How do I increase local contrast in my shadows when printing?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by PeterB, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    Hi there,
    I was printing up a photo tonight, from a roll of 35mm HIE and I have a dark windmill set against a blue sky. Because I had an R72 (89b) IR Filter on, the blue sky is very dark - which is quite typical of IR shots.

    The film has already been developed and I am now printing using Ilford MG IV RC pearl paper. Even if I use a grade 5 filter, I can't seen to get sufficient contrast between the dark sky and the windmill blades. I can scan the print in tomorrow if it helps with suggestions, but without changing paper brands or doing (selenium) toning, is there anything else I could try to get an increase in local contrast to make the windmill blades stand out more against the sky?

    regards
    Peter
     
  2. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Is the detail there on the negative?

    Either way, I can only think of dodging the blades out - either manually or by employing a mask of some sort.

    Also, I find that extremely high contrast filters can often cause a loss of shadow detail, if there is not a sufficient difference in the values on the negative.

    Peter.
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    If you spilt filter you'll be able to target the contrast. Higher for the areas you want higher. Lower for the rest. It still won't increase the contrast beyond what the paper can give you but it'll let you increase contrast by burning in the area you want with the high filter.
     
  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    If you have a steady hand and magnifier you could place a peice of clear film stock on top of the negative and then use a fine point on a soft pencil lead to dodoge out the blades. Use the emulsion side of the cleared film as it will provide a little tooth for the lead. The problem with 35mm and this method is that the degree of enlargement will show any individual pencil lines. So it needs to be very soft lead, and then follow with a trimmed cotton swab or a rounded wooden dowel or any piece of wood to let you smooth your marks.

    If you are enlarging 8x10 or larger you should be able to cut out a dodging tool and attach it to a fine wire and be able to dodge the area. it takes practice, but I can be done.
     
  5. david b

    david b Member

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    How about a bit of very warm water?
     
  6. User Removed

    User Removed Guest

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    Warm water? What?


    I suggest trying split contrast printing. By using the 5 filter, you are actually making it even worse! Try printing it softer so you can see what is there first. Before printing thought, you need to look at your negative and see if there is anything even there that CAN be printed!
     
  7. ilfordrapid

    ilfordrapid Member

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    I shoot black and white, it is a good practice not to use to strong a filter, for the reason that you are stating, this could be true in color photography too. If you cut your filter strength in about half that should take care of your problem in printing in the future.
     
  8. david b

    david b Member

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    When I have an area that I have burned in and it still doesn't "pop", I take a little bit of warm water and a cotton swab or paper towel and I rub the area with it. Workes every time.
     
  9. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    As I understand it, the problem is dark windmill blades against a dark sky. Given that with HIE the sky is almost black then the blades needs to be lightened in tone.

    How does warm water affect the contrast? I have heard of a careful use of pot ferri - the so called liquid sunshine - having the effect of lightening things but never warm water.

    Pentaxuser
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    You apparently filtered your lens at the time of exposure...if you have similar negative density from the windmill blades that the sky has then there is no way to separate that at the printing stage. Learn a lesson from this and go on.
     
  11. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    yep, detail is there. I will have a go at burning the blades in, since Iwant them to be darker than the sky.
    regards
    Peter
     
  12. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    First option sounds irreversible! I don't trust myself to do that yet. 2nd option is preferable, I'm printing to 9.5" x 12"
    regards
    Peter
     
  13. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    Good idea for the future, but unfortunately can't help out now! BTW to clarify, the filter you refer to is the IR pass filter on the camera lens.
    regards
    Peter
     
  14. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    You use the pencil on the clear film stock and then enlarge through that piece of film stacked with the negative. So you don't actually use draw/shade on the negative itself. You could even use a piece of cleared film leader to use for the mask. .
     
  15. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    OK that sounds more attractive.
    regards
    Peter
     
  16. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Contrast mask anyone?
     
  17. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I have had some success with adapting a specifically shaped dodging/burning tool to irregularily shaped object I wanted to bring out (either way - darker or brighter). I find that this approach is harder to use with burning than dodgin (at least for me), but I think if the detail is there on the neg you can try making print and cutting out the area you want burned, then overlaying that and using it as a burning tool.

    As I stated in my initial post - and a few people have confirmed - you may want to try some sort of mask... The reason I was a little less than convinced it would work is that a 35mm negative is so small - it may be difficult to create such a mask... Especially since you would want to mask everything but the blades - a lot of area to cover evenly with pencil, etc. But if your hand and eye are steadier than mine...

    Best of luck - let us know how it went!

    Peter.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2005
  18. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Give the bleaching a try. Used a lot by Bruce Barnbaum. It does increase contrast in the shadow area. Also make sure you are not overexposing the paper. Try to get just the lightest black that you are comfortable with. This will keep the shadows off the paper curve shoulder. You should see more contrast using the straight part of the curve.
     
  19. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Can you re-shoot the photo? It might be a whole lot easier than all the burning and dodging.
     
  20. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Agree with Jim & Donald on this one. Trying to separate similar values which are this close together will not be worth the effort. You will spend a lot of time getting a print that isn't exactly what you wanted in the first place. Go back and reshoot with less filter and then try to print. If it isn't in the film, no amount of printing will help. Learn from your mistakes, don't compound them to make them worse. tim
     
  21. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    Yes I could re-shoot it, but since I need to have something done ASAP, then if I can't achieve the look I want in the time I have left, then I will move on to print another image of similar scenery from the roll that won't be as much trouble. I have a strong preference for making the windmill one work.

    regards
    Peter
     
  22. PeterB

    PeterB Subscriber

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    I like the idea of keeping the image area off the paper's shoulder. I was thinking the same thing, but had no idea how I knew if I had hit the shoulder or not. Actually I do remember comparing the windmill amongst some test strips I made and the local contrast did increase for some exposures that I would have considered 'under-exposed'
    I'll keep bleach on my list of possible attempts, but since I am tight for time, I will initially create a mask to burn in the windmill blades. Another thing I'll try and do is to obtain a dark blue 47b filter (to replace Ilford MG #5 filter) to further increase the contrast in that area . This latter idea was suggested to me by Ralph Lambrecht.
    regards
    Peter
     
  23. clay

    clay Subscriber

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  24. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    The split contrast exposure is a good idea. In any case, it sounds like a difficult negative. Masking may be of help here, but you may have to plan the mask carefully. Unsharp masking is the most common way to enhance local contrast without changing overall contrast too much. If you dodge the mask, you can make it more effective in some areas than others. Probably you will need a combination of tools and many sheets of paper to get what you want. Be sure to keep notes as you go along.
     
  25. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I agree with this. Even just rubbing the area with a finger has quite a good effect. I suppose it provides local aggitation and a bit of warmth.

    David.