Split Filters for Dummies....

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Pfiltz, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    I mean rookies... That would be me !

    Bare with me. I'm new to enlarging and printing. LOVE to print, but still cutting my teeth.

    I know when you shoot, you usually meter for the shadows, and then print for the highlights, or that's what I've been doing with my b/w film.

    I heard some folks mentioning split filters so today, I thought I would try it on a still life image I want to print.

    My base exposure is around 9 seconds. So my first exposure was with a 0 filter for 2 seconds, then I did another with a 3 1/2 grade filter. The paper I was using was Ilford MGIV FB.

    Does the 0 or lower numbers on the filter pack effect the highlights, and the larger numbers effect the shadows?

    Can you explain to me, why someone would want to split filter an image in a real, S i m p l e manner.

    Any info you can share as to why, how, or what ever on split filter printing would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards,
    Gump in Tn.
     
  2. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    There's a difference of opinion about the effectiveness of split filter printing. A search will turn up a bunch of threads...

    I use it because I think it gives me more control over the final image, but many would argue I'm foolin' myself. The only way to know if it is for you is to try it. Start with a full sheet of paper, and do a test strip with the No.4 filter. Find the time which gives you the shadow value you want. Then, expose a full sheet with that time, and do a test strip with the No.0 on that sheet. Find the highlight value you want. Then, combine the 2. If your chosen shadow exposure is 10 seconds, and your chosen highlight exposure is 20 seconds, expose your print for 10 sec. with the 4, and 20 sec. with the 0.
     
  3. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Split filtering is nothing more than the use of more than one contrast grade filter to print an image on variable contrast paper. "Split grade" printing is simply a type of split filtering but one in which you typically use only the hardest (highest number) and softest filters (lowest number).

    Please note the following: Unless you are making different local exposure adjustments (ie burning and dodging) during each of the two exposures in a split filter print, there is no difference between using split filtering and using a single filter grade somewhere in between the two split grades. So in your example, if you are simply dividing the total print exposure into two exposures with the 0 and 3 1/2 filters, you could make the same print with one single exposure and a single filter somewhere in between 0 and 3 1/2.

    Before proceeding, based on your post I suggest getting some good preliminary info on variable contrast paper/filters and printing. See below from Ilford. If will help you better understand what the different filters do.

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/2010628932591755.pdf
     
  4. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Thanks Eddie and Micheal. I'll give that a shot tomorrow. The image I'm working on is for the postcard exchange on this site.... :smile:
     
  5. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Since you're new at this, make the best print you can, using your usual technique. Then try split grade, so you can compare your results.

    As Michael's post points out, there is a difference of opinion. If your high and low filter exposures are the same, he's right- you can get the same result with an intermediate filter. I split print, and never have the 2 use the same exposure time, which is why I think it's an effective printing regime.
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Let me clarify a few things. First I'm not saying there is anything better or worse about split grade printing. And I very often use multiple filters in a single print, though not the max hard/soft split technique.

    Second, the high and low exposures do not have to be equal for the result to be the same as using an intermediate filter. The only requirement is that there be no separate burning and dodging adjustments during the hard and soft exposures. You could have a grade 0 exposure of 8 seconds and a grade 5 exposure of 3 seconds. There is an intermediate filter that will do this in one exposure (+/- maybe a 1/4 to 1/8 grade). And I wouldn't trust anyone who tells me they modulate contrast in 1/8 grade increments.

    Split-grade is just a different way of doing things.
     
  7. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    If it's +/-, it isn't the same... I'm using the Heiland SplitGrade, so it will do 1/10 increments (although I can't really see a difference with a 1/10 change. I can at 2/10).
    But, I do agree there are a number of ways to get where you want to go.
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Yes it should be noted a colour or VC head is infinitely variable between grades so my 1/4-1/8 grade margin applies only to the use of external filters.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Yes, more exposure with the # 00 filter will make the highlights darker, whereas more exposure with the #5 filter will make the shadows darker. (do you not have the #00 and #5?)

    Realize that in both cases above, the mid values will also get darker. So, it is up to you to determine if you can zero in on a good print better that way vs using the individual numbered filters alone.
     
  10. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    appreciate all the info on this matter guys. I may play around with split filter printing some more, just to try and get a handle on it.

    IC-racer: yeah, I have the whole Ilford Filter Package 00 through 5
     
  11. Dinesh

    Dinesh Subscriber

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  12. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Thanks Dinesh... Yeah I read some of that thread, and more so, near the end, when Bob chimed in. I'm actually going to visit the gallery in Louisville in a month or so, to see of that work there as well.
     
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Thanks Dinesh I may be as tall as Yoda , but you are as ugly.


    I look at split filter, or I like to call modified filter printing in a very funny but simple way..


    Remember the days when there were no MC papers and all papers were graded
    now imagine making a series of prints on different grades. You will find that more than one grade can make a successful print.

    1. one would be soft and gentle with very low shadow tones
    2. another would be great for the mid tones with problems at both ends
    3. another would have great contrast in the shadows but the highlights would be blown out.

    Now imagine being able to control all three aspects with a printing method, and this is where the split, modified method works..
    With some creative thinking you can layer the best of 1,2,3 and with some imagination hold back or burn in to create a print that is not possible with 1 filter. No matter what anyone says on this subject , I have confidence to know how to juggle all three areas and end up with a print that IMO is superior to a single filter print.
    I know this due to thousands of past prints , using both methods... Yes I do use single filter prints and yes I do use graded paper.

    If one is capable as some here claim to make a negative that fits into the graded papers sweet spot then I will agree that one does not need to use split filtering.
    I would argue that this would have to be a grade somewhere in the middle and be a normal looking print balance, with the right photo project totally correct.
    In the real world that I am subjected too, I work with clients that cannot master the single negative, single grade paper, and quite frankly have no desire to do this.
    There fore I use a modified filter method which allows me to get out of a negative a print the photographer visualizes.

    I tend to start with a filter that is lower, and end up with the higher filter.... I never use 0 or 00 as a starting point, but rather tend to be around 1/2 or 1 filter as
    the starting point.
    I also use a % method of printing .. I do not change the timer or aperture once the base filter exposure has been determined. but rather hit the timer , once, twice , four, times with the second filter exposure to control the contrast.
     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I don't think anyone is disagreeing here. As I've said, split filtering and single filtering at an intermediate grade, are equivalent as long as there are no differences in local exposure control (ie different burning and dodging actions) during each of the split exposures. If different grades of contrast are required for different areas of the print, then obviously split filtering is different than using a single filter.

    Pfiltz - I strongly suggest starting with the Ilford link I posted earlier.
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I disagree with them being equivalent as you dodge and burn in both methods so take that out of the equation. or consider that dodging and burning is a given .

    I may end up closing this thread due to the next comments:munch:


    It is common practice in PS to curve shape all three main regions,Highlight, Midtones, Shadows by making layers , creating a curve that best takes care of each region.
    Each area is maximized and has a different curve shape, then one flattens and prints... I am implying that one singe curve shape does not equal the method of apply three distinct curve shapes.
    This is what I believe and have observed happening with using multiple filters on the enlarger.. to the point that I can mimic prints made either way to an critical factor.

    Pfiltz - I strongly suggest starting by making some prints with both methods and see for yourself which one suits your immediate needs.




     
  16. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Bob, in the original post to this thread, and the previous thread on this topic, no burning and dodging were done. Under those conditions, nothing is gained or lost by either using a single filter or multiple filters.

    Obviously in the examples you are giving, where different parts of the print need different contrasts, this cannot be done with one filter. I use multiple filters all the time in this context, so I'm not trying to contradict anyone here.

    The reason I directed OP to the Ilford paper has nothing to do with advocating for or against the split grade technique. I'm doing it because in each instance the original post signals some basic VC "foundations" would be of value. It helps to know which filters do what, etc. The Ilford paper is a good intro, without getting into unnecessary technical detail.

    Said another way, people seem to often be putting the cart before the horse.
     
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I have been watching what Plfitz has been posting lately, seems that he is trying his/her hand at multiple filter printing.
    As you I sometimes use single filters and sometimes multiple,, most times in my case its more than one filter.

    I remember the days of burning in highlights or being forced to lower contrast.. or seeing very flat prints with lousy blacks.- this being the printers curse
    Those days seem to be gone for me.
    I agree that Plfitz should get a handle of each filter first before moving to a seemingly more complicated multiple filter method.. I have posted many times over the years
    my method, which may or may not work in others darkrooms.

    One thing that I will say... the Dodging Tool seems to be the most underrated tool . In my Darkroom it the weapon of mass destruction.. the main tool, with burning in a close second.. Without this tool I do not think I can make certain types of prints.


     
  18. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I use split grade alot. Les McLean's elegant explanation made it clear for me. I like the control it gives me over burning and dodging for my "maybe this could go in my portfolio" prints.
    The postcard exchange? We're talking small prints that are going to be scratched and banged up in the mail. Pick a negative you like, that doesn't take a lot of burning and dodging or other fiddling to print well.
    Read up on split grade, then try it with a negative you are having a hard time printing with a single filter. My eureka moment was an image of water splashing over black rocks. Burning and dodging the dark shadows on the rocks and the splashes and specular highlights of water and wet rocks was driving me nuts, and making baaaad prints. Split grade got that neg under control, and taught me how and when to use split grade.
     
  19. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    No disagreement there. I do more burning than dodging, but either way, local control is a powerful tool.

    The other thing I always try to clarify is that what is typically referred to as "split grade" (ie hardest and softest) is nothing more than a specific type of split filtering.
     
  20. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Appreciate all the input.

    Postcard Exchange? Why would I bother with split grade printing for a postcard exchange? I see no coloration to not trying to produce the best print whether it be a 5x7 postcard, or a 40x60 print. :smile:

    I "think" I may have it in my head as to what filter effects what with regard to highlights and shadows.

    I don't mind d/b, and to be honest it's easier for me, than trying to see the print in reverse on the board, and trying to figure out which filter to apply and possibly in what order... :smile:

    I might be biting off more than I can chew right now. Sooooooo I guess for now, I may stick with one filter for this postcard, and basically d/b where needed to get me to the desired final print.

    Pretty interesting stuff though, I have to say.
     
  21. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Sorry, no insult to the postcard exchange was intended. I've taken part a number of times, and hope my time crunch problems will improve and allow me to take part again. I'm not implying that shoddy prints will do. But small prints are difficult to do finickity burning and dodging on, and the production of numerous (I always signed up for 50) identical prints is MUCH easier if a well-exposed neg that required little or no B&D was used.
    Sorry I'm not taking part this time. Hope you post your photo here once you've got them in the mail.
     
  22. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    No worries Sly.... It's all good.

    Totally understand what your saying about trying to "tweak" images in such a small format -vs- something large.

    :wink: