Push Processing - Question and What Is It?

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Michael Raso's picture
Michael Raso
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Joined: 06/14/2011

FPP listener Mike asks:

When pushing film, say 400 asa pushed to 1600...
Am I metering @400 and the processing does all the pushing? Or.. am I
metering @1600?

Any suggestions on techniques for achiveing the David Hamilton or Robert Farbers look.

*****

This is Mat Marrash of the Film Photography Podcast. Mr. Michael Raso forwarded me your question on Push Processing, and I've certainly got some answers for you. .

Essentially, "push" processing is underexposing your film, then developing the film for an extended period, to expand the contrast and raise the midtones and highlights to an acceptable level. So in your example if you were shooting a roll of Kodak Portra 400 and needed a little more speed, you could simply underexpose two stops, ASA 1600, and then have the film pushed one or two stops in development. For a knock-out low light film like Portra 400, I would recommend a one stop push in processing. Just remember, when push processing film, don't expect any miracles in the shadows. You can't expand contrast in areas where no halide was exposed to light; when underexposing more than one stop, the shadows will be pretty dark/muddy but the midtones and highlights will be alright.

Regarding emulating David Hamilton's "look", it appears that David has used a more neutral color film, natural light (often back-lit), and just a touch of soft focus and/or older, uncoated lenses. A great start would be shooting some Kodak 160NC (now long discontinued) or Kodak's new Portra 160 (very nice, soft palette) outdoors around 100 ASA. Overexposing this film a little bit has a nice neutral tones in high key imagery. Finally, it really helps to have young, lovely, willing models to help achieve that look. ;)

Hope this helps, now get out there and shoot some film!

-Mat M.

TonyHicks's picture
TonyHicks
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Joined: 03/16/2013
Home developing of pushed (or pulled) film...

I've pushed film before (Tri-X 400 pushed to 1600) and had good results, but I took the film into my local camera store and told them I had pushed it to 1600 so that they could develop it properly (they charged me more for this, btw!). But what if I want to develop the film myself? I just (for the first time ever in my life!) developed film at home and it turned out really well!

If I want to develop, say, 400 speed film pushed to 1600, do I just follow the developing times for 1600 speed film? I'm using Massive Dev on my iphone for developing times. To use the example above, do I just choose Tri-X 400 as my film, Tmax 1+4 as my developer, and then select 1600 as the ISO instead of 400? It seems like that's what I should do, but I don't want to mess up....

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