No, not a description of alien anatomy or anything remotely similar. I speak of terms used to describe a somewhat important characteristic of film response characteristics. When speaking of black and white negative film most artsy-ansely-adams-y kind of folks wanted something with crazy long strait-line portions.
Translation: The density starts ramping up linearly real quick. That's the toe part. Also they wanted it not to shoulder off too much, as in more exposure continues to build density as opposed to the dreaded blocking up which is sort of equivalent to today's blown highlight fear-fetish digi ppl have. That's the shoulder part.
Me? I'm the odd man out like usual. In many instances I liked a film that had a fairly long shoulder. not a complete cut-off but started to reduce contrast in the highlights pretty quick. The toe thing, well that's kind of a pain when it comes to the film portion of the equation. Paper on the other hand almost always has a long toe. Of course that's the reverse of what happens on the film end so a broad shoulder of highlights combined with a long toe of paper which also reduces contrast in the highlights created some interesting effects when it comes to skin.
Bottom line is combining these two on purpose by exposing the shit out of film with a broad shoulder and printing it in the toe portion of the paper (as in just starting to show up) created some fairly magical things with high-key skin white-on-white effects. This kind of extreme highlight compression makes detail show up less in highlights.
Okay enough of the history lesson. Obviously you can do this with digital by using a curve with not a whole lot of slope starting somewhere in the upper mids, anything that's past this point going in will get less and less and less contrast. That's what the preset I've used for proofing the fragments side project does in spades more or less. I've not settled on the exact densities I'll print finals at but I'm pretty much set on that kind of treatment overall for the fragments thing.
Another video contact sheet of some work I did with Jenna on the side project.
If you ever go with contrast curves this extreme consider this; TINY input exposure adjustments either in-camera or in post make HUGE output differences just like any extreme contrast curve situation. I'm talking 1/10th stop on the exposure slider kind of thing is night and day. Just like when printing film as described above tiny print exposure adjustment is night and day too.
All photographs made with the Fuji XT-1 and 18-55 XF. Processing via LR CC with VSCO FILM 05 BW400CN applied on import.