Nice shimmery shininess on the hippo's nose. I shot my first roll of BW400CN last weekend and came away thinking I need to stick with T-Max or Neopan Acros. Do you find the film to tend toward flatness? That's what I experienced. Shots to follow on my blog in another week or so.
BW400CN can look flat, but the upside of that is that it has very wide latitude in regard to highlight and shadow detail and very smooth grain combined with good speed. I think it is particularly good in low light situations to capture shadow detail. In normal daylight scenes you want to expose for the primary subject and then dodge and burn the backgrounds to bring things into proper balance. The hippo shot was originally very high key with a very light water background, but I burnt it in heavily for the image I presented.I stopped using BW400CN for quite a while when the price went up on it. Recently, though, the price of other b&w like tmax has also jumped, so BW400CN again seems competitive. Of course, you also have to take into consideration the quality of the processing which your local Walgreens is going to provide. I've been tempted at times to try my own C41 processing, but haven't quite managed to talk myself into it yet.
Maybe I just need to get comfortable spending more time in Photoshop Elements with that film then. Your dodge/burn advice jibes with what I ended up doing in PSE with my shots from my roll of BW400CN -- bring up the contrast on the subject and darken the backgrounds.C41 seems best left to the pros. (But you probably shouldn't take advice from a guy who won't process his own b/w.)
Actually, I like the convenience of letting someone else process the film as long as I think they are making an effort to do it right. I've had a few bad experiences with 1-hr processors, but most of time they seem to get it right.I do like processing my own bw film, though. It is hard to go wrong as long as you pay attention to the time and temp recommendations. I just got five rolls of 35mm Kentmere to try out with some Rodinal developer. I've seen some poor reviews of it, but also some pretty good results, and I was impressed with the reports that it dries flat which is one of my main concerns with cheap film.
Once more, beautiful animal portraits. They seem your specialty with the Spottie.
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