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Currently, I am reading the book "Cinematography for Directors" by Jacqueline B. Frost. In the chapter "The Lab, the DI, and Achieving "the Look," on Page 221, the author talks about "Flashing." In that, she says, " In both [Neutral flashing and Color Flashing] of these methods the film is subjected to a low intensity exposure, which causes an increase in the minimum density of each color layer in negative films and a decrease in the maximum density of each color layer in reversal films."


I never worked on the film, so it's tough for me to understand what the author says here. I understood flashing is done to bring out details in shadows (darker areas) without altering the highlights significantly. But I don’t understand what the author means by "an increase in the minimum density of each color layer in negative films and a decrease in the maximum density of each color layer in reversal films?" Can someone please say what that means?

Please see the attached screenshot for author's quotes.451563480_ScreenShot.png.be6dd349e9cc06190565113d432e5d50.png



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With color negative film, or print film, the more exposure you give it, the darker (more dense) it becomes when developed -- first with silver and at the same time, color dye in each layer (then the silver is removed normally.) So on the negative, the brightest areas of the subject are the densest on the film, and when you make a print of that, the lightest parts of the negative (the blacks and shadows) create the most density on the print because those clear or thin areas of the negative let more light pass onto the print stock.

A minimal amount of flashing to the camera negative just adds exposure / density to the shadow region, you can't really see the effect in the highlights of the image. If you looked at the negative, the clear (blackest parts of the subject) area end up having a black fogginess to them from the flashing.

If you flash print stock, you create density in what normally would be the clearest parts of the print, the whites, so the whites look grey-ish.

If you flash reversal stock before processing, the look is the same as flashing the negative and then making a print -- you've lifted the blacks and shadows of the subject. It's just that since the film is reversed in density in processing to make it into a positive instead of a negative, you basically have lifted blacks in the final positive image, i.e. a decrease in the maximum density (which would be the black areas of the positive).

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