Summary

1. After you have chosen your optimum, normal paper grade, learning how to control the contrast of your negatives is necessary because of the range of subject contrasts photographers have to cope with.

2. Until you learn how to adapt your methods of exposure and development to suit a variety of lighting situations, you will only produce easily printable negatives when the contrast of your subject happens to be average. Understanding this fact is the first key to becoming a better photographer.

3. Exposure has its primary effect on the shadow densities of the negative. Film development primarily affects the highlight densities.

4. Any combination of over- or underexposure or development will result in a negative that is either too dense or too thin.

5. The two "fatal flaws" of photography are underexposure and overdevelopment because these damage your negative quality in ways that cannot be compensated for when you make a print. Severe underexposure permanently obliterates necessary detail in the negative's shadow areas. Overdevelopment destroys detail in the highlight areas of the negative.

Trying to make a fine print from a negative with contrast problems can be a costly and frustrating ordeal. To a certain extent, graded or variable contrast papers can help, but learning to control the contrast of the negative itself through proper exposure and development is the secret to consistently better results.

Now that we have defined the problems, let's begin to approach the solution.

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