What does this image need?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by bvy, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,541
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi there. Here's a street image I took with my Olympus XA2 on Kodak Tri-X (400). It was underexposed by one stop (ISO set to 800) and developed in D76 1:1 with no compensation (i.e. not pushed). I'm trying to print it. At first, I thought it needed less contrast, but now I think it might need more. I want to open up the shadows but I still want some true black in the image.

    My enlarger is an Omega C760.The print shown here was exposed at f/8 for 8 seconds holding an Ilford Grade 2 multigrade filter under the lens (with white light turned on -- I didn't feel I was getting good results trying to dial in the grade with the color knobs). It's on Ilford Multigrade RC paper and was developed with Ilford PQ paper developer (60 seconds). That's an 18% gray card shown alongside the image.

    I think there's too much detail for dodging and burning (this is 5x7) but I don't want to do anything too advanced anyway. I'm hopeful there's a good combination of exposure setting and filter choice that will give me something better. I'd be grateful for some direction. Thanks.

    img507.jpg
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,250
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think you need more contrast and more exposure. Highlight seems to be fine but the image is quite flat. I would try going to #2 1/2 or even #3.

    Your negative is quite thin isn't it? I would try to keep the woman's white shirt about the same but expose it so that the boy's hair is nice deep black.
     
  3. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

    Messages:
    2,266
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Location:
    Metro DC are
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, it's too flat.
    Also if the kid is NOT the main subject consider getting up closer and include both the interviewer & interviewee.
    If that's not feasible or disired, get behind the interviewer and get the interviewee's face/reaction as the main focus and get the mike in the shot for context.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,250
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How does the negative look? It's kind of thin, isn't it?

    Looking at what you uploaded, it seems there's lack of contrast but also lack of sufficient detail in the shadow area - indicative of rather severe under-exposure. If this is the case, what you can do is rather limited. I would still bump up the contrast quite a bit and see what you can get out of your negative.

    If you want to dodge and burn, one area I would burn is the white shirt of the camera-man. It's quite distracting. I also agree the kid got to go but that's a little different discussion from what OP asked. I agree with the assessment though.
     
  5. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

    Messages:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I also vote for more contrast.

    The gray patina over the whole image says to me that the negative was underexposed. Again, voting with the group.

    When I get into situations where I'm not sure what to do, I make another test strip.
    Keeping your time and aperture settings as a base, add a notch or a half-notch of contrast and make another strip such that your current time is the middle patch.
    For instance, 4", 6", 8", 10" and 12"... or whatever your usual method is. My point is that you want to see test exposures that are close to your original, a little more and a little less.

    Yes, making test strips can be a P.I.T.A. but they can help keep you from chasing your tail.
    You set a contrast and exposure, you don't like it, you try something else but you don't like that either. Every time you change one thing, you end up changing something else. It can never end. All you'll do is piss your self off.

    One test strip, done right, can take the place of three or four junked prints. Plus, if you use half sheets or quarter sheets of paper, you'll save on supplies, too.
     
  6. hoffy

    hoffy Member

    Messages:
    2,274
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2009
    Location:
    Adelaide, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes, I agree with the contrast.

    The biggest issue I can see here with this image is that if you boost the contrast, you are going to loose the womans head in the background.

    If this was my image, I would also crop tighter - I would leave the boy where he is. I would crop to just above the womans head and leave just enough of the cameraman in to show that its a camera man.

    But this is just my opinion - YMMV
     
  7. mmerig

    mmerig Member

    Messages:
    32
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2012
    Location:
    Teton Valley
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I agree about the exposure and contrast, (i.e., under, low) but the child's expression make the picture more interesting to me. Perhaps rather than trying to improve exposure to enhance the interview part of it, to me the story is an "irrelevant interview that could fade away, while the kid is interested in something else". That's what strikes me when I see the picture, anyway.

    Thanks for posting it.
     
  8. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,924
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    If you think you need more contrast and the consensus here appears to be that you need more contrast then you need more contrast :D

    It is very subjective. Most of the print looks pretty good to me but like you until I see it at say grades 2.5 to 3.5 I won't know if it represents an improvement.

    A quick and dirty way using very little paper would be to choose an area of the neg that is either the most important or has a good range of tones then using a Paterson 5 strip test printer go through the 3 grades mentioned. Each time and with the strip covers closed and red safety filter move the Paterson to get the same section of neg under a new strip.

    Alternatively have a look at R Lambrecht's test strip printer on his site Darkroom Magic. It is a great tool for this purpose and not that difficult to make in wood and even easier if you can find a workshop with a small laser cutter that cuts plastic.

    pentaxuser
     
  9. George Collier

    George Collier Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A good solution sometimes for thinner negs of contrasty situations (which you have here - direct sun on the woman, the boy and the "press" people, with the background in the deep shade) is split filtering. This is a big subject, and you can find out a lot about it by searching for it on this forum.
    My approach here would be to expose with the lowest grade filter first, a test strip with several values running through the brightest highlight. Find the exposure that gives you just the value you want there (the shadows should be weak, and gray). Then expose another strip, running through that area and some deep shadows (or just make a whole print), with that exposure with the low contrast filter, then run strips with the highest contrast filter through the whole print, like you did before, except now you are looking for the exposure for the high contrast filter on top of the flat filter. From here you finesse both until you get what you are looking for. It's a more lengthy and complicated way to print, but affords much more control (and in my opinion, you learn a lot more about printing). I print almost everything with split filtering.
     
  10. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,537
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Yes you need more contrast and suggest you try a number 4 filter.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    19,467
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It needs more contrast. But I guess that you heard that before.
     
  12. piu58

    piu58 Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Location:
    Leipzig, Ger
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Some words about "more contrast" (which is needed).

    If you want to have a real black in the image - and mostly you want - you have to give so much light that the film base gets this black. You cannot take lesser exposition. If you negative is underexposed the highlights are not white using "normal" contrast (whatever normal means).
    If you raise the contrast the highlights get brighter. You and in an image which has sharply marked textures, what you may be not want always. But you have no other chance to get real black and real white form an underexposed image.
    May be you can sacrifice the very deepest black and accept a very dark grey instead. May be you gain something by dodging and burning. But the main principle is: Underexposed negatives require much contrast in the positive process.
     
  13. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,541
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks everyone. I reprinted it with a dialed-in grade 3 filtration and got better results. I dodged the reporter's face a second or two and it looks okay but still a little too manipulated for my liking. I thought split grade printing was something else, but after reading up, it doesn't sound much harder than what I'm doing already-- just some extra steps. I can run 00 or 0 for the highlights, but where should I start with the shadows? High (grade 5) or low (grade 2 or 3)?
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. piu58

    piu58 Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Location:
    Leipzig, Ger
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    > thought split grade printing was something else

    It lead to same results as normal filtering. It is simply another approach.
     
  16. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,541
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm away from home so I can't upload anything right now (the print was drying last night). But I tried split grade printing on this negative. After several tests, I decided on four seconds at grade 00, and six seconds at grade 5. This gave me better details in the highlights but did very little to bring out the shadows. The reporter's face is the one area in the print that I was trying to recover. I dodged that area almost the entire time of the grade 00 exposure. This helped, but not much. Any dodging during the grade 5 exposure made the area look washed out.

    My conclusion is that split grade printing does more for recovering highlights than shadows, and is probably more useful on high key or overexposed frames.
     
  17. litody

    litody Member

    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You need to increase contrast so a grade 3 or possibly higher. And also you will need to reduce print time other wise the shadows will block up in the print. However, that will cause the highlights (woman in white) to be too white so will need to burn down her outfit a little too.

    Note that if you go to grade 4 and higher with ilford filters, the print time required doubles. i.e. if you go above grade 3.5 then double the print time. (this is for ilford filters and not dichroic filters)

    Also forget about the kodak gray card. It will not help you. You are trying to make a good print of that subject and not a good print of a gray card. i.e. use your intuition and not a crutch.
     
  18. George Collier

    George Collier Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Richmond, VA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're on the right start with the split grade, but may need to persist. Try burning in the highlights with 00 after a lesser exposure with that same filter, just enough to put something in the shadows, rather than dodging during the longer exposure. Then try a test with #5 to find out the amount of exposure you need to just barely get a black (maybe even without a 00 exposure first). Then try that combo. You are right, with a thin neg, dodging with #5 will be touchy. And in the end, the neg may not have enough guts in the shadows to make a good low end image in the print. Sometimes the #5 only exposure tells you something about the separation that is even possible in the shadows.
     
  19. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,541
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks everyone. I think it might be a lost cause using basic, traditional printing methods. Looking today, the split grade print looks flat also. The scan below was with a dialed in grade 3 filtration. The reporter's face was dodged a bit.

    Not a crutch. I only use it as a scanning aid to gauge brightness and set white balance. I don't use it to make prints.

    img511.jpg
     
  20. litody

    litody Member

    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    you need a shorter print time. Look at the face of the boy on the right. It is over printed.
    print time is critical. always has been and always will be. getting the balance between contrast and print time is everything.
    The problem you have is that everything on the negative is under exposed which in this case means the scale between black and what you want white in the print is too short for the paper. The only way you can expand that is to increase print contrast. But that requires adjusting print time too and in this case you need to shorten print time to get his face the right tone. But that will makes the whites too white so you will have to burn them in.
    One technique is to flash the paper using just white light for a short time. This effectively fogs the paper but only to the point where an extra photon of light will start to show a hint of tone.
    If you have a diffusion sheet in your filter set, place it under the lens and expose at f16 for 2 seconds prior to making your main exposure at grade 3. You may need to experiment with time for this but get it right and you won't need to do any burning or dodging of faces or whites providing your main exposure time is good.
     
  21. litody

    litody Member

    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    in this copy of your image I increased contrast = higher grade. I increased brightness = shorter print time. And I used levels to reduce the highest white output level = equivalent of print flashing (sort of but not quite).

    img511modification.jpg
     
  22. piu58

    piu58 Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Location:
    Leipzig, Ger
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    > you need a shorter print time

    You cannot take a shorter time. In the example image you still have no real black. If you give even less light the shadows get more (light) grey.

    I recommend increasing the contrast to grade 4 or even 5. Then you have both: Fine shadows and bright highlights. The upper half of the image needs partial dodging then, especially the faces.

    I recommend further not starting with splitgrade. This makes things more complicated as needed. The results are comparable, so I recommend normal filtering in the beginning.

    I made some examples in an electronical way:

    1st step: Use hight contrast, so you can give enough light to get a real black AND remain the highlights:

    ex1.jpg

    2nd step: dodge the persons in the background. Here the borders between dodged / nondodged areas ar obvious beacaus iused irfaview. If you take a dodging tool the result is much better:

    ex2.jpg

    There are remaining problems with the "women in white" which may be mildend with some burning:
    ex3.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2012
  23. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,541
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2009
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you. I'm intrigued by the idea of "dialed in" filtering using the dichroic head, combined with a grade 5 filter. Will this really increase contrast beyond grade 5 (this came up in the other thread)? Would the shadows in this image be helped by doing such?

    Also, I use Ilford (PQ) paper developer. I wonder if a different dilution or different developer all together wouldn't help.
     
  24. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,924
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There is a two bath process using Selectol soft and then hard developer but I don't know how much difference it would make.

    If it's any consolation I thought your second version nearly had it right. OK the man in the background was a little dark and could have been dodged or possibly lightened with highly dilute bleach on a cotton bud and water played on it.

    All these things sound easy but take practice and time to get right.

    pentaxuser
     
  25. piu58

    piu58 Member

    Messages:
    739
    Joined:
    May 29, 2006
    Location:
    Leipzig, Ger
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    > Will this really increase contrast beyond grade 5

    You don't reach grade 5 with dichroitic filters. I guess maximal filtering PLUS grade 5 filter + longer development gets one grade more than dichroitc filter alone. But this depends strongly on the paper. FOMA ist softer than MCC, for instance.
     
  26. litody

    litody Member

    Messages:
    39
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    This not correct for all enlargers. Some can do it easily such as my Durst L1200 and others can't such as some LPL units. And paper needs to be new on any enlarger. Year old paper can easily lose a grade of contrast, especially if not kept well. i.e. too hot or in darkroom with all those fumes floating around.