Fixing skin imperfections in darkroom

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by tkamiya, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I have a model portrait that I like. This frame was shot in B&W. Looks good except the model's face has some imperfections that are somewhat distracting. For example, forehead area has bumps that shows and right next to her lip there is an area where some discolorations exist.

    Other than hand coloring, are there any darkroom technique to minimize the impact?
     
  2. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    I don't see the picture but sometimes the solution is how you take the picture. Make-up, lighting, soft focus, pose, expression, wardrobe, angles, placement of hair and hands can reduce or eliminate unwanted aspects.

    Otherwise, use a 'pro' film with a re-touchable emulsion surface and/or print to a re-touchable fiber paper which you can touch up.
     
  3. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    You can make a slight difference by making the focus on the enlarging lens slightly out, this will also lower contrast a little.

    Another possible technique that I have used, is special effects filters. Although they are often gimmicky, they can sometimes can be used to hide either a blemish or an eyesore part of a building or machine.

    I have some large film that has these special effects, like steel etchings, mezzanine tint, concentric circles, that kind of stuff.

    Use of the filters which are placed on top of the paper and enlarged through, often lower contrast a fair bit.

    One then does a photo copy of the print then enlarges that onto paper, doing this allows you to control the contrast very well.

    Mick.
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    An option is to dupe onto 4x5, and retouch by pencil on the copy negative. Two good Kodak mid 80's books I have on this area are "copying and duplicating ' and 'retouching'.
     
  5. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear tkamiya,

    Back in the industrial darkroom of a railroad products company I worked for, they used to make a large print (16x20 and up), clean it up by hand using airbrushes and the like, then photograph the modified print. The same technique was used to make Power Point like slides for use with a Magic Lantern projector. Obviously, that was a long time ago and the "models" were much larger. :>)

    Neal Wydra
     
  6. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    You might want to try an "adjustable diffuser" held under the enlarger lens. Take two 1/4 inch pieces of glass with smooth or taped edges and put a few drops of baby oil between them, rub them around while the focus light is on so you can see the effect. You can remove or add oil as needed, tilt or rotate one piece of glass over the other. The negative should be sharply focused so the eyes or other features are not blurred. I have used this to lighten freckles and eliminate peeling skin from a sunburn etc. It doesn't jeopardize the original negative. It may take several test prints until you get what you want but it does work.

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

    tkamiya Member

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    Thanks everybody!
     
  8. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    Why not just scan it and retouch in Photoshop?

    If you still want a silver print, you can print your photoshopped image onto Pictorico and do (up to) an 8x10 contact print in the darkroom.
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Because this is a forum for film and darkroom technique, and your suggestion is not in line with that. :smile: Digital techniques are best discussed at places like www.dpug.org
     
  10. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    They're not best discussed at DPUG, there's a million and one photography forums, no need to add more so late in the game.
     
  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Concerning scanning and re-touching, in fact, I already have. But I wanted to create silver prints and using traditional methods only. I'm going to try an adaptation of Jeffery's idea. That is, to use a plate of glass and use smearing of Vaseline or something to cause localized delusion. It's such a shame I didn't know about this skin feature before the shoot - as everything else is perfect.

    Thanks for the suggestion anyway though. No need to discuss it here or elsewhere as I am already aware.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    There is a grain of truth there.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    T

    how big is your negative ?
    how big is your print ?
    if you have a 4x5 negative you can
    retouch it with leads and "smooth/blend"
    the imperfections in her forehead ...
    if you are a tea drinker,
    you can take the wrapping from a box of tea
    and wave it across your enlarging "light beam"
    while printing your print, and it will smooth out her skin ...
    you can also get a junk folder, and use its lens as
    an enlarging lens and soften / diffuse your photo that way ....
    you can also make a paper negative, and on the paper side
    use pencil and smooth out her skin tones that way. and make
    a contact print again as a positive ...

    have fun!
    john
     
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    If you decide to try any sort of diffusion from below the enlarging lens, you might want to keep this effect in mind.

    Ken
     
  16. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    Blasphemer.
    Mike
     
  17. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    stretched sheer cloth/pantyhose midway between the lens and the print, constantly moving.
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Can you read English? I said best discussed at places LIKE www.dpug.org.
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Get a black stocking,, that always can be the fun part

    stretch the stocking over a support.
    this stocking goes directly below the lens and is moved during main exposure.
    Start with a 0 filter and get a good base exposure.
    Then with this time start diffusion, it can be 100 % of the exposure or it could be 50% of the exposure. It all depends on your taste or how soft you want the troubling areas to be.

    Then with the 5 filter give a 100% blast over top of your main.

    By balancing the main with diffusion and the amount of 5 you will get, soft skin
    sharp eyes, eyelashes hair ect..
    You can also dodge while the diffusion is going on ,, you do have two hands, this will allow you to give more diffusion to areas you want to soften, but hold back key detail areas you want sharp.


    for fun you can reverse what I just described and you will get bleeding soft blacks with sharp highlights, very beautiful for landscape with dark objects or archetecture.... you know the look I am talking about



    easy peasy.

    btw dpug is a great place to visit, low activitey but some pretty darn good workers on that site.
     
  20. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I had a portrait and head-shot business in the days of film photography. At the point at which you've arrived, anything you do has to be post production. Assuming you do you're own printing, you can diffuse during the enlargement exposure. I used a piece of lens cleaning tissue taped over a cut out opening in a piece of cardboard. (Some folks used nylon from hosiery.) I would expose through the tissue for 1/2 the exposure. You will find this lowers the contrast, so start with a higher filter than you would expect. When done right, it works! Practice makes perfect.

    The other thing I did was to use professional retouch artists. They would bleach and spot out imperfections. The ones I used were good and you'd never know the print was worked on. I could do a limited amount of that myself. Then we'd copy that print on large format. Of course one had to charge enough to make it all worth while. A friend of mine still uses a retouch artist for gelatin silver printing. You could also just hand it over to a profession lab and let them do it all. (Analogue or, you know, otherwise.)

    DOUG
     
  21. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    You know, somehow I missed reading this entry from Bob Carney. Duh. So now you have two variations of the same technique. Sorry for the repetition. Didn't mean to bomb someone's post.
     
  22. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    The only difference is I use split so the diffusion only hits the hightlight(skin) and I bring the blacks in with the 5 filter.
     
  23. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    It's my belief, from looking at his original prints (the portraits), that Mapplethorpe used some variation of our technique. The shadows have a that soft dark glow around them.
     
  24. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Bob, what do you mean by 100% blast?

    What I understand is that you want me to establish the highlight first using #0 filter and defuse to soften the skin. Then lay down shadows using #5.... right?

    I think, the placement of the stocking affects the amount of diffusion. Do this close to the lens or really stretch it and do it close to the print?
     
  25. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Embroidery hoops (a variety of sizes available) make a great support for the stocking material mentioned by Bob and others. Tulle fabric (a fine netting) can also work for diffusion, but with less effect than the stockings.

    And Bob mentioned it, but it could be stressed a bit more for those starting out: the diffusion material should be kept moving during the entire time it's used.

    Lee
     
  26. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Doug,

    Thank you for your input. I see the concept and I'll have to try and see which one works better for this particular problem portrait.