Split filter printing w/Kentmere Fineprint VC Fiber

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by f/stopblues, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    I bought a bunch of Kentmere Fineprint VC fiber paper for a photo class I'm taking. I read a bunch on APUG about it and it sounded like it would fit my needs. I've printed in the past, but only on RC and was a much less experienced photog.

    My teacher prefers split filter printing and now I've read a lot that says this paper is best on only up to grade 3. On the data sheet it says the speed of 4 and 5 is about half of that for the softer grades.

    My question is with split filter printing with grades 0 and 5, how will the speed difference affect this method? Is it going to make things more difficult, or maybe is it just not suited to this type of printing at all?

    I haven't popped the seals on my paper yet and I'm going to be in the darkroom tonight, so I'd love to hear your opinions! Thanks!

    Chris
     
  2. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Chris,

    I think the biggest issue with the Kentmere paper is getting a grade 5 result. It probably won't work. Fineprint VC isn't really a fully multigrade paper. Split grade printing can be a useful technique, but you don't need to use it for everything. ILFORD Multigrade FB is much more responsive to variable contrast filtration.

    Tom
     
  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    The one-stop speed difference only applies if you use the fixed contrast multi-grade filters that have a (pseudo)neutral-density component. It is not strictly a function of the paper and it applies to printing with all VC papers, not just Kentmere.

    There is no speed difference with split-grade printing techniques.

    The lack of a true grade #5 with this paper shouldn't be a real impediment, printing at grades 4 and above isn't (and shouldn't be) common.

    There is an application note on split grade printing on the Darkroom Automation web site that you may find useful. Although the note is written for meter users, it has a lot of information on the workings of split grade printing.

    If you use test strips for determining exposure then it is a good idea to treat high contrast prints (grade >= 2) differently from low contrast prints (grade <= 2). Although the term 'grade' doesn't have a fixed meaning in split grade printing, a grade 2 print is one that has the same contrast as one made with white light, and generally has roughly equal exposures with the #00 and #5 filters.

    • For high contrast prints it is a good idea to make the #5 test strip first to determine the high contrast exposure in the blacks and deep shadows. The #00 test strip to determine the highlights will have little effect on the shadows, but the #5 exposure will have already have had some effect on the highlights.

    • For low contrast prints it is a good idea to make the #00 test strip first to determine the low contrast exposure in the highlights. The #5 test strip to determine the shadow exposure will have little effect on the highlights, but the #00 exposure will already have contributed to the shadow exposure.
    When it comes time to make the final print it does not matter which exposure, #5 or #00, is made first. The order is only important when making the test strips because it minimizes the interaction of the two filters and lets you make the most accurate exposure determination with the minimum of effort.
     
  4. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    I use a variation of split grade printing with Kentmere Fineprint VCFB. My negatives tend to be contrasty anyway so I pick a filter that gives the over all contrast look I want, usually less than 2, then burn in the sky or light areas with 00. I have been doing this with Kentmere since Kodak Polymax became unavailable. I have lost track, but I think that is close to four years. It must be working for me because thirty of my 7x17s have been hanging in Cleveland's history museum for twelve months now and I was just invited into at group show at Akron’s Summit Artspace for next month. I like the paper very much and would encourage you to give it a try.

    John Powers
     
  5. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Kentmere FP VC works well with split contrast printing. I agree with Nicholas - you have to get a feel for whether to do highlights or shadows first. I usually do the shadows first with the grade 5 filtration and then the highlights with grade 0. The paper has plenty of contrast so if your prints are flat, blame your negatives.
     
  6. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Even though, as Tom Kershaw says, you don't need to use split grade printing every time, I find it a logical way to work and do use it all the time except for lith printing.

    I learned to make the low contrast test strip (and exposure) first to set the highlights, then do the high contrast test to set the shadows where I need them. The idea is that the low contrast exposure affects the shadows to a degree, but the high contrast exposure has little or no effect on the highlights. Going the other way around gives me darker highlights than I intended. The only time I do the shadow exposure first is when printing negatives made at night with very high contrast. In those cases I typically want max black skies, which I get with the high contrast filter. Then I "burn in" highlights with a short exposure through the low contrast filter.
     
  7. AndreasT

    AndreasT Member

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    Like noted before, there is a problem with getting grade 5 filtration/contrast with Kentmere VC paper. Grade 5 is softer than grade 4 with some forms of filtrations. The ones you place in the filter draw for example. The weird but good thing is that when using this paper with my LPL 4x5 enlarger the grade 5 is harder than grade 4. Actually coming close to that of Ilford FB.
    Andreas
     
  8. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Thanks for all the replies, everyone! Once I got in there, things started humming along and the paper printed beautifully. Nicholas, your suggestion for high contrast vs. low contrast negatives was particularly helpful.

    I quickly found out that the paper's grades were the least of my concerns after such a long hiatus from the darkroom :smile: Now if I could only figure out how to get this blown out highlight on my subject's face to burn in a little.. grr! It's from harsh side light and it's bothersome to me. I spent a lot of my evening frustrated, but it was still so much fun!

    Chris