Split grade printing vs Flashing paper.

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Eric_Fr, Dec 15, 2004.

  1. Eric_Fr

    Eric_Fr Member

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    I would like to know if you use these techniques :

    - What is your criteria to use one of them against another ?

    - If you use the flashing technique, do you find the PaperFlasher from
    rhdesigns useful for this ?

    - If you use flashing technique, do you use softer and harder filtration
    with your flashing tools ?

    I would like to thanks all the people that participate in this forum, because
    they offer the way for non professional to improve their darkroom works.


    Best regards from france,

    Eric.
     
  2. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I was just wondering about this myself..
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Some people really enjoying flashing their prints - I have always regarded flashing as a last-gasp technique to get some tone (not, of course, actual detail) into hopelessly blocked highlights (which I fortunately don't get that often on my own negs!).

    Regards,

    David
     
  4. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Hello Eric, split grade printing certainly seems to work better on high contrast negatives as opposed to a low contrast neg. This way, each exposure is separate and distinct with less duplication of the exposure of mid tones.

    I do use an RH Designs timer, and I find it invaluable for pre-flashing paper and split grade printing also. It is quite valuable to keep test flash strips for each different paper, with soft through to strong flash application and times/app/lens height on the back as a reference. Personally I tend use split grade printing as it seems to give very good results under the right circumstances.
    Flashing paper is certainly an alternative (or additional tool available). Paper is less capable of maintaining detail over a broad range of exposure values than negatives, generally. So when you have a negative that has a very broad range of exposure values, flashing is a useful technique for compensating, and gaining highlight detail or shadow depth on the paper.

    Preflashing at a very soft grade will add sufficient pre-exposure in the highlights to allow these to appear even with a hard contrast base exposure.
    Conversely, preflashing at a very hard grade will give the shadows added DMax and apparent depth when printing the base exposure at a softer grade.

    Both methods are useful.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2004
  5. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I use both pre and post flashing in conjunction with split grade printing. I have to disgree with David's comment that flashing does not put detail into "hopelessly blocked highlights". When faced with this problem I burn in the highlight with grade 5 and then post flash the area using the RH Designs Flasher and always produce detail. This method works because the burning in with grade 5 puts some tone into the darker areas in the highlight, for example, folds in a back lit curtain, but has no effect on the very brightest highlight. Post flashing further increases the tone of the shadow and puts delicate tone into the brightest highlight. I have used this method for the past 20 years and it because of using flashing that I asked RH Designs to make me a flasher to use when I demonstrated flashing on workshops. I still have the prototype.
     
  6. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    I believe there's been some comment on another thread that, after testing, it's been determined that it makes absolutely no difference what filter you use to pre-flash...you've simply raised the threshold of the paper.
     
  7. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I think Les and I are really talking about the same thing, but I still maintain that flashing will not reveal detail (as opposed to tone) in totally blocked highlights, since these are right at the top of the film's characteristic curve where it flattens out and where exposure increments are no longer producing film density increments. The most you can do with a blocked highlight is to try and get some light onto the paper in the highlight area, thus producing a tone - you can do this either only through the negative (burning in) or through a combination of exposures, one through the negative and one just below the paper threshold without the neg in place. Strictly speaking, this lowers the threshold of the paper, i.e. it can now "see" a weaker light than it could before.

    I also believe that in practice (unless you are a professional printer and print all day every day on the same enlarger), you will tend to get better results by juggling with only 2 variables (exposure [including dodging and burning] and paper grade) than by introducing a third. Of course, many people would disagree and say that their technique works for them!

    Regards,

    David
     
  8. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The preflashing of paper will always compress detail at the highlight tonal end of the print. The degree to which it compresses it is determined by the length of time that one preflashes the paper. Choice of filter grade would tend to have some affect on contrast within that compressed area. Probably of very little discernible difference between grade two and grade five. Post flashing, in my experience, has very little differing affect from preflashing. However the pysychological import of the differing methods upon the practitioner will probably cause this issue to be argued to the point of ad nauseum.

    Unsharp masking will compress shadow tonal scale upwards since it works on the other end of the materials characteristic curve.

    These two procedures will produce differing result but have validity in application dependant on the image being printed.

    The single greatest benefit to split grade printing is the control that it affords in dodging and burning of specific areas within the print. Insofar as overall contrast, should one not burn or dodge, there is no discerible difference between the results of split grade or single grade printing. Under straight printing conditions the same results can be obtained with either process.
     
  9. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    - What is your criteria to use one of them against another ?

    I use both when I feel I need too. I used to use filters and split grade printing was a pain (had to be very careful changing the filters in the drawer so as not to knock the enlarger) At the moment I'm using a colour head enlarger for 35mm and MF, and I generally start with no filtration and dial in magenta or yellow as I see fit. My 4x5 enlarger has a VCCE head but I haven't used that enough to know what i'm going to do. At times I'll flash the paper, other times I'll change to split grade printing usually if I can't decide on what paper grade and by splitting the exposures it can sometimes make more sense and I get the print I want.

    - If you use the flashing technique, do you find the PaperFlasher from
    rhdesigns useful for this ?

    I use an enlarger.

    - If you use flashing technique, do you use softer and harder filtration
    with your flashing tools ?

    I don't use any. Never thought too!
     
  10. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    No real quibble with the gist of this message, but I keep reading references to the 'blocked up highlights and film shoulders'. I have done extensive film testing for my platinum and palladium printing(which requires a high density range negative), and I have found that there are only a few films with pronounced shoulders, and even those films only reach it at densities above about 2.4. Assuming that most projection enlarged negatives are being processed to CI's in the range of 0.5 or so, that means that you would have to be shooting a scene with an SBR of roughly 14 to even begin to see evidence of shouldering on these films. Sheet films such as Tri-X (TXP, not TX) and FP-4 continue to build meaningful density changes on up into the 3.6 range, equivalent to an SBR of 22! I guess what I am saying is that usually the detail is there - it just takes a hell of a lot of print exposure to bring it out. Naturally, every film will reach a shoulder somewhere, but it would be an unusual situation for the typical silver gelatin negative to get anywhere close to the shoulder of a film absent tremendous overexposure or some truly effective compensating development method.
     
  11. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I would certainly acknowledge that what Clay says correlates to my own experience with sheet films - it is perhaps worth noting that totally blocked highlights are much more likely to be achieved with 35 mm T-grain films than with "old" technology sheet films (not to mention the enthusiast's favorite Technical Pan).

    I entirely agree, too, that apparently hopelessly dense highlights can be made to print, even if they are a long way up the CC, as long as they are not right on the top of the shoulder. In my youth I worked at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and occasionally had to print wet-plate negatives from the 1860s (any size up to 12x15"). The guys in those days used to time their exposures by the number of pots of tea drunk! Sometimes I could not see what was on a negative, even holding it up to a 2 k spotlight. In most cases, however, the negative would print reasonably with an exposure on a contact box of 5 to 10 minutes (normal neg = 15 seconds).

    I think, though, one trap to avoid is to think that exposing and developing film and paper the standard way is too plebeian and that a more abstruse method is more creative. I knew someone once who had a new Leica (high-contrast lens) and shot on T-Max 400 with standard speed rating and processing (T-Max dev.). She then coped with the resulting very fancy blocked highlights by routinely using waterbath print development, which took forever, whereas a simple extra stop on the film exposure and n-1 development would not only have been far easier but technically better, too. I knew somebody else who would always use studio lighting which was too contrasty and was then forever experimenting with different film developers to knock the contrast down again - the cheap and quick answer would have been to fire the lights through a scrim and use a card reflector as a fill, but he wouldn't listen!

    Regards,

    David
     
  12. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The characteristic curves of Tmax 100, Tmax 400, and Technical Pan as published by Kodak don't seem to indicate this condition of blocked highlights (shouldering) being attributable to the film.

    I could say that perhaps the processing procedures may require greater controls to assure that the negative density range does not exceed the exposure scale of the paper. That, however, would be a limitation based on the characteristic of the paper and not a characteristic of the film.
     
  13. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I don't find this to be the case, provided one takes the time to determine the characteristics of the materials and then works within their limitations.
     
  14. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    Eric,
    RH Designs Flasher makes flashing paper very easy. I struggled with flashing until I purchased this useful tool about three years ago.

    No need to muck about with filters with Flasher as the light source does not come from the enlarger. Flasher is a self-contained easily controllable diffused light source which can be used at a fixed height or waved about in a creative way over the paper.

    All the best,

    Neil.
     
  15. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Not quite sure I understand the "vs" in the subject. I use both techniques (in my inexpert, bumbling way) but to achieve quite different things.

    Split grading I use when I wish to precisely place both the highlights and shadows in a print, *just* retaining the detail in each. The print may end up hard or soft, depending on the effect I wish to achieve. In theory, the same result could be obtained by using *exactly* the right contrast grade for *exactly* the right time; split grading just makes it easier to arrive at this.

    Flashing I use when the contrast recorded by the film exceeds that which can be held on the paper. By overcoming the "inertia" of the paper it allows the print to be made at a higher contrast grade without losing detail in highlights or shadows. The higher grade stops the print from appearing flat / muddy.

    I've done each individually and both combined (in an utter swine of a waterfall shot, which turned out beautifully (by my inexacting standards) in the end).

    That's my understanding. I welcome correction if I'm out to lunch! (Cue Les?!)

    I haven't got an RH Designs flasher (I built my own driven from my enlarger timer out of an IKEA table lamp, a switchable 4-gang, a kettle plug and a lot of gaffer tape!) but have a few of their other products and would recommend *anything* they make if the budget'll stretch!

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  16. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    In essence split grading and pre-post flashing are different and sometimes complimentary techniques. I used flashing for the first time a few years ago becasue I had to; split grading did not give me the qualities I needed in small blocked areas. Using pre flash and split grading as Les says using a harder grade, I can get all the detail and contrast I could wish for. One just has to be careful that the print does not loseits sparkel and become a little flat.

    Tom
     
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I agree with David H , I use flashing the paper as an absolute last step if required,
    It seems that the only times that I am concerned with flashing is when I am going to Bleach tone the print afterwards and the slight flash will be bleached away in the very brightest of highlights. Otherwise I use split contrast printing , dodging and burning to achieve the results I am after.
    In the past I have made a enlarged highlight mask and flashed through this mask. This way keeping modulation throughout the upper highlights. A lot of work for little gain.
     
  18. Eric_Fr

    Eric_Fr Member

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    I would like to thanks everybody for their answer.

    Until now, I just used split grade printing (learn with Les book and Way beyond monochrome book) and I'm quite happy with this technique. I have improve my print a lot with the split grade technique.

    My question was just to know if there is other way to improve again the print and flashing technique seems interesting.

    I understand both techniques but less which one to choose when you are in front of your negative.
    I use split grade technique when I have a contrasty negative because like Les explain it look like a mask when you use hard filtration and after with soft filtration you can record highlight detail.

    But it seems that other use flashing in this case too :

    "Flashing I use when the contrast recorded by the film exceeds that which can be held on the paper".

    Other used the both methods on same print :

    - Can you in this case explain in detail your process ( split grade first or pre-flash, post-flash) ?


    Thanks,

    Eric.
     
  19. Mark Noble

    Mark Noble Member

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    I use masked flashing so whatever contrast I'm using for the general exposure, I go with. I think the point is to just raise the sensitivity of the paper to receive the light -- even the safelight will do that if you leave your paper out too long.