Subtle Skies

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by jmal, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. jmal

    jmal Member

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    Hello,

    I've been out of the photography loop for a while now, but some free time and a desire for a creative outlet are rekindling my interest. It's been at least a year since I have taken more than a casual photo or two. Anyhow, I'm curious if any of the more experienced printers here have any suggestions for obtaining very subtle skies ala Robert Adams among others. In publication at least, he always seems to have beautiful, creamy skies. I would assume 120 or larger is ideal for this kind of tonality, but beyond that are there any keys to these sorts of subtle prints? Thanks for any tips.

    Jmal
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Offhand, without poking further into his methods, I'd say fine grained traditional film in pyro or delta/tabular grain modern film, and ample agitation. Pretty simple really.

    Under-agitation can be a major sky killer, in my experience. Now, over agitation may well give you more grain, but if you are working with a fine-grained film (and a larger format or simply printing to a smaller enlargement factor) then grain is moot. The broader tonal transitions are the thing.

    I think the smoothest skies I ever got were actually with ilford xp2 and the deltas and the tmaxes.

    Recently I under-agitated an 11x14 hp5+ neg with lots of sky and... blotchy tonality. You have to agitate plentifully (he now realizes and pedantically asserts) :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 19, 2009