Contacting on VC

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by ldh, Nov 27, 2004.

  1. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Greetings from Prague

    I have recently been awarded a grant to photograph the district of Mala Strana. This was the neighborhood which Josef Sudek lived and had his studio. As it happens, I live one building over from Sudeks old studio, which has now been reconstructed and operates as a gallery.

    I am going to be using a hybrid form of attaining the final results by shooting 4x5 pinhole with my modified linhof technika III > scanning the negs and working with them in photoshop and then making 11x14 digital negs for contact printing on silver gelatin. I would like to use a light source other than an enlarger...something simple... and I want to use VC enlarging papers.

    I would appreciate any suggestions re: what the best set up for a light source might be...including some type of contrast filter gel holder...like to build it all by hand other than the contact frame...I'm working on getting permission to do the printing in reconstructed darkroom in the Sudek studio which is very tiny space....experience with VC papers/developer combinations also welcome.

    Sorry for mentioning digital and photoshop and scanning all in the same post...
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Get a set of Ilfords 6x6 inch VC filters, more likely to be able to cover the front of a lamphousing than a smaller set. Make a drawer for it with a plexiglas bottom to lay the gelatin filter in, and a bracket to slide the set in place under the lamphouse.
     
  3. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I do a lot of contact printing on Azo (using a 175 watt bulb in a round reflector hanging about three feet above my printing frame). Just for fun, I picked up a cheap pack of VC fiber paper and a 7.5 watt lightbulb. At about 4.5 feet from the frame, I'm getting very reasonable printing times. I haven't picked up a set of gels yet, so I'm effectively printing everything at grade 2, but the setup definately works. (And the results are pretty darned amazing.) My intent is to pick up a set of 6x6 gels and use them as described above. Good luck with your project.
     
  4. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I suppose you could use the gels used for lighting systems to cover the whole print.

    If you use a lens to project the light, you could use the Ilford under-lens filters.

    Have you thought of using an 11x14 pinhole camera directly rather than all that mucking about with computers? It would not be difficult to build such a beast - even the film holders do not need to be precision built as it's a pinhole camera. You would loose all the computer editing capabilities of course, but it might be all the more interesting for that!

    In any event, good luck with your project.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  5. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    I think the 11x14 pinhole idea is great. VC filters don't work too well with digital negs (see Burkholder), so you can save money and just use a lightbulb and graded papers.

    Jon
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    When you consider contact printing onto VC paper, it is important to consider the color of the light source that you are using for exposure. If you are using a tungsten light bulb the contrast grade of the paper will be different then if you are exposing with a halogen light, for instance. The tungsten will emit more yellow then halogen...hence it would require a negative with a greater density range (contrast) then a halogen lamp. Other lamps would provide differing print contrasts. If I were going to expose VC materials with a tungsten lamp then I would increase the blue filtration to offset the reduction in contrast.

    Not having experience, nor wanting any for that matter, with digitally produced negatives...I do not understand why a digital negative would print any differently then a film negative produced with a non staining developer.
    We are after all concerned with the transmission of a given color light through a medium of variable density. I think that applies to all negatives.
     
  7. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Not to mention, if you are going to be going the digital negative route, you should be doing your contrast adjustments in PS and calibrating your system to whatever grade of paper you are using. Stick with one grade paper.
     
  8. donbga

    donbga Member

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    If one is going to use VC paper and digital negatives the best approach would be to used an enlarger as the light source so the lowest grade filter can be used. That is the only one you should use as all of the contrast adjustment is made on the digital negative. Additonally the same printing time should be used all of the time.

    Digital negatives allow a lot of control but the method of printing them onto silver gelatin is much different than a normal in camera negative.

    One should plan on spending a fair amount of time to calibrate a system for printing digital negatives. I highly recommend Mark Nelson's book, Precision Digital Negatives, but also get Dan Burkholder's second edition as it has information relating to digital editing that isn't found in MArk's book. I will say that Mark's digital workflow is very sound and efficient.

    Plan to spend a fair amount of time mastering digital negative creation and printing especially if you aren't up to speed with PhotoShop. And speaking of PhotoShop, if you can swing it use PS CS, a.k.a. PS 8. It allows 16 bit levels and curves adjustment layers which is wonderful for perserving image data and preventing image data.

    On the other hand making traditonal analog enlarged negatives may be easier, quicker, and cheaper if PhotoShop and digital imaging really isn't your forte.

    Don Bryant
     
  9. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Thanks folks for the responses...I will be doing some thinking based upon what has been shared here...I have to agree that the 11x14 pinhole camera is the most sensible approach, but I really dont want o hump around a rig like that and my linhoff is very managable and I built it custom to for the work that I do....I could always just do straight enlarging from my 4x5 negs, but I wanted to attempt contact printing as it is what Sudek did for most of the latter part of his work...and 4x5 prints arent suitable for the end result.

    I think BMAC is right as well... as if I actually do end up making digital negs, it makes far more sene to set the curves and levels in photoshop to suit the grade of paper I am wanting to print on...it seems correct that graded papers are the way to go, for a number of reasons also mentioned in other posts here.

    Thanks all for the comments so far...
     
  10. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Nelson vs. Burkholder

    Can anybody here tell me if there are any significant differences or advantages to Mark Nelson's vs. Dan Burkholder's methods for making enlarged negs for contact printing...I know this isnt analog but the shooting and printing will be for sure. Both methods seem to have a large fanbase..for those making enlarged negs from imagefiles.
     
  11. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    I'm not sure why you would not want to contact print on Azo. It will give you the prints that will come closest in feeling to Sudek's best work.
     
  12. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Azo

    Who knows maybe I will end up with AZO...but I'm not a big fan of the surface of the paper surface itself or that it is single weight...I really like the surfaces and tone of Agfa 111 and 118 papers and Forte polywarmtone museum weight...plus these papers are readily available for very reasonable prices here...the cost of shipping AZO to Prague plus paying duty and VAT tax would be prohibitive...If I had to go with a contact paper it seems I would be better of with Bergger (even if its not the same look and feel as AZO) at least I can buy it here and not have to pay shipping plus 22% VAT and duty. Perhaps I'm incorrect in assuming that AZO only comes in one paper surface, and weight....Actually In Sudeks later days he was contacting on early versions of the popular Agfa Brovira...and on Forte Graded enlarging paper, but I believe then it was called Forte-Gabor. Azo is beautiful paper but i cant see it working for me on a budget or esthtic level.
     
  13. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    I can get 95% of the print quality I get with the Azo / amidol combination by using Bergger VCNB or VCCB papers in Dektol. I contact print my large format negatives using a Saunders LPL enlarger as a light source. That way I can dial in the contrast I need. The tonality is in many cases just about the equal of Azo and the print color is usually better.

    I've never been a big fan of Bergger's film, but their paper is superb. I've used Agfa's Brovira, Portriga Rapid and Multicontrast Classic papers, Oriental Seagull (old and new), Ilford MG III (ok) and MG IV (the pits) papers and to me Bergger beats them all.

    You owe it to yourself to at least try a 25 sheet package. It seems to me to be the answer to your prayers. I have never tried Bergger's 'contact' paper, which Michael Smith tells me is nothing of the sort. The stuff they sell as enlarging paper is so good (when used with an enlarger light source) that I have no desire to try it.
     
  14. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    Well, certainly if you do not like the surface of Azo, do not use it. We ship Azo regularly all over the world, but overseas shipping is not inexpensive, although we usually ship without insurance and with a very low valuation so that purchasers are spared dutoes and VAT.
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    sounds like an interesting project, I am a big fan of Sudeks work, good luck
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    By the way, why would you not try making the enlarged negs via the Devere unit we were discussing?
     
  17. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Hi Bob,
    Never really thought about it...as I mentioned before I am not really up to speed on the process of making enlarged negs or contact printing for that matter...this is new territory for me, I just thought it would be fitting and interesting for this upcoming project. I think I would actually prefer to have somebody who really knows what they're doing to make the enlarged negs for me, at least in the beginning...its not like I would be making 100's...only the ones that will make the final edit, for the eventual show....probably 25 11x14ish images.

    I'm going to investigate the Bergger as well, as I can get them at a good price from Lotus in Austria (very nice people as well)...I agree with you about the Bergger papers they are rather nice...Lotusview sent me a free package of 25 last year to try out.

    Thanks for all the comments everyone...
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    If you aren't aware of it, Bob Herbst has an excellent article on making enlarged negs on www.unblinkingeye.com. If you don't want to make these yourself, then Jill at "In The Dark" (her screen name here on Apug) makes enlarged negs. She made an 8X10 from a 4X5 camera negative for me. The density range was adjusted in the process of enlarging and was correct for the materials that I use.

    Good luck. Sounds like a wonderful project.

    Donald Miller