied with the results. I developed in ID-11 (1+1). I can definitely recommend the film.

-- Karl Almquist (, August 14, 1999.

Tmax is fine film, just watch how you process it. I am a nut when it comes to precision processing film, and I have had excellent results with Tmax. I have processed Tmax film in Tmax, Xtol, Xtol 1:1, Xtol 1:2, and D-76 developers. I don't have a personal problem with this film at all.

Here's what to avoid: don't develop Techpan in Rodinal. When I first started photographing, I unwittingly bought Techpan and then had it developed by a local lab. Man, I was horrified and heart-broken. Develop Techpan in Technidol or a developer developed specifically for it. If you use Techpan then you can get some really great, grainless prints out of 35mm.

Ilford SFX 200 is good film, but what it is designed for is infrared photography. Unlike Kodak HIE, it is easy to handle and process. Use a B+W 091 or 092 filter, and you can get some really neat effects out of it. Konica is also good, here's one good shot from my first roll. I recommend that you only use IR film around vegitation, or when you want a large vista to be completely free of any haze effects.

Pick up a polarizer, and a yellow (#6) filter. One thing to remember: use just enough filtration to achieve the effect you want. If you use the #25 against red rocks, the rocks will veer towards being white instead of grey in the final print. I prefer to darken the sky with a polarizer rather than a #25.

One of the things you can do is pick up a blue filter. The #47 will bias your film towards acting like the old ortho films. You will see a special quality of light in the shadow areas. I use an 80B, and I like it.

The most important thing above all is to learn and have fun.

-- Brian C. Miller (, August 14, 1999.

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