Another question about multigrade filters and papers

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by darkosaric, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    So,

    background: I was using fixed grade 2 paper for last couple of years, and often final print is too contrasty. So beside trying some procedures that I got from another thread here (soft developer, preflashing...) - I ordered some Adox variable contrast paper to try it out. I have Ilford multigrade filters. The biggest issues are that I am often missing some details in highlights, and prints are looking to "hard". Shadows are ok most of the time, only details in highlights are problematic in my negatives (but let's not analyse this now :smile: ).

    I have read technique to use filters 0 and 5 only - and I understand basic principle behind. But I would like to try one method that seems logical for my case.

    1) I make small print 10x15cm with 00 filter to see how much details I have on every part of the negative.
    2) Put enlarger on 20x30cm size and make test on 10x15cm paper with grade 1,5-2 to get exposition time.
    3) Make picture with grade 1,5-2 on 20x30cm paper and additionally burn highlights on parts where I think details are missing with 00 filter.
    4) Eventually dodge some parts of image while exposing with filter 1,5-2.

    Is this ok to proceed? I would like to hear some opinions before I start to burn pretty expensive paper.

    thanks,
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I find that much time can be wasted messing about with contrast variation, when the control should be mainly about exposure. Why not try zero contrast control and fine tune exposure. You will then be in a better position to judge contrast and it will also tell you more about your original exposure and development.
     
  3. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I have always preferred the methodical approach advocated by Adams and many others:

    Principles:
    1. Do all tests, work prints etc. at the final enlargement size, on the paper you will be using
    2. Try to see if you can accomplish the print with a single filter before adding split/multiple grades

    Steps
    1. Whatever filter you think might be right, go at least a grade lower
    2. Make a first test strip that gives you useful information about important areas of the image, including light midtones (where most VC papers are speed matched). Make sure the test print goes from obviously too dark to obviously too light
    3. Make more test prints if required with finer intervals
    4. Choose your exposure time, and make a straight print, still at the low contrast
    5. Evaluate the highlights, midtones and total contrast. If blacks are not black enough, and/or local contrast is too weak overall, increase filter grade
    6. Make a new straight print (note you may have to alter exposure a little when you change grades)
    7. Repeat until overall contrast looks good
    8. Evaluate individual parts of the image which are too dark or too light. These are areas which need burning and dodging. There are various ways to figure out how much to burn and dodge (puzzle piece approach, etc.)
    9. Make successive work prints refining the local adjustments (burning/dodging) as you go
     
  4. Rudolf Karachun

    Rudolf Karachun Subscriber

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  5. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    It sounds as though you may be over developing your negs, doesn't it?
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Varying contrast

    You could always try some of the older techniques which were common before the introduction of multigrade papers

    1. Reducing contrast. Stat to develop the print and when the 1st of the black areas becomes apparent transfer the print into a plain water dish, but don't agitate. The developer on the dense areas will become exhausted quicker whilst the areas with lighter tones will continue to develop although more slowly. Return the print to the developer and repeat as ften as you wish or need
    Alternatively, do as above but don't use a water bath. Remove the print from the developer and then brush on neat undiluted developer onto the areas you wish to bring out more.

    2. Use Farmer's reducer on the areas you want to change the density of the image, (with a brush to apply the bleach) but don't over do it, there is no going back.

    Both of these techniques require some skill and experience to get exactly what you want but darkroom experimentation is part of the fun. When it all comes together the feeling is one of great satisfaction.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2013
  7. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Start with a low grade—low enough—for a muddy print. Evaluate. If necessary, increase grade in a small step (quarter or half). Repeat.
     
  8. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Yes, but now is too late. Those problematic negatives I developed long time ago, and they were from summer - strong sun, +40C ...
     
  9. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I agree.

    Ignore the shadows for a bit and nail the highlights with exposure. If the highlights look good printed this way then you may be better off using burn and dodge.
     
  10. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    You and cliveh have persuaded me :smile: - I will try this first. Just to make more clear what I am talking about - here are two examples of prints that I would like to improve:

    http://darkosaric.deviantart.com/art/Boy-137122555

    http://darkosaric.deviantart.com/art/Istanbul-1-134576178


    @BMbikerider - thanks for tip how to reduce contrast in fixed grade papers, since I have a lot of fix graded papers, in parallel with multigrade learning, I will try this as well.


    Winter, autumn, and rainy weather: always good excuse to play in darkroom little more :wink:
     
  11. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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    Hi darkosaric, i will post some links that have helped me very much concerning split grade printing.

    It all started with an old forum post here on apug.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum41/45256-split-grade-printing-question-sequence.html

    page 3 has a post by bob carnie (post #26) explaining in detail a similar, but different approach.
    here is les mcleans very well detailed with photo examples approach

    http://www.lesmcleanphotography.com/articles.php?page=full&article=21

    ^ this one is awesome, it has helped me out so much.

    The difference between that and what i do, is i use 1/3 or 1/4 of a sheet of paper. when i use a 0 filter, and when i use a 5 filter. After i pick a combination, i do a whole print as stated, followed by a hopefully final print that is dodged and burned.

    While i became proficient at guessing which filter i needed, with what times, the above method almost ensures, that you won't waste more than 3 (4 if you mess up) sheets of paper.
     
  12. mesantacruz

    mesantacruz Subscriber

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  13. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Your basic approach is OK. There are several fine books on printing. The most readily available is probably Adams, "The Print." The point made about making test prints at the final size is well taken. Various things, like flare, affect the exposure and contrast, so you will probably actually save paper by starting full sized. Adams recommends determining the exposure using a low contrast filter or paper (0 or 1). Determine what exposure will print the highlights correctly. Make test strips on the full width of the paper, and don't use a lot of steps - 4 is fine. Your eyes are pretty good at interpolation, and you will make adjustments anyway. (I usually use a Kodak Projection Print Scale, which is easy and works decently well.) When you think you know the exposure, make a print at low contrast, and adjust the exposure from there accordingly. Then adjust the contrast to print the shadows correctly. Then fine tune with dodging and burning in. Then further adjust the contrast, exposure, and manipulation until you get what you want. A lot of time and paper to the first really good print. Mostly it just takes practice.
     
  14. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Thank you all once more :smile:.
     
  15. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I used yesterday some Adox vario classic (triple paper weight - it is great paper!) - and I used combination 0 filter + 5 filter. Results are promising: after testing it looks like my "problematic" high contrast negatives are printing best with 90% exposure time with 0 filter and 10% of exposure time with 5 filter. With some additional burning (without filter) and dodging - it was not so hard as I expected.