Split grade filters

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Gary Holliday, Jun 29, 2008.

  1. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I remember reading a data sheet (Foma?) stating that it had four grades of contrast. I was wondering if any of the papers are not very sensitive to the extreme 00 and 5 Multigrade filters?
     
  2. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    There was a review of B&W papers I read a year or two ago, I think in Photo Techniques, that tested the effective grade range of various papers. This review found what you suggest -- some papers couldn't achieve the ends of the 00-to-5 grade scale. If I recall correctly, Ilford papers produced the greatest contrast range, but I don't recall what other specific brands could get.
     
  3. RobC

    RobC Member

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    Steve Abchells variable contrast printing manual has a list of papers showing their response to filtration. It's not up todate now but it shows that every paper is very different with some having better separation in the mid to shadows, some with better separation in the mid to highlights, some with even separation, some with a full 5 grades and some with less.
    A transmission density step wedge is useful for determining this by printing it at different grades to see what you get. And then you can also compare one paper against another. Its useful to know because some negs will print better on one paper rather than another.
     
  4. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    I think Gary isn't so much asking what the difference is between the various grades yielded by different papers, but rather how sensitive they are to the 2 extreme filters used in split grade printing and whether any reduced spectral sensitivity, if there were any, would affect their response to split grading.
    I don't have the definitive tech answer to this but in practical terms I would expect them to work OK. Certainly the Heiland split grade unit has many papers in its data base that work well (many now discontinued). Foma papers are not included though, but there are 'general' settings of high, medium and low sensitivity to use for other papers.
    The simple answer is to try it Gary. The technique, when used manually, is automatically adjusted to the paper as you pick the tones by eye. The HSGU only needs to be programmed for different papers for its automatic use.
     
  5. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I was asumming that some papers may not respond very well to the two popular split grade filters and that these filters would maybe lead to unnecessary lengthy exposures.

    I have yet to test all the combinations of filters on my main papers to see the differences in tonal response. Perhaps Grade 1 and Grade 4 filters are better for those papers?
     
  6. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I'd stick with G00 and G5 filters. It may or may not result in slightly longer times than necessary with papers that can only make G1 to G4 (I've never tested to see if that is true) but consistency is always worth having in printing so I'd keep the same filters for all work. Using my colour head I use maximum yellow and maximum magenta on all papers when split-grade filtering.

    'Course, that's just me...

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  7. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    I agree with Bob
    Tim
     
  8. hal9000

    hal9000 Member

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    I don't think the contrast range of a paper correlates with its sensitivity to the 00 and 5 filters - a lower range paper just won't be able to reach the extreme ends of the contrast scale. I agree with Tim and Bob, the filters should work just fine with any VC paper.
     
  9. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    I'd want to hit that paper (one with a question of less contrast range) with as much blue as I can, rather than less blue. Since the name "Grade 4 Filter" only means anything to a particular manufacture's paper, you might only be getting ISO 90 (Grade 3 maximum) by using the "Grade 4 Filter." Testing is the only way to know for sure.
     
  10. jfish

    jfish Member

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    The combinations are infinite. Not only can you do multiple combinations, giving one contrast 1 amount of time and the other contrast another amount of time will further change the results. Even combinations of 3 filters can change the results. Also, which order you use the filters in, flatter first or contrastier first, makes a difference. Personally I think the 00 or 00 and 5 doesn't let you finesse and fine tune the subtle differences and gradations you can get (provided you have it in the negative to begin with...if it ain't there, it ain't anywhere).

    But that's just me (and only 38 years of printing...32 professionally).
     
  11. RobC

    RobC Member

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    Well going back to the original question:

    It depends on the contrast index you develop your negatives to. If your standard negatives are developed to soft contrast, then maybe a grade 5 filter won't generate a grade 5 on paper, but with soft developement a grade 00 would easily give grade 00 on paper. Alternatively, if you develop to a high contrast index, the G5 filter would easily give grade 5 on paper but may not give grade 00 on paper using the G00 filter.

    The problem then becomes, if I have one negative developed to a contrast index which gives both g00 and G5 on one paper from one set of filters, will the same negative give G00 and G5 on another paper using the same filter set. It may or may not. That is why you have to test for it if its important to you.
    But if you find the paper which requires the full range of filtration to get a g00 and g5 on paper and all your other papers have a shorter scale and fit within the range, then developing your negs to a contrast index which fits the longest scale paper will also fit all the others. But doing that may affect the hightlight and shadow separation in a desirable or undesirable way on those papers. Again only testing will tell you that.
    Shorter scale means the paper is more sensitive to changes in negative density and filtration changes so the maximum or minimum contrast of the paper is reached sooner than with a longer scale paper.
    That is what Steve Anchells variable contrast printing manual shows you in the graphs which are overlayed.

    [edit]
    But most of those papers are no longer available so the data is only of academic interest. Anyone volunteering to redo the tests with current papers? :D
    [/edit]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 1, 2008
  12. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    The light source is a factor also. From personal experience I have learned that Kentmere Fineprint FBVC does not respond well to Ilford 4 and 5 filters when using my older 10x10 Aristo Cold Light head. Kentmere warns of this in their specs. In some cases the contrast is not increased much. In others no information is printed at all.

    John Powers
     
  13. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    This is why I switched to the Aristo tube that's color corrected for this.
     
  14. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    Gary, there is no point (IMHO) in using anything less than the 2 extremes of contrast availble (via filtration). The low contrast filter exposure determines the density of your highlight tones. The high contrast filter sets your shadow tones. The tones in between fall into place according to your negative and the times of the G.00 and G.5 exposures. Using other filters instead gives reduced options, not increased options.
    25-30 years ago when we started exploring the concept of split grade filter printing I spent untold hours trying out every conceivable combination of filtrations through the range. Most of it was fruitless although interesting. ( 'Wishful seeing' is always a problem!:smile: )
    Objective review of all results revealed what we now know: the best results come from using the extremes of filtration. Inbetween filters are simply the result of combinations of 00 & 5 anyway.
    We have used it for years on my fine printing workshops and the beauty of it is that it is self controlling, matching contrast and exposure regardless of negative and paper.
    The Heiland unit works the same way and I have found no difference in which order you use the filters, although there are theoretical reasons for using 00 first, and pragmatic reasons for occasionally using 5 first.
    (If you want, PM me I can send you details)
    BW
    Tim
     
  15. RobC

    RobC Member

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    Tim,
    I am not advocating that anything else other than G0 and G5 are used to do the actual printing. I'm just saying that depending on which paper you use as your standard paper and use in your film speed and dev tests, it is possible that some other papers will not reach G0 or G5 when you do print them with G0 and G5 filters. Not because the paper is not capable of achieving a grade 0 or grade 5 or that the filters are not suitable, but because the neg has not be developed to suit the paper range.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    You may also want to consider that using grade 0 and 5 for split grade printing may not be what you need. It could well be that you get better results laying the ground work for the highlights with a grade 1.5 or even a 2. I would say that Grade 5 is probably going to be required no matter who you ask, and even if you don't get a full grade 5, like when you use cold light head with Kentmere Fineprint VC (wonderful paper by the way!), you will probably get the maximum contrast the paper can muster with that filter.
    The possibilities with split grade printing are endless. Consider your options, think outside the box. You might even want to use three different filters. Why not?! Dodge and burn at different filter grades. It's all good, as long as you get the results you like.

    Important: Consider the fact that you have the ability to dodge and burn at any filter grade you like. That is the key to why split grade printing is so cool. You can burn in certain areas with a grade 3 filter, if that's what the situation calls for. The possibilities are absolutely endless.

    I was fortunate to listen to Bob Carnie talk at Bill Schwab's place in Northern Michigan last week. He admitted that one of the printers and artists he really respects, Les McLean, used a different technique than him. Both are some of the best printers that walk the earth, and they both get brilliant results, but use different means of getting there.
    Just go to the darkroom and start printing. Stop worrying about the little details. The technique is likely to work just fine, whether you get a full grade 00 to grade 5 or not.
    Have fun!
    - Thomas