printing an underexposed image....help

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by fralexis, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. fralexis

    fralexis Member

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    I took an image about a week ago that I want to print as a challenge. It is underexposed a couple of stops. Not a great image, but I want the challenge for learning more.
    I shot it with TMax 100 in the middle of a partly cloudy day...still strong light. There are two young men working. Both are shirtless and one is dark haired with tanned skin and the other very light hair with lighter skin. The trees in the background are very dark and the grass around their feet is light. Because it is underexposed, it seems impossible to get these tonal varieties to print. When I give it less exposure everything turns out washed out and chalky. Of course the features are going to be a bear to dodge and burn. How would you proceed?
    My enlarger has a very strong lamp, so exposure is at about f-11 for 15 seconds with 3.5 on the magenta filter for contrast.
     
  2. marco.taje

    marco.taje Member

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    I'm a very humble printer, but what I've learned -from others and from my experience- is that there is no way to get a "tonally pleasing" print from an underexposed neg. If the negative has wide areas with very low -or virtually null- density, there is no way you can get tones in there. You can just make it a bit brighter than black.
    My experience tells me that, in such cases, the best strategy is to live with the black areas. Don't be tempted to lower the contrast to bring those tones back in, it will not work. Just leave them be and adjust your exposure and contrast for the readable densities: depending on the composition, you may as well obtain a communicating print.

    My two pennies.
     
  3. Monito

    Monito Member

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    You need to try your maximum contrast, like 5.
     
  4. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Why not make several test prints each with a different contrast filter. From those you may find that printing different parts of the image through different filters may work or you might find that a totally different look will be effective. I think that although the negative is two stops under exposed with a little work you should be able to make a respectable print. It may not be what you originally perceived but if it is a strong composition you can find some combination that works.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  5. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  6. fralexis

    fralexis Member

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    Thanks for all your great suggestions. I took the contrast up a lot, did some dodging and burning and it came out just alright...nothing great, but then again it wasn't a great shot and underexposed. I even did a selenium toner and that was interesting. I just need to make sure all my negatives are perfect :smile:
     
  7. Katie

    Katie Subscriber

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    I, too, just printed a way underexposed (and expired to boot) negative. It came out overall very dark - which honestly I like. I think I am going to try to bleach some lighter areas in and then selenium tone it. It could be my new "style"... :smile:
     
  8. rjmeyer314

    rjmeyer314 Member

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    There are tricks you can use to get better results from a thin negative, depending on what equipment you have access to. Obviously, go to a higher grade paper (grade 4-5). A condenser head will produce a little more contrast (1/2 grade or so) than a diffusion, cold light, or color head. A point source head will give even better contrast. My best luck with very thin negatives has been to use a point source head and graded paper. Finally, your paper developer concentration will have a big effect. I normally use Dektol, either diluted 1:1 or 1:2. If you use straight undiluted Dektol (varying your exposure time accordingly) you will get a more contrasty print.