Pros here (Australia) never shot Astia (this is known from the photographers' pool that submitted images to the lab for all-in schedule printing). Provia was a better choice if less contrast was desirable, though the trade-off is that the colours are nowhere near as punchy.
Yes it's easy to avoid issues with e.g. Velvia by exposing it in the conditions it was primarily designed for, all the more important for Ilfochrome. I don't expose Velvia any different now for hybrid print production. Many interesting things were learnt from production to Ilfochrome, (apart from supply and diminishing QC issues!) including the amounts some pros were spending on the stuff e.g. Peter Lik, Peter Dobré — both at the time into phenomenally pricey mural-size 'chromes (3-4m across).
It's easy to avoid problems with Velvia by not shooting it. I never cared for it - way too over saturated for my tastes. It can look good in very flat lighting by compensating somewhat for that, otherwise I have little use for it personally, but the market clearly doesn't agree with me.
Ilfochrome was an almost magical match for Kodachrome.
In spite of the "total darkness" I used my Duka 50 sodium safelight with no problems with both Ilfochrome and Type 2203. The fact they may have not had the sensitivity gap of RA4 negative papers was more than compensated for by being so much slower. Never had a fogging problem and could probably set it brighter than for RA4. I still wouldn't do it in open trays though, I agree. You'd be exposed to a lot more fumes and when I spilled a few drops that hit my concrete floor and sizzled it convinced me that it was acidic enough to keep off my hands.
I used Velvia quite a bit for subtle lighting conditions. We get wonderful lacey coastal fog here, like a natural soft box with various degrees of diffusion different times of the day. There are certain hue distinctions in the greens where Velvia is the most accurate film out there, provided one has a lens
equal to the task. But using Velvia simply to get loud colors in "standard" lighting means you are going
to have some serious printing issues. I've made plenty of Cibas from Velvia, but it's a chore. But, of
course, if the lighting ratio was modest to begin with, it was a perfectly ordinary printing situation.
Now Kodachrome and Ciba ... that was a marriage made in heaven! Yet the originals were tiny, so I
typically made 8x10 dupes on Astia etc to actually print from.
Kodachrome was pretty darned grainy on 12x18 Ilfochrome prints. Only four prints were from Kodachrome trannies in 1991 or 1992.
Be careful now..
Trannies means something quite different in 1991 compared to today. ;)
Originally Posted by Poisson Du Jour
There were a number of reasons to use masking. First was obviously contrast control. Something which
required an intense mask like Velvia often required a supplementary highlight mask first to keep the
sparkle in specular highlights etc. The second reason was color correction. Ciba has a lot of idiosyncrasies in this respect. Then you could control grain reproduction and edge effect, esp by masking to produce printing dupes. But 99% of the printing I personally did was from large format
originals to begin with. I'm glad I learned these skills and acquired proficiency with the relevant equipment. Ciba might be gone (well, almost).. but now I'm transferring the same skill set over to
color neg printing. Many of the details are very different, but at least I'm not starting from scratch.
Slightly different comment: I was framing a CA print last nite from an 8x10 neg, printed several yrs ago,
well before starting masking tricks with this kind of material - but it looked so credible, even given the
limitations inherent to the film more than a decade back. ... None of that gooey hyper-saturated fake
Fauxtoshop look that people think they need nowadays. The subtle relationships between complex hues
were there ...No, not the mushy things that people typically associate with color neg film (I figured
out how to avoid that some time ago) ... Just made me feel good about sticking with the darkroom,
and to hell with the marketing trends with their pyschedelic saturation.
True dinks! I had lunch with him/her yesterday in town. He/she is keeping well despite some personal dramas. :)
Originally Posted by Mainecoonmaniac
I think that's an important point. Twenty years ago, if you wanted saturated colors, you had to go Velvia with all the difficulties it brought: perfect exposure, large effort in printing and so on. With today's nauseating daily spring flood of HDR kitsch I think high saturation lost a lot of its original appeal, and we could start showing prints made from Astia as a change.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
Mind you, I have nothing against rich color where it's warranted. But color perception is a complex thing,
and too much sugar at once simply numbs your taste buds, so to speak. Any idiot can punch a PS slider
and get loud noise. What takes skill is preserving nuances. These might include relatively saturated
elements along with any number of things. I'm not advocating chromatic mush. Astia was certainly not
a perfect film (there never will be one), but it was a very high quality product. Most photographers
simply expected a vibrant look on a lightbox, just like a slideshow of old, without understanding what
happens when you actually print something. Now nodoby gives a damn because they figure they can
just dip the shot in sugar, honey, saccharine, and jam afterwards. Astia simply didn't sell well. What a
shame. Only E100G was remotely similar, and now its gone too. But Astia could be hypothetically resurrected if the demand was there.