Help with burning in sky

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by tkamiya, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I need help with burning in nearly non-existent sky....

    I have an image where bottom half is properly printed using 2 1/2 at 18 seconds. When I do this, the sky is nearly a featureless patch of highlight. I tried burning this in quite a bit using the same filter and I got a little. I need more.

    Question is....
    Do I burn this in using less contrasty filter or more contrasty filter? Or - does it make any difference and is this just a function of time I spend burning this portion?

    My understanding is, higher numbered filter defines darker black and this sky is white, so I should go lower? But this is counter intuitive....

    HELP!
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The filter that would give you the shortest burn time would be the one that exposes both VC layers equally, or no filter at all. However, IMO you should not worry too much about burning time, and think more about what sort of contrast you want in the burned area. For the burning, you should use whatever filter gives you the desired contrast there. This is one of the beauties of VC paper; you can use different filters to print different parts of the picture. Do some test strips for just the sky, using your initial exposure with the 2.5 filter, and following with second exposures, starting by using the 2.5 filter. If you do not like the contrast when you finally get the exposure where you want it, keep making test strips using different filters and times, never forgetting to give the initial exposure with the 2.5 filter. Eventually, you will find the perfect combination, and make the full print using the same times and filters.
     
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  3. David William White

    David William White Member

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    00
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    David,

    Will you please elaborate on your advise of using 00? I've tried using #4 and the effect was less than that of #2.5 so going opposite makes sense but I would like to understand why.

    2F/2F

    This is pretty much a featureless sky with just some cloud. So contrast isn't really a problem in this particular instance. I just burned it in for 4 minutes and got something.....
     
  5. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The reason the 4 filter takes longer is because the four filter exposes the high contrast layer more in relation to the low contrast layer (and the filter is also just plain darker), so you lose some overall paper speed. In addition, the increased magenta blocks more light overall than a 2.5; this would require an exposure change even if there was no speed change. The same would apply with lower filters. In that case you would lose speed by cutting the high contrast layer's exposure in relation to the low contrast layer's. The effect is not as extreme in this case, however, because reducing magenta lets more overall light through, which tends to compensate.

    If you like what you are getting with a 2 or 2.5 filter, try the burn with no filter, and opening up the lens for the burn if necessary.

    No matter what you do with filters and such, the most sensible step number one will be to make a test strip that gives you exactly what you want in the sky.
     
  6. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Wide open enlarger lens at f/2.8, no filter will burn the fastest. Test strip/exposure mask as said above is the best way to know.
     
  7. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    Photo Techniques magazine had a good article on this in the latest issue.
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    1) try flashing the paper; and
    2) burn using the lower contrast filter.

    If you don't see any detail in the sky when you print the negative normally, it is most likely that there isn't much recorded there anyway. So in essence, what you are doing mostly is making it darker, not causing the sky and the clouds to be more differentiated.

    As a matter of comparison, if you have a good negative with lots of detail and differentiation in the sky, but it isn't showing in the print because of how you are dealing with the rest of the subject (e.g. something backlit) than you can effectively use higher contrast in the burn, if you wish.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2010
  9. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  10. ROL

    ROL Member

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    I doubt contrast adjustments alone will get you far. Burning skies to desired tonalities frequently requires anywhere between 100 and 500 (or more) percent of your base exposures, and is almost always the major part of your time under the enlarger. Assuming the negative was exposed sufficiently to actually contain printable information, try opening up your enlarger's lens aperture along with increasing time.

    Also see this.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2010
  11. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    To put it in very simple terms, the higher the contrast filter number, the more contrast. The more contrast you have, the whites stay whiter, and the blacks get blacker. Going the other direction, the lower the contrast the more middle tones you get, enabling you to pull more sky tones easier.
     
  12. henk@apug

    henk@apug Member

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    Skies are normally low contrast areas, so they are better suited with hard contrast filter (#4, #5). Disadvantage is longer burn in times. Of course this is a personal
    preference but I do not like skies that are burned with low contrast filters

    I personally do not change aparture in the same picture because the grain pattern can change
     
  13. David William White

    David William White Member

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    It's mostly been covered by succeeding posts, but yes, the issue isn't about how long it takes, but what will look best, and it sounds like this negative needs to be solved from both ends independently, and not just leaning hard on it at 2.5 or white light to beat the sky down.

    You are dealing with the thickest juiciest part of the negative, and just going long at high order of filtration will likely give you way too much contrast in the sky (and in the worst case will begin to show unevenness in development or will multiply flaws in the emulsion). So the best advice is to solve the sky using test strips, starting with filtration as low as you've got and work your way up to maybe a 1 for the most realistic look. People rarely use their 0 or 00 filters but they'd be surprised how useful they are.

    And as others have pointed out, opening up the iris on your enlarger lens is the final bit of figuring. In essence, you normally stop down to mid aperture for best resolution, but that also gives you a couple more stops down for leisurely selective dodging and a couple more stops open for timely burns.

    Needless to say, an yellow or orange filter over the camera lens can shrink the range you have to deal with.

    Hope to hear how it turns out!
     
  14. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I burned the HECK out of my sky last night with #2.5 and the result is.... a sky with too much contrast over thicker part of the cloud on otherwise featureless sky. Looks very fake. I will need to reduce the contrast and do this again. I'll try with MUCH lower contrast filter. Thanks everybody!
     
  15. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Thanks for the thanks. Now that you have discovered for yourself why our help hasn't solved your immediate problem to your satisfaction, you may consider attacking it from a different perspective - the next time you expose your film. The "secret" to good (natural?) skies is to expose for the sky. Given the limitations of B/W film to record naturally occurring light intensity, this may mean sacrificing exposures of the landscape itself. Your choice when making a negative - but then this is where the rubber meets the road, separating the snapshooter from the artist. Of course, some of the compression of light onto film may be mitigated by contracting development, a la the Zone System, but that's another story. And, yes the use of a filter to absorb blue light (i.e., yellow - orange) will do much to clarify (i.e., provide contrast) elements (i.e., clouds) within the sky.
     
  16. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    You need to expose for a balance of sky and foreground and keep development short enough so it prints without burn/dodge anything.

    Meter off a grey card or use an incident meter. Results will be similar. Development time for a condenser enlarger is 80% the time for a diffusion one on which most times are based. An if you use that horrible Massive chart, those times will give the chalk and soot Ansel used to blame condenser enlargers for.

    Learn your tools. I rarely burn a sky.

    For now, dye dodge the forground and flash the print to threshold so you need not burn it.

    Or make a traced cut out from the enlarger light half way between the paper and neg and burn thru it.

    Now do some tests and get the process under control so you stop making bad negs. You will be glad you did.

    There are but two rules. Exposure controls shadows and development controls highlights. Apply to a standarized test subject with full range of tones from textured blacks to textured whites. You need to be able to print it and show all the tones without burning or dodging. Practice until you can.