Back to the original question without all the arguing.
I contact print from my 5X7's more than enlarging them and find that they are, to my eye, adequate in size and the quality of a fine contact is hard to beat. I can't put my finger on the difference but when viewed as a contact then as an enlargement oftentimes the enlargement just has something missing.
I'd say go for the 5X7 its easier to haul around, film and holders are cheaper and just about any lens you have for 4X5 will cover the 5X7, excluding tessar types like the xenar, optar etc. An older symar(convertible) of 180/? would be a great starter lens.
Burning and dodging I have not mastered yet with contacts, but I have found that if your negatives aren't too dense(bullet proof) that under the enlarger light you can actually see throught the negative: the white paper underneath reflects the light back so you can tell where you are on the negative. It helps quite a bit to turn off the safelight to visulaize.
I be interested in hearing more tips on this subject(contact burning and dodging) sans the arguments.
Eah, just print platinum/palladium and you'll be able to toss all your burning/dodging out the window. Seriously though, once you get your negative-making nailed down, you'll find you rarely have to do any manipulation at all when contact printing. The same tools you normally use (cardstock with a hole in it, wand with a disc/some other shape) will work equally well for contact printing, but you may need to make some smaller holes/discs, work a bit closer to the negative, and plan your burning/dodging patterns in advance. Simple dodging is of course the easiest, as you can see the whole negative while moving your dodging paddle around. Simple burning-in requires more planning prior to the burn cycle. If you need to do complex burning/dodging, you may want to read up on how to make unsharp masks ala Bruce Barnbaum, as this will be more effective than trying to break down your exposure into ten or twenty steps.
I have been doing contact printing of 4x5 negatives for a whopping month or so... so take it with a grain of salt... but I do more burning than I do dodging. My light source (a 15 watt incandescent bulb in a reflector 3 feet above the work surface with the effective voltage cut to 40% by using a half-wave rectifier) gives me exposure times in the 20-40 second range. That gives me my base exposure and then lots of time with a card to burn in sections of the print if necessary.
But in general, I find that I am burning or dodging significantly less than I was when enlarging.
Originally Posted by wclavey
Same here. As is my printing experience in general. So I'm working to bring lots of unknowns (to me) under control.
I dodge and burn a little on 4x5. I usually contact print a test print, varying the exposure across it by using a darkslide to protect parts of the paper, and then pulling it across the paper in 4 equal increments, ie, if I think an exposure of 60 seconds would be about right, I'll expose 60-45-30-15 seconds. I mark all the exp. and dev. info on the back of the test print as well, so that when I file it away with the neg I've got some reference to get me back into the ballpark months or years later.
Then I'll look at the test print, and find that I like the sky and clouds at 60 and the earth at 30, and base my dodging or burning on the test print results.
Just how I do it. I suspect there's some better methods out there, but I'm at the start of the learning curve.
And I too would like to move to 5x7 so that I could produce larger prints w/o needing an enlarger.
I wasn't going to reply ... but...
I don't see any inherent reason local control is less an issue in contacting than with enlarging. Sure a straight print can be made, but that ignores all the iterpretive opportunities.
And sun's process didn't sound all that complex.
When projection enlarging, you have light dispersal and reflection being caused by the grains of the film and the lens elements that causes photons to intrude into image forming areas on the paper where they normally would not go. You're allowing light to be bent away from a straight line, over a relatively great distance. Yes, the same grain of silver in the piece of film is going to reflect random photons at the same angle when projection enlarging as when contact printing, but the photon is going to go anywhere from millimeters to inches off target when projecting, but only fractions of a fraction of a millimeter off-target when contact printing, because the emulsion, containing the image forming silver, is in direct contact with the image-receiving silver (or other material) on the paper. This is the same reason why you need to boost contrast filtration when printing larger - an 8x10 print of a given negative may print perfectly at grade 2, but at a 16x20 it may require grade 3 to look the same.
This is the best treatise I've read on contact printing. You don't have to use Azo. Kentmere and Bergger papers will also print beautifully with bare bulb illumination.
The simpler you keep things the better your prints will be.
I'm going to be contact printing 35mm negs before too long. Dodging and burning those will probably be pretty tricky (I haven't had much problem doing that with 4x5 in the past).
Originally Posted by Ray Heath
I think it's more of what I wanted and not what the negative needed.
It would be OK at grade 3 or 2 1/2 and I could burn or dodge a bit here and there
The local contrast/highlight/shadow though really makes stuff pop out and gives a vibrant feeling that isn't there otherwise.
The main tree is either a little too "there" or a little too "hidden"
The dead trees to the right almost blend in with the dead vegetation
The goldenrod burns in places just a bit at 3 or so grade
I'm not saying that what I did is the simplest procedure to get the same result
I'm not fluent in this stuff
I made it up
I didn't even know "split grade" till I saw a banner here at APUG when replying.
I've done a bit more research into the stuff and it seems as though many do the same types of things I did
..and say it gives the most precise control over local areas that can be had (others not so sure)
So I must not have done anything terribly wrong
To me, the print looks great. Much better than a single grade.
As for the negative itself
It was a bit dense
I thought I was into reciprocity with the TMAX at 4 seconds so I gave 8+-
I used sunny "15" -no meter- and a yellow filter which I gave an extra stop
I tried to give N development in straight XTOL but since I haven't done any testing (yet) and it was hard keeping the tray at 68 and the film was expired..
Too many variables to get precise exposure/development
There was a deer laying under that tree but I spooked him, of course. I took the photo anyway eventhough I wish I had the 90mm.
ALL I was doing here was saying that DODGING and BURNING can be done on small negatives during a contact printing
I thought it was simple. More fun than doing this stuff in Photoshop which is easier than anything.
Originally Posted by ronlamarsh
I made a contact print and stuck it right next to where I was working to be able to tell exactly where my tools were. It's a bit more difficult without one