1. Gather an assortment of your problem and successful prints and their negatives.

2. Look carefully at those prints that are either too dark with empty, flat shadow areas or too gray with no black values at all.

3. On a light box (or through a window), compare the negatives from these prints with those from prints that have fully detailed, realistic shadow values.What you will see is that the shadow areas of the underexposed negatives are more transparent than the shadow areas of well-exposed negatives. More exposure would have solved the problem. You now know what an underexposed negative looks like.

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