Print Lacking Contrast

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Thanasis, Feb 10, 2008.

  1. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi there,

    I was in a local photography centre darkroom making some prints yesterday and I struggled with the contrast of one particular print. I've posted a scan below.

    The whole thing looks a little grey for my liking and giving the paper (Ilford Multigrade RC) it more exposure under the enlarger shifts everything to be too dark. Would I be correct in assuming the problem is with the negative? I used Tri-X 400 (35mm) in ID-11 at the recommended time and temp and spot metered off the right cheek (from memory)

    I have never used enlarger contrast filters but I'm looking at going back and having another go at this print with these filters. Can anyone advise on how they work and the best way to use them to boost contrast in my print?

    My other strategy is to try burning and dodging certain areas. Perhaps
    try to darken the hair and lighten the face.

    Any suggestions and comments are more than welcome...

    Thanks and best regards,
    Thanasis.
     

    Attached Files:

    • g.jpg
      g.jpg
      File size:
      35.1 KB
      Views:
      89
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2008
  2. nze

    nze Member

    Messages:
    705
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Location:
    France
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You already find the solution "filters" . In your case you may need a 3 or higher filter to give you the contrast you want. Exposure with tungsten light and without filter is equivalent to a grade 2 ( filter 2) . the bigger the number the contrsatier it is.
     
  3. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    Messages:
    2,099
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    if i can fairly judge from your scan (you'd be surprised at how different a scan can be from a print!) - I'd say your contrast is already about as high as you want to go... assuming you're looking for something kind of 'natural' looking. I would hazard a guess that your neg is underexposed. I'd probably go lighter at the same contrast setting. Or dodge certain areas (you'll have to play with this yourself - I can't tell you what you want really).
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,260
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It looks OK to me but I may be easily pleased. You don't say at what grade you printed but whatever it was, try a print at one grade below and one above to see what looks like. If this is your start at printing, it's worth doing a print at each grade including half grades. You'll get a feel for what each grade looks like and a feel for what suits you.

    pentaxuser
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Maybe run it through some rapid selenium and see if that gives you what you're after, it might anchor the blacks a bit more for you.

    Apart from that, go ahead and get a filter set and investigate split grade printing. But it really doesn't look half bad to me, honestly. There are some spots that look like they could blow pretty easily, so maybe you just want more separation in the midtones.
     
  6. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    Messages:
    2,099
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i'm not really sure if split-grade printing is quite what this guy's ready for at this point... it's a bit over the top maybe...! first things first maybe? but I'd encourage him to try using contrast filters to see what happens when he wants to try increasing or lowering the contrast.
     
  7. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,406
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's a bit hard to tell looking at a scan of a print which you say is too low contrast, and not at the neg. Looking at the scan of the print though, there are three areas where there are specular highlights, or at least some burning out, on the subject's right cheek, nose and chin. Apart from those three areas, there is very little contrast in the print. I would definitely be tempted to try again with say a grade four filter, as I assume from your description that this is printed unfiltered, which I believe is usually around grade two.
     
  8. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The funny thing is that those areas which look like they're about to burn out on the scan actually look good on the print and show considerable detail too.
    It was printed unfiltered (therefore Grade 2 by default). Would I need to adjust exposure time with a grade four filter?
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,459
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    North East U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Going to a 4 filter seems a bit much, but to answer your question, yes, going from no filter to any filter will require an exposure increase, and going to a 4 filter, a little more. The details of how much more are in the data sheet, off hand, a stop or so, but a lot depends on your specfic equipment.
     
  10. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,406
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Regarding adjusting exposure time for different filter grades, I find I usually need to do a new exposure test for each filtration change.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,187
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For beginning printers, I usually suggest concentrating first on the mid-tones.

    I would first try just printing this lighter. It seems to me that the the mid-tones (much of the skin tones and the sweater) would benefit by being about 1/3 to a 1/2 stop lighter.

    With the mid-tones lighter, you will be better able to evaluate the highlights and shadows, and determine if dodging, burning or a contrast change are needed as well.

    All of this of course is based on the assumption that the scanned image on my screen reasonably approximates the appearance of the print itself.

    My $0.02 worth.

    Matt
     
  12. nze

    nze Member

    Messages:
    705
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Location:
    France
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    grade 4 seems high for me . looking again at the scan (on my screen) I will print Expose 10 to 20 % less and use an higher grade. less time to get a good skin rendition and contrast to get better seperation in the hair. But my screen is not your print.
     
  13. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

    Messages:
    392
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for all the suggestions...

    I'll try printing it lighter and then add contrast filter in half-steps. I'll let you know how i get on.