When You Can't Hit Max Black

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by clayne, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. clayne

    clayne Member

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    For instance, fog, underexposure, etc. that cause a significant issue hitting max black AND the resulting contrast needed to get past this just being too much.

    I'm sure many people will mention split-grade printing - but I just can't seem to get the hang of it with sub-par negs - particularly ones with high base fog as it seems the fog just scales up proportionally.

    I've gone straight to grade 5 before to try and get around all of this, of course, but sometimes find highlights getting blown to kingdom come. Does this just mean I should do more selective burning in here (starting to sound like I'm heading in the split-grade direction)?

    There are times I just want to cut blacks and blacks only, which is of course easier to do with a neg scan, but that's not what we're working with here.

    How many people just leave certain prints as they are and acknowledge that for some it just won't happen?
     
  2. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    Have you tried toning the prints with sepia or selenium ? I had some Royal Pan X in 120 rolls that fogged because of age ,really fogged but did manage to get a few decent prints after using selenium toner. Some time it works.
     
  3. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I use split grade for everything but lith printing, and I believe it helps me get the tonal range I need from a given negative. I almost always begin with the soft grade, then bring in the shadows with the hard. When I print night shots I go the other way around, using the hard filter first to get the shadows I need (which includes a lot of maximum black), then bring up the highlight detail with the soft filter. Perhaps this approach will help you.
     
  4. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Toning will help some, but I learned a long time ago that trying to print poorly exposed negatives is waste of time and materials. Of course there is always the negative that "just has to be printed". If the neg is to thin you might try intensification with selenium. Do a search there are several threads. If it's dense the information is there, probably more a case of initially printing for the highlights and then doing a lot of burining in to bring out everything else.

    If you are working with anything bigger than 35mm you can use a piece of clear film and soft lead pencil and mask areas of the negative. Tedious with MF but works great with 4x5.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 30, 2009
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Overexpose the print and then bleach back. You can bleach selectively (with a brush) if necessary. Note that the bleach can be proportional or not... your choice.

    You can also try to make a dupe neg with a better contrast index.
     
  6. Angelo di Mango

    Angelo di Mango Member

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    There are several possibilities:
    1: split-grading
    2: Print on grade 4 or 5 and post flash the paper( some pre-flash, I post..)
    3:Intensification with selenium
    4:tongue:repare your own high - contrast developer ( or buy some Doculith from Tetenal)
    5: Lith print, you can get very high contrast with lith
     
  7. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

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    Not much you can do with a bad negative. You could go out and try to reshoot in a way that would be easier to print. Frustration isn't good. With time and practice and trial and error, you'll learn what is keeping that shot from shining. Keep it in the back of your mind untill then.
     
  8. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser Advertiser

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    IMO it is sometimes best to get over it and move on. There are still too many great photographs out there to be made to spend time trying to chase after the ones that got away.
     
  9. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Words to live by. It's much less expensive and time consuming to get the exposure correct, especially if one is shooting roll fim and can bracket a "must get" scene. Do some testing with development times and you should be very close on every exposure.
     
  10. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Try scanning and editing in Photoshop then make digitally printed internegs for contact printing. In some situations a digital/analog hybrid may be the best (or only) solution to a problem if you want conventional prints.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Drop to your knees right now and say twenty Hail Ansels.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Well, if the negative is underexposed, thats it ; its toast. You can't recover what is not there. If the subject matter is strong enough (like a historic photo of a soldier on a battlefield) you may be able to get by with a high contrast print with absent shadow detail.
     
  13. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    AA was a pioneer in the photo field. Had Photoshop been available to him he would have embraced it like a wild new lover in a very naughty dream. :smile:
     
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Five more Hail Ansels.
     
  15. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Hail Photoshop
    Hail Photoshop
    Hail Photoshop
    Hail Photoshop
    Hail Photoshop
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I tried to save you, I really did!
     
  17. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    You're time saving the converted might be better served preaching to those not hooked on porno that which is Photoshop. :tongue:
     
  18. clayne

    clayne Member

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    If anything I'm trying to discuss ways to do this without photoshop. I rather stare at a baseboard than a screen. How does post flashing differ from pre flashing? It seems like it would result in the same thing.
     
  19. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Sometimes if the no. 5 filter is too contrasty, you can to do part of the exposure with a lower filter, such as a grade 4 or 4.5 and then finish up with the grade 5.

    Jon
     
  20. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    If going straight to a grade five gives you max black and blown highlights, wouldn't you go to a 4.5 and expose a little longer to get your max blacks back?
     
  21. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Go back, reshoot several times, bracketing with longer and longer exposures. You have multiple locations in your profile so maybe you can't go back. In that case bracket when you shoot, starting with what you think is the right exposure, then two stops more. You can make a pretty good print if you are only one stop off. Do this until you start realizing how far off you are frequently. Then shoot at that compensation in the future.

    At some point you will see there is an advantage to film testing or setting your own ev.

    Don't respond about film cost unless you are shooting larger than 7x17. Just think how many negatives you have thrown away with improper exposure.


    John Powers
     
  22. clayne

    clayne Member

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    John, I don't really do landscape stuff. These aren't situations that can be redone (nor are they the most valuable shots either).

    One thing I was throwing out there was how many people always hit max black vs how many don't always hit it and are okay with it?
     
  23. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Start printing platinum/palladium and your idea of max black goes out the window. Not every image has to have paper white and absolute black in it. Many times it's preferable to have long scale softer prints. Even for night shots.
     
  24. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Pre vs Post Exposure

    Pre vs Post. IIRC the results are the same although
    the exposures differ. Why exposures would differ
    is a mystery to me. It may have to do with
    the building of the latent image. Dan