Alternate filter source and filter stacking

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Donald Qualls, Aug 7, 2005.

  1. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    I've located a source for very inexpensive filters that appear as if they'd be usable for multi-contrast, split-filter, and potentially even color printing (though color isn't a good option with my present cold light setup). That source is Lee Filters: http://www.leefilters.com/home.asp

    I'm in process of locating a local dealer, but it appears they sell a half sheet, 20x24 inches, for about $8, and they have filters that mimic CC spectra in red, blue, green, cyan, yellow, and magenta -- the ones I'm interested in, yellow and magenta, up to 50cc density. One half sheet will make about a dozen 6x6 inch above-negative filters -- pretty decent pricing! I understand that in order to get extreme high and low contrast with multigrade papers (ideally, I'd like to get from 00 through 5, but I'm not sure how much of that range will be realizable from a Zone VI cold light), I might need as high as 140cc -- am I correct in thinking that stacking multiple layers of filters would increase the density arithmetically? If not, is there a factor I could use? Alternately, where might one locate 00 and 5 filters in 6x6 inch for a good price, ready to use?
     
  2. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    at one time, one could buy 12x12 sheets of graded Ilford filters for printing at B&H. we got them to replace damaged filters and was cheaper to buy a full sheet and cut down to fit particular enlargers than buy a new set.
     
  3. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    Donald,

    You are correct: a CC10 plus a CC20 is the same as a CC30. As well as giving away the little swatchbooks for free, Lee et al offer larger 'Designer' swatchbooks, usually for a nominal price, but that seems to depend on the dealer. These are about 3" x 6" unfortunately. Maybe no good for this case, but possibly worth knowing about.

    Rosco also do CC equivalent filters. If I had to choose between Lee and Rosco, I'd generally go for Rosco because they seem to last longer. I've never done a proper comparative test, this is just an unscientific observation over the years I've been using them on hot lights so don't take it as gospel.

    Good luck with your search,
    Helen
     
  4. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    "It took a while to find the bandpass charts with the Roscoe filters but they are on the site."

    A quick way to them is to go the the Rosco (sic) page I gave the link to and click on the little graph icons.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Steve Anchell, p. 94 of The Variable Contrast Printing Manual, recommends the Roscoe [sic] 68 Sky Blue and 389 Chroma Green for split filter printing. He also discusses filtration options for different light sources to allow the maximum contrast range, with contributions from several people who have calibrated their systems.

    In addition, there is an appendix of paper and filter combinations that provide a good handle on just how much contrast control you get from many different combinations. A recommended book if you're trying to calibrate, and extend the possibilities with a given light source and VC papers.

    Look for the Rosco filters at an online theater supply company, or both B&H and Calumet have them in 20x24 inches. $5.65 at B&H, $7.49 at Calumet. Look for Rosco. not the misspelled Roscoe from Anchell.

    Lee
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You can do this, but one attraction of the Ilford Multicontrast filters, is that there is ND built into the filters, so you can go from 0-3.5 without changing exposure, and add just one stop for grades 4-5.
     
  7. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    This is true, but the split filter approach, although more complex in some ways, allows finer gradations of contrast, and also provides the opportunity for more even grade spacing with papers that don't match the Ilford specs. It also can provide a greater contrast range in some circumstances, and one of those could be the use of a cold light head such as the Zone VI, which doesn't match the color temperature of the assumed frosted tungsten bulb to which the Kodak and Ilford filter sets are matched. More work, but more flexibility.

    Lee
     
  8. lee

    lee Member

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    I use the Lee filters Dark Blue and a Dark Green as a split filter option. The Dark Blue is the hard filter printer and the Dark Green filter is the soft filter printer. I start with a test strip using the green filter and look at the highlite and decide what time puts the tone in the highlite I want. Then I make a new print with the green filter and the time just found. Leaving the paper in place I change to the Blue filter and make a new test strip on top of the green filter exposure. I then select the blue filter time by looking at the shadow and seeing how it affects the over all contrast. I then make the third print using the green filter at the selected time and then the blue filter at the selected time. This should give you a good work print. Really simple.

    lee\c

    ps: looking at the lee filter site I am using Dark Blue #120 and Dark Green #124

    l\c
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2005
  9. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Lee, are you able to get very hard and very soft grades with single layers of those filters, or are you using mutliple layers? Also, I've understood that magenta and yellow are preferable over blue and green because the red light, while not affecting the paper, makes the image much brighter to the eye for focusing (which is best done with the filter in place, at least with the filter below the lens; in my case, it may not matter).

    What I had in mind was to stack three layers of the magenta and yellow 50cc filters to get a maximum hard and maximum soft, and work from there. As pointed out above, split filtering will give me much more control with the cold light -- perhaps even take away my current longing to find condensor glass and go back to the tungsten light I know from printing 20-30 years ago.

    Oh, and the Lee filters, while about a dollar more per sheet, are available from a local dealer; I can save $10 or so on shipping and have them in my hands the day I have the money. I'm almost through chasing light leaks, have a fresh box of 8x10 RC multigrade paper (and a couple 40+ year old boxes of snapshot size Velox and Dupont, heaven only knows if they're still any good), plan to mix my Dektol on Friday, and should be able to print (for the first time since 1981) this coming weekend.
     
  10. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Donald,

    The recommended blue and green filters for split filter VC printing are primary additive filters, similar to the #58 or #61 greens and #47B Wratten filters. Since these are practically full cutoff outside their passbands, each should give you as close as possible to the maximum isolation of either the high contrast or low contrast emulsion layers in the paper. Of course this will vary to some degree with the paper in question, as their spectral sensitivity varies, but it should hold in general, and so shouldn't require that you stack identical filters for increased effect.

    As for easier focusing with the red light included, I don't think that will matter too much, and you wouldn't want to shift focus when changing filters in split printing anyway. If you're using a decent enlarging lens a stop or two down from wide open, you should be able to focus in white light and then put in the filters, especially if they're above the film. Even quality CC gels below the lens shouldn't have that great an effect. Seems I recall an article somewhere that had to do with focus shift with enlarging filters, maybe by Gainer if memory serves, but it's been a while. In any case the finding was that there was an insignificantly small shift in focus with filters in place. If you'd feel better about focusing with filtration in place, focus with the green, near where your vision peaks, then use that for the blue as well. That's probably the route I'd take.

    BTW, VC papers vary all over the place, and some require more than 150CC magenta for maximum contrast. Just to give you an idea, Anchell lists Agfa VC papers as needing 80-90CC magenta for maximum contrast and Ilford MG IV RC Deluxe and MG FB need 200CC M to reach maximum contrast. Split blue/green printing seems to me the most versatile approach across a range of papers.

    Just for the record, I'm currently printing split with the "end of range" filters from the Kodak and Ilford filters that I have on hand, which are 20+ years old, and don't include the newer extremes. I plan to get some blue/green filters soon, but don't have them yet. I'm getting back into the darkroom after a hiatus of some years, but only about 10 or 12 in my case. I used to print about 2000 custom B&W's a month on Kodak RC II and III, and could guess to a half-grade by looking at the neg. Don't think I could do that now without a little practice. But I'm not exposing and running 20 prints an hour now either.

    Good luck and have fun getting back into the darkroom. It's still magic in the end, even if you know what you're doing.

    Lee
     
  11. lee

    lee Member

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    Donald,

    The other Lee (great name, btw) has said all I have to say on it other than with the Blue filter I get about a grade 6 contrast and with the green I easily get a grade 0 when I use them individually. I dont stack the filters I use them one at a time with different exposure time (usually) on the same piece of paper.
     
  12. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Donald,

    I just got my PhotoTechniques in the mail today, Sept/Oct 2005 issue. There's a Howard Bond article in it on printing with Rosco Calcolor filters that's pretty much an answer to the questions you posed here. He doesn't cover blue/green split printing in the article. It's all about getting even spacing and a full contrast range with 8 different filters: 15Y, 30Y, 60Y, 90Y, 15M, 30M, 60M, and 90M, with his Aristo V-54 head. He addresses exposure changes with tips on making an exposure compensation chart for your particular setup, and the issue of sharpness using filters below the lens. The paper used on the article is Ilford MG IV FB, in Dektol. Good thing he didn't waste his time and magazine space calibrating Kodak papers. The approach is general, and would get you going on a calibrated system using your own darkroom setup and papers of choice.

    Lee

    WARNING: if you go apoplectic when digital is mentioned (sometimes in a positive light), don't buy this magazine. If you're mature enough to cope with that, there are several good articles on analog materials and using them in this issue, including the first in a series on tactics for push processing B&W by Dickerson and Zawadzki and a review of a couple of new color print films from Fuji, one of which he says approaches Kodak Royal Gold 25 in resolution and grain at an ISO of 160.
     
  13. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Thanks, Lee and Lee. :D

    Okay, you've changed my mind, I'll get the blue and green as suggested and have five spares of each instead of needing to stack. Lee, I was talking about multiple layers of the same color, not about combining the blue and green (which would give black, if the cutoffs are as sharp as all that). Since my intent is to use them for split printing with separate hard and soft exposures, and I'm using a cold light, I'm much less concerned about even spacing; I'll have effectively continuous gradation (though at first my control will be limited by timing with a manual switch and external timer of some kind -- a timer that can handle the startup draw of a cold light is well outside my current budget), and the two test strip method is well established as a means of getting both exposure and contrast with minimum paper consumption.

    I don't get all up in arms about digital -- I've owned a simple digital camera for about four years, and got a much better one about a year ago. However, they, like color film, are for snapshots; for me, photography as an art form takes place on B&W film and paper, in a wet darkroom. Even scanning my negatives has been a means to see what I'm doing with the camera and developer before I could print my own work; once I'm printing, my scanner will see most of its duty scanning prints.
     
  14. lee

    lee Member

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    Donald,

    one thing that you will readily become aware of is the need for saying this is a grade 2 1/2 filter becomes un-necessary as you get further into split filter printing. All that really matters is the print looks the best it can look. Yes, you will have continous gradation with the green and blue and the cold light. There is a little learning curve so hang in there and I will answer any question (if able) either on PM or here on the forum.

    lee\c

    lee\c
     
  15. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Well, some time with the main Lee Filters website, which has spectra for every filter they sell, led me to conclude that what I *really* want are 100 Spring Yellow (same blue cut as the 124 Dark Green, but with the red left in) and 795 Magical Magenta (slightly more blue transmission than 119 Dark Blue, which has a little more than the 120 Deep Blue, but same green cut on all three -- and again, with red added). However, the local dealer doesn't have the 795 in stock, so I'll be getting 100 Spring Yellow and 119 Dark Blue, total cost about $15 for a dozen 6x6 inch filters of each (after doing my own cutting), plus the gas for a trip to Winston-Salem (about 20 miles each way).

    And that's the last piece of the puzzle, for now -- I don't have a timer, but I can count seconds or use a stopwatch (that I do have, as part of a wrist watch -- tried to spell that as one word and the darned forum software censored it! -- with a broken spring pin socket, and the light won't fog paper if it's pointed away). I don't yet have a foot switch, either, but the darkroom is light tight when it's sunny outside (which is pretty good with a 30x40 window in the outside wall), and I've made no permanent alterations (which would please the landlord if he noticed). I've got a scrap of waferboard that can cover one of the twin sinks to hold trays until I can afford something better, I can wash in one of the large trays in the bathtub, and the 5 gallon cube of Dektol now has both a place to be mixed and places to be stored.

    And let's not forget the 40+ year old red safelight bulb in the brand new $7 reflector clamp lamp; with the big mirror and white textured ceiling, it should be plenty of light for this tiny darkroom.

    Oh, yeah, and a little blank book to keep my printing notes in (so I can come back to the same negative again in six months and make another print without completely starting over).

    Thanks for the offer of help, Lee -- I pick stuff up pretty fast, but I'll keep you in mind... :smile:
     
  16. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Well, just to follow up on this, I spent about three hours printing last night; to show for it, I have three nice straight prints, two of them with a pair of test sheets (used the same settings for one as it was the next negative, same subject and light), and a couple I trashed due to forgetting to stop down after focusing. Next time will be a little quicker; I won't have to spend time clearing the old fogged paper out of the (used) paper safe, I'll be much closer on starting exposures, and it won't take so long to set up and take down (getting a system worked out).

    I'm not sure the yellow filter is giving a grade 0 with this light -- I've never actually printed with grade 0, even in high school and college when I had multi-contrast filters available (the filters sets we had only went from 1 to 5). However, I very seldom have a negative that would want or need this soft a filter, so it shouldn't be a big issue. Overcoming one concern with split filtering, I found I was able to open the enlarger to change the filters (directly on the top of the negative carrier) without moving the negative; all three prints show the grain crisp and clear, just at the limit of my naked eye (8x10 from 35 mm Tri-X).

    And the learning curve, so far at least, is very easy -- the third print, from the best of the three negatives I tried, looks better than anything I ever produced in high school or college (though I now thing I was getting some safelight fog in those darkrooms). I haven't formally tested my own ancient red safelight bulb, but with the enlarger a good six-seven feet from the safelight and developer tray about four feet, and the bulb a deep red originally made for safelight use (many-many years ago), I'm getting clean, white highlights, which was always a problem in the previous darkrooms I've used.

    More tonight!