Split Printing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by TPPhotog, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    In the January Black and White Photographer, there's an article by Steve Mulligan on Split Printing. So sorry but I have a couple of basic questions:

    1. What developers are Zone VI?
    2. He says the first bath is developer straight, does that mean undiluted?
     
  2. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I do not think the Zone VI devs are available in teh UK, even under a different name, tho may be wrong.
     
  3. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    That makes things a little more difficult. Looking back at the magazine he says he sometimes uses Dektol, would the first bath of that be used undiluted if it's used straight. Sorry for being thick but the sound of putting a print into a concentrated developer sounds harsh, so I'm thinking I ain't read it properly.
     
  4. lee

    lee Member

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    I have not read the article yet as I am in the US and it takes a little bit to get here but I am a little confused here. Is the article talking about split filter printing or using two developers to control the contrast of graded papers? If we are talking about split filter printing then the developers really don't come into play as I see it. I have used a lot of print developers with this technique. Now if the author is writing about controlling the contrast via different developers then the way I have done it is to use a soft working developer (like Selectol Soft) and regular working developer (like Dektol). The print is partially developed in the Selectol Soft for a portion of the time and then in the Dektol for the remainder of the time. I am not sure this technique would be of any benefit with variable contrast papers. As to the other question I would dilute each as if I were using them independently. I seem to remember Selectol Soft as a 1+1 dil and Dektol is generally recommended as 1+2 dil.

    There is some speculation that the Zone VI print developers are a reformulated Dektol

    lee\c
     
  5. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Lee thank you for the info. I won't spoil the article for you I'll just say he uses both. He splits the exposure hard (grade 5 ish) then soft (grade 0 ish) ... he uses a Zone IV enlarger. Then he devs in 2 baths, short period in the first to start shadow development and longer in the second bath for the full tonal ranges.
     
  6. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Lee I have to disagree with you, I regularly use two bath development with split filter printing and there are differences, sometimes subtle but in fine printing subtle is significant. I also use water bath with split filter printing when I deliberatly use more hard filtration to achieve an effect that requires that treatment but if the print is developed normally the highlights are too bright and the global contrast is too high. Water bath development will reduce the contrast but allows you to retain the contrast and seperation created in the lower values by using hard filtration. It's a difficult one to describe in text only but all will be revealed in May. As a matter of interest I used this technique today in making a print for Jim Moore in the print exchange.

    I also use a lot of ZoneVI developer, I buy it every time I visit the US, and don't think that it's reformulated Dektol as the prints I get with it are much warmer than anything I've ever had with dektol
     
  7. lee

    lee Member

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    you can disagree all you want :smile: I have always been under the impression that as I said that the two bath developers were aimed at graded papers. It is good to know that it will work with vc papers.

    The note about Zone VI being Dektol comes from Fred Picker and something he said off the cuff. When asked about Zone VI developers he is said to have said, "Can't beat Dektol so why mess with it." This is what led me and others too speculate. I guess it would pretty easy to have an analysis done but I don't have that much interest in the developer.

    lee\c
     
  8. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I hadn't really thought much about applying split development to VC papers, but now that I think about it I see no reason why it wouldn't work. However I would not expect to see much, if any, difference if the paper has developer incorporated into the emulsion.
     
  9. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Ho hum, Sorry guys I didn't mean to start off a "disagreement". Many thanks for the info but it's now sounding way above my abilities at the moment.
     
  10. oriecat

    oriecat Member

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    Don't you just hate that?! You read all this cool stuff and see the gorgeous results and just think 'sigh, maybe I'll get there someday'....
     
  11. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Yep sure do :smile: It sounded reasonably straight forward for at least some experimenting. Think I'll stick to straight split filter printing or straight with dodge and burn only or occasionally a water bath. All 3 methods I use now depending on my mood and patience :D
     
  12. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    I believe you're correct. As a long-time practitioner of both split filter and divided development, the two techniques are separate, though obviously related in one's own practice. Your choice of developers, for example, will influence the contrast you build into the print under the enlarger, but there's no necessary connection between the two.

    A more effective (IMHO) method of divided development for contrast control is NOT to use a full one-solution developer like Dektol in one tray and another full one-solution developer like Selectol in a second. Rather, divide the developer itself into two solutions--developing agents (Metol, Phenidone, HQ, ascorbic acid, whatever) ONLY in Bath #1. In Bath #2, ONLY activator (plain carbonate is fine). If you have room in your sink, make up two Bath #1's--one with a "harder" developer formula (mixed as above) like D-72 (Dektol) and one with a "softer" formula (like Selectol). Then, depending on the effect you want, use EITHER the soft developer OR the hard Developer for a given print, BUT NOT BOTH. Then on to Bath 2 (the activator).

    With this method, the print needs to be in Bath A no longer than about 20 seconds, but even if you leave it in for three minutes, no image will appear. Also no temperature controls are necessary. By separating developing agents from activator, you effectively eliminate time/temp considerations.

    In Bath B, the image appears very rapidly (or more slowly if your solution is quite cold, e.g. 50-60 F.) and develops to completion, but no further. You can leave it in all day, but it won't get darker. Only the amount of agents soaked up in Bath B can be activated. It is possible to pull it too soon and end up with weak blacks. I usually find that at room temp, Bath B takes about 45 seconds or so to get to completion. As the carbonate becomes exhausted, it may take a few seconds longer.

    Another advantage to this technique is that you can keep re-using Bath A over and over again, because it doesn't become contaminated or exhausted. It just gets physically used up as a certain amount is absorbed by the paper stock. I mix it a half gallon at a time and usually don't have to mix any more for about six months. Just pour it back into the jug when finished. Bath B does become exhausted, and I mix a fresh tray for each darkroom session, the lazy man's way--pour a half gallon of water into the tray, throw in 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda or pH Plus (carbonate), and rock the tray a few times to agitate. Then, while I'm setting up the rest of my trays, selecting my negs, etc., the carbonate dissolves, so that by the time I'm ready to print, Bath B is ready too.

    With graded papers, the use of EITHER a soft OR a hard Bath A will give you intermediate grades. I.E., a #2 paper run through the soft Bath A will result in a print with about a 1 1/2 grade contrast. Run through a hard Bath A, it will result in a 2 1/2 grade contrast.

    It works perfectly well with variable contrast papers too, which is what I use exclusively now. With variable contrast, the split filter printing and true divided developer technique I've described, make getting excellent work prints on the first try almost sinfully easy.

    Larry
     
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Larry, Very good description , your post makes a lot of sense and very worthy of trying. I am going to give your technique a try
    thanks
     
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  15. Pats

    Pats Member

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    Bob
    As I am a new member I have not yet read your note on split printing though when I find it I surely will. I how ever do my split printing with a Dichroic head. That way I don't have to open and close to put filters in. I can adjust the yellow and magenta filteration to what ever I want and even work with both at the same time. The results are great and less problem if not no problem at all with dust. Have you tried this or has abody else out there tried split printing this way.

    Pats
     
  16. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Yes, I also use a dichroic head. Although, I don't combine the magenta and yellow filtrations in a single exposure. I give two exposures: one at full magenta and the other at full yellow (doesn't matter in which order). This, IMHO, improves local contrast and makes the tones "sing" in a way that a single exposure combining magenta and yellow does not.

    Make a test print with each color, giving 3-second increments in strips across the length of the paper, keeping the same f-stop, and find the best strip for each color. E.g., on the magenta test print, the best strip is 8 seconds at f/11. The best strip on the yellow test print is 5 sec. at f/11. This combination--two exposures, one at full magenta for 8 seconds and one at full yellow for five seconds will be your basic starting exposure for any negative on that particular brand of paper. Fine tuning starts from there, but that first work print will get you very close.

    To increase or decrease density, burn or dodge BOTH exposures. E.g. If I want to burn in the sky, but not change the contrast, and my basic exposure is 8 sec. M and 6 sec. Y, I will burn the sky for, say, 3 sec. during the M exposure and 2 sec. during the Y exposure, trying to preserve the proportionality of the original exposure (doesn't have to be exact).

    If you want to change the contrast of a particular part of the subject, then burn or dodge with EITHER the M or Y exposures, but not both.

    Larry
     
  17. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Pats

    I have worked both with diffusion head and condenser, I prefer opening the flip top on the condenser enlarger. Now I am really fast with this even when using three different filters. I find the dichroic or chromega way very slow and adusting for magenta dichroic density changes a pain in the a...
    Although I know it works well and I guess it is all relative to what equipment you work with and are familiar with.
    I use a middle filter technique making the initial print slightly lighter and flatter than required. I have a 00 and 5 filter near by. depending upon the look of the final print I usually give a grade 5 blast for contrast and good blacks and if required a burn with the 00 to bring in touchy highlight areas.
    I like this method tremendously , even over the 0 and 5 technique talked about extensively.
    As well I use 00 and 5 dodging filters for the initial exposure for local contrast adjustment
    Also dodge back and burn with 5 filter for local contrast boost.
    Hope this isn,t confusing.

    Both methods are great, I just happen to like condenser light and the three filter method
     
  18. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I've been working with Bob's technique and can tell you it works. Working from the middle grays and augmenting the highlights and shadows gives (me at least) a far greater range of densities, contrast and accuance than I found with printing highlights and shadows and trying to bring them together in the middle.

    I'm using either a Beseler 23C Dichro or Omega Chromega. Both are color heads. I don't do volume printing, usually one or 2 or 3 one-of-a-kind, so the additional labor of three exposures to make a 'straight' print doesn't bother me. And i can SEE the difference.
     
  19. Pats

    Pats Member

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    Hi Bob
    Okay I don't have a condenser enlarger. So how would you suggest I get the best print on multi grade fibre paper using a colour head enlarger.

    Pats
     
  20. Pats

    Pats Member

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    Bruce

    This may be a stupid question but are you doing 3 exposures with the colour. Again sorry if it is a stupid question but I am trying to understand what you are telling me.

    Pats
     
  21. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Pats

    Ok , here is how I would do it

    Assuming 180 magenta is full contrast
    assuming lets say 80 yellow is lowest contrast.

    Lets say you print an negative straight and the balance is Cyan -0
    Yellow -0 and a slightly flat and light print is 25magenta.

    I would then decide do the highlights need burning in?
    I would then decide how black or better yet how much contrast do I want with the print.

    Once I have a final visual in my mind I make a print with the 25 magenta
    I would then put in full magenta 180 and do a step off .

    I would process this print and pick the magenta blast that best suits the overall contrast I was looking for in the final print.

    I would then make this print exactly the same as above but do not step off the magenta 180 but apply to the whole image
    I would then dial out the 180magenta to 0 , and dial in 80yellow.
    I would then burn in distracting highlights to my liking.

    Remember to always keep two of the three filters at zero .

    Pats, this is a lot of work , and that is why I use the flip top condensor,
    Over a period of time you will be able to determine the black exposure as a percentage of your main exposure.This will come with printing a few hundred images.
    Good luck , if you like this method and are having trouble just fire off another ques.
     
  22. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Again, there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers.

    In short: Yes and No. There are no rules here. It becomes a matter of your personal choice. For me, it has been to first decide what is middle gray, based on the negative values I have for this image. It may be a M-70 or M-80 or a denser neg may be no filter. But I usually decide on a Magenta value somewhere around the paper manufacturers suggestion.

    This middle gray density is found via step wedge and the selected contrast filter. I start with the selected M-filter at f-5.6 on the enlarger and 7.5 seconds on the clock and step across the strip in quarter stops measured in time: 7.5 + 1.4 + 1.7 + 2.0 (sum of 15). This gives me a range of densities from 7.5 seconds to 15.0 seconds (1 full stop). If I am unhappy with what I see, I decide whether to change the f-Stop or the Base time and do it again.

    When the middle grays are decided I make a full sheet test image to be used in deciding where to go from here.

    It becomes a matter of selective tweaking the Highlights and Shadows and what amount of tweaking is necessary really depends on your vision of the image. Remember all the tweaking is on top of the middle gray exposure. Everything is built out from here. I can tell you that in using this technique everything depends on your assessment of mid tones, the entire final image hinges on your choices in what is middle gray. And tweaking can be with Yellow to flatten, no filter to represent something like a grade 2 or Magenta to increase contrast. The filters can be used on any density,

    I hope I have been clear and not given a stupid answer to a very good question.
     
  23. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Agreed. To each his/her own poison.

    However, I'm not sure that it's accurate to describe the technique of giving a full magenta and a full yellow exposure as trying to "bring things together in the middle." As I understand it, the middle pretty much takes care of itself in this method. The full exposures with each color simply exploit the full dynamic range of the paper. It makes the use of a step wedge unnecessary; my 21-step Stouffer for which I paid good coin 15 years ago, is languishing in a drawer. On my Beseler Dichro head, 192 is full yellow and 225 is full Magenta. In theory, it shouldn't really matter what your colorhead's range is; the point is that your basic exposure, arrived at by stepped test prints of both colors, will give you whatever the paper is capable of producing, assisted by whatever burning or dodging you do. And will do it consistently with a given brand of paper.

    However you approach split-filter printing with VC paper, it's worth the extra effort to get luminous tones. When combined with divided development (see my threads elsewhere and in the Chemistry section) it can't be beat for ease and consistency from print to print.

    Larry
     
  24. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    Larry,

    I know that split filter vs. single exposure seems to work better for people. But I haven't been able to explain why. Do you know how to explain what's happening differently when two extreme filter exposures are used instead of one in the middle. Using say the Ilford 3 emulsion multigrade paper. I'm looking for an "Idiot's" guide to explain this to me.

    Chuck
     
  25. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    My take is that you are splitting the exposure decision in to two (partially) separate time sections: one for the highlights and one for the shadows. No guesswork is involved.

    The critical point is that both decisions (time and final print grade) are based on test strips. In a normal processing sequence you will typically do a test strip at some estimated grade to determine your base time and then select the paper grade for the shadows. Selecting paper grade is typically done by either experience or a series of test strips at different paper grades. This either requires an excellent understanding of how your materials respond to different negative densities and contrast ranges, or requires a sequence of time consuming tests at several paper grades. These methods also require that your paper has the same sensitivity to each paper grade filter used (or it's response, if not equal, is known) - this may be fine if using Kodak filters with Kodak paper or Ilford filters with Ilford paper, but what if you are using either filters with Agfa or Kentmere etc...

    The use of the two test strips eliminates all this faffing about - you nail the time and contrast in two strips. However, if the shot is of low contrast there may not be sufficient shadow or highlight detail to hang your times on, in which case you may have to fall back on previous methods.

    Bob.
     
  26. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    end snip

    And I agree with you on this too. I think VC paper is meant to be split filtered in order to take advantage of the 'Variable' components and these variables equally respond to different developers.