Increasing Graded Paper Contrast

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Richard Jepsen, May 20, 2007.

  1. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I have no experience working with graded paper and need advice on raising print contrast. I am working with an image I wish to display printed on Galerie #3 developed in Dektol 1:2. The test print image is 1/2 or so grade too soft. Do I under expose and over develop to raise contrast?
     
  2. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    Maybe you could try a more active developer combined with a longer print development time. Selenium may help some as well, but I figure that you already know about that.

    Mike
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    You could also intensify the neg. Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner 1:3 for about 8 minutes should get you about a one zone contrast boost.
     
  4. chrisofwlp

    chrisofwlp Member

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    Increasing the contrast of graded paper is very difficult. the easiest thing to do is move to a higher grade and use a water bath.

    Sincerely;
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Raising the Contrast ½ a grade is relatively easy, all the manufacturers used to publish formulae, Ilford ID-14 would easily give you more than enough increase in contrast.

    Ilford recommended Dr Beer's variable contrast developer for Galerie, and published the formula in the 1982 Ilford Galerie technical information sheet.

    Ian
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Extending development WILL help. Adjusting exposure MAY be a good idea.

    Using a high-contrast developer WILL help.

    Adding a little KBr (or benzotriazol) to the developer will hold back the highlights a little, resulting in higher contrast. Adding more alkali to the solution MAY enhance this.

    Since you use Dektol at 1:2, try first using it full strength.

    Changing the contrast of a graded paper by +/- 1 1/2 steps is easy, more than that requires creative thinking. :D
     
  7. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I agree, getting another 1/2 grade increase in contrast is not hard. Don't believe Gallerie Grade 4 is an option any more.

    First I would try increased development time. You may want to reduce the exposure just a tad, but try extending the development time first.

    Second, use Dektol 1:1. Between this and extending the development, you should be able to do it without too much fuss.
     
  8. karavelov

    karavelov Member

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    In such a situations I usually make the print on the dark side in order to get good blacks, then I immerse the whole print in diluted Farmer's Reduces in order to clear the whites. With such a procedure you gain also a spectacular highlights separation, sometimes I do it only for this.
     

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  9. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    If you use Dektol 1+2 and give it adequate development time to reach completion, it is not very easy to boost image contrast much farther by changing the exposure or development, unless you use one of the high contrast developers used for printing films (those usually contain hydrazine derivatives, tetrazolium derivatives and amine contrast boosters). These developers are relatively recent technology and currently not used in b&w pictorial printing.

    Film emulsions are usually partially developed and so extended development can give contrast boost (though there is a limit called gamma infinity). On the other hand, print emulsions are designed for complete development, unless you go to the classic warmtone development, which slightly underdevelops the emulsion with a bit of overexposure. So you can't really "push" papers like you can with films.

    A small contrast enhancement in highlights can be made by adding benzotriazole (BTA; 200-500mg/L) or 1-phenyl-5-mercaptotetrazole (PMT; 10-40mg/L) to the developer. PMT is more powerful but wears out of the solution faster than BTA. This is more effective to do with Dektol 1+1 rather than 1+2. But stock strength Dektol may or may not work well depending on the paper emulsion.

    A noticeable contrast enhancement in shadows can be made by applying a selenium or polysulfide toner, until you see just noticeable change in the image hue but not much more. It often happens that the further increase in shadow density is observed a day or two after drying in the case of polysulfide.
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Great verbiage Ryuji, but is it remotely relevant

    Ian
     
  11. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Thanks for your usual response, Ian.
     
  12. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    We had an interesting discussion of this matter a few
    weeks ago. In a nut shell some very good evidence was
    found indicating that developing to completion was actually
    developing for maximum contrast. To up contrast; least
    possible exposure and extended development; maybe
    five minutes. That method may be your easiest fix.
    Two or three tries should decide it.

    Curious as to how it turns out. What paper? Dan
     
  13. DODDATO

    DODDATO Member

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    Under expose about 20% and over develop about 50% to increase contrast on graded papers.
     
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  15. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    And why not VC as well? Dan
     
  16. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Let's try again.

    You can't "push" paper like you can with film. Film emulsions are not fully developed when you get normal contrast, and there is more room to go, that's why you can "push" and boost contrast. On the other hand, paper emulsions are designed to be processed all the way, to completion. Extending development beyond completion doesn't increase contrast, but can actually reduce contrast by elevating fog. There is no or little room to push any further. Without going to some nonstandard chemicals, the room to increase contrast from what can be had with Dektol 1+1 or 1+2 is limited. On the other hand, there is some room to "pull" to soften contrast, although this comes with the image hue change (usually the hue becomes warmer).
     
  17. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    [QUOTES=Ryuji;470493]
    "Let's try again. You can't "push" paper like you can with film."

    I'm quite sure everybody will agree.

    "... the room to increase contrast from what can be had with
    Dektol 1+1 or 1+2 is limited."

    Maybe eke out a 1/2 grade. That's all that is hoped for.

    "On the other hand, there is some room to "pull" to soften contrast,..."

    That is consistent with my statement that development to
    completion is development for max or near max contrast. Not
    to be confused with maximum black. Max black occurs prior
    to max contrast. Pulling can maintain max black and at
    the same time lower contrast. Dan
     
  18. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Uhhh, yeah, there certainly are limits to this. That wasn't the original question. The original question asked if about a half grade increase could be gained. Speaking for only myself, my reply was based on first-hand empirical experience. In others words, I've done it many times, up or down a half grade that is. Got the original knowledge from Mr. Adams in "The Print". Believe he was very fond of dektol and used it extensively. Seeing as how "The Print" was last revised in 1982 or 1983, this is not new knowledge nor technique.
     
  19. Steve Sherman

    Steve Sherman Subscriber

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    Another trick you can use in conjunction with all other suggestions is to print with a very blue light, now you might think putting a colored filter in front of the light path will increase your exposure. Not as much as you might think. Graded paper produces more contrast with blue light and less contrat than usual with green light.

    Without opening a can of worms you can always develop your negatives with a variation of Semi-Stand development.

    Cheers!
     
  20. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Alex and Dan,

    Well, half a grade can be small or large. On top of what can be had with Dektol 1+1 standard development? One half grade is a bit more than what you can do by changing this. With some paper I can't get any increase of contrast above standard development. But it may be somewhat paper dependent.

    But at the same time, half grade boost can be had with print developer with some benzotriazole, and then use selenium or polysulfide toner until shadow deepsns. That'll give half grade increase.

    Anyway, this is going to an endless loop, so I'll stop.

    If there's any addition to this thread at a later time, I will add it to this page:

    http://silvergrain.org/wiki/Contrast_control
     
  21. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    As it was mentioned earlier, I would suggest selenium toning the negative. That is usually good for a half grade increase, perhaps as much as a whole grade -- and it will protect the negative in the long term.

    This way, you can stay with your present print development routine.

    On a different tack...have you run a safelight test in your darkroom? If you are experiencing any safelight fogging, taking care of that might be all you need to do. I run a safelight test for our university darkroom every once and a while and post the results -- our darkroom is not very "safe" (paper out for 3 minutes in the brightest areas run the risk of fogging slightly), but we compromise on that in order to safely run a darkroom of 19 enlarger stations. Advanced students tend to pick the enlargers in the darker corners of the darkroom.

    Good luck, you have gotten several interesting and potentially useful replies!

    Vaughn
     
  22. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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  23. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    I have to chime in here as well:

    First, whether you can increase contrast by "tweaking" the development depends on a couple of things. 1) The paper: some papers just do not react well to developer manipulations. 2) The developer you use as "standard." Dektol 1:2 is fairly contrasty already. You can try full strength, adding carbonate/Kbr, increasing dev time etc. and see if it works, but unless you are developing for less than 2 1/2 minutes in the Dektol, you may not see much change. (Getting less contrast would be a lot easier...)

    Second, much of what is perceived as increased contrast when "tweaking" developer is really a change in characteristic curve shape that gives more contrast to a local area, but not a real change in overall contrast. This, I believe, is the advantage to playing around with your developers. However, it is possible to come up with a steeper overall curve, which is increased contrast as far as papers are concerned. (As opposed to films, which are rarely developed to d-max, the d-max and highlight density of papers stay relatively constant. It is the curve shape that determines the range of negative densities that can be printed on a given paper and thus the "contrast" of the paper.)

    Three, selenium toning the negative will give the negative a real contrast increase. However, if you developed the negative in a staining developer (e.g. PMK), the toning solution will remove the stain, effectively negating the contrast increase. You may be able to recover the stain by bathing the neg in spent developer or an alkaline solution after the toning, but I am not sure, as I haven't tried it myself.

    Selenium toning your print will increase d-max and contrast overall. However, the highlights are least affected. Sometimes, printing a bit lighter and selenium toning is just the ticket, however, bringing more life to the highlights than one might expect.

    My recommendations: First, old paper loses contrast. Try a fresh batch of paper if yours has been around for a while. I have some old Seagull grade 3 that is down to about grade 2 now.... Try toning if you aren't already.
    If you really need an overall contrast increase, try selenium intensification of the neg (as long as it wasn't developed in a staining developer). It really works and can be done locally as well. Selenium toner 1:2 for 5 minutes is toning to completion and approx. a one-grade increase (maybe a bit less). Less time will give you less contrast change. This is a proportional increase and usually very gratifying when it works. These are the "easy fixes" and will give your prints more snap.

    If you want to play with the developer, try:

    1) Full strength Dektol with an extended development time (5 minutes is a good starting point) and reduced exposure to compensate. This can give a darker, heavier print. If you want more highlight contrast, but the blacks are fine, use the standard dilution and...

    2) add carbonate and/or KBr (or benzatriazole) to your developer. Adding carbonate alone increases developer activity and is somewhat like inreasing developer strength. It affects the blacks mostly. KBr restrains development in the the highlights and can, with increased development/exposure time, give a print with more highlight separation. You can use both together to balance each other somewhat and get some darker blacks and more highlight separation at the same time. I keep pre-mixed solutions of carbonate and KBr on a shelf above the developer for easy "tweaking." I usually just pour some in, but you can measure if you like. There is a good discussion of using carbonate and KBr in the Darkroom Cookbook. You will have to adjust exposure and/or development time when "tweaking." Again, some papers react better to these techniques than others.


    You can bleach up the highlights by immersing the entire print in a potassium ferricyanide solution. You can also selectively bleach certain areas of the print. Bleaching techniques are a bit complicated to go into here, but there is lots of info on the web. If you haven't bleached before, take time to master the techniques as they can be tricky.

    Bleaching affects the way the print will tone later, so if you tone, especially with selenium, be aware that split toning can result. When I bleach locally, I use a very dilute toning solution and watch very carefully so I can pull the print before split toning occurs. I usually end up wasting the first one...

    If none of the above options works, you need to find a contrastier paper. Maybe you will have to resort to VC or a different brand of graded that still comes in grade 4 (Seagull, Kentmere, ???). As a last resort, there are intensifiers for the neg. So far, I have managed to get by without having to resort to more intensification than selenium offers, so I can't offer first-hand assistance with that.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus Scudder

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2007
  24. climbabout

    climbabout Member

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    increasing contrast on graded paper

    Another answer is Dr. Beers developer - I use it almost exclusively. It's a part a and part b solution. different dilutions give you approx 1/4 grade change in both directions. There are 7 different dilutions so you can go up or down as much as 3/4 grade.
    Tim
     
  25. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I wouldn't do anything to the negative, since there's nothing wrong with negative per se, any posttreatment is risky, and you might want to print it on a different paper later.

    I do endorse using bleach on the print. You can use Farmer's, or for more control, pure ferricyanide followed by a separate fixer bath. That's a slower method and more controllable. If you overdo it, you can redevelop the image in a developer bath (before fixing, of course). I've use this method on Panalure, the only fixed-grad non-lith paper I've used in recent years.
     
  26. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    Maybe try Tetenal Dokumol liquid? It is a contrast increasing developer.