printing pushed negatives

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by BetterSense, Aug 2, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I usually develop and expose my negatives so they print pretty easily at grade 2 without any fuss. But for my XA I want to shoot at 800 which is about a 2-stop push for TriX. Now that I'm trying to print these negatives, I'm unsure how to proceed.

    When I do a straight (unD&B'd) print at grade 2 for good midtones (skin etc), I notice there is somewhat less shadow detail than normal negatives (no surprise). The other thing I notice is really bright highlights. At this point I'm missing detail in things like white shirts, towels, etc.

    There are two things I can see doing and I'm not sure which to do.

    1. develop less, until I can print at grade 2 and have good highlights.

    2. Print with less contrast all the time on the enlarger and/or burn the highlights down.

    I'm not sure if pushed negatives are just "supposed to have more contrast" and trying to get a more-printable negative is just antithetical to pushing film in the first place, or if I can just reduce my development a bit and my midtones and shadows will stay where they are.

    A normal negative is tri-x at 200 developed for 7.5min and one of my pushed negatives is exposed at 800 and developed for 12min.
     
  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Unless you are going for a "special style" underexposing negatives spoils them. "Special styles" can be exciting, but usually prints from underexposed negatives are poor.
     
  3. eddym

    eddym Member

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    When you "push" film by increasing the development time (as you did), you are of course not really changing the speed of the film; you are only increasing the slope of the characteristic curve. So yes, of course "pushed negatives" are "supposed to have more contrast." You will lose shadow detail and increase contrast throughout the visible tones. But by reducing the exposure, supposedly your high (but now underexposed) values should theoretically fall back into a printable range. If they do not, then yes, you will need to burn them in. Since your XA has, I assume, an averaging meter, it read the scene and averaged the reading for Zone V, which may have fallen where it should (where you pushed it to); if it did, then the brighter areas will be pushed off the highlight curve of the paper, because of the increased slope of the curve.
    Hope this helps.
     
  4. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I'm not sure if pushed negatives are just "supposed to have more contrast" and trying to get a more-printable negative is just antithetical to pushing film in the first place, or if I can just reduce my development a bit and my midtones and shadows will stay where they are.

    A normal negative is tri-x at 200 developed for 7.5min and one of my pushed negatives is exposed at 800 and developed for 12min.[/QUOTE]
    *******
    'Pushing" really is just adding contrast to an underexposed negative and it works best in the areas of the neg which need the least amount of boost--the highlights. Better printers than I can tell you how best to get those highlights down to where you want them in your print.
     
  5. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Not really going for a "special style" but this camera has an f/3.5 lens and no flash, as well as zone focusing. By shooting at the max asa setting I can get more pictures in low light and also get more sharp pictures even with the crude zone focusing.
     
  6. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    "Natural Light" counts. I thought maybe you were trying for full zonal tonality in an Ansel Adam's style landscape :smile:
     
  7. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    I would use split grade printing which can be a bit time consuming if you approach it per the "textbook" with multiple test strips. A shortcut technique is to print at grade 0 until you have the detail and tonality you want in the whites. The shadows will usually be a bit grey and mushy. Then burn using grade 5 until you get some true blacks where you need them. You could do an overall grade 5 burn or burn just the shadow areas while dodging the important highlights. I think this provides better prints compared to trying to burn in highlights. A good rule of thumb I find in doing any kind of printing is get the time right for the highlights first.
    If you really must punish your film and yourself by not letting enough light onto the negative I would also recommend a so-called speed enhancing developer like x-tol which will usually give you a bit more detail in the shadows compared to others.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    What did the subject look like? If it's a light subject against a relatively dark back ground, the meter won't be accurate.
     
  9. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    BetterSense

    I propose too try the standard printing method for these negatives in order to determine how printable they are first.

    expose for the highlights; adjust shadows with contrast

    1. adjust the print exposure to get the highlights right
    2. adjust contrast to get the best shadow detail you can
    3. adjust exposure again if highlights suffered from step 2

    At this point, you have the first working print. Now you can improve it with dodging and burning, but nothing (including split-grade) will bring back lost shadow detail. Well, toxic intensification will, but that's a completely different kettle of fish.

    Let us know how well it worked.
     
  10. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Well that's roughly what I do. The problem is certain highlights cannot be printed because they are very dense on the negative. If I attempt to expose for them, the rest of the print (skintones and midtones) just gets darker.

    The root of my question is whether I can get rid of these burnt highlights by developing less, or if I just have to deal with them because I'm pushing my negatives. I don't know if my developing is typical because there is little data available for D-23; I basically just added 50% to my usual time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2009
  11. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    In that case, I would try to find the highlights you can print with, and burn in all denser highlights after the shadows are adjusted. To answer your main question, reducing development will tame excessive highlights, but isn't it too late for that?
     
  12. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    *******
    What about Farmer's Reducer?
     
  13. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    John

    Stay clear of that! Farmer's has faint shadow density for lunch and is absolutely scared of dense highlights. That will only increase negative contrast and make these negs even harder to print.
     
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  15. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Glad I asked.
     
  16. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Of course. I think the "print for the most-printable highlights and burn down the glary spots" approach works pretty well. But in the future I can change development; I have a roll right here actually that I'm still not sure if I should cut my time back with. Theoretically I can cut development 10% and shadow detail will not be effected, but if that's the case then why do people develop longer when pushing film in the first place?
     
  17. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Because, development does affect shadows as well, but to a much lesser degree than highlights.
     
  18. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Maybe some of the experts could give some info on Adams's water bath technique with D23. That might support your low and mid-tones with less blocking of the highlights.
     
  19. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    Well, looking at this thread are ways of printing I never imagined... In my limited experience, I usually just print the negatives like normal, and love the result. Pushing film does in fact give more contrast, more grain, and also increased acutance.
     
  20. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    how about
    printing a test of the blocked highlights
    and a test for the easy highlights
    and basically print the blocked ones
    while dodging out the rest of the print.
    and then "adjust" the murky dodged out part
    by burning in with a filter ...
    i have a feeling my explanation doesn't make much sense ..
    but just the same sometimes this sort of thing works ..
    and sometimes it doesn't ..

    good luck!
    john
     
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I like it, but here is a slight modification:

    Print a test of the blocked highlights
    and a test for the easy highlights.
    Then print the easy ones
    and burn the blocked highlights.
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    much better ralph

    i like that too :smile:

    you don't want my recipe for scrambled eggs ..
    i do that backwards too :D

    john
     
  23. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Or, go back to using Diafine and gain a stop of shadow speed back and have easily printable negatives. I think my D23 experiment is about over. At least when I pull the negs off the roll after using Diafine they look like healthy negatives.
     
  24. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    You can also try flashing your paper to tone down your highlights and make them easier to burn in. One way to do is to place a piece translucent acrylic (ie plexi) under the lens and expose for a few seconds (leaving the neg in the enlarger). Then remove plastic an print as normal. You can also hold a card to block off part of the flashing exposure from selected parts of the paper.

    Jon
     
  25. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Rather than keep a separate developer on hand for "pushing," you may wish to try using your stock D23 as a bath A in Divided D23. Your normal or slightly less-than-normal developing time, then into Bath B (an alkali accelerator) of borax, or kodalk, or sodium carbonate. The small amount of metol carried over into Bath B will really exhaust itself in the highlights very quickly, whilst the low and mid-tones strengthen. At least, that is the way it was explained to me.
     
  26. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Doing that for the whole print has never worked well for me. For me, this was always a recipe for dull prints. However, doing it locally for the highlights only, works well.