Darkroom Automation's paper on Local Gamma

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ParkerSmithPhoto, Oct 27, 2011.

  1. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Darkroom Automation's paper on Local Gamma was a real eye opener for me. As a portrait photographer, I wondered why my Ilford MG prints produced skin tones that often looked waxy. I had given up the darkroom for the most part and used a scanning workflow for about two years.

    So, my questions for starters (I'm sure there will be many more as I get into this): is it better to start with a relatively flat negative, and use a higher paper grade to get a classic portrait look? Or, is it still better to go with graded papers for this work? If I understand correctly, the local contrast on a graded paper will have a more even distribution. (The HD curve concepts are still settling into my brain, so pardon any misunderstandings.)

    Parker
     
  2. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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  3. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    An excellent explanation and I have the "blah" prints to prove it. Availability of graded papers is another matter though...
     
  4. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    I find that graded papers can be used to great advantage for contrasty negatives by using dilute soft-working developer and/or water-bath development and/or flashing, thereby obviating the problems of VC papers at low-contrast settings.

    I tend to use graded papers for the greater part of my work, tailoring for grade 2. The occasional really too contrasty neg gets the above treatment. Negatives that are too thin and need more contrast get printed on grade 3 graded papers, or, in a pinch, grade 4 Slavich or Kentmere using more contrasty developers (I add carbonate and btz too to "tune things up" as well). If I really need more contrast, that's when I drag out the VC papers and dial in full magenta :smile:

    I could envision a work flow where VC papers were used for most higher-contrast work and graded papers coupled with contrast-reducing measures used for the low-contrast end. For my, however, graded papers seem to look and work better (personal favorites now are Adox Nuance, Slavich Unibrom and Seagull GF grade 3 (the grade 2 split-tones...)).

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I think the idea of staying on the flat side with the negative makes great theoretical sense.

    I'm going to have to play with this.
     
  7. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    It looks to me like there is absolutely no reason to ever use white light or yellow filtration with VC papers. If anything, always start with about 5 Magenta and use that as your Normal grade, boosting it up from there. Looking back at a lot of my favorite old silver prints (which look like they just came off the press), I realize they were actually printed on graded Seagull and Galerie.

    This is a really great group of people here. I feel like I'm on the way home, remembering things I'd somehow forgotten.
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I don't think that absolutes are indicated here. Each paper is different and our uses vary.

    Ilford's extra effort in the shadows that is talked of in the paper may be more important to a landscape shooter than a mid-tone speed bump.

    The paper I've been using lately is Adorama's VC and it has done some very nice portraits at grade 1. It is very possible that they would be better if the negative had been flatter and print grade harder but there's no proof yet in my darkroom.
     
  9. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Many graded papers are really 2-emulsion VC-like papers. The emulsions aren't color-sensitized but have a fixed sensitivity relationship. By varying the sensitivity of the two emulsions the manufacturer can produce a range of graded contrasts on the same machinery they use to produce VC paper.

    Split-toning is a dead give-away that the paper is really FVC [Fixed Variable Contrast - can't think of a better term for it at the moment].

    FVC papers often have the same anomalies in their HD curves: bumps, flat spots and a lack of highlight contrast variation between grades.

    I don't know how long the FVC technique has been used.
     
  10. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Nicholas,

    I suspected as much and your post above confirms that. Thanks. do you offhand know which papers are not FVC, but use a single emulsion? I'd really be interested in knowing.

    Best,

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com