Contrast control for small area of negative.

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Robert Oliver, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. Robert Oliver

    Robert Oliver Member

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    I asked this over on lfphoto.info.... but thought I would try it here also

    I have a 4x5 negative that has one little area I would love to be able to print with detail. The negative is pretty easy to print with the exception of the super bright Mt. Connesss in the background. I tried burning but had trouble not over burning the surrounding areas.

    Attached is a scan of the neg with some contrast control done in photoshop... (sorry for the digital image, I'm weaning myself off Photoshop and back into the darkroom)

    Flash the paper? Mask? Split Grade printing?

    Any other ideas?

    I marked this negative N+1, but I guess I didn't see that Mt. Conness had slipped into full sun when I pushed the plunger.

    I will process the other neg at N or N-1 that I shot at the same time, but was just curious about this situation.

    Thanks in advance
    Robert
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Robert Oliver

    Robert Oliver Member

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    Here are some quick cell phone snaps of best print I made on Ilford FB Multigrade.... including a closeup of Mt. Conness and the burn job I did. I still have a lot of work to do to get this print to where I like it.

    cell_phone_snap_tenaya_ice_print.jpg cellphone_tenaya_ice.jpg
     
  3. rwhawkins

    rwhawkins Member

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    Robert,

    I would try a preflash first with non-image light. Basically you want to fog the paper in that area right up to the point where you see the slightest gray, then print your neg. The trick is going to be alignment if you don't use a pin register. What I would do is make a cardboard mask with the mountain cutout. Then use a small penlight to flash the area while slightly moving the cardboard. Even the addition of a little gray should make an improvement.


    Cheers,

    RW
    www.rwhawkins.com
     
  4. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    It's always hard to tell for sure unless I've got it in front of me but a couple of suggestions in order of increasing complexity. START SIMPLE with burning and only proceed to more complicated procedures as necessary.

    Depends how large the print is and also on how much burning is required. A small hole in a burning card could work unless the print is really small. It might take some practice to get it right but that's ok. Doing the burn with a very low contrast filter can help bring in subtle highlight detail and makes it a little easier to avoid artifacts around the area being burned (depending on the surrounding tones).

    Watch for dry-down. You want detail but you don't necessarily want to kill the highlight.

    Flashing could help if it is done carefully and rather precisely in this case. There are various ways to do this from negative masking to cardboard cutouts at the paper plane.

    Another way would be to make a selective burning mask like the ones Alan Ross uses. It works great for 4x5 and larger negatives and doesn't require the more complex procedures required in making contrast masks with camera or litho film.

    Depending on how complicated you wanted to get, dodge/burn masks can be useful for this type of thing. I'm sometimes able to get a relatively simple one-step sandwich-type mask to work. If you wanted to get more complicated, you could make a flashing mask. This is multiple steps and requires good registration.
     
  5. FM2N

    FM2N Member

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    First the mountains in the distance while bright are not blown since there seems to be a lot of good detail in them(top pic #1)
    If you are trying to get the eye to NOT go there I would think that a dodge would be the choice to hold back some of enlarger exposure,resulting in less whiteness to the specific peak, not adding light to then burn it out.
    What exact detail of the pic are you thinking of printing?
    Arthur
     
  6. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Just a note on flashing. I have an electronic timer that can be set in tenths of a second. (If flashing is the route you want to go) what I have done is to make a guide at the usual magnification levels I generally print at and the paper + a contrast (Aristo VCL or use a filter) in tenths of a second fully processed and dry. I can see what the flashing (no negative in the carrier) will be. I can then know how long I want to flash for. Of course sometimes you have to make an adjustment for the final print but you could preflash at different times on a test print sheet. Couple this with some of the suggestion above.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  7. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    Well, since you sound like you are familiar with hybrid processes, you could print out a little transparency (digineg) of that spot, cover up the rest of the print and burn in that way. But people on here are going to shoot me now, so if you do, don't tell us.

    By the way, that's one hell of a picture. Congrats, I really like it as it is now!
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    You could perhaps print the area of concern a stop or two darker than the rest (with standard dodge and burn techniques) and then bleach that area selectively. Selective bleaching can really boost contrast a lot. Depending on your bleach, you can reduce proportionally or attack highlights and lend 'brilliance' to them.

    Nutty though it may sound if you haven't tried, you can also print small parts of a print at a different grade than the rest, I have played with this and all you do is use multigrade paper and filters and experiment. Under the enlarger, you can lay the filter directly on the print until you figure out which filter and exposure ratio to use, and go from there.
     
  9. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I would second the notion to burn the area with a double 0 or 0 filter.
    I think you will find you can do this without changing the darker surrounding areas much. Especially if you keep your burn spot on the white mountain and below.
    Don`t worry about exposing part of the darker mountains. If you use a cutout circle for the burn, the top quarter of the (pie) shape covers the white and the bottom three quarters can safely be over the dark mountains.
    If you have never done this split printing you will be amazed.
    In addition, a brief number 5 burn of the white mountain will selectivly darken the crevices, but you will have to stay within the area, as then, the surrounding area will be darkened

    Whenever I read your posts I wish I had a lot of money to give to you to save the Hetch Hetchy
     
  10. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Although on review of the image, you might find you like that bit of white.
    What if, instead, you bleached the flat light grey rocks or ice in front of the big rock to balance the mountain.
     
  11. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    First, I would try to flash the paper. I really like the very bright mountain back there, and you only want to get a hint of texture.

    Selective masking would be my second method to try. If you wish to just burn in the area you could make a mask and cut out the area that needs more exposure. You get about 1/3 to 1/2 stop reduction of speed with frosted mylar, so what you would really be doing is dodging the rest of the print by that amount. You could also also do some additional dodging, burning or local contrast adjustment with the mask on the rest of image. For example if you want to increase the contrast of the large mountain on the left you could add a bit of magenta to that area of the mask with a highlighter or colored pencil. That would lighten it a bit and increase the contrast locally by blocking some of the green light. You can also fake it with a bit of pencil shading.

    There is really no way your development could have really helped you. If you had given the negative less development time, then you would have had to increase the contrast for the printing to get the rest of the print the way you like it and you would be right back to where you are now. So don't beat yourself up over that.
     
  12. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Flash the paper will bring this in. Non Destructive also.

    Combine with or use split filter printing alone. Start with low contrast, then when the peak is correct, add density with high contrast filter.

    You might try masking, single mask to hold everything back except the white.

    Also try a small cut out slightly smaller than the size of the peak and lay it right on the print. Move slightly during exposure.

    Definately go with a diffusion enlarger if you are not using one.
     
  13. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Re flashing, I'd still try to do localized burning first. Keep in mind flashing reduces highlight contrast. And if it is not localized, it will have some degree of flattening effect on other highlights in your image, such as bright clouds. It can also have subtle effects on upper mid-tones, so some additional adjustments may be required - ie if you decide to flash the paper, make sure you do new test strips etc.
     
  14. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I personally dislike flashing because there's more risk of compromising the gradation of the low values. Split printing on a high-quality VC would make this a fairly easy task provided the high values
    of Mt Conness aren't blown clear onto the shoulder of the film and still retain some gradation. I'd simply make a relatively precise cutout on a burn-in card and give that specific area some green or
    yellow light exp. (Actually, I'd personally use a registration punch and special mask to do the burn
    exactly, but most people don't own that kind of gear). Good timing with that shot, however!
     
  15. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Agree with you, Drew. Flashing is not typically the best "first line tool" in the bag.
     
  16. hadeer

    hadeer Member

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    Wouldn't it be possible to use retouching ink? The area looks quite small to me.
     
  17. Robert Oliver

    Robert Oliver Member

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    Thanks for the help all... I did a lot of paper flashing back in my days as a newspaper photographer making screen prints. was never really a fan of that technique, but were doing it in a pretty low tech way.

    Been chatting with Alan Ross and he's given me some great suggestions... He thinks selective masking is the way to go on it.

    just got his CD's on VC Printing and Masking, can't wait to get into them to start working on the next series.
     
  18. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Agree. As I mentioned earlier Alan Ross's selective masking techniques are relatively simple for this type of application and you don't really need much extra gear to get it going. He'll also sell you a simple, inexpensive carrier to use (hinged glass and diffusing plexi) to fit your enlarger, although it is quite easy to make this yourself.

    By the way, if you need any of the diffusing plexi he recommends, or some extra matt dura-lar sheets, I have a lot of extra (ordered way too much of it when I first started reading about selective masking).
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    a contrst-controlling msk will do the rick