How to make color prints less contrasty?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by hencz, May 10, 2013.

  1. hencz

    hencz Member

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    Hi,

    I'm fairly new with enlargers and stuff. And I find my prints too shiny, too rich in colors, they look like high quality digital photos to me, I like simpler colors more, I'm using fujicolor crystal archive papers. Is there a way to reduce the contrast, get an old newspaper look on my prints? Something similar to this 182301_599238960087945_839696370_n.jpg
    Maybe use another paper, or another film (I'm using ektachrome e100g)?

    Thanks a lot.
     
  2. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    You could use tissue or diffusion under your lens to create a muted look.

    could be full exposure or partial, you would need to play a bit.
     
  3. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    how exactly are you printing slide film onto fuji crystal archive using an enlarger?
     
  4. hencz

    hencz Member

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    sorry, I meant to say Kodak gold 200
     
  5. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Either look for a softer contrast P (portrait) paper, or in the future switch to a softer film itself, like Portra 160. There are different types of Crystal Archive paper. It might take some experimentation to find the specific match you like best.
     
  6. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Would preflashing help? I don't know. Just throwing it out there.
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Yes it would. You also could pre flash a colour in , which is what we use to do a lot with fashion work.
     
  8. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Didn't PE mention developer changes to affect contrast? I think it was at the expense of greatly reduced life of the developer though.

    I miss the variety of films we used to have. Agfa Portrait 160 was a good film for the kind of look the OP is after. But we have the Portras and Ektar and that's something, at least.
     
  9. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Use Portra. It's higher resolution and has a more "realistic" palette. This is film not digital. You are not shooting a RAW file that you can manipulate in Photoshop. I scanned for a long time before I started doing darkroom printing. I haven't done any color printing. But with my B&W negatives once I started printing I changed films, developers, personal exposure index, and developing time and agitation method. Obviously with C-41 unless you are feeling really adventurous a lot of that will not change but choice of film and personal EI may. Get things as right in the camera as possible and you will make your life a lot easier in the dark room.
     
  10. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I agree, switch to Portra 160, Portra 400 and Porta 800 if you want to lower the contrast and have the photographs look realistic.
     
  11. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I know I've seen some say they liked Gold but I always detested that stuff.
    It's consumer film made to get decent results with a wide range of exposure errors.
     
  12. Noble

    Noble Member

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    Maybe it's because Portra in 35mm costs a minimum of three times the price.
    I shoot a lot of black and white so really the price difference between the premium stuff and the cheap stuff isn't that much. I used to shoot a ton of ACROS because it was less than $3 per a roll of 120. Now? Not so much. I just shoot TMAX 100 because their prices have become so similar. But if TMAX cost three times the price? There would be no question I would be still shooting ACROS. And no I do not think ACROS is B&W Kodak Gold.
     
  13. tim elder

    tim elder Member

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    I hope that I'm not hijacking this thread, but what do you mean by pre-flashing a colour? I know about pre-flashing paper but this sounds new and intriguing.
    Tim
     
  14. hencz

    hencz Member

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    I think he meant flashing the paper with a specific color before projecting the image onto it to get a tint in the shadows. I was looking for that for a long time cause I didn't know how to do that with an enlarger so thanks. I'm still not certain about the color range though, I want to achieve a look similar to screen prints, where there is very little gradient, less color rich. I'll try the tissue method, but I still don't get what it does to the projected image, I think it just softens the edges, but does it make the colors less striking?
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Actually the tint goes into the highlights. With testing you can dial in any colour the paper can handle.
    This was used a lot for cross processed negs and trans
    to add colour to blown out highlights.
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Yes If you move a tissue, into the light path you can control how much softness is happening and with the right combinations will mute the colours or desaturate in this case to give you a pleasing effect.

    Many sources of diffusion, can be used which means you can have fun playing with this.
     
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    yOu could go as far as using a clear polyester material with transparent dyes smeared on that can cause all kinds of funky results as well.
    print deep and let the dyes act as a doging tool.
    We use to swing optical glass under the lens and put all sorts of material in the light path to create effects.

    Only trial and error will help you here, don't kill me if it dosen't work , I am only the messanger.
     
  18. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Ideally, a lower-contrast paper but it's not made any more so you'd be hunting down ancient expired stocks of Portra Endura. It might be OK but it's probably colour-shifted or fogged by now and likely to cause you frustration. The aging damage to negative film can largely be repaired in printing, but the aging of paper cannot.

    Start with lower contrast films (Portra 160NC if you can find expired frozen stocks, otherwise Portra 160 or Fuji 160S), try exposing your film at about +3 or +4 stops overexposure to get a lower-contrast pastel look and then have a look at SLIMT for contrast reduction while processing the paper. If you're developing your own C41, you can also reduce the development time there. Affects the colours a little but it does reduce contrast, same as it would with pulling a B&W film.

    You can also do (partial) bleach bypass in the negative or the paper to get a high contrast, low saturation look.
     
  19. RPC

    RPC Member

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    My observations are that with Kodak RA-RT replenisher, Kodak Endura paper is slightly flat and Fuji CA II is too contrasty and often a bit harsh with skin tones.

    One way to control contrast that works for me and solves these problems is to use home-brew RA-4 chemistry and adjust the level of carbonate to raise or lower contrast. I have also increased contrast with Kodak RA-RT replenisher by adding carbonate and re-adjusting pH. As for lowering contrast with Kodak developer you can add sulfite but for me using home-brew and using less carbonate works better.
     
  20. lhalcong

    lhalcong Member

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    Funny that I see this posting. I get sort of the retro look that OP is trying to get in his prints, and he gets the kind of look I want in my prints. I use Portra 160 and 400. I print (like they mentioned in old expired Kodak Supra Endura paper, luster finish I purchased on eBay) it has yellowed but with right filtering you can get right colors, they just look very retro and low contrast. I print at room temp.

    I do crave for the high contrast and fine detail, and saturation. I am beginning to try Fuji paper. Perhaps I should try a Fuji Film instead of Portra as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 13, 2013
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    The first step is to use fresh paper. If it's still not saturated enough, Ektar is the most saturated negative film I know of on the current market.