Blur Background During Printing

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by C Som, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. C Som

    C Som Subscriber

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    I have some images of shore pines that I took along the Pacific Coast. I like the images, but my DOF was off, the f stop too small and the background area is shrubby and distracting, not blurred as it should be. Too distracting in my mind.
    Is there a way to blur the background during the printing process? Maybe with a filter or something over the paper (like tissue??).
    Any advice will be appreciated.

    C Som
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    No, you need to get it right in the camera.
     
  3. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    You could try dodging the focal point, after it has been given sufficient exposure, while moving the printing easel for a final few seconds exposure. This would darken and blur all print the area not held back. Can be tricky but may be worth a try.

    Jean
     
  4. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Yes, just crinkle up some cellophane and wave it around in the areas you want softer. You can use a larger piece with a hole in it for the sharper parts. You can also use a lower filter to expose the area to soften, either by dodging with the filter or burning in, whichever is appropriate.

    Jon
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Jon's idea is good. I use parchment paper (which doesn't need to be crinkled). The thing to watch out for is that the diffusion will in fact lower the final contrast as well, with brighter shadows and darker highlights, so it can be tricky to match to the part of the print that you want sharp, but it's something I regularly do in the darkroom.
     
  6. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    In-camera is indeed always 'best', but hey, DOF happens, so the oldtimers had a playbook of workarounds (and I just saw Jon's and Thomas' -- good ones.)

    You might try the old Vaseline trick. Sandwich a piece of thin mylar, or similar, with the negative. Mylar on top/negative on bottom, with emulsion layer so that it will be facing the printing paper. Over a light table, or taped up on a bright window, smear a little Vaseline everywhere you don't want a crisp image. Back in the enlarger, expose as usual, with maybe a bit of supplementary burning.
    d
     
  7. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    How about masking part of the photo as if for dodging/burning then giving the enlarger stand a careful, well-placed thump to make it vibrate and blur the unmasked part of the image?
     
  8. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Find yourself a pictrol I think B&H or Freestyle may still offer them.
    Under the lens you can then have sharp and soft areas to your hearts content.

    or on a large sheet of good glass put vaseline on and leave a area clear for your sharp area.

    or put a crinkled tissue over your print after the main exposure and make sure you dodge back the sharp area in your second exposure.
     
  9. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I've placed a soft focus filter by Cokin in front of my enlarger lens just recently. To my surprise, the results were quite nice. It's different from out-of-focus images though.

    Placing a tracing paper/tissue_paper right on top of printing paper didn't do all that much.

    My next step will be to place a plate of glass a bit above my paper and apply some Vaseline on it.

    I had a print that had distracting elements. I was able to bring attention away from them by burning in that area. Eyes naturally go to brighter areas and areas where there are abrupt contrast changes. You could try that, too.
     
  10. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    If your ultimate goal is to have a traditional tack-sharp print, it's best to put the manipulations above the negative. Print quality is highest (and I realize that "highest" is completely subjective) is there's as little as possible between the emulsions. Vaseline above the negative will give you a sharper print (in the areas you want sharp) than Vaseline on glass held above the printing paper (i.e. between the emulsion of the negative and the emulsion of the paper.) In all reality, the difference may not make a difference, but heads-up anyway.
     
  11. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    I have tried and failed to find a spooky photo I made like this years ago. The thing is that the light is diffused/blurred (whatever the correct term is?) into the dark areas - but because we are printing a negative it is the opposite way round to using a soft-filter or diffuser on the camera. Effectively the shadows 'eat' the light areas, if you do it to excess with a suitable contrasty neg it can look rather 'different'! :surprised:)
     
  12. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I agree with the other comments . You can also make a diffuser by getting two pieces of thick glass and polish or tape the edges (no cut fingers) and place a small amount of baby oil between them adjust as needed. I have used this technique for some portraits and nudes where the model had a peeling sunburn and it was very effective. It keeps a generally focused look but softens some details probably by creating flare. you hold the glass under the enlarging lens and move it while in the focus mode until it looks right then repeat when projecting the image on to the paper.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  13. C Som

    C Som Subscriber

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    Lots of very helpful ideas here -- several sound like things I can try with materials I have here at home. Wonderful! Thanks so much.
     
  14. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    I actually prefer to do this when my OOFE are sharp dots instead of smooth washes. Works pretty well, but it certainly takes some getting used to at first. The effect is very weak, at least with the cellophane trick.
     
  15. Stephen Frizza

    Stephen Frizza Member

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    for a subtle yet interesting bleed of highlights and shaddow areas creating a softer focus you can burn in the area using anti newton glass. Or alternatively there is enlarger adapters which durst made where you can adjust to throw areas out of focus to re create depth of field issues it is a filter type device with panels of adjustable glass with optical properties that blur or soften focus in areas and is very controllable.
     
  16. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Dodge or mask the central subject and knock the enlarger so it vibrates.
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    If you are using a glass carrier, you can simply smear a little vaseline or something like that on the top
    surface of the top glass and clean it afterwards, provided your enlarger does not run hot.
     
  18. feilb

    feilb Member

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    I'm a noob, so I have no idea whether this would work or not, but why not try exposing with the enlarger slightly out of focus, dodging the "sharp" part, then focus up and dodge the "soft" part?

    Thoughts those of you with some experience?

    EDIT: I see that i just resurrected a 2mo old post. Sorry bout that.
     
  19. Dinesh

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    Extremely helpful piece of advice!
     
  20. superd

    superd Member

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    Any of the suggested methods will never produce a natural out of focus blend, not to mention trying to make it repeatable. This is about camera control and proper application of DOF as one intends to have in the final picture. Call it learning from mistakes. Not meaning to be harsh, but fake is a fake.
     
  21. Matthew Wagg

    Matthew Wagg Member

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    There are some cool suggestions here.
    How I'd do it is by using masks just above the neg. It'll be increasingly difficult as the size of the neg gets smaller. So it'd be best with a 5x4 neg or MF. If you were gonna do it with a 35mm neg I'd suggest going a totally different route involving scanning the neg and using just black on transparencies and print it out to size rather than doing it by hand

    Mask out in thin black card the areas you want to keep sharp using an exacto knife to make a cutout. Keep both parts as you'll need them both.

    Use the mask to block out the background while you are keeping your subject in sharp focus, expose as you would normally. Once you've done that, put the print into a darkbag and swap the masks around. Defocus the lens and re-expose the paper. That should give you a close approximation of a shallower depth of field.