Normal Minus Development

If the contrast of the scene you are photographing is too great (if, for example, you are shooting in a dark room with a sunlit window in the picture), you can compensate for that problem in the following way.

First, as always, choose an exposure based on the amount of detail you want in the darker areas of the final print. Expose for the shadows.

Second, use a development time that is less than your established Normal Development Time to reduce the density of the negative's highlight areas.

Remember that increasing or decreasing the time that you develop your negatives will always have the greatest effect on the highlight densities. Because the shadow densities respond much less to reductions in the development time, only the middle and highlight densities of the negative will be significantly reduced. The resulting negative will have much less contrast than the original subject and thus will print as if the contrast of the subject had been within normal limits. This effect is called Normal Minus Development, or Contraction. The symbol for Normal Minus Development is N-.

FIGURE 11 The effect of Normal and Normal Minus Development on an overly contrasted subject.

Figure 11A shows a negative being exposed to a very contrasty subject. Figure 11B illustrates that Normal Development results in a negative with overly dense highlights. Figure 11C shows that Normal Minus Development reduces the density of the negative's highlight areas. The result is a print with Normal contrast and detailed highlights.

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