I tried split grade again, and filed my carrier...

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by ChristopherCoy, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    I finally got around to filing out my negative carrier. I picked up two additional, so that if I mess one up I still have a good one to make 'clean' prints with. I decided to use it on the images below because I thought it fit the feel of photo. I think I need to file it some more though because I'm not getting the black borders enough. Maybe I need to file the top silver part back as well.

    Anyway, I decided to try split grade printing again. Since there was such an uproar about the last time I tried, and y'all stressed that it was useful on high contrast negatives, I decided to try this image. It was an image I took on TriX-400 using my old manual Nikon FM and a 50mm series E. I printed this for the last postcard exchange and threw a filter 1 on it for however many seconds and got a hazy, low contrast image. I enjoyed it, but I did get a few comments that said it lacked punch. So I decided to see if I could give it the punch it needed.

    For comparison, this is a straight scan of the postcard that I sent out. They were all printed the same way.

    [​IMG]
    MusicPC005w by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    For starters today, I produced this image using filter 00 at 6 seconds, then filter 5 at 8 seconds. It's a little darker than I liked, but I had detail in the shadows like the musicians ear, and the architecture behind his right elbow.

    This are all at f8 on the enlarger.

    [​IMG]
    Music1002w by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    I thought the above image was ok, and didn't want to go on wasting paper, so I decided to try another negative. I produced this image using filter 00 at 4 secs, and filter 5 at 8 secs. I noticed that there was a little more detail in the texture of his hat, and I also noticed a little more detail in the architecture in the background. The building wasn't so 'blah' and the white on the patio ledge stood out a little more.

    [​IMG]
    Music3004w by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    So then I thought "These two images were taken just seconds apart, and if it looks this good at 4 seconds, I wonder what the last print would look like at 2 seconds and 8 seconds. So thats what I did. I went back and reloaded the original negative and flashed it for 2 seconds with filter 00, and then 8 seconds with filter 5.
    I noticed that the shadows in the background are much more opened up, but they aren't "blah" like they are in the post card. I've got paper white in there, nice blacks, and gray variations in between.

    [​IMG]
    Music2003w by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr


    I need to continue on this one some more because I am missing some detail in his hand that is strumming the guitar, which you can see in the post card image, so I think that I could probably use some burning there. I could probably dodge his ear just a little bit, and I think that I would also like to see the bottom burned just a tad more (around his knees). I'm sure that I would like a vignette a little bit as well.

    I'd like to hear your thoughts, suggestions, or opinions on how I can continue to improve this image. Please, I'm begging you though, don't turn this into another split-grade vs straight printing argument.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 29, 2013
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I like the harsh contrast you achieved in the image. Although you are right, portions of the musician's arms are too hot. You might actually need to flash the paper for this.

    As to dirty border, (I'm sorry for being direct) I think it's a bit weird. I would suggest filing a bit more so you can get a nice border all the way around the image. Also, the way it's reflecting light, it is creating a halo around the solid black area. To me, it looks strange. On the 3rd image, you may need to burn the second half guy on left bottom so he doesn't grab so much attention. Similarly, two guys on the right on the second image, I'd burn them in a bit.
     
  3. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Overall I like the straight scan as much as the split grade versions. While the last split grade version has real possibilities to be slightly better than the straight scan it might, as tkamiya has sa,d, need flashing to tone down the arms which are hot.

    However have you tried to alter the grade by half a grade divisions at a time. You might find that there is a half grade increase and a slightly different exposure setting that gets you very close to the split grade version without flashing.

    As you are experimenting anyway then this might be a worthwhile exercise.

    I might of course not be a punchy print afficionado compared to those who have commented in the exchange. The straight scan is far from flat or grey in my opinion.

    pentaxuser
     
  4. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    So I went back and filed out the negative carrier a little more. I was trying to avoid filing it to the point that I saw sprocket holes, but I guess I failed at that too.

    This one was done with 2 seconds at a filter 0 instead of 00, and then i burned his right arm for +4 seconds. Then 8 seconds at filter 5, and I think I burned his arm in a little with filter 5 too, but I don't remember how much. Obviously it was too much.

    Its getting better. I left my darkroom set up, so I'll try some more burning and dodging in areas in the morning.

    [​IMG]
    Music5006w by ChristopherCoy, on Flickr
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I like it! Now it's clearly a dirty border!

    By the way.... I don't like to think that you 'failed'. It was a "work in progress." That's what I think of less-than-perfect prints.
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Often it can help to take a break and come back with fresh eyes - especially when you're just starting out. Sometimes when you come back fresh it is easier to notice things in the print that need fixing/adjustment. It can also sometimes help to hang the print upside down. When you do that, some of the familiarity of the subject is removed, at least for a short time, and this can make it easier to focus on tonal relationships. Tonal relationships that are "illogical" (in the case above - both arms in sun but one is way darker), and other things that need adjustment, will tend to jump out at you a little more than while you're hard at work printing.

    And don't be afraid of going through some paper and taking time to come to the final print. This is totally normal at any skill level. And the end result is worth the effort and time.

    Just a few tips unrelated to split grade printing.
     
  7. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Yeah, I actually kinda like it. The sprockets bother me less and less as I look at it.
     
  8. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I like it! The dirty border looks good now, make sure to knock off any burrs with steel wool and if you have matt black paint, touch up the shiny edges now.

    The final (so far) looks like it's printed down a bit more than I would have liked.

    I liked the second variant, and would have only reduced the contrast from that print to make the arms a little less "hot" while holding the ear as-is.
     
  9. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    In the past I also did some split grade tests. But afterwards i decided to first get my negatives 100% and that i understand measuring light. I got a developer for life (my own created pyrocat) and when I finished all that, it almost had no problems with printing these on grade 2. Sure split grade can help you a little more on that point, but it will not save a ruined negative... I do not want to say that your negs are no good, but want to say that the picture depends on a lot more than only the last phase. So try to adjust all the parameters to the best values, and stick to that.
    keep on the good work!
     
  10. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Wow. You hit all the points. Perhaps I should hang my camera up and find another hobby, because you basically just said I don't know how to do anything.
     
  11. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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    Let the games begin!
     
  12. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Member

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    haha
     
  13. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Seriously though, you're doing fine, Christopher. Just keep doing what you're doing. Try things, experiment, practice, and enjoy.
     
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  15. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Sadly, that's all this forum is lately.
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Can I have your camera?
     
  17. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Sure! How much are you offering? LOL
     
  18. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Sometimes I wonder about some of the comments people leave.... it's almost like if you aren't perfect already, don't even try.... You know I was born perfect. I was THE BEST in my teen age years. As I got older, I got more and more imperfect. Now, I'm just a lump with a camera.
     
  19. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    I didn't say I was perfect. What I said was "how can I make this image better." I didn't expect to be told that I don't know how to meter, how to develop my negs, that I need a new developer, I should try a different process, and that it can't be saved in this phase.
     
  20. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    I think Tkamiya was posting about someone else.
     
  21. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    While Christopher will no doubt get the print to his liking one thing that I feel should be addressed is the small 'white" spot to the left of the guitarist's arm. It should be spotted out. (picky picky)

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  22. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    Ah. I see now. That's what I get for reading during an hour of cardio on the elliptical machine!
     
  23. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    That's a light bulb from inside of that restaurant. How do you get rid of it? Sharpie on the negative? Or on the print? It's going to have to be blacked out somehow.

    It bothers me too, but I don't like removing things digitally, after a scan. To me it defeats the purpose of shooting film.
     
  24. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Chris- You can spot the light bulb on the print, if you choose. I don't find it distracting, though.

    BTW- I think you've done a fine job with this negative. You analyzed what bothered you and how you wanted it to look. You then worked in the right directions getting there. That's all you can do... That's all anyone can do...
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Christopher:

    I think you took Willie Jan's meaning the wrong way.

    To my mind, he was just saying that the scene represented in your negative was an example of something that can be helped by printing techniques, but could be helped even more by a combination of tools, which include printing tools, but also development and other controls as well.

    In other words, keep up the good work in improving all your "chops".
     
  26. zsas

    zsas Member

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    This is wonderful to see your progress and approach. Sometimes seeing another person's artistic thought process inspires one to question his/her own convention(s). Thanks for your openness and transparency (pun intended, well I guess this isn't a chrome but still...). I like what you're doing!