another split grade question

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by NewMexican, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. NewMexican

    NewMexican Member

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    I learned split grade printing from Les McClean and I'm a bit confused. Does it make a difference which grade you expose for first? Iknow it's suppose to be soft then hard but does it make any difference?
    charlie
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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  3. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I learned from Les as well and it's as David said. But I also think in the long run it really doesn't matter.
     
  4. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I think the argument for doing the soft exposure first is that the hard exposure then does not affect the highlights very much. As opposed to doing the hard exposure first the next exposure with the soft grade will make your blacks blacker. I found this to be mostly true. Each negative is unique though and I base my decision on which grade to use first based on the negative. If you do the hard exposure first try exposing for 1/3 stop less than the strip that gives you first sign of black. Then the next soft filter exposure will bring them down to where you want them.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I usually start with the soft exposure, but if I am printing something like a high key portrait or a scene in fog, it works better to start with the high contrast first.
     
  6. kazuo

    kazuo Member

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    In Lambrecht, Woodhouse Way Beyond Monochrome 2e they put the curves of soft/hard and hard/soft exposures, the conclusion is, quoted from the book:

    They have a lot more to tell about split grade, so is a good ideia to get a copy of the book.
     
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    If you are printing with a large coldlight head, the temperature and light intensity of the second exposure are altered by the first exposure. There are a lot of ways to work around this problem (compensating timers, heaters, stabilizers, below the lens shutter, etc) One simple solution is to always do the same color first in the exposure sequence.
     
  8. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    It all depends on the contrast of the neg. If it's a contrasty/normal neg then I find soft exposure first is the best way to go. If it's a soft neg, better to determine the blacks first.
     
  9. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The order of exposure makes no difference whatsoever when making the final print.

    When making test strips it is best to determine the dominant exposure first.

    For low contrast negatives (making a high contrast print) first determine the high contrast (magenta) exposure for the desired shadows, then find the right exposure for the highlights with the low contrast filter.

    Conversely, for high contrast negatives (low contrast print) first determine the low contrast (yellow) exposure for the highlights, then move on to the shadows.

    The reason for this is that the dominant exposure will have an effect on the other end of the tonal scale: A long high contrast/shadows (magenta) exposure will have some effect on the highlights, but the short low contrast/highlights (yellow) exposure will have no effect on the shadows; A long low contrast (yellow) exposure will have some effect on the shadows but the shorter shadow (magenta) exposure won't effect the highlights.

    Experienced photographers often find themselves making lower contrast negatives (slightly overexposed and underdeveloped) and higher contrast prints. Generous film exposure is always a good idea. But, just as importantly, is the increase in linearity of the HD curve at higher contrast grades. Low contrast MG filtration invariably has flat spots in the curve, leading to poor detail in certain tones. If you print at -1 or 0 then you will find that detail disappears in the middle/dark greys - there is just a pool of fog where detail should be.

    For more information on this see the Darkroom Automation application note:
    http://www.darkroomautomation.com/support/appnotevcworkings.pdf

    As for cold-light heads, well, they are just a can of worms when it comes to this issue. To keep prints consistent it is best to keep the head on all the time - only turn it off for loading the paper and while the paper is in the developer. This keeps the lamp hot (so much for 'cold' light ... of course, if you kept an incandescent head on all the time there would be a distinct smell of burning insulation after a while). Incandescent heads have a slight drift as they warm up - light output increases by about 0.05 stops over a period of a few minutes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2014
  10. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    First off for me, what ic-racer said re cold light heads (I use the Arristo V54 lamp).
    Also, since the hard filter doesn't affect the highlights as much as the reverse (if at all) I use the soft filter first to nail highlights. And, if there isn't adequate separation in the highlights themselves, I may not use the softest filter for them.
    When the highlights are established, I test for the deepest values, again adjusting time and filter choice. Varying the time for the hardest filter (which I try first, with the soft filter exposure already made) controls how far up into the shadow range the full black value goes. Sometimes I choose one or two filters down from the hardest, for the hard exposure, just to control this separation in the ranges below Z5.
    Am I explaining myself?
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    My V54 lamphouse is equipped with a compensating timer, so exposures are consistent regardless. There is also a typical heater, which I can
    turn on about half an hour ahead of time on colder days. I don't have any set rules about how I split print. All kinds of options work, and I do
    them instinctively by now. If I wrote a book about it, I might mention a few accessories, but otherwise would sum it up in about one line:
    "just do it".
     
  12. Steve Sherman

    Steve Sherman Subscriber

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    I have read and heard all the arguments for which comes first and can only reason that the soft exposure (green bright light) breaks the threshold of the paper virtually instantly where as the hard contrast light is much dimmer, as least to the eye and therefore may not equally break the threshold of the paper as quickly.
    For the above reasons I prefer to expose the soft contrast light first and hard contrast second, more importantly I think it most important that one settles on one or the other and does it in that order each time with the emphasis on consistency.
    Cheers !
     
  13. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Yep! :smile:
     
  14. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    It's impossible to make a straightjacket set of rules, because different VC papers tend to respond somewhat differently. And when you're done
    with exposure per se, the manner in which the prints accept specific toners will also be affected by the relative exposure to different aspects of the emulsion. I have zero problem switching from cold light to additive colorhead to subtractive colorhead, and doing all kinds of things which
    might include full split-print control or only selective control by hard filtration. All it takes is a few test strips and a bit of experience with your chosen papers, developers, toners etc. Reading a four hundred page book about it would tell you less than just watching someone do it for half an hour. The most important asset you can have on hand is a good "fun coefficient". It seems to work every time.