Selenium as intensifier-With thanks to Donald Miller

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by digiconvert, Oct 28, 2006.

  1. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Cannock UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A month or so ago I posted an image of a graveyard scene to the gallery *see http://www.apug.org/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=18659&cat=500&ppuser=8780 if you are interested but it's not essential to the discussion). Among the feedback was a comment from Donald regarding the lack of local contrast in the print and a suggestion to print at a harder grade. However the problem was identified as a low contrast neg. At Donald's suggestion I gave the neg 5 minutes in selenium toner (1-4) and then reprinted at a one grade harder. The images are attached, the left one being the original and the right after Se treatment.
    I have cropped the latter print on the enlarger (another comment was that the scene was too 'busy') and have scanned the same portion from the original for comparison.
    I feel that there is a difference between the two and that the second does have more 'presence' but welcome your comments.
    Again many thanks for Doanld for his advice - the consultancy fee is in the ether :smile:
    I will shortly post the new version to the gallery.
    Cheers CJB
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Thanks for posting this example. I think that allowing others to see the results of these steps is important to their choices.

    I do like the results of the steps that you have taken.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    17,922
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The intensified neg will probably make a better print ultimately, but I think both prints are just too dark.

    Selenium intensification of the neg pushes up the highlights, but if you expose the print so that the highlights are the same as they were with the unintensified neg, and then on top of that print at a higher grade, the effect will be to push the shadows down, and they'll block up, as they seem to be doing here (if the scan is a good representation of the print).

    I'd say start by printing at the original grade, expose for a little more luminosity in the highlights--judging from the dry print, so you're not tricked by drydown--and then adjust the paper grade if you aren't getting enough shadow density.
     
  4. CGross

    CGross Guest

    What was the original grade of paper and what was the harder grade?

    I have a similar situation I believe with some really old negatives I happened to run across doing some closet clean out.

    After 20 years of being away from the darkroom, I feel like I am starting all over again!!
     
  5. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser

    Messages:
    3,751
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2003
    Location:
    Meeshagin
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree. Perhaps it is just the scan, but the result is still too muddy. Judging by the original scan, there seems to be plenty of information in the neg. It might have been better printed differently to begin with and may have made a fine print without the toning. Not being disrespectful of your printing, but the original as well as several in your gallery seem to be kind of flat in the middle and fall-off in the corners. Is there a chance your enlarger's condenser is set incorrectly? It looks as if they are printing hot in the middle. If not, perhaps kicking up a grade, lightening the print a bit and burning the corners to balance the print will help?

    B
     
  6. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Me too. I would in this print, flash the paper or fog for tone in the sky and print the remainder lighter. This will ensure greater luminosity throughout as well as tone in the sky, worsened by merely printing with lesser exposure.
     
  7. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Cannock UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I went from grade 3 to grade 4. I was last in a darkroom 25 years ago but never really got the hang of it, the results I found make me cringe !

    One day I hope to approach mediocrity :smile:
     
  8. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Getting a print that exhibits presence is a matter of attaining optimal local contrast. Printing is a dance to develop local contrast while not exceeding the overall contrast characteristics of the printing materials.

    If one can print at higher overall contrast, then local contrast will benefit. If we need to reduce overall contrast, then local contrast will diminish.
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,184
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I agree with Msr.s Goldfarb, Schwab and company. The second print is blocked up in both the shadows and the highlights. Too contrasty. I'd start over with a normal Grade 2 print, and work from there. I used to favor really contrasty prints, but then I learned better when I realized how much time I was spending burning in blown-out highlights. I'm not saying to go down this road yet, because it is a very expensive road to go down right now with the Dollar<->UK Pound exchange rate being what it is, but think about getting a StopClock Pro timer from RH Designs, with the Analyzer. The analyzer is a mini densitometer and will help you determine proper paper grade to use when printing because it can show you the range of tones on your negative.
     
  10. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

    Messages:
    809
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Cannock UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So glad I use GBP not Euros then :D . I have considered an RH device, but I was thinking about a s/h zonemaster for starters as I have a reasonable timer already.

    Is it me or does the camera start to become the means to the end (i.e producing negs to print), it sometimes feels like it and I am a TOTAL beginner - as you have seen :smile:
    Thans for your commments ; CJB (UK)
     
  11. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

    Messages:
    3,049
    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Location:
    Wisconsin, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do think the camera is a 'means to an end'! It is the device that allows us to capture what we 'see'. It's whole function is to provide you with the ability to do that! Only after you have captured some moment in time does the real work begin... extrapolating what you saw into something that you can share with others. This is indeed where the real work starts!

    I am in agreement with the suggestion that you consider an RH Designs StopClock Pro... however, I will also add that you money might better be spent by taking one of Les McLean's darkroom workshops. I do not know where you are in relation to where he offers these, but please... if you want to learn to print darned near any negative, take that workshop! (And he does not even pay me to say this!) :wink: It changed my life in the darkroom, and I highly recommend it! :smile:
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

    Messages:
    9,184
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington D
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Yes- the camera should be to you only what it is - a light-tight box with a selective aperture that enables you to control by inclusion or exclusion what you want to record. A good camera will enable you to record this with sufficiently accurate exposure control that the middle product (the negative) will produce a finished print that reproduces what you wanted to capture with fidelity and without requiring an excessive effort on your part.

    It is just a means to an end - like a screwdriver or a power saw. A power saw is not better than a screwdriver, unless you are trying to cut wood with it. As long as the tool you're using is appropriate to the task, the tool should be a seamless part of the process, and not a stumbling block or an exercise in frustration.
     
  13. RAP

    RAP Member

    Messages:
    476
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2002
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I would look at your notes, exposure, film development time film etc. Then return to the exact location, time, conditions, if you can, and see how you can improve on it.

    Check your zone placements. Maybe place your low values at zone iii, and give a n+1 or n+2 development, depending on the desired contrast range.
     
  14. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In shich case all I will add is this. Practice makes perfect (well, better). If you are prepared to experiment a lot (Use RC paper for this for the quicker results) having a good play around and trying lots of new ideas or techniques will mean quick progress. There is no substitute for practical experience and a feel for the materials....just like knowing how selenium toner affects your prints so you can print softer and add a bit of density to the darker tones with selenium, leaving highlights unaffected. You'll get there. Just allow the obsessive compulsive streak that leaves me stuck in the darkroom for most of a day get a grip of you too!
     
  15. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I personally disagree with the above. If reshooting I would simply bracket exposure and go back to the darkroom and see how exposure affects the values in the prints...maybe then shoot a parallel roll and change development times to see ho that affects your prints and what you can and cannot do with them.

    This is nice and simple stuff but you will begin to see the relationship between the exposure your camera or meter indicates, the information on your negs and what you can get in the print as well as what happens to the neg and the print when you give more or less exposure ( and once you are happy with this, when you change development. With modern VC materials there is less of a requirement to undertake formal N+/- processing, epecially if you are not sure of your 'normal' so to speak. If shooting rolls of film and shooting many different scenes on one roll (i.e not using multiple detachable backs) it is impractical.
     
  16. RAP

    RAP Member

    Messages:
    476
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2002
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Reshooting a scene is a good way to learn what went wrong the first time. Keeping careful notes of exposure, filters, etc will build experience in the student and seasoned pro.

    It is a very practicle way of learing.
     
  17. Matthew Gorringe

    Matthew Gorringe Member

    Messages:
    461
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I want to try using selenium to improve negative where I cannot go back and shoot the scene.

    It's a night scene that I can just print acceptibly using Gallerie grade 3 and Dektol. My concern is that being an urban night scene I've already got good density in the street lights and want to bump up my mid to low tones to help compensate for insufficient exposure. There is some visible density in all the places I need it it's just down near the toe and lacking in contast.

    What is likely to happen to the highlights, is the films response to selenium likely to be equivalent to extra development in increasing contrast most in high tones or will there be any compensating effect?

    Thanks, Matt.
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Selenium intensification is proportional to silver density. In your application it would serve to increase the negative density range above what it already is. If I were printing this, I would look to masking the negative (if you are dealing with large format). The effects of masking the negative would be to collapse the density range of the negative by the amount of the peak density of the mask. In this application, I would use an unsharp mask.

    An unsharp mask is made by contact printing the camera negative with an unexposed sheet of film (base to base with a fixed but undeveloped sheet of film between the bases to provide space) The mask is a low density and low contrast positive of the camera negative and acts by increasing shadow density while adding no density to highlight regions (above FB+fog).

    In application the mask and the unsharp mask are printed together. The net effect is a sharper and lower density range negative as it presents itself to the printing paper.

    In the future when you shoot high contrast scenes likle this it might save a lot of printing hassles to pre-expose the film to non-image bearing light prior to the primary exposure. The pre-exposure will serve to raise the shadow value densities relative to highlight densities.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 3, 2006
  19. Matthew Gorringe

    Matthew Gorringe Member

    Messages:
    461
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2006
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks Donald,
    I haven't used a prexposure for night scenes before and most of the time I haven't needed them. Usually I just give as much exposure as possible and find that as long as I keep using normal development times and fairly dilute developers things work out very well.

    Unfortunately I just didn't give this one the exposure it needed.

    How good does the registration of the unsharp mask need to be with the neg? I'm using roll film 6x9.

    I've got a spare neg that's almost the same so I'll do a test with selenium and see what happens before doing anything with the real neg.

    Thanks, Matt.
     
  20. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format

    The registration of the unsharp mask and the camera negative does need to be fairly close but that can be accomplished by aligning them on a light table. Once aligned the two can be kept in regisitration by taping them together along one edge with something like lithographers tape.

    I think that you will find that selenium intensification will probably not help you and may well hinder what you are attempting to accomplish. Good luck to you.
     
  21. dancqu

    dancqu Member

    Messages:
    3,684
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Willamette V
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I've read that sulfide works at least as well
    as selenium. Would you know of that?

    BTW, why isn't SLIMT recommended more often?
    I'd think that night street scene would be a candidate.
    My next order from P. Formulary will include the
    necessary chemistry. Dan
     
  22. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Dan, You are correct that SLIMT should work well. I guess that the reason that it is not spoken of as much is because it is not as widely known. I am not sure about sulfide since I have not used it for this purpose. Perhaps someone who has will chime in on this.