Traditional Enlarged Negatives

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by David A. Goldfarb, Mar 12, 2004.

  1. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    There seems to be a lot of interest in making enlarged negatives for contact printing on Azo or for alt-processes, and much discussion of digital enlarged negatives. While Photoshop offers many creative possibilities for enlarged negatives, I get the sense that some people aren't really aware of the possibility and attractions of making traditional enlarged negatives, and it would be good if the folks on APUG who do this or who have done it in the past can share some wisdom and experience here.

    There are a few basic approaches.

    One is to make an interpositive with an enlarger or large format camera using a low contrast copy film or a relatively neutral film like T-Max 100, and then contact print the interpositive to the same or a similar film to make the enlarged internegative. This method only requires an enlarger, a method of contact printing, and trays or tubes to develop the film.

    I believe that Weston's method was to dupe his 3x4 negs using the 8x10" camera and then contact print the interpositive to film to make the interneg, and then contact print the interneg to silver chloride paper. Of course if you don't have an 8x10" camera or you want a larger final print, then you use an enlarger, which gives you more flexibility in terms of final print size.

    Another technique, if you have a sufficiently large camera, is to make a regular enlargement--applying all the printing controls at your disposal, and then dupe the print with a large format camera of the format you want to contact print.

    Either the interpositive or internegative or original negative can be retouched or masked for contrast or sharpness along the way, so this process offers a lot of control.

    Another possibility, which Mortenson and some of the Pictorialists used, and is really easy for most people who already do their own darkroom work, is to make paper interpositive and internegatives. One of the particular attractions of this method is that you can easily retouch the back of the interneg or interpositive on a light table using soft lead pencil or charcoal or a drafting pen for sharp lines, etc. Apply pencil to the interneg to push up highlights and to the interpos to deepen shadows. Neat, eh?
     
  2. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    quote:David A. Goldfarb
    Another possibility, which Mortenson and some of the Pictorialists used, and is really easy for most people who already do their own darkroom work, is to make paper interpositive and internegatives. One of the particular attractions of this method is that you can easily retouch the back of the interneg or interpositive on a light table using soft lead pencil or charcoal or a drafting pen for sharp lines, etc. Apply pencil to the interneg to push up highlights and to the interpos to deepen shadows. Neat, eh?[/quote]


    You can also retouch negatives to build up density in thin highlights in much the same way, it's known as Dye Dodging.

    You tape the original negative to an unexposed but cleared piece of film of the same size and using dyes, re touch the clear film in the thin highlights. With modern materials you have the choice of using magenta or blue dyes to help increase the contrast.
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    David,

    Thank you for your timely and meaningful post. Yes I agree that making enlarged negatives with materials already on hand is a viable alternative to the digital route. I have done the process using conventional panchromatic 100 ISO film as an interpositive and then enlarging that interpositive onto lithographic film. Lith film is very inexpensive. Freestyle and Photo Warehouse both handle lith film in various sizes. Some of them quite large.

    The method that I described is certainly inexpensive since it involves conventional film only in the interpositive stage. Since it is contact printed with the original camera negative at the interpositive stage the cost of materials is certainly minimal. The wonderful thing about lith film is that it doesn't exhibit grain in the same manner as conventional pan film.

    You are correct, David, in the amount of control one has in this process or in the process that you described using paper interpositives. I don't know that enlarged negatives have more control then digital. However I have not encountered a situation that I did not have sufficient control to accomplish the task that I wanted to accomplish.

    The benefit for me is the same benefit that I experience throughout all of my wet darkroom experience. That is that I am doing something that involves direct physical involvement to produce an image aligned with my desired objective.

    For those interested in doing any of the methods described, there are excellent resources on Ed Buffaloes site www.unblinkingeye.com
    I believe the author of the article that I am thinking was Mr. Bob Herbst. Examples are shown of Mr. Herbst's results using the method using lith film. Also I believe that there is another article that describes a direct negative to negative process.

    I have also found resources by doing a google search on platinum printing. There are a couple of photographers that use enlarged negatives and the last that I checked they were freely sharing their procedures with us. I'm sorry but their names escape me at the moment.

    Once again, David, thank you.Good luck to any and all that choose this means of expression.
     
  4. BobF

    BobF Member

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    I am a total newbie to this (haven't even read much about it) and am wondering what are the advantages of an enlarged negative.

    I understand about being able to contact print on AZO and do some dye dodging and masking on the negative etc. but doesn't an enlarged negative lose as much tonality and sharpness/acuteness as an enlarged print? Or does some magic happen that eliminates the normal enlarger effects?

    Dmin

    Dmin=(barely visible and in a fog)
     
  5. photomc

    photomc Member

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    David,
    I think this is an excellent subject, and often wish there were a forum dedicated to just this subject. Have not attempted to do any type of enlarged negative, but hope to do so after I have completed some additional task I have set up for myself.

    Thanks again,
     
  6. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Bob,

    The advantages to doing an enlarged negative are that one can adjust the contrast to match the material that you are printing on in addition to the other controls that you mentioned. If one uses a lith film for the enlarged negative, then the enlarged negative will not evidence the grain that would normally occur if one were strictly enlarging a negative onto the printing paper. The reason that this is true is that lith film does not exhibit the grain that conventional pan films do. Considering that the first generation of this process occurs by contact printing the camera negative onto 100 speed pan film actually would tend to diminish grain from the grain that a 400 speed camera negative would exhibit (for instance).

    Using this procedure one could take a 4X5 inch camera negative having a density range of 1.10 for instance (for conventional enlarging with condensor enlarger) and increase it to a 20X24 inch negative with a density range of 1.60 (for contact printing on grade two Azo or pt-pd) with no increase in grain in the process. The primary limiting factors are the resolving abilities of the original film, the taking lens, and the enlarging lens.

    Hope that this answers your questions. Good luck.
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I have enlarged hundreds of negatives. My first step is to enlarge either the 35mm or the medium format onto a a 4x5 interpositive. To do this you need to make a very flat contrast negative. I use lith film in an old 4x5 film holder taped to the baseboard and do it right in the darkroom with safelights on. You should use red safelights, but I used with no problems yellow safelights. But just like paper you need to make a test strip of the interpositive to see what times give you the density you are looking for. I do not have a densitometer, so I go by look. I will post the pic of a contact 4x5 test strip in the non photo gallery. The development of the film is done in the regular chemistry I use for making prints. I also found that to get the flattest, nicest interpositives, nearly exhausted developer works best. I process for 1 minute. But this is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes it takes a bit more time, sometimes a bit less. The nice thing with the safe ligths, is you can watch it develop. Once I have established the correct time for the interpositive, I then do the full sized interpositive. What is fun about that is you get to see the film look like it would if it were a picture. It shows you all the flaws and such. From there I make an 8x10 negative using the lith film processed the same way. But instead of a full sized test strip, I cut the film down into three pieces to make the test strip. The 8x10 negative needs to be of a high contrast. The exact opposite of the interpositive. I can also at this stage if I stop the lens down, I can add time to the exposure and if need be do a bit of minor burning or dodging. I will also post a interpositive in the non picture gallery.

    This is just my steps in making an enlarged negative. I didn't put in any of the things I do to make the image flat or such.
     
  8. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Ditto for me. This is another thing I've wanted to try since going LF. My main cancern, other than film and developers for the internegs, was with grain, particularly from 35mm. Thanks for starting this David.

    So, what is used to develop lith film?
     
  9. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I use dektol. Also the film shots I loaded into the gallery are from 35mm negs.
     
  10. BobF

    BobF Member

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    There is a lot to digest here. I can already imagine a lot of possibilities and would like to also thank David for the subject.

    Don, I guess I'll just have to experience that effect for myself to really believe it as it is just counter intuitive that second and third generation enlarged copies can maintain tone gradations and detail. Not questioning your veracity, it's just hard to accept.

    But the first question is why Dektol Aggie? Is that a recommended lith film developer or just your preference from experience?
     
  11. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    The best enlarged negative that I have seen was made by the Ilford UK printer who copied well nkown photographers original negatives of images they used for promotional purposes and the Ilford swatches. His method was to make an 8 x 10 print from the original negative but at 2 grades softer than he would normally use, generally the soft print was made on grade 1. He then copied the flat print on to FP4 and processed it normally, the result was always superb. The first time that I saw this done I had difficulty in deciding which was the copy.
     
  12. roy

    roy Subscriber

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    I have made enlarged negatives with Bergger Orthochromatic film BPFB 18 and, as for Aggie's process, you can work with a darkroom safelight which gives you more of a feeling of assurance as you can easily see what you are doing. just like making an enlargement on paper. Once you have your "flattish" positive you have the choice of using that to make negatives of differing nett densitiy ranges to suit the requirements of the processes in which you wish to make your alt.process print. I would like to try Sandy King's method but I do not, at the moment, have a colour printer.
     
  13. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    Wow this is an interesting thread, what is the reasoning behind the flat contrast of the interpositive? Is lith film to be used for the interpositive or the enlarged negative, what would the difference be? Why dektol?

    I am totally facinated by this, because one of the photogs who's work took my "breath away" and got me interested in LF is a guy I think named Evans who did church interiors in platinum- I'd love to try it, and there is no way I'm going d****** , so this is for me.

    Matt
     
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  15. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    The reasoning behind a flat interpositive is that you don't want to lose any of the detail that the original camera negative contains. I personally do not use lith film for my interpositive. The reasoning for using 100 ISO pan film is that it is a lower contrast material then the lith film. Additionally 100 ISO pan film is easier to control exposure then a 400 ISO material (for instance). I also do not use Dektol for my interpositive. The reasoning is that this is a much more active developer then conventional film developers. The use of these materials at the interpositive stage will hinder producing a flat interpositive in my experience. This by virtue of their inherent characteristics. If you stop and think about it why would one use high contrast film and developer to produce a low contrast (flat) interpositive. That makes no sense to me.

    I have a print of Aggies in which she did an 8X10 enlarged neg of a medium format camera negative. She had to bleach the Azo back extensively to get detail into areas of the print. Azo does require a lot higher DR then conventional negatives for enlarging. But in this particular case apparently the DR of the enlarged negative was beyond the scope of the material's (Azo) characteristics. Azo requires appr .50 log units density increase over a conventional negative designed for purposes of enlarging.

    I have no problem using dilute Dektol on lith film in the enlarged negative stage of the process. My normal dilution for Dektol will be on the order of 1-10 rather then the 1-2 or 1-3 that is normally used in developing paper. This dilution will allow APHS film to perform like a continual tone material. This is the typical dilution that is also used in the production of sharp contrast masks.

    I really encourage those that want more information to read the material that Bob Herbst has written and posted on Ed Buffaloe's site. His article is excellent and follows what I have written. The platinum printers that have articles posted on the internet also do not go for lith film in the interpositive stage. Some do not even use lith film for the copy neg preferring instead to use other materials that they identify on their sites. As I mentioned earlier a Google search under platinum will turn up some more material.

    The beauty of this is that one can photograph a scene with the intention of enlarging the negative. One can then later produce an enlarged negative that will fit the density range of the material or alternative process that is desired.
     
  16. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    One other thing that I forgot to mention...apparently there is some confusion about the spectral response of lith film and the type of safelight required. Lith film is orthochromatic and the same safelite used with paper is appropriate.

    Obviously if one uses conventional panchromatic film in the interpositive stage then no light is the order of the day.

    Good luck.
     
  17. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    I did this type of thing in the last millenium. Used Lith film for both interpositive and negative. Made the enlarged interpostive, then contact printed lith film interpositive to more lith film to get the enlarged negative. (Why lith film twice? My summer job was at an offset printing plant.)

    Not only can you do a "straight" enlarged print this way, I used varying negatives to create posterizations and then converted the tones to color using colored filters and Beseler color printing tubes. Yes, tube processing in 1974!
     
  18. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I did not bleach it extensively for the reason he states. It was the toning I did to it that I bleac hed it to make the slenium look like chocolate brown. I bleached the print after I had left it in slenium for an extended period. That orginal negatvie I used to enlarge from was extremely thin. Doing the enlarged negative process i was able to fix a few things. Who among us hasn't made a thin negative in the camera to being with?

    As for the differences in the one print Don mentions, I have done it in both Van Dyke and AZO. The van Dyke printed just fine, but the azo just popped. I used the same enlarged negative for both. The toned one is one that gave more of the feel of the orginal antelop canyon. I have one that I did in both AZO and Van Dyke that one of the members back east has also. It is one with ivy covering a door way to an abandoned farm house. That one I will post since the bit of bleaching I did to it was on one of the over hang eves that I just wanted to lighten just a bit. It was not due to the film, in fact it was better than the silver print I had made a few years before that.

    As for making a flat interpositive I have found a few tricks that work for me. If i need it flatter I found I could put one of the filters in the enlarger. That helped. In fact i was told I shouldn't do this. Well it worked and if it works that is good enough for me. The second was to preflash the film. I use two methods for this. One is to take a scrap bit of the film and do a flash similar to what we do for paper. I preflash for just a bit, with a twist. i use a styrofoam cup over the lens to soften the flashing. The second method I use is to hold the sheet of film nearer the safelight. It takes a lot longer, but gives a nice gentle fog that works well for flashing. I just go from there to develop in the dektol. I prefer the more exhausted 1:1 dilution. But that comes down to personal preference. One person I know uses his cigareete lighter to flash the film with. It is not precise enough for me

    I don't use a densitometer and just eyeball the process. After a while you begin to see the subtle changes. You just become comfortable with your materials.

    I found that Arista has some quirks that I don't like about their film. again this personal choice. I stick with the Ilford for this.

    The thing in the end is there are several ways to do this process. Mine works for me. Other methods may suit other people. It is fun to experiment and see what happens. That is what photography is all about. Explore and have fun.

    *post moderated- admin
     
  19. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member

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    *thread moderated
     
  20. roy

    roy Subscriber

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    Frederick Evans, famous for his photograph " Sea of steps" taken in Wells Cathedral in Somerset.
    There is quite a lot of material available. Liam Lawless and Tilman Crane both have papers available from the net and using differing processes.
     
  21. ian_greant

    ian_greant Member

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    Has anyone tried the direct reversal method?

    I read the article at Unblinking Eye and the reversal method seems to have some merit. Curious if anyone has some feedback.

    I enjoyed the other posts and learned a couple things I didn't know yet.

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  22. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    I've done the direct reversal method. It is remarkably straightforward and I got a usable negative the first try. I have by no means mastered the process, but it certainly seems like a relatively painless way to go.
     
  23. roy

    roy Subscriber

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    Interesting, I shall try it. I have only used the interpositive/negative way up to now.
     
  24. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Clay, could you elaborate or point us to a link? Sounds interesting, but not sure I completely understand..are you talking about basicly making a b&w transparency?

    Thanks,
     
  25. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Basically, you are doing the same process involved in transparency processing - you are creating a silver image that is subsequently bleached away, and the remaining silver is a negative of the positive image that was removed. This remaining silver is then developed in room light to create another negative image that duplicates the original negative. There is a good article on unblnkingeye :
    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/NbyR/nbyr.html
    that explains the process in detail. Also click the link the Liam Lawless article and read that article. The only thing i would recommend is doubling the concentration of the sulphuric acid in the bleach if you are using common auto battery acid to make it. And wear gloves and safety glasses whenever you mess with this sort of stuff!
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Just checking in after a long day at the Jagiellonian Library here in Cracow. Glad to see this thread has taken off, and I've already learned a few things.