Lith help request

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by L.J.SILVER, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. L.J.SILVER

    L.J.SILVER Member

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    Hi, I'd like to learn how to make lith prints and would appreciate recommendations on what film and developer combination would be appropriate to use. And, should I work towards a more contrasty negative, normal, or lower contrast neg? I use 120 and 4x5 formats. Thanks.
     
  2. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Film and format make little difference. It is inherently a grainy process and resolution is not really the goal....use 120 since it is easier unless you want the perspective correction of LF. It is also a very flexible process in terms of contrast range. Just use what you normally do and develop as you would for regular printing. Then, get Tim Rudman's book or check out his article on unblinkingeye.com.
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    A slightly different take on Mark's comment - there are many ways to do this.

    With lith printing developer temperature and dilution will affect both color and contrast. Exposure time will affect the same. Explanation: Short enlarger exposure = high contrast, long enlarger exposure = low contrast. So, the inherent negative contrast will determine, by a lot, how your final print will look. I get effects from thin negatives that I like, and I get effects from really dense and contrasty negatives that I like.
    The sum of the matter is - the contrast of the negative matters a lot, and I'm afraid that it will be up to you to try to determine what you like best.

    Get Tim Rudman's book at http://www.timrudman.com and please do read the article that Mark is referring to. Then print a lot! :smile:

    - Thomas
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I like punchy negatives where the shadow detail is well defined and I am not so much concerned about the highlight density in the negative going a bit heavy.
    As we pull for the blacks and overexpose for the highlights when we make the prints, a strong negative with wonderful shadow detail is what I look for.
     
  5. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    I would recommend any and all of Tim's books, but this one, the Master Photographers Lith Printing Course is a great way to get started.
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Hmmmmm, I didn't realize that the negative made that big of a difference. I just try to make sure I have good detail in the shadows (expose enough) and not worry too much about the highlights (develop normally). May have to play around a bit......
     
  7. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I generally find that if I have a negative that prints nicely as a regular b/w print then it works well for lith, too. If it's a pain in the ass to print as b/w, then it's a pain in the ass to lith.
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    That's interesting, Travis. We're all different of course, so our experiences are different. I find the opposite from you, that if I have a thin neg I can lith it easily, and if I have a neg of unusually high contrast it's easy to lith. It's those exposures that print like a dream in regular chemistry that I have a problem getting anything that I find interesting with.
    I often think it would be interesting to study the technique of others. You know, do a day in the darkroom with others kind of thing, where we observe each other. I'll bet we could all learn a lot from each other!

    I should add that 'normal' negs is probably a great place to start, so that if you don't like it you can print your negs in regular chemistry again.

    - Thomas
     
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  9. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Thomas, I've learned most of my darkroom technique on my own (LOTS of trial and error), so I don't know if I want people observing my techniques for fear of being told I'm doing everything wrong :D

    I'm 99% sure I'll be at Bill's gathering in June so I'll at least have some of my prints with me.
     
  10. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I'm planning on going too.....maybe we could do a lith show and tell.
     
  11. Erik L

    Erik L Subscriber

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    I find I can make a passable lith print with negs that are way to contrasty to make a decent b/w print without lots of vodoo dodging, burning, masking etc. In my experience, way over exposing a contrasty neg can tame the overly contrasty neg but I usually have to still burn the highlights or make a crude mask to make some negs workable. What I find appealing about lith printing is that I can turn an interesting composition but poorly executed neg into an interesting lith print where as I would have a hard time making a decent straight print, fortunately I have an over abundance of such negatives to choose from:smile:
    Erik
     
  12. Justin Maramba

    Justin Maramba Member

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    It not so much film that will determine a lith print. Just choose the film that best suits your style. Anyway, paper choice is pretty crucial as each emulsion reacts differently to the lith process. For example, Fomatone MG by Foma has cadmium in it which makes a variety of colors possible, where as Ilford MG Warmtone has a more subdued color to it when lith developed. Also, developer choice has some impact on lith printing, as some developers have different properties, such as SE5 which has one of the highest concentrations amongst lith developers.

    Here's a link to a list of lithable papers and reviews of them by Tim Rudman:
    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Lith2/lith2.html
     
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  13. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    Agree, film and developer is not nearly as important as a negative that prints conventionally with the widest range for interpretation. With a grade 2-2 1/2 negative, you can get Pan F+ in the highlights and Delta 3200 in the shadows, with tonal splits falling along those lines.
     
  14. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Actually, I must jump in here again and put some perspective on the negative. The negative does matter - a lot! Please see my previous post about how negative contrast will definitely impact the color of the final print. Your results will vary greatly with the density and contrast range of your negative.
    This is because you control contrast with length of exposure, and if you expose a print for a longer period of time, your colors will shift and become more saturated. Don't believe me? Make some tests. Shoot one negative one stop overexposed and underdevelop it by a lot so that it's thin and without much contrast. Then expose one negative normally and overdevelop the hell out of it. It has to be the same scene under the same lighting conditions.
    It will yield two very different prints.

    - Thomas
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I agree with Thomas here, the quality or lack of is most important to the multitude of looks available with lith.

     
  16. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Actually that list is pretty outdated. To get a much more up-to-date list, go to Tim's website and subscribe to his mailing list.

    As far as negatives go, they certainly do matter, just as developer, dev dilution, dev temperature, paper and just about any other variable you can throw in there matters. The lith process seems to be affected much more by variables than straight b/w printing.

    In my previous post I stated that when I have a negative that prints easily in straight b/w I get a good lith print out of it. Thomas has a different take on it, he has an easier time with either thin or very high contrast negatives. It's all in what you want the final outcome to be.
     
  17. L.J.SILVER

    L.J.SILVER Member

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    Thank you all for your advice. I'm photographing some interiors of ruins (rocks and rubble mainly) and there will be some open doorways or windows. The interiors will be rather dark and the scene through the doorways or windows will be in bright sun. I know it's probably impossible but is there any way I could get good contrast for the interior and some visual information for the outside scene as well? To make it even more difficult, the dimly lit interior rocks and rubble will be very much grey on slightly darker grey in terms of contrast. I would sacrifice the outside scene if I have no choice but it would be great to hold some visual information rather than to have them as blown out highlight. Any recommendation of particular film, developer and general exposure and developing advice would be gratefully appreciated. I'll be using 120 film and at the moment I'm deliberating between Fuji Neopan 400, Rollei Retro 400 and Tri-X 400. Thank you.
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I think in your situation I'd try developing the negative to a contrast that catches as much printable information as possible. Your best bet out of the three is probably Tri-X, which has a very linear response through the spectrum. I think you might prefer TMax 400, though, because if you're in the dark you're likely to run into reciprocity failure with the other three at about 1/2 second. TMY is much more flexible that way, and has even straighter response than Tri-X.
    I'd make a test roll or two before the real thing, but I would meter for the shadows to get the amount of shadow detail you want. Then I'd practice semistand development (reduced agitation) with a dilute compensating developer such as Rodinal. 1+100 is a good dilution to use, and I'd probably develop for somewhere around 10-12 minutes at that dilution and agitate every three minutes. That will help in holding back the highlights, while getting sufficient detail in midtones (important!) and shadows. It's a bit tricky and requires some testing, but that's how I'd approach it.
    What you're gunning for is definitely obtainable. I've done it myself with both Rodinal and Pyrocat, and the negs were just printable with full detail with regular chemistry, and they printed like a dream in lith.

    Good luck!

    - Thomas
     
  19. MarkL

    MarkL Subscriber

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    Check out David Kachel's series of four articles on "zone system contraction" at http://davidkachel.com/history.html. One of the articles is on selective latent image manipulation technique (SLIMT). Basically you soak your high contrast neg in an extremely dilute bleach before you develop it and it proportionally reduces the overexposed highlights. It's not hard to do and is apparently very effective.

    Mark
     
  20. timeUnit

    timeUnit Member

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    While the negative is of course important, you can get great results from 35mm negs to 4x5 inch. Start out with a good paper for lith printing. I would recommend Foma Fomatone. It is really responsive to lith developer, and easy to work with. Fotospeed Lith is made for lith printing and will work great too. I use Maco Superlith developer, which is very nice.

    Good luck, have fun.
     
  21. jmal

    jmal Member

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    I think for your intended purpose lith printing will allow you very good control of the shadows and highlights. Like Thomas, I would go for as much detail in this situation, particularly in the shadows. Lith is very good for controling highlights.
     
  22. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Print from High Contrast Neg

    To the OP: Re - high brightness range.

    The attached print is from Tri-X film, photographed inside the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison. It's hand held as they didn't allow tripods, and shot at 1/60th of a second at f/4 with an 80mm lens on a Hasselblad camera. The windows had full sunlight coming through them. 1/250th second at f/16 would have been appropriate to capture them with normal development, but of course that would have left everything else completely without detail, or close to.

    I shot the film at box speed, EI 400, and developed using semistand with Pyrocat-MC, at 1+1+100 dilution, 70*F, 13 minutes agitation for the first minute, then at 9min, 6min, and 3min for 10s (2 inversions).

    This is a straight print, at grade 2, using Forte Polygrade paper and Ansco 130 developer. There is a bit more shadow and highlight detail in the print, but this gives you an idea about exposing for the shadows, and develop for reasonable midtone/highlight detail.

    I didn't like the print very much, so I didn't take it further than to this work print. I'm glad it can serve a purpose here.

    - Thomas
     

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  23. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    BINGO