Handling a large contrast - will pre-flash help?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by rjr, Oct 14, 2004.

  1. rjr

    rjr Member

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    2 years ago I took a set of pictures in the London tube, Canary Wharf station.

    I scanned two of these with my universities LS2000:
    http://rohleder.gmxhome.de/nmz/

    The actual negatives are tack sharp - which made me chuckle, it was freehand at 1/8s or 1/15s with a soviet FED5 and a Heliar 4,5/15 on dirt-cheap film,something called "Polypan F" shot at 50ASA and developed in ID11 without actual testing. No wall, no tripod nothing. The weight of the FED saved the shot... but the lens mounted misaligned, resulting in vignetting in upper left and lower right.

    Somehow I like the images.

    BUT.

    The contrast is extreme - from the dark unlit cavern of the subway to the bright june sky outside. I repeatedly failed to print the negatives, either the dome is blank or the shadows are just black.

    But the "information" is in the film, there is texture in both shadows and lights... how can I handle them?

    Tonight I started fiddling around with a pre-flash technique - but it didn´t actully solve it. And I don´t plan to mess around with masking techniques.

    Suggestions?

    Whatever - Thanks! :smile:
     
  2. galyons

    galyons Member

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    Roman,
    Nice shots! I would suggest you try split grade printing, if you are using VC paper. Do a soft exposure test strip with a 00 or 01 VC filter or max Y on a dichroic head tested for the highlight level that you want. Then a hard exposure test strip, (on a base soft exposure selected in step 1) with 5 VC filter or max M to get the contrast and shadows that you want. Then print the soft and hard exposures on your work print. You may still need to preflash or some local dodging and/or burning.

    This will allow you a large range of control on a high contrast neg.


    Cheers,
    Geary
     
  3. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Geary,

    thanks for your reply, but I already tried manual splitgrade, even in coincidence with pre-flash - the print still went wrong, it´s not enough..

    I just didn´t want to mention how desperate I am with these negatives... splitgrade is always my last resort. ,-)

    I don´t know what was on my mind then - unknown lens, new film, untested procedures and an excursion to London... young and stupid. <g>
     
  4. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Use the Sterry method or what Kachel used to call SLIM (selective latent image manipulation) Make the print so that it prints to your taste in the highlights, you will probably have all blacks with not detail in the shadows at this point. Before you put it in the developer, you put the print in a .01% pot ferricyanide solution.
    You wil have to make some tesing for the best amount of time you should leave it in the bath.
    When done before developing, bleaching has the opposite effect. It reduces the contrast instead of increasing it.

    Hope this helps, OTOH, a couple of the prints looked fine to me......
     
  5. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    What does this do to the developer?
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    nothing, the amount left on the print has such a low concentration that it wont affect your developer. Of course, if you want to, you can wash the print before it goes in the developer, it wont make a difference.
     
  7. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    "Thanks" Jorge what a cool cheap and easy tool. I've never heard of it or thought of it.
     
  8. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Jorge,

    "Hope this helps, OTOH, a couple of the prints looked fine to me......"

    These are scans from the negative, not prints, it was easier to handle the contrast with Photoshop... the variations are a leftover from a short critique round regarding "how would you crop it".

    Tonight I´ll try another pre-flash + splitgrade, if failing I´ll give the Sterry method a try - don´t have ferricyanid at hand at the moment (but the latest "raw stuff" order already arrived at a friend of mine), I´ll use a very dilute stock of bleach I already have set up at hand from a Sepia toning kit ("Classic"/Foma). Bleach is bleach.

    Thanks guys. I´ll come back with either failure or success. ;-)
     
  9. Joe Symchyshyn

    Joe Symchyshyn Member

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    As above, I think you'll be very happy with split contrast printing this neg... I would personally print for the highlights and skip the prefash. (Unless you're careful, you're only adding mud to the highlights). If it gave you trouble before, eliminate the variables and try to do just one thing with it.

    Looking at the link you supplied, I think you can fix the contrast wonderfully. (Either way, it should be a dynamic, contrasty scene... It suits it... )

    joe :smile:

    p.s. Post a scan once you get it, I'm sure everyone would be interested in seeing where it went...
     
  10. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    The method of contrast control the Jorge described is also known as latent image bleaching, it bleaches the shadows but not the highlights when the undeveloped print is places in the very dilute bleach solution. I have used this technique many moons ago and I did write an article for the now defunct Darkroom User, I'll look for it in my old files and post it to the articles forum.

    Meanwhile you could try my preferred method of dealing with the contrast problems you describe, post flashing where you deliberately give exposure to white light and fog the paper. If you want a copy of ther article I published drop me an email and I'll send it by return. email address is les@lesmcleanphoto.demon.co.uk
     
  11. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I think Les has the answer. Looking at the prints, I am certain that post flashing will do it. I have also tried pre flashing then burning in which is much more effective once the pre flash has pushed the paper up to its threshold. You will win eventually; good luck!

    Tom
     
  12. fred

    fred Member

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    If lack of time is an issue...
    Pre-flashing is one of the sympliest technique (and by that also the strongest)to improve the highlights in your print.
    It can easely done with almost every print.
    Rh-design sells a beautiful tool for that means.
    A 'must have' in almost every darkroom.

    You can test the effect with a stouffer tablet.
    At 1/3 to half the time of creating "fog", you will see that mid-tones and shadows are not 'attacked' by this technique.


    Fred
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2004