Dodging & burning

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by Peter Black, Aug 11, 2007.

  1. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    I've done a forum search on this but haven't really found the answer I'm looking for, so hopefully you guys will indulge me. I've always been aware that my contact sheets are "better" than the subsequent enlargements, or else the enlargements took a lot of work to get close. I'm now at the stage of pondering a move from 4x5 (just too small, except for postcard prints) to 5x7 on the grounds that 5x7 with a border will give a reasonable size of finished print.

    My concern/question is in respect of dodging or burning a neg in such circumstances, since it seems to me that this would prove to be more difficult than dodging/burning an enlargement where there is more scope for movement of hands etc in the light path between the neg and the paper. Are hands a realistic proposition in such circumstances, or would I be walking into very accurate masks and suchlike? I'm curious to know before making the switch and yes, I understand 8x10 might be better/easier, but no I don't have the money!

    Thanks, Peter
     
  2. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    I do not have a 4x5 enlarger so last night I just contact printed my first negative
    -my 3rd print overall-
    I used 3 different contrast filters (split grade)
    and used dodge/burn tools which were the same shape of the areas I was working on/excluding (I guess you'd call it a mask)

    I have no timer
    I have a switch that I have to manually click on and off the enlarger with

    I thought it was GREAT! To sit down and plan out the separate steps -of which there were 5
    So much better than sitting in front of a computer.

    Anyway, I don't think it's too difficult with 4x5 so 5x7 should be that much easier.

    I think 5x7 is a nice size. I happen to like smaller prints, though.





    I finally understood the fuss over these large negatives
    A whole new texture/sharpness and feeling of actual space/of being there ..not just a reproduction of the environment
    examining the contact with a powerful loupe I get it
    NOW all that's really left is getting to know camera movements better


    I'll post my contact print for the heck of it

    First 2 are straight prints

    First grade 2 and other grade 3 1/2
    A little variation in exposure

    These were just negative atop paper with tape at corners -Not flat

    For the "final" print I forgot the glass so I just taped the negative to the paper which resulted in a bit of loss in some areas on the final print

    Developed in straight Xtol

    I still have to go back and tweak a bit but it came out well for what I was planning.

    I can only imagine an 8x10 contact.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 30, 2007
  3. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    I do not use 4 X 5, but I find it interesting that you have use three contrast filters on a 4 X 5 contact to produce a finished print with burning!! And all I really see here is a different tone on the final print.
    I hope that there are some here who can help you.
    Regards,
    John.
     
  4. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    You can use your hands, but bear in mind you need to keep them pretty close to the print. It's easier to use a card or lollypop. Also, you may not be able to clearly see the areas to burn or dodge, so keep a reference print handy.

    Jon
     
  5. Marv

    Marv Member

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    I have printed 4X5 contacts nearly exclusively in the past, literally hundreds. I like the intimacy of the smaller print. It takes a bit more dedication on the part of the viewer but is worth thier time to really look at the images.

    After a bit of practice at making small movements and getting used to the small image it is very easy and effective. It does take practice and the need to relate the straight contact to the one you are working on, kind of an imaginary grid system, to use in placing the tools.

    5X7 would be that much easier. It is a bit difficult to do very fine manipulations but the fact it is a contact print somewhat compensates. I find I need to do a lot less work on a contact than an enlargement. Even printing a 4X5 at 4x5 requires more work than the equivalent contact print.

    It's worth the effort to learn the process and teh rewards are very fine prints.
     
  6. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    why is it interesting? I chose 3 grades
    Is it wrong to use that many? Some of the reason I used a grade 4 at all -which was only used on the middle area- for 1/5 longer than the goldenrod was to compensate for what's probably my not stopping down far enough
    I used a 2 on the left hand tree which received 4/5 the exposure the goldenrod did cause I liked it softer and smidge brighter
    3 1/2 for the goldenrod
    I burned in the bottom corners for 4 seconds to get detail in the goldenrod which the 3 1/2 blew out but remained with the 2
    I also slightly burned in the trunks of the dead trees in middle right at the same time to raise them above the vegetation they're in

    I dunno
    There is -much- bigger difference than what can be seen on these digital photos, I guess
    Night and day, really.
    the toning is more like that of the "final" print
    I changed batteries for the first two straights and white balance was reset to a colder bluish tone



    Frankly, I don't need help from people after only my first go at it
    There is still some tweaks I -have- to do
    like use glass for starters
    maybe a couple things I can try to separate the two tree subjects which blend into the background a bit

    Overall I'm very pleased.

    I posted here just to show that I on my first attempt did quite a few things the OP was wondering about
    The photos were meant as "proof" that I actually did what I said and not just claiming crap

    You tell me I need help and that's OK
    walking away after doing so really isn't
    not in my book

    Why can't you try helping me, John?
     
  7. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Restricted Access

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    g'day Peter

    dodging and burning will work just the same as when enlarging, just a little harder to 'see' the image

    sun, why are you making it so complicated?

    your enthusiasm is great, but making it complex doesn't make it better

    do you need/want help or not?

    your is post is a little confusing
     
  8. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    Hi,
    I can see that you are very enthusiatic about your work and I was somewhat surprised that you used 3 contrast grades to make a 4 X 5 contact together with dodging and burning. I was surprised because contact prints of this size, in my experience, rarely need this degree of manipulation to produce a good print and it must have been quite difficult for you. There may be problems with the condition of the negative or your processing.
    I do not consider the work you posted as crap. My response was an interest in your post with a view to offer any help I could.
    I am a little confused by your reply - "Frankly, I don't need help from people after only my first go at it." and - "Why can't you try helping me, John?", seem contradictory.
    I, and a large number of people here, will offer as much help as we can but usually all we ask is a little civility and patience.
    BTW what is an OP?
    Please keep printing and posting and I am sure you will get all the help you will need.
    Best wishes,
    John.
     
  9. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    It was just that you said I needed help and then walked away leaving the work for someone else to do ..or not do
    Or so it seemed

    I was asking why you couldn't help me if you knew enough already to be able to say there was a problem

    Passing of the buck


    I said I wasn't looking for help cause I'm not. I never got good at anything by asking for help the moment after I took something up and found out I wasn't perfect the first time out


    The process was simple. It was really only a few seconds with each grade over the standard exposure
    Just enough to produce a subtle difference
    I thought the 2 grade was flat and 3 1/2 too contrasty
    So I split em up where I thought a little more or little less looked good
    -after having done test strips of the areas-
    a grade 2 1/2 or 3 as straight print did not give me what I was looking for in certain areas

    OP= original poster
     
  10. Ray Heath

    Ray Heath Restricted Access

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    but sun, why?

    why did you think this image needed such complex printing?
     
  11. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    conatct printing

    Back to the original question without all the arguing.

    I contact print from my 5X7's more than enlarging them and find that they are, to my eye, adequate in size and the quality of a fine contact is hard to beat. I can't put my finger on the difference but when viewed as a contact then as an enlargement oftentimes the enlargement just has something missing.

    I'd say go for the 5X7 its easier to haul around, film and holders are cheaper and just about any lens you have for 4X5 will cover the 5X7, excluding tessar types like the xenar, optar etc. An older symar(convertible) of 180/? would be a great starter lens.

    Burning and dodging I have not mastered yet with contacts, but I have found that if your negatives aren't too dense(bullet proof) that under the enlarger light you can actually see throught the negative: the white paper underneath reflects the light back so you can tell where you are on the negative. It helps quite a bit to turn off the safelight to visulaize.

    I be interested in hearing more tips on this subject(contact burning and dodging) sans the arguments.
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Eah, just print platinum/palladium and you'll be able to toss all your burning/dodging out the window. Seriously though, once you get your negative-making nailed down, you'll find you rarely have to do any manipulation at all when contact printing. The same tools you normally use (cardstock with a hole in it, wand with a disc/some other shape) will work equally well for contact printing, but you may need to make some smaller holes/discs, work a bit closer to the negative, and plan your burning/dodging patterns in advance. Simple dodging is of course the easiest, as you can see the whole negative while moving your dodging paddle around. Simple burning-in requires more planning prior to the burn cycle. If you need to do complex burning/dodging, you may want to read up on how to make unsharp masks ala Bruce Barnbaum, as this will be more effective than trying to break down your exposure into ten or twenty steps.
     
  13. wclavey

    wclavey Member

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    I have been doing contact printing of 4x5 negatives for a whopping month or so... so take it with a grain of salt... but I do more burning than I do dodging. My light source (a 15 watt incandescent bulb in a reflector 3 feet above the work surface with the effective voltage cut to 40% by using a half-wave rectifier) gives me exposure times in the 20-40 second range. That gives me my base exposure and then lots of time with a card to burn in sections of the print if necessary.

    But in general, I find that I am burning or dodging significantly less than I was when enlarging.
     
  14. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    Same here. As is my printing experience in general. So I'm working to bring lots of unknowns (to me) under control.

    I dodge and burn a little on 4x5. I usually contact print a test print, varying the exposure across it by using a darkslide to protect parts of the paper, and then pulling it across the paper in 4 equal increments, ie, if I think an exposure of 60 seconds would be about right, I'll expose 60-45-30-15 seconds. I mark all the exp. and dev. info on the back of the test print as well, so that when I file it away with the neg I've got some reference to get me back into the ballpark months or years later.

    Then I'll look at the test print, and find that I like the sky and clouds at 60 and the earth at 30, and base my dodging or burning on the test print results.

    Just how I do it. I suspect there's some better methods out there, but I'm at the start of the learning curve.

    And I too would like to move to 5x7 so that I could produce larger prints w/o needing an enlarger.
     
  15. CBG

    CBG Member

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    I wasn't going to reply ... but...

    I don't see any inherent reason local control is less an issue in contacting than with enlarging. Sure a straight print can be made, but that ignores all the iterpretive opportunities.

    And sun's process didn't sound all that complex.

    C
     
  16. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    When projection enlarging, you have light dispersal and reflection being caused by the grains of the film and the lens elements that causes photons to intrude into image forming areas on the paper where they normally would not go. You're allowing light to be bent away from a straight line, over a relatively great distance. Yes, the same grain of silver in the piece of film is going to reflect random photons at the same angle when projection enlarging as when contact printing, but the photon is going to go anywhere from millimeters to inches off target when projecting, but only fractions of a fraction of a millimeter off-target when contact printing, because the emulsion, containing the image forming silver, is in direct contact with the image-receiving silver (or other material) on the paper. This is the same reason why you need to boost contrast filtration when printing larger - an 8x10 print of a given negative may print perfectly at grade 2, but at a 16x20 it may require grade 3 to look the same.
     
  17. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    This is the best treatise I've read on contact printing. You don't have to use Azo. Kentmere and Bergger papers will also print beautifully with bare bulb illumination.

    The simpler you keep things the better your prints will be.
     
  18. Mike Lopez

    Mike Lopez Member

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    I'm going to be contact printing 35mm negs before too long. Dodging and burning those will probably be pretty tricky (I haven't had much problem doing that with 4x5 in the past).
     
  19. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    I think it's more of what I wanted and not what the negative needed.
    It would be OK at grade 3 or 2 1/2 and I could burn or dodge a bit here and there

    The local contrast/highlight/shadow though really makes stuff pop out and gives a vibrant feeling that isn't there otherwise.
    The main tree is either a little too "there" or a little too "hidden"
    The dead trees to the right almost blend in with the dead vegetation
    The goldenrod burns in places just a bit at 3 or so grade


    I'm not saying that what I did is the simplest procedure to get the same result
    I'm not fluent in this stuff
    I made it up
    I didn't even know "split grade" till I saw a banner here at APUG when replying.

    I've done a bit more research into the stuff and it seems as though many do the same types of things I did
    ..and say it gives the most precise control over local areas that can be had (others not so sure)
    So I must not have done anything terribly wrong
    To me, the print looks great. Much better than a single grade.




    As for the negative itself
    It was a bit dense
    I thought I was into reciprocity with the TMAX at 4 seconds so I gave 8+-
    I used sunny "15" -no meter- and a yellow filter which I gave an extra stop
    I tried to give N development in straight XTOL but since I haven't done any testing (yet) and it was hard keeping the tray at 68 and the film was expired..

    Too many variables to get precise exposure/development

    There was a deer laying under that tree but I spooked him, of course. I took the photo anyway eventhough I wish I had the 90mm.




    ALL I was doing here was saying that DODGING and BURNING can be done on small negatives during a contact printing
    I thought it was simple. More fun than doing this stuff in Photoshop which is easier than anything.
     
  20. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    I made a contact print and stuck it right next to where I was working to be able to tell exactly where my tools were. It's a bit more difficult without one
     
  21. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    I went to his site/tutorial. I think it was his, anyway.
    Masking seems more difficult, to me. I didn't spend too much time trying to thoroughly understand the process but it seemed some of the preparation is about the same
    so clicking on and off of the enlarger light a few times doesn't seem like too much work in order to get what I think is about the same end product.

    Down the road i'll revisit that
     
  22. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    Well surprise, surprise! I'd given this thread up after the first few weeks with no response, but a check back finds that it has been active these past few days! I'm very grateful to all who have contributed, and it certainly encourages me that it is do-able. All I got to do now is get some negs that are worth printing!:sad: