Negatives for Contact Printing v. Enlargements.

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by jstraw, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. jstraw

    jstraw Member

    Messages:
    2,703
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Location:
    Topeka, Kans
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Assuming the same subject, is your ideal negative for contact printing different than your ideal negative for enlarging and if so, how?
     
  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF

    What are you contact printing on? What format are you using? What sort of enlarger are you using? Too many variables. You have to zero in on a particular kind of negative with a particular use in mind. This question, really, is too general.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. jstraw

    jstraw Member

    Messages:
    2,703
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Location:
    Topeka, Kans
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok, for the sake of discussion..it's a 4x5 neg, a cold light head, and your favorite neutral tone, graded paper...or grade 2 VC paper, in Dektol. If you're shooting to print 8x10 do you want your negative to have different characteristics than if you were contact printing it?
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    If the paper scale is the same in both cases and the light source used for exposure is the same then the negative density range would be the same.

    For that reason, it behooves a person to determine the exposure scale of the paper first and foremost.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 13, 2006
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,978
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The reason that people sometimes develop to a different contrast range for contact prints is not because of contact printing per se, but because they are using a different print medium than they are for enlarging. Azo likes a contrastier neg than most enlarging papers, and most alternative processes work better with a contrastier neg than one would want for Azo.
     
  6. jstraw

    jstraw Member

    Messages:
    2,703
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Location:
    Topeka, Kans
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So commonly, if one were using an optimized process for contact printing and an optimized process for enlarging, the negative shot for one purpose would indeed be different than for the other. Yes? I realize that this is a broad generalization with lot's of variables.
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    No, that is not what David or I either one said.
     
  8. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,746
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with Don and David. It depends on what you are doing. The mere fact of the paper being in contact with the negative has little, if anything, to do with it. It depends on your paper, emulsion, printing light, probably developer, etc.

    If you are using the same paper, same light, same developer, the negative should be the same. If you are using different paper, different light or different developer, the negatives may well be different.
    juan
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,978
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    It's not as if Azo is "optimized for contact printing"--it's just a longer scale paper that can render fine gradation over a large range. In theory that might make it better for enlargements as well, but practically it is too slow for enlarging unless you have a very bright enlarging light source. For contact printing, it's easier to use a brighter light source, so it is easy to print on Azo, but if you happened to prefer an enlarging paper to Azo for contact prints, you could use it, and it would require a negative of similar contrast to negatives enlarged on the same paper with the same light source, etc.
     
  10. donbga

    donbga Member

    Messages:
    2,084
    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    I disagree slightly with what you said. A projected image vs a contact print on the same paper, etc. will yield slightly different results.
     
  11. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,746
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with you Don, but I don't know that making a change in the negative would make the contact print and the projected print the same.

    Same is same and different is different, I believe Fred used to say.
    juan
     
  12. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Only if the papers are different. If you're printing on Azo or making pt/pd prints, your negative will need to be heftier than negatives to be printed on enlarging paper.

    The same negative will work fine for both enlargements and contact prints on the same enlarging paper, even though the prints may be a little different.
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    That depends greatly on the light source used to projection print the negative. A diffuse light source will give different results but that is due to light scatter and not due to the density range of the negative failing to match the scale of the paper. I can print a 4X5 negative to a 5X7 or even an 8X10 enlargement with my point light source on a condenser enlarger and you will not find the difference that you think.

    But then again even at an 8X10 enlargement from the same 4X5 negative (efke 100 and pyrocat) you will begin to see grain. Something unheard of with a diffusion light source enlarger.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. noseoil

    noseoil Member

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Next time you are doing a print on an enlarger, use the same setting for a contact print to see what happens. Use the same setting as the large print, only place the negative on the same paper used for the print, under a sheet of contact printing glass. tim
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    No-one has yet mentioned lens/enlarger flare, which necessarily flattens a projected image as compared with one that is contact printed. The extent of the flattening will vary but suggests that you need more contrast in a neg for projection printing than in one for contact printing.

    This assumes you are using the same paper for both contact printing and enlarging, which (like many others) I seldom do. IF you want to print on POP, for example, you'll need much more contrast in your contact-printing neg.

    This is why I suggested initially that there are too many variables. Everything depends on your own personal subject matter, equipment, materials and personal preferences -- and as no two photographers are exactly alike here, I don't see any way to give a meaningful answer. If you understand what the variables are, you can adjust your processing accordingly and get the results you want with your equipment. If you don't understand the variables, someone else's answer is unlikely to do you much good. Here's a list of a dozen variables for a starter:

    1 Subject brightness range
    2 Lens/camera flare
    3 Metering technique
    4 Film choice
    5 Film developer choice
    6 Development technique including time
    7 Printing material choice
    8 ISO(R) of printing material (not applicable to printing out because of self-masking). Note that 'Grade 2' isn't a fixed ISO(R) but varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and with paper developer.
    9 Light source for printing (contact or enlarging)
    10 Enlarger+ lens flare (if applicable -- not for contact printing)
    11 Paper developer choice (if applicable -- not with printing-out processes)
    12 Toning (or not): some toners build contrast, others lose it

    Fortunately, neg/pos printing is enormously flexible, both inherently (i.e. even quite large variations still produce acceptable or even excellent images) and in the sense that if you want repeatability, you can often compensate for variations at one state via counter-variations at others.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  17. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

    Messages:
    274
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Good grief! You guys sure like to make things complicated. Just go out and make some negatives. Print them, see what happens and adjust the process accordingly.
     
  18. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    AMEN
     
  19. jstraw

    jstraw Member

    Messages:
    2,703
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Location:
    Topeka, Kans
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm almost sorry I asked the question in the first place and perhaps it would be more diplomatic to just walk away from the conversation but I'm bad at that.

    It's not my desire to be argumentative but I'll risk it to suggest that nothing on your list is beyond my comprehension but that by insisting that they must be considered variables, you're trying to reframe my question as more complicated than I had inteded for it to be read.

    You're suggesting variations where I did not. To begin with, let's assume that your #'s 1&2 are the same for both contact and enlarger printing.

    #'s 7, 8, 9, 11 & 12 come under the umbrella of optimizing a prinitng processes for one or the other. I didn't ask about that. It's a worthy endeavor but I deliberately tried to keep the scope of my question narrow. Let's assume that those variables are also constant in both scenarios.

    I would even prefer to eliminate #4 as a variable.

    #10 is a variable that cannot be eliminated. It may or may not be an issue for enlargements, it is not for contact printing.

    My question relates to #'s 3, 5 & 6. I'm asking if ALL ELSE IS EQUAL, do you think that a negative for contact printing should most often have different characteristics from that of a negative that will be enlarged and what are they.

    When you plan to contact print, do you meter/expose/develop differently than if you plan to enlarge. Yes? No? How? To achieve what distinction in the negative?

    Thanks.
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,978
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Not really. Yes, all the things that Roger mentions are factors, but even cumulatively, they aren't as great for the question you're asking (enlarging vs. contact printing the same scene) as the inherent contrast of the print medium.

    In practical terms using the Zone System, for enlarging or contact printing onto grade 2 enlarging paper (not Azo), you'll likely want to target your negs for a Zone VIII density of around 1.2. You may find that your preferred paper is a little more or less contrasty, or if you use a diffusion light source you want a little more contrast, but in general, you're going to be within the relatively narrow range of Dlog 1.1-1.4. The difference between contact printing and enlarging might be no greater than the difference between using one enlarging lens and another or between enlarging to 5x7" and 11x14" from the same neg.

    If you are printing (by enlargement or contact) on Azo, you'll probably want your Zone VIII density somewhere in the 1.5-1.8 range for grade 2, and if you're using an alternative process, you might want your Zone VIII density between 1.8-2.2.

    I don't target my negative contrast usually for big enlargements or small enlargements, because that's not something I usually know when I'm making the photograph, and I could change my mind about it years later. If I need a little more contrast for a large print, I can fix that at the printing stage (e.g., grade 2 for 5x7", grade 3 for 16x20"), or if it's a permanent thing, I could even intensify the neg. I think the same way about contact printing or enlarging the same neg on the same paper--the difference in contrast required is small enough that it's within the margin of error that includes all other random factors like lighting conditions and the color of the objects in the scene that can be attended to at the printing stage. If I'm planning to print on Azo or albumen, though, then I need to think about those things differently than I would for printing on enlarging paper.
     
  21. skillian

    skillian Subscriber

    Messages:
    274
    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Alright, I'll bite, but keep in mind that what works for me may not work for you. In the end, the only that matters is the expressive qualities of the image and despite what some people will tell you, there are as many ways to make that happen as there are photographs.

    I contact print 8x10 negatives and make enlargements from 6x6 negs. My process for exposing and developing these films has evolved over the years. When I contact printed on Azo, I generally made pretty dense negatives because Azo (and the look I preferred) seemed to favor this approach. Now that Azo is gone, I'm backing off the level of density a bit, but they're still denser than I use for enlarging. I know nothing about densitometers so I can't quantify this for you, but I think it will be pretty intuitive for when you expose film and make prints for yourself on the papers of your choice. For contact printing, I'm now working with Kentmere Kentona in Amidol and the results are very similar to Azo. My old "super dense" Azo negs seem to print fine on this paper. For my 6x6 negs, I develop them using stand development and they are less dense than my 8x10 negs for contact printing - generally speaking.

    Hope that helps. I've seen stunning contact prints made from much thinner negatives than mine and I've seen great enlargements made from negatives that are much denser than mine, but this is the process that works for me. As others have pointed out, it does depend on the look you're after and your own creative sensibilities, but perhaps this can give you some direction to get started.

    Best of luck to you!
     
  22. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Scott addresses a valid point. I do have a densitometer and according to tests, with Efke film developed in Pyrocat HD 1-1-100 my development times should have been SBR 7--8 minutes.

    As it turned out my SBR 7 time is now 11 minutes, SBR 6 --15 minutes, SBR 5 -- 20 minutes, and SBR 4.5 -- 30 minutes. This is for negatives for enlargement on my point light source condenser enlarger. This gives me the look that I want. These negatives will contact print equally as well as enlarging. But I do use the collimated light source of the enlarger as my contact printing light source. I have found that a collimated source has an effect on contact printing. I attribute this to a marked decrease in light scatter from a diffuse source which also lessens the effects of flare.

    I rate this film at EI 100 --SBR 4.5 and SBR 5, EI 80 -- SBR 6, and EI 50 --SBR 7. I haven't done a minus development in over a year.

    I develop in BTZS type tubes.
     
  23. Steve Sherman

    Steve Sherman Subscriber

    Messages:
    536
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2003
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    If more photographers adopted the above policy, they'd come to know there materials equally as well and have a whole bunch of photographs made, instead of just a bunch of tests made.

    AMEN Jim
     
  24. jstraw

    jstraw Member

    Messages:
    2,703
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Location:
    Topeka, Kans
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Thank you David and Skillian.

    I agree Jim.
     
  25. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,076
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    For all practical purposes, a negative that enlarges well onto a given paper, will contact print well on the same paper. No, the settings will not be the same because they are different printing processes. No, the results will not be the same because they are different printing processes.

    The place where this question really comes in to play is in making negatives suitable for silver paper, and alt process (pt/pd for instance)

    This is partly responsible for the popularity of Pyro developers, as the resulting negative has different densities for UV light as opposed to light from a conventional source (enlarger or light bulb)
     
  26. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

    Messages:
    4,913
    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Location:
    Northern Aqu
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    That was my point, really. I was protesting against the 'one size fits all' idea of 'how do negs for contact printing differ from negs for enlarging?'

    If the subject matter and composition are adequate, a neg that is 'good enough' will work fine (my point about inherent flexibility).

    If you want more than 'good enough', your advice is exactly what I would echo (my point about control at different stages).

    Cheers,

    R.