Graded paper tryout

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by henk@apug, May 12, 2012.

  1. henk@apug

    henk@apug Member

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    Hello,

    I am going to try out graded FB paper (Ilford Ilfobrom).

    This has been discussed before, but here you go :

    Is it possible to summarize the advantages of graded paper (versus multigrade) ?

    Thanks !
     
  2. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    I can only comment regarding my personal experiences from 30 years ago. I tried to like multi-grade papers but could never get the tonal values or final print hues I wanted. The color changed depending on the contrast and split-grade printing resulted in prints with odd-looking multiple tones. Also, the multi-grade papers I tried didn't tone very well... or evenly.

    I switched to graded paper... tried many brands developed in several types of developers. I finally found Ilford Gallery and a phenidone-based developer (can't remember the brand). I disliked the untoned slight olive drab hue but selenium toner did a beautiful job of producing a subdued plum color. I only used grade 2 or 3... and nearly always 3 unless I accidentally selenium toned a neg a little too much. I also achieved better shadow detail but this also improved as my methods improved. I stuck with this combination for years and never tried multi-grade papers again.

    ETA... Summation (just my ancient experience):
    Improved tonal values
    Consistent color
    Better shadow detail
    Deeper D-max
    Better acceptance of toner
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2012
  3. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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  4. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I like modern multicontrast papers very much. In the 70s I had a job where we printed on Kodak Polycontrast. I did not really like that paper very much. But multicontrast papers improved in the late 80s and 90s. Now, I'm not sure I see any advantage to graded papers. But there will be subtle differences in print tone, meaning image color. And they may respond differently to toners from what you are used to. I did notice a difference between Ilford Multigrade and Ilford Galleria. The Galleria, a graded paper, had deeper tones and surprisingly prints made on that paper dried flatter. However it was at least ten years ago that I had that experience and I'm sure these papers continue to evolve. I think you are right to try the graded paper, you may see things in it that suit you. But it disappointing when making a print on grade 2 paper and realizing that you need grade 3 and you don't have enough of it.
     
  5. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    There's an easy fix for that. Have enough of anything you might need. Or you could just selenium tone the neg for more contrast. :D
     
  6. chimneyfinder

    chimneyfinder Member

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    Hi, henk@apug,
    Graded papers are very good for consistency and can be versatile with increasing experience . For example, altering exposure time and development time can produce differences in contrast, whilst neutral, warm and soft acting developers and the use of toning can impart a whole variety of 'flavours' to your printing. With dodging and burning and bleaching, the range of tools available is quite often sufficient to make a particular grade work for you. Having said that it would be useful to stock a couple of different grades, with G2 and G3 probably best.
    I'm not sure these days if graded papers offer much difference to the look of a print, I have a large range of papers (too many) that are very different from each other, but I would recommend using single grade paper at some point because I think it would add to your understanding and technique and, in some ways it can make printing a more straightforward path by taking the choices within multigrade out of the picture, if you pardon the pun.
    In short, it shouldn't be seen as a limitation of your objectives.
    Regards, Mark Walker.
     
  7. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    My experience (from early 60's on) is consistent with artonpaper, basically, years ago, VC, or MG as they are known today, were just not up to the quality of the best graded papers.
    Chimneyfinder makes some points about using graded paper, but I don't see them as advantages, rather techniques that can help.

    My opinion on your question, as asked, is that there is no advantage, except:
    If you like the look (color, tonal response, response to toning, etc) of a graded paper very much and can't reproduce it with any MG paper, or
    Due to your enlarger light source, you have problems using MG papers with their filtration.
    As Chimneyfinder points out, graded papers may be more consistent, especially if your light source varies, or if your MG filters fade over time, etc. To me, this isn't a problem, though. I keep very good records of exposure and filter combinations (I do a lot of split filter printing - not possible with graded paper), and if I start to reprint something 2 years after the original, following the "recipe" from the first time, I just adjust to get what I want (I might even change my mind about what I want. . .) I don't see any inconsistencies with printing multiple copies at the same time.
     
  8. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    Just to add a bit, I worked in a lab for 15 years (part time mostly) and we used MG papers. I would frequently have to reprint a negative months after I originally printed it, and the customer would bring my first print in and ask me to match it. I printed far too many negatives to keep notes. I always managed to make a match print or prints. I did notice that Ilford filters tended to fade after a while, Kodak filters were very stable. We also had one enlarger with an Ilford MG head on it. That was very easy to use. The recommendations above about negative toning and changing developing time and developers will all work, but all those variables get difficult to control should you want to reprint consistently.
     
  9. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I use graded paper, Ilford Galerie 2 and 3 whenever I can. I like the fact that I can be decisive.

    When a negative is over the edge, I will pick up Ilford MGIV. But even then I will have a specific grade in mind for that negative.

    It might be fair to say I work as if I am using graded papers even when I use multigrade.
     
  10. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Graded papers can sometimes tone quite differently than VC papers. They also work differently with negatives that have been developed in some staining developers. These are some differences to be aware of, but not good or bad qualities. There are no advantages to using graded papers compared to current VC papers, unless you value having much less flexibility in printing (particularly when working with difficult negatives).
     
  11. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    It has been 20 years since I did a lot of silver printing -- Iflord Gallerie for neutral colored prints, and Agfa Portriga Rapid for warm.

    Graded papers offered more paper surfaces and colors. The surface of Portriga Rapid 111 (glossy) was beautiful. I used a combo of Selectol-soft and Dektol to get paper grades between 2 and 3 with Grade 3 paper.
     
  12. henk@apug

    henk@apug Member

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    Thanks all for your comments !
     
  13. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Michael R brings up a good point about stained negs. I tried a Pyro variation (ABC, I think) some time ago, which produced a soft, very long scale neg, very nice for some applications, but the neg had a greenish cast. This had too much effect on my Aristo V54 lamp and filter combination, adding a lower contrast component to the mix, and resulted in very long exposures with I compensated with bluer end filtration. If I was more committed to the Pyro, graded paper might have been an option, which wouldn't have responded to the color of the neg (or, at least, not as much).
     
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  15. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    In a recent thread the effect of stain on the contrast of Multigrade paper was evaluated.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/88869-effect-pyro-stain-vc-paper-contrast.html

    Strong opinion, but not a fair summation of the advantages and disadvantages...

    I'll grant that there are many advantages delivered by today's high-quality Multigrade paper.

    But having a benchmark that encourages you to make more consistent quality negatives isn't the only advantage of graded papers.

    The stuff seems to last forever.
     
  16. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Graded paper can be beautiful. I prefer MG paper because I can change grades in fraction of a grade and you can do split grade printing.
     
  17. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Regarding staining, I found there to be real differences in some cases. It depends on the contrast range of the image and the type of stain.

    Regarding advantages/disadvantages, I guess for me the benchmark argument is a red herring. We should strive to make negatives which contain the information they need to make the desired print, and the choice of printing paper can be an important part of that negative exposure/development decision. Whether you make inconsistent crap negatives, or consistent quality negatives, VC paper only increases flexibility vs graded paper. I can't see how more flexibility is ever a drawback unless you need your materials to make decisions for you.

    If graded paper lasts longer, ok I'll give you that, assuming it is the case. I've never tested that.

    The only other arguments I hear in favor of graded papers are usually esoteric, abstract, vague accounts ("graded papers look beautiful"). What does that mean exactly? Compared to what? Which paper?

    So I'm still waiting for an advantage (besides keeping properties, possibly) that applies generally.
     
  18. kevs

    kevs Member

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    Hi Michael,

    As with most things, flexibility comes at a price. As you've found, I've found that graded papers generally are more responsive to toners, especially chlorobromide 'warmtone' papers. If you split-tone with selenium, this can mean that the colour change is more obvious and it's easier to gauge when to 'pull' the print from the toner. I'm thinking mainly of Ilford Gallerie FB, which is a 'bromo-chloride' paper, and gives a rich, warm brown in selenium. Ilford Multigrade IV FB, which takes a very slight bluish tone in selenium. Gallerie also seems to give a richer tone in sulphide.

    IMO they're different products, neither one is better nor worse. If you never tone your prints, stick with Multigrade and you won't see much difference. If you tone, you'll love the Gallerie unless you don't want a colour change. Bear in mind that the last time I used either seriously was 5 years ago and they might have changed radically since then. I don't know what other graded papers are still available. YMMV of course.

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2012
  19. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Hey Michael,

    I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm for Multigrade paper. It's for you, it's not for me. That's just two sides of a discussion about material that we are both passionate about.

    With graded papers I can see the easel better for focusing and composing.
     
  20. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Kevs, totally agree regarding toning properties being an important element to a paper's characteristics. What I'm saying is even when it comes to toning, we can't really generalize when it comes to graded vs VC. It's really a matter of the individual paper. No two papers tone exactly the same way, whether graded or VC.

    Bill, what do you mean by seeing the easel better?
     
  21. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    I believe it comes down to the much larger number of brands, types, surfaces, etc that were available in graded papers than were available in VC papers. The chances of finding a graded paper that matched one's vision (thus more "beautiful") were much higher than with the very few choices one had with VC papers.

    As graded papers disappeared from the marketplace and new VC papers arriving, this has reversed somewhat.

    Vaughn
     
  22. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I worked for an old school photographer that graduated from Brooks. He hated VC paper. He believes that a good photographer should "build" a negative to fit a specific grade of paper. You sure have to have your film processing dialed in to hit that small target.
     
  23. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    That sounds silly and plain stubborn to me. Unless you are always shooting under normal contrast conditions, building a negative to fit a specific grade of paper involves compromises. I don't like compromising when it isn't necessary. The negative is a means to an end. One should consider all the options available when making the negative - if the goal is the final print. On the other hand if the goal is simply to make negatives that fit grade 2, well, that doesn't sound like photography to me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 14, 2012
  24. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I agree. I think it's a good way to train yourself on film processing and printing. Probably a good way to teach students analog photographic processes too.
     
  25. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    And it is good experience for moving into alternative processes that require very different parameters.
     
  26. chimneyfinder

    chimneyfinder Member

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    One overlooked property of graded paper - Bill may have been alluding to this - is that you do not need a means of filtration for control. No learning of dial in filtration is required, no choice of filter sytem and no concern as to wether you are using 'reliable' filters. I'm not saying this is advantageous or otherwise, just saying.
    I use a large range of papers most of which are variable grade. I use split grade printing succesfully, though I probably use more test paper for fine tuning than is economical, but I actually prefer to work with graded paper, partly because of the considerations above and with my long experience of printing I'd be pretty content to use Grades 2 and 3 for the bulk of my needs.
    The reason for my continued use of variable grade is that it seems to just come my way over the years in quantity for various reasons, and because there are some really interesting and diverse papers that are only made as variable grade. When I've reduced my stock to a lower level I will buy more fixed grade.

    Regards, Mark Walker.