Interpretations of a negative

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by dlin, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. dlin

    dlin Member

    Messages:
    2,627
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've found great value in seeing how photographers work up a print from a negative. I thought a thread showing a raw scanned negative paired with an interpreted print (or possibly multiple interpretations) would be informative. A brief description of materials and printing steps might also be of interest.

    To start things off, here is a recent example taken along one of my favorite places to photograph, Eagle Creek.

    Full frame square negative on the left: Ilford Delta 100 developed in Pyrocat HD. The brownish cast to the scanned negative is typical of film developed in Pyrocat HD, a staining developer.

    The print was made on 8x10 Kodak Polymax FA paper using a #2 contrast filter (Zone VI cold light head with V54 bulb).

    • The negative was cropped from the top to remove the dark triangular portion of a branch that didn't belong in the print.
    • After the main exposure, the highlights along the top LH edge were burned in for 1/3 stop using a card with a hole. This was to balance the left and right hand sides of the top edge.
    • The lighter portions of the water on the LH side around to the bottom middle of the frame were burned in for 1/4 stop using the same card, again to balance the water across the frame.
    • The water was burned in 1/8 stop to deepen the tones slightly in contrast to the brilliant ice.
    • The processed print was toned for 2 minutes in selenium 1:9
    • After thorough washing, the print was lightly bleached and then toned in thiocarbamide.

    Print on the right

    I hope others will share some of their examples.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2008
  2. Iwagoshi

    Iwagoshi Subscriber

    Messages:
    454
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    Location:
    NorCal
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Danial,

    Thank you for starting this thread. I found it to be most informative, especially to this B/W noob whom is caught up in an internal debate over scanning vs. contact proof printing. After seeing this post I think the $30 contact printer is winning over the $500 scanner.

    Terry
     
  3. PVia

    PVia Member

    Messages:
    813
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's kind of hard to see with this negative, which is mostly abstract in nature. Another image might be easier to envision...
     
  4. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

    Messages:
    495
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Location:
    North Yorksh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This is great - thanks Daniel.
    I'm a relative darkroom noob also, basically over the last year just finding my way around and producing flat prints. I'm now wanting to move into using burning/ dodging etc.
    If I may ask, what do you mean when you use the term burned in for a 1/4 stop or an 1/8 stop? The little I have done I've usually worked in seconds on different parts of the print.
    Apologies for such a basic question, but I feel I'm missing something here and can't quite get my head around it.
    thanks

    Tony
     
  5. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

    Messages:
    879
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2003
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Tony,

    If the basic exposure is 24 seconds, then 1/4 stop would be 6 seconds and 1/8 stop would be 3 seconds.

    Hope this helps,
     
  6. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

    Messages:
    495
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Location:
    North Yorksh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Aaah! Now I see!
    Thanks John!

    Tony
     
  7. dlin

    dlin Member

    Messages:
    2,627
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi Terry,
    I use both negative scanning and contact proof printing in my work flow, so it's not an either/or proposition. In fact, negative scans can be very useful for experimenting with manipulations I might want to use during the actual printing stage.

    I don't have a particularly fancy scanner, since my final work product is a wet darkroom print.

    PVia,
    I hope other photographers here will contribute examples to the thread so we can all learn from different types of images and personal work and interpretive processes.

    Tony,
    The F.stop exposure system is a way of determining times for dodging and burning based on the main exposure time. For example, if the main exposure is 16 seconds, a burning-in exposure of 1/2 stop would be approximately 6.6 seconds (1/4 stop=3 seconds; 1 stop=16 seconds). Dodging an area of the print during the main exposure would work the same way; a -1/4 stop dodge would be approximately 3 seconds.

    Note that I don't work so precisely with my burning and dodging times so the times are simply approximate proportions of the main exposure. I hope this helps.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     
  8. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

    Messages:
    495
    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Location:
    North Yorksh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Daniel, once John put me right on this, and from your further comments, I can see how it makes sense to work in stops rather than time based measurement.
    I'm at a stage where I want my prints to be more than flat/ workprints, and I think one of the hardest parts is working out where to apply dodging/ burning and how to apply it.
    Your thread here, which I also hope others will contribute to, is a definite aid to seeing how negatives are "worked up" into a final print.
    Thanks
    Tony
     
  9. Dietmar Wolf

    Dietmar Wolf Member

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Location:
    switzerland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi.

    The prints are in my gallery: http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=11461

    Its a good study of how burning the sky(background), higher grade and toning can change a pic.

    I missed burning the edges slightly. I then toned them longer than the rest:wink:

    I have no negscan anymore. Sorry. Anyhow, the negscan has not much in common with the end result. I do not make contact prints.
     
  10. dlin

    dlin Member

    Messages:
    2,627
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi Dietmar,

    I think the print you posted is quite beautiful. Your point that the negative scan may not look at all like the final print scan gets at the purpose for starting this thread. By providing visual reference points from the beginning (i.e. negative) to the final print, one can gain insights into the interpretive process. Understanding the steps taken in interpreting a negative and the reasoning behind them can be informative for both beginning and advanced printers. However, if one only has the finished product to refer to, then some of the potential educational value is missing.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     
  11. Dietmar Wolf

    Dietmar Wolf Member

    Messages:
    633
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Location:
    switzerland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you Daniel. Your are right, of course. So I rescanned the neg right now.

    So here is the neg.-scan.

    [​IMG]



    1. I drew a blue line. Above that line I burned 1 stop. That means exact the same time as the base exposure of the entire print. 5 seconds. I cut out a mask and held it in the middle to burn.

    2. In the gallery, the right pic is printed at grade 2.5 ( http://www.apug.org/gallery/data/501/212.jpg ), the middle one at grade 3 ( http://www.apug.org/gallery/data/501/35.jpg ).

    3. toning is done just via inspection/appearance.

    Overall: I find it remarkable how much you can make out of a "boring" sky. I think it helped me that I do develop ID11 1+2, which gives greater grain. It is also remarkable how much sharpness the print gains just through increasing the grade.


    A very good thread! I hope to see some more.

    Best regards, Dietmar
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2008
  12. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

    Messages:
    1,237
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Hertfordshir
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Late Afternoon Sun ~ Sand patterns

    Hi Daniel

    Great Idea for a thread. Here is my contribution.

    The Negative

    Made with my Pentax 645n2 and a 75mm lens. The film was Delta 100 and it was developed in Pyrocat M. Most of my images are already made in my head. I then wander in the landscape looking for them. This negative was made on the August APUG weekend. It was about 4pm and the sun was low in the sky. I remember being quite excited by the sand patterns as I walked the beach with Ailsa McWinnie. The composition I was looking for would not come easy as you can see in the neg scan that the beach is dotted with ugly stones. In this situation I usually find that it is a good idea to step back a few yards and take a wider view. The rest of the visulisation can then be done after the negatives have been developed.(Post visualisation) I new from past experience that by exposing for the shadows, the sunlight glinting in the wet sand would burn out, and be paper white in the final print.

    The Print

    I was not disappointed with the negatives, though it was quite hard work looking for the final print in them, as at the time I did not have a negative scanner. It involved carefully studying them on a light box, which can be quite tedious. Once I had made my choice of negative to use. I made a full frame print. It was then just a case of using some lengths of mount board to mask of the print untill I saw the composition that I would finally go with. It should be noted that this is a process thet should not be rushed. Every ripple in the sand is exactly where I want it to be and I go to great pains to replicate them when I reprint this photograph.

    The negative was printed at grade 3 as I wanted the print to be quite High in contrast. It was important to me for the shadows to be right on their limit when it came to detail, and the highlights to 'SING'


    • The top of the print needed to be burnt in for 1/2 stop at grade 3

      The top right corner was burnt in for 1/2 a stop and the bottom left corner was burnt in for 3/4 stop, both at grade 3. This was to naturally frame the sunlight that travelled through the frame from top left to the bottom right corner.

      The final print was lightly bleached and then toned in a home made theo toner. This was heated up to about 35 degrees as I find it gives me a warmer sepia than at room temperature. After a short wash the print was then toned in selenium at 1-9 for about 1 1/2 mins.

    I am really happy with the final print and I know it sounds corny, but it is exactly as I saw it before I found it (in my minds eye)

    Best

    Stoo

    P.S The final print shown is a scan of the final print, not a manipulated neg scan. The tone is quite faithfull to the print.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 9, 2008
  13. dlin

    dlin Member

    Messages:
    2,627
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Stoo,

    This is a beautiful print. Thanks for posting. I think it's a wonderful example of "post-visualization". It also demonstrates the importance of not allowing the dimensions of the format to constrain your vision.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. dlin

    dlin Member

    Messages:
    2,627
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is an example of an interpretation that is quite a departure from the straight negative. This scene was photographed in the morning at Lilly Pond in Eagle Creek Park, which is close to where I live in Indiana. I often drive through here on the way to work and get out for a quick walk if the light is interesting. What caught my attention were the swirling patterns in the duckweeds growing on the surface of the pond.

    Looking at the negative scan and playing around with levels allowed me to explore different possible interpretations. For me, this is one of the most powerful and time-saving aspects of working with a scanned negative image on the computer. I can play around with cropping and manipulate tonal representations, even with my most primitive computer skills, which can save an enormous amount of time, not to mention expensive paper, in the darkroom. It also allows me to visualize extreme changes that I might not consider otherwise.

    Negative: Fuji Acros developed in Pyrocat HD
    Paper: Ilford Galerie Grade 3 developed in ID-62

    For this print, I've flipped the image vertically and cropped from the square to remove extraneous elements.
    • The image was printed down quite drastically to create a more somber mysterious mood.
    • "Foreground" swirls were dodged during the main exposure
    • Top, left and right hand edges burned down after the main exposure
    • Processed and washed print toned in thiocarbamide using a presulfiding step, i.e. brief soak in the thiocarbamide toner bath prior to bleaching.
     

    Attached Files:

  16. DannL

    DannL Member

    Messages:
    588
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here's my most recent attempt at printing. A refreshing change as compared to anything I have printed previous. I think my final interpretation ended with little to no changes in actual composition. My inital framing of the scene was very tight. When I made this exposure I never expected the final print to look better than the original scene. For me this is a very rare occurrence. Warning: I would not suggest making this type of exposure unless you are completely aware of the potential dangers to man and camera.

    - First image: the scan of the negative.
    - Second image: my computer version of what I invisioned it might be prior to actual printing.
    - Third image: a scan of the final print.
    - And lastly an explanation of my burn sequence. When I mention "a graduated burn", that means the effect you would expect from using a graduated filter, but creating it with a blocking device such as cardboard.

    Lake Hefner, Oklahoma City, April 2008,
    5:30 PM, pointed into the sun.

    Camera: Voigtländer Avus 9x12cm + Zeiss orange filter
    Film: Efke PL 100 M
    Exposure: 1/50 sec @ F/11
    Dev: D-76 1:1

    Omega D2 + 135mm Rodenstock
    Paper: Fotokemika Varycon Matt FB 8x10
    Dev: Dektol 1:1
    Filter: #4 Kodak Polycontrast for entire print.

    I would really like to see the water less dense in the final print. I'm still working on it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2009
  17. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

    Messages:
    1,237
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Hertfordshir
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Daniel

    That is quite an amazing transformation from the original. I have recently adopted the use of a neg scan to see if i can take a print that little bit further. I have to admit though that I have never moved as far away from the original as you have here, though, knowing your skills in the darkroom, I am quite sure that you had this final vision of the print long before you opened the negative up in photoshop.

    I used to be quite sceptical of people who posted neg scans in the galleries, but since adopting this way of working I was very supprised to find that there is not anything I can do in photoshop that I can't do, and probably better, in the darkroom (with a printable negative)

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful image.

    Stoo

     
  18. Stoo Batchelor

    Stoo Batchelor Member

    Messages:
    1,237
    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Hertfordshir
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Great image Dan. You must be well pleased with what you have so far. Will the final print be toned?

    Stoo



     
  19. DannL

    DannL Member

    Messages:
    588
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, it's a completely new path for me. In my first run I made some 5 prints. Several prints I made specifically to practice retouching and spotting, and I toned one print as a test in selenium. I am very pleased with that test. It's a very subtle purple tint using this paper.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2008
  20. Seabird

    Seabird Member

    Messages:
    112
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thanks for an interesting thread Daniel. I've enjoyed others' contribution so lets try and reactivate things...

    Here's a fairly simple example of some selective burning. The first image is a straight print from the negative. The second image is the finished (manipulated) print - well, as it presently stands anyway... :wink:

    The grain of the rocks on the river bank was what initially caught my attention, and I've attempted to emphasise them by significant burning of the bush above the rock, and a bit of burning of the flowing water in front of the rock. I didn't want to completely loose the bush although that could easily be done. Corner burns and burns down the left and right edges complete the current printing strategy (although I'm still working on it).

    Never Never Creek, NSW Australia
    150 Apo-Symmar on my Technika with APX100 in the DDS
    Dev Rodinal 1:50 for 10mins
    Both prints on MG IV

    The bush and water burns are both 1 stop.

    Cheers

    Carey Bird
     

    Attached Files:

  21. dlin

    dlin Member

    Messages:
    2,627
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Carey,

    Thanks for posting your examples. It's quite a lovely scene.

    I had a couple questions regarding the burning sequence you've described. Are you using the same contrast filter as the main exposure for the burns? It looks like the foreground water was burned in using a lower contrast filter to bring down the highlights without pushing the tones in water down too far. Retaining detail in the background, which works here without competing with bright rock textures, can be achieved this way too.

    All the best,
    Daniel
     
  22. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,751
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Great thread Daniel! Don't know how I missed it first time around.

    Thought I'd add one I was working on recently. Shot was made mid-morning, shooting southeast over the lake I believe. Sun was very bright with me shooting directly into it. Made with a 50mm lens covered by a 10 stop reducing ND filter. The scene looked nothing like I envisioned it in my head and I was unsure I could actually pull it off in the darkroom. Certainly not my favorite to print due to all the manipulation it takes, but I was very pleased with the final result. What is it they say about the pain going away on payday? :smile:

    Left is raw neg scan, right is from an 8x8 inch print on Ilford Multigrade FB with a matt surface. Print is subsequently toned in a selenium / sepia split.
     

    Attached Files:

  23. Seabird

    Seabird Member

    Messages:
    112
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Thanks Daniel. I like it too. :tongue:

    All exposures were with the same contrast filter. I use an old D2V with condensor head so the filters go in the condensor "drawer". I've always been paranoid about changing filters for fear of moving the head/inducing vibrations etc... But thanks for the tip, I may have to get over my fear and try your suggestion next time round.

    And thanks again for starting a great thread.:tongue:

    Cheers
     
  24. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

    Messages:
    401
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    Thanks Daniel for this thread. I was out of town when this thread started and seen it for the first time today. Really nice to see how good printers work. What a difference in the print it makes when good print making skills come into play.

    Best, Jim
     
  25. MurrayMinchin

    MurrayMinchin Membership Council

    Messages:
    4,196
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Location:
    North Coast,
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Maybe we should rename this thread something like, "Proof Print - Fine Print" and make it sticky?

    Murray
     
  26. Fintan

    Fintan Member

    Messages:
    1,793
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Location:
    Ireland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A sticky or a sub-forum would be a great idea, this thread makes superb reading.