So I feel really silly asking this question but it's been bugging me.
How do people use those dodging tools that are like regular little shapes on sticks?
I have been using cut out masks to dodge and am struggling to figure out the point of those dodging tools. The areas I find myself dodging are very rarely a circle or a square or a star or whatever. Do you sort of play it over the area moving it back and forth?
If so, how do you get a handle on what say a 10 second dodge actually means exposure wise given that the tool is only over a certain part of the image for part of the total dodge time?
Reading on here and elsewhere though, they seem really common and cut out masks seem to be just a weird hassle that people try to avoid. I'm just a bit puzzled as to what people are actually doing with them!
Oh wait a sec... Is it that you mostly use them for areas that are only a bit bigger than the tool itself (or you hold it up higher) so the part of the middle of the dodge area gets the full dodge, while the bits at the edges where you are moving through get a partial exposure, and you get a nice gradation?
What about long skinny areas?
You change the area that is being shaded by the tool by moving it closer or farther away from the paper. The tool must be kept in constant motion so it doesn't create a defined shadow on the print. Some experienced printers may use just their hand as a tool. You can also make your own tool out of cardboard to fit a certain area in a print. The reverse of dodging is burning where a hole in a piece of cardboard is used to give a section of a print more exposure. It's best you read a book on printing for more information. An older but good one is by Lootens "On Photographic Enlarging and Print Quality" but there are many others.
you can also turn the shape on an angle to make a different shape. I tend to make shape specific dodgers but use a generice 'hole' for burning.
Ever played "shadowgrams"?
It's surprising the variety of shapes you can create with your hands.
The problem is that all too often hands are too big, and you can't reach out into the center of the print.
That's why we tape something on the end of a stick or wire to put a shadow over a hot spot out in the middle of the print.
As others have said, tilting and/or rotating the dodger at various heigths above the easel can create a wide variety of shapes and shadow densities.
Here's a brocure I include with my 8-piece dodger set that gets a lot of favorable comments:
You can make a lot of complicated shapes with one dodging tool just by moving it higher/lower, back and forth and rotating it in relation to the light. Use your imagination to visualize the shapes you can make with just one tool this way. Reinhold's brochure gives some basic examples of shadow shapes you can get from one tool.
For exposure, I always think of my dodging as a percentage of the entire exposure (e.g., dodge that flower 10%). For dodges that require moving around a lot during the dodging, I try to estimate the total percentage that is being dodged overall. I find, that unless I've overexposed my negative a lot and there's a lot of shadow detail I'm not using, that a 15% dodge is about all I can do without affecting the blacks adversely when dodging a dark shadow area.
I have a set of different size round and square/rectangular dodgers that I made myself. This I add to regularly with special shapes for particular applications. I use my hands a lot too. Sometimes I have so many dodging operations that it becomes a real choreographed "dance of dodging" during the entire basic exposure. Complicated dodges need to be "rehearsed" and are a real creative part of the "performance" of print-making.
I use three dodging tools:
1. A flat piece of black opaque paper that bends. I can make all sorts of shapes with it, as well as angle it so that it becomes just a thin 'string' shadow on the paper surface. Sky is the limit with this tool.
2. A round piece of opaque paper, about 1.5inch diameter, taped to a piece of metal wire. I can make a round shape, or an oval shape with this. I also use it to dodge bigger areas by holding it close to the print surface and moving it around.
3. My hands. As has been mentioned, it is surprising what shapes you can contort your hands to become, as a shadow.
I have never felt that I need anything else.
That Clyde Butcher video (first one posted) is fantastic. Thanks for posting David!
No reason to buy dodging tools (buying dodging tools are a waste of money), make your own. How? Take a wire twist-tie with paper, burn off all the paper except for 1/16" (or 1/8") and start with that. The wire itself will never create a shadow so it's almost foolproof. Or maybe a tooth-pick, Q-tip, Tootsie Pop stick, harder then a twist-tie but still works. The main thing is keep the stick as small as possible.