Burning highlights down to pure black. What's the secret?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by larfe, Apr 15, 2017.

  1. larfe

    larfe Member

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    Hi Apug,

    for some time now I have tried to hide distracting elements in my prints by burning them to pure black... Without much success.
    I have seen it done by other people so I'm sure it can be done, but I am running out of ideas.

    I'm attaching two prints to give an example of what I'm trying to do.
    The first (lighter) print without burning and the second one where I burned the top right and bottom left for approximately 7+ stops with filter 00, by holding a card with a hole in it above the print. In fact there is so much added light that the white borders of the print have fogged slightly.

    It's showing less in the scans for some reasons but the burned parts are still showing faint traces of highlights, and the mirror behind the girl on the right is clearly visible.

    I'm also well aware that the whole print is much darker compared to the first one, I probably have some light bouncing between the burning card and the rest of the printing station, but I'm not trying to solve that problem for now.

    So if anyone knows how I could achieve what I'm trying to do, I would be most grateful. I'm especially looking to improve my printing skills without delving in complicated masking and/or resorting to bleaching the neg.

    Thanks in advance.

    2017-04-15-0001.jpg

    2017-04-15-0002.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  2. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    I am thinking the 00 filter is the problem. Try a 4 or 5.
     
  3. OP
    larfe

    larfe Member

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    Thanks,

    I was under the impression that filter 00 would affect the highlights most which is why I've used that.
    In fact in the book Way beyond monochrome, the guy does exactly this with 00...
     
  4. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    You are on the right track with the 00 filter as the high contrast filter won't touch the highlights. In this extreme case I'd use a pen light to burn/flash selected portions of the image and red filter under the enlarger lens to see the image.
     
  5. ~andi

    ~andi Member

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    I think burning with the 00 filter only will not get you to a full black with some papers. You might also need to use Nr 5 filter to get maximum black. I'd probably try a 3.5 or 4 in this case instead of the 00/5 split. Depending on how dense your highlights are, burning in specular highlights might take quite some time. Using white light might get you there faster (no filter or a flashlight, VC papers are usually twice as fast without a filter and have about grade 2 then).

    The light spill on the border is strange. Maybe the blades of your easel aren't flat. Try putting some weight on them, or the base is magnetic one or two small magnets to holde the blade flat.

    I know you did not ask for this, but I personally feel this particular image benefits with the background not burned down to black. The top right balances well with the stuff on the desk in the left corner. The lines flow well. Try burning down the bright line on the bottom of the mirror a bit (I find that the most distracting), and maybe the mirror just ever so slightly.

    To direct the viewers attention, a slight burn is often enough. That being said, if you want it black because that's your artistic vision, then the last comment did not help much...

    Andi
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  6. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    Oh ok now I am visualizing the situation. You are right. I think you want to burn it directly with a light source. Small flashlight or remove the negative from carrier.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Also known as "flashing" the problem area.
     
  8. jimjm

    jimjm Subscriber

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    I think the main effect you're trying to achieve here is to burn down the bright highlight areas in the upper right and lower left. It looks like the mirror is one area that's going to be the most troublesome, as that's one of the densest areas of the negative and hardly any light is getting thru to the paper, thus the lengthy burn times.

    You're correct that using a lower grade like 00 will affect the lighter tones more easily. A higher grade like 4 or 5 will get you deeper blacks, but will have little effect on the highlights. To burn those bright areas down, I would try using something like a penlight to selectively burn the paper in those areas. You can easily cut out a mask of cardboard or thick paper so the penlight doesn't expose any other parts of the paper. It will take some experimentation to get the best, and to keep it from looking too "manipulated".

    Personally, I like the mirror and the upper right part of the image in your first print. I think it adds an interesting element. I would burn down the clutter in the lower left corner a bit, and darken the brightest areas in the upper back and the medal. I think this is a really interesting image, there's a lot of movement going on and it's definitely worth spending some time to get it right. You'll get there!
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Sometimes you may need to change the developer or the paper to get the blacks that you want after you have tried all the above.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    when i want to get my highlights to go black
    i burn with the high contrast filters as hatchetman
    suggested you do
     
  11. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    ic-racer gave you the easiest, if not the most brutal, way of doing it. You can attach neutral density to the flashlight to give you longer burn times.

    The way I would do it if I were you is to put diffusion under the lens. Some type of opal glass or thin white plexi would work fine. By doing it this way, you can burn slowly using white light from the enlarger if you want a true black. It will be much more controllable and repeatable if you use this method. You can also use the diffusion if you ever pre-flash the paper (that is what I use it for).

    I should add that you can just leave the neg in the enlarger while you do this.

    Hope that helps you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  12. OP
    larfe

    larfe Member

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    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    It looks like the penlight trick would be the way to go, I'm quite surprised that I have not seen it get a mention in any of the darkroom tutorial books I have.
    After a bit of googling I even found something called the dauxlite which is no longer made, some kind of penlight with different head attachment and accommodation for mg filters etc... Somebody otherwise suggested an otoscope anyone tried this?
     
  13. RauschenOderKorn

    RauschenOderKorn Member

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    As the negative in the area of the mirror seems to be extraordinaryly dense, remove the negative while burning in or use the solution proposed by Patrick Robert James. Furthermore, use light which also contains blue, i.e. white light or a Filter 5. Green light (i.e. Filter 00) affects only part of the emulsion and the emulsion is designed to become grey with green, and not go fully black. Eventually you can achieve black with a Filter 00, too, but only with significantly longer exposure times than with a filter 5.

    For more detailed Info have a look at the Ilford Fact Sheet "Contrast Control".
     
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  15. OP
    larfe

    larfe Member

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    Thanks Patrick,

    with the diffusion under the lens, how would you know which part of the paper to burn since you won't see an image?
     
  16. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Subscriber

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    Have you tried using a penlight such as doctors use? The ones with the bulb that has a built in lens work the best.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I'd hazard a guess that you have a really good mental image of the projected image in your mind by now.
    "You remember where to point the penlight" is the answer to your question, but placing marks on your easel and having a reference print in view are both helpful too.
    Good luck with this. One side benefit of struggling with this is that it is the type of experience that can really add to your depth of printing knowledge. Be sure to keep your "failures" as well as detailed notes respecting each. A "straight" print will help round out the package.
     
  18. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    you could also use pin registration and make a highlight only mask as a second exposure.
     
  19. Craig75

    Craig75 Member

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    I think if you walk away and comeback then you might really appreciate that second print as it is.

    Looks really cool to my eyes just as it is
     
  20. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Might be a good use of the "red" filter that enlargers commonly have attached to them. If you have one, you could swing the red filter in place and then see where to aim the "flash" light.
     
  21. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Why do people today have to make things so complicated? In the old days,I am talking about 1930's to about the 1960's none of us would have thought about trying to burn a highlight to maximum paper black with light. The tray of hot water which was always in the sink was the answer. Anything from a pinhole to half the sheet was burned to whatever degree of gray was desired was easily taken care of in seconds. If you don't know how, experiment a bit.
     
  22. klownshed

    klownshed Member

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    I won't add to the 'how to burn to black' debate but I will say that I think the photo actually works better with the mirror! Although a little bit distracting at first, the photo needs the light area at the top right for balance IMHO and due to the type of photo, the mirror isn't a big problem.

    I find that on first glance, the mirror does indeed take the attention but your eye is quickly drawn to the figure below and it helps draw the eye to the subject. Burning it out will lose the light area in the corner, which I like.

    It's interesting hearing people's techniques for burning to black, but in this case I'd only darken it a little bit and ensure the light in the corner isn't affected. I think it makes for a more interesting image, you wonder what you'll see in the mirror...

    It's one of those photos that doesn't seem to work at first glance, but offers up more when you take the time to look at it properly. Which I like in a photo.

    :smile:
     
  23. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Adding a #5 filter exposure or using less than 00 to burn a highlight does not help or maybe even do anything.
    [​IMG]
     
  24. Craig75

    Craig75 Member

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    If one just wanted to use filters surely the problem with using just a 00 is as rauschen describes it... getting a deep black with 00 is a verrrry long and potentially messy old burn. The problem with using just a 5 is it could just leave the highlight basically untouched. Is it not best to start with a very soft to get the highlight greying up and then increase the filtration once the highlight is in a tone that will be affected by a higher grade filter to get the deep black?
     
  25. chipphoto

    chipphoto Subscriber

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    The hot water usually works,you can also try hot developer at full strength with a cotton ball.
     
  26. RauschenOderKorn

    RauschenOderKorn Member

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    The OP has told us that he has tried to burn-in with a 00 filter for 7+ (SEVEN) additional stops and could only achieve grey. Seven additional stops with a not too small print would usually mean several minutes of exposure. This particular negative has the area of the mirror so dense that an extremely long exposure time would be required with any filter (don´t forget: a Filter 5 requires double exposure time). Just have a look at the charts posted by ic-racer Therefore the suggestion to remove the negative when burning in that particular area or to use a flashlight or hot water / developer.

    Starting with a 00 filter and changing then to a 5 filter (Splitgrade for burning in?)? I have never tried but would guess the particular effect depends on the paper and the negative. With the negative the OP is using, I would not expect too much - it simply is too dense.