split grade printing

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by omalley, May 10, 2005.

  1. omalley

    omalley Member

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    Who of you uses this (I've also read it called 'multicontrast printing' or multigrade filtration') technique? Do you use it consistently, or do you find that you use it sometimes, other times getting better results with graded paper? I just started using split grade printing last year, and have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the results.
    I'd also like to know among those of you who use it, which is the more popular method: printing in the higher tones first, then exposing for the lower tones or printing for shadow detail first, then working on the higher tones. I have only used the first method, as it seems more effective to me.
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    omalley

    i've used split grade printing for a few years now. i dont' really think twice about it. i don't know if i use the same technique you are referring to , but what i do is find the mid-tone time, and burn in my contrast with a higher grade filter. in addition to filtration, i often use a 2 bath fixer - one stronger than the other and a water bath to control contrast &C. since i sometimes print negatives that are not from a camera, i have to figure out a way to print the "material" so i get a full tonal range, instead of contrast only ( the easy part ).
     
  3. david b

    david b Member

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    When I use this method of printing, I start with the zero filter and then the five filter.
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I only split print now unless I am using graded paper
    Depending on the negative and how I want the print to look I will decide on which way to approach the filtration.
    I am now a big fan of using a middle filter first and using the 0 and 5 to accent, rather than using a 0 and 5 only.
     
  5. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've just started using this technique, and in a very subtle way has improved my printing. I find it works best with contrastier negs. If I have a flat neg, it just gets too grey. I use a color head enlarger, so I start with the yellow (highlight) filter at about 80Y, make the first exposure, then I dial sown the Y filter, and so a full magenta filter, pretty much turn the knob 'til it can't move any further. I have done it backwards, but I don't think it makes a difference to the final print. It's just easier with the way my enlarger is set up to do the yellow filter first.

    It is a great technique with the right negative.
     
  6. lee

    lee Member

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    Split grade printing will not work with graded papers. The vc papers have emultions that are sensitive to blue and green light. Blue controls the shadows and green controls the highlites. I have a MetroluxII timer and an Aristo head for my Omega. The Aristo has two tubes in it and it is very easy to split grade print. There is some good info here on APUG.ORG about this style of printing. I have been very successful with this technique for about 10 years

    lee\c
     
  7. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I've been using the 0 and 5 method for the past 12 or so years and have had very good results. As has already been said it does not work with low contrast negatives so for best results you will need to use quite high contrast negatives. I prefer to establish the highlight tonality by using the 0 filter first and then create the required contrast by applying the 5 filtration second.
     
  8. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I've only been in the darkroom for about a year and started using split-filtration when I bought Les' book a few months ago. I now use the method almost exclusively as I find I get to the final effect I want much quicker than estimating grades and then having to try harder and softer grades just to make sure my original grade guesstimate was correct (which it usually is not...).

    I do the max-yellow (soft) test on one test strip followed by max-magenta (hard) test on top of a second test strip already exposed for the soft exposure time obtained from the 1st strip. This works even for flat negs (which I get far too often for comfort!) but you need to watch the soft exposure in this case as it is easy to overdo it. Perhaps doing the hard followed by the soft is a better way to go in this case? The real beauty of this for me is that you can dodge during the hard or soft exposures to control local contrast to a degree not possible with a single exposure.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Les
    I would disagree about low contrast negs not working with split. I have used the 5 filter for the majority of the print and then basically flashed in with the 0 filter to add slight tonality where needed.
    When I want a gritty print I use this technique all the time. It works well to bleach and tone after the split printing.
    I get a lot of call for this kind of print and the look is fantastic.
     
  10. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I have given up graded papers. Too hard to keep the range in stock and fresh. For this, VC is so much better. I don't use split filters, though, I use a filter of the grade I need. When I have two grades in one print, then I diddle with the different filters and have even added extra blue (with lighting gel) to get that nudge of high contrast or adjust between grades.
     
  11. Carol

    Carol Member

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    I'm not an experienced printer, but recently bought Les's book and tried using the 0 and 5 filters for the first time last week. I was very pleased with the result as my prints are nearly always high contrast. I still need lots of practice but it's the first time I've been able to get detail in the shadow and the highlights.
     
  12. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    When faced with a low contrast negative I too use the 5 filter but instead of using grade 0 to add highlight tonality I prefer to use my white light flashing method described in the book. To be fair Bob the method you have described is not really split grade printing although it does clearly produce the desired result.
     
  13. omalley

    omalley Member

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    Les, has anybody mentioned that you look a little like David Vestal? How high of contrast negatives would you say are optimal? I almost always produce negatives on the lower contrast end because I am afraid of going overboard and losing important information. Somebody mentioned that you have a book, where can I get a copy?
    EDIT: I have been using the Anchell book.
     
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  15. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Up until about 3-4 years ago, I had only used graded papers. I started using variable contrast papers to save money and still try several different brands and types of paper. I guess I've been printing with split grade filters for a year or two.

    My negatives are processed to be low-contrast because I like condenser enlargers. There is always some variation, so I use different filter combinations--sometimes 3 different filters instead of two. Sometimes a single filter or no filter works fine.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2005
  16. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    I am a recent convert to the split grade method partly because of Les’ book and partly from seeing the results others in our monochrome group have obtained. I particularly like the option of being able to burn or dodge using only a hard or soft light. That, to me is it’s most useful feature.
     
  17. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I split print because my b&w needs all the help it can get. When i first started doing my own b&w i would bracket the poop out of the shot -- often shooting two sheets per exposure and dividing them up into two piles. I'd dev one set at what I thought was best and adjust for the second. At the cost of 6 or 8 sheets I would get a (as in one) really good neg.

    I should ad that most of my b&w is shot against a black or white background with the subject (usually my wife) wearing dark or light clothing. Add to that a red 25 filter and the greys are at best subtle.

    Split printing allowed me to get pretty close and still have a print I liked.

    I approach it more or less the same as Les. Using a 0 i do a test strip to get the highlights and light mids where I want them and then use a 4, 41/2 or 5 to get the shadows were I want them ( a test strip on top of the 0 exposure). I will then do a full print using the best times for both. More often then not I will need to adjust both down just a hair for the final print.
     
  18. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    My split grade negatives are very high in contrast but that's not really a good guide for you. I should post a negative in the tech gallery but unfourtunately I'm just finishing my packing for the trip to the US, leave home at 5am for the airport and will not be back until the beginning of July. If I can I'll scan a neg in the US and post it from there.

    I have copies of the book but the cost of postage is high, you should get it from Amamzon
     
  19. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    I started printing at the begining of 2002. I quickly started to turn out reasonable(ish) negs but found printing troublesome. My big problem was getting the over all contrast right. I went to an iffy photoshop night class at the local college, but the teacher turned out to be a photographer who's passion was B&W. I took some prints along and asked him if he'd look at them. He went, 'umm aah, err well, yes I'll have a look I guess', well we've all been there. I told him to be straight and tell me exactly what he thought. So he told me my snaps were really quite good but my printing stank. In short he told me I needed much more contrast and I should also look up selenium toner on the internet.

    About the same time B&W photographer in the UK had an article on split grade printing which caught my attention. So for the next 12mnths I split grade printed everything. I quickly learned setting the shadows first worked best for me. Then I bought some selenium and started asking folks on photonet how they used it. Soon I was getting nice punchy prints with loads of detail.
    But as my style is mainly photo-journo and I like to turn out a good few prints for each event or topic I cover, I started to find split grade printing a little slow. But by then I was looking at the split times I was using and how they related to the negs, plus my processing was getting better, so I rarely use it now. Sometimes though when a neg has me on the run, I go back to the split grade technique and it often pulls me out of a hole.
     
  20. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    I started split filter printing using Les' method from his book-- using 0 then the 5 and I still do that mostly, finding it a good methodical way to arrive at a good print. But sometimes I'll find myself using a mid-range filter and then just pop it slightly with the 5 for that little extra, or after a mid range filter I'll want to switch to the 0 to burn part of the print. After a while its just second nature to use two filters for a print and my sessions don't seem to suffer any major slowdown.

    Also following a suggestion here at APUG and in a recent article of the UK BandW mag, I started using a hard and a soft developer-- usually centrabrom 1+15 and dokumol 1+6. Some people said this would be overkill but I've found that it helped me.
    Best regards,
    James
     
  21. Bulent Ozgoren

    Bulent Ozgoren Member

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    Les I have your book and been split printing for a year now. When you say high contrast negatives, how much contrast do you mean? What DR? I've tested my paper/developer combination with a Stouffer step wedge and found the ISO Range of 105 (Grade 2) equivalent with 32 secs Green and 8 secs Blue filter exposures with my Aristo VCL4500. I've been developing my film for a DR of 1.05 (Zone VIII-III density). When you say high contrast negative do you mean a negative to be printed on ISO 130 (Grade 3)? All the very best. Bulent
     
  22. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Since Les is on his way to the US, I will answer from my experience. I develop my negatives for enlargement on silver to a density range of 1.35. These will then also work for contact printing on Grade three Azo if I choose. My enlarger is a Durst 138S with condensors.

    I have found, in my experience, that Ansel Adams targeted densities no longer apply in my practice.
     
  23. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Bob, i belive flashing does not count as split-filter printing but if it works for you.

    I usually tend to get high contrast negatives (need to be printed in grade 1 or 0) instead of low contrast (need to be printed in grade 3.5+). I don;t have a densitometer but use an EM10 as a guide for the paper grades I need and all.

    Low contrast negatives are a lot less problematic and can be handled easier.


     
  24. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Les
    As I understand a split print is when you use 2 or more filters to achieve a image that you are happy with therefore once again I disagree.
    Original scene, lighting conditions, film developer choices , will determine the type of negative one ends up with.
    If I decide to start with the 5 filter and soften the look with the 00 filter I still think I am making a split print.
    There are numerous ways to approach this and I prefer to use the range of filters at my disposal to accomodate the negative that I am working with.

    that is why I like the three filter method where one gets a good balance for the midtones and uses the 00 and 5 for increase or decrease of local contrast.
    I have been using the 0 and 5 method from the day I started VC printing and I have gravitated to this three filter method as it is the most satisfactory way of printing my and others negatives.
    I do not like the overall non - negative flash as you suggest . I prefer the modulation (or seperation that the original negative gives in the two extremes white light flash basically dulls the highlights and I prefer seperation to happen, using the original camera negative. I have not read your book therefore you may have delved into these areas but I am speaking off the cuff on how I approach a negative in the darkroom.
    If I could go back to my contrast mask days for cibachrome , I always made a highlight pre - mask before I made a overall contrast reducing mask as I did not want to grey down the highlighs when printing. I like the fact that the highlight mask would seperate the speculars as well as the highlight section.
    If I think of the 0 and 5 scenerio as described by others on this thread , I think what is happening that by using this method one zero's in on a contrast that is most suitable for any given negative*think of the people here using dichroic heads to achieve a final balance and you will get what I am talking about.* basically with this method one can achieve a 2.25 grade using the yellow and magenta dials.
    I prefer to use the split method to accent the image in the extreme areas and print normally for the mid tones.
    The beauty of split printing is that one can manage a negative no matter how hard or soft it is. Yes if in the real world every negative you printed had the same contrast range , boy would it be easy , also very boring.
     
  25. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Bob, I think there was some confusion over the word "flash". I think you mean you gave a minimal, short exposure through the negative with the 00 filter - I think Les took it to mean "flash" the paper - as in to give the print an overall exposure with no negative in the carrier - hence the "that's not split printing" remarks.

    Do you have a methodology for using a middle grade filter to get the initial exposure or is it purely a case of experience, or the old "expose for the highlights (mid-highlights in this case?) and grade for the shadows (mid-shadows?) and then accent with the 00 and 5? Hope that flurry of parentheses and question marks makes sense...

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  26. Fotohuis

    Fotohuis Member

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    I am using the split grade technique in combination with the Heiland split grade controller which makes the practical use and time consuming test strips superfluous.

    In one measurement the system measures the exposure time and gradation and is calculating automatically with the pre-programmed VC paper, film and developer the exact paper exposure time and switched automatically the 00 and 5 filter or vice versa, ratio times with a shutter so that the HLX light source has also no influence (specially on short times) so also maximum reproducibility.
    This system can be mounted on over 32 types of different enlargers.

    Till now the best B&W printing system I have ever used.
    Personal adaptations can be easily integrated.

    Highly recommended. Prices from Eur. 824,-

    Robert