I started working with a strip of negatives some time ago, before packing up my darkroom in preparation for a move. I'll be setting back up soon, and will then get back to work on these particular negatives. The problem is, I don't know exactly how to do what I want to do. But now I've found this site where I can post darkroom questions and actually feel as if I might get some helpful answers... Hurrah!
So, I shot a few rolls of 120 in my Holga, with the frame counter set at 16 images for 645 but without the 645 mask. The results looked promising, but I'd used the last of my fixer to develop the film, and it was a Sunday. So I scanned them on my 5-year-old flatbed, because sometimes I can get a reasonable peek if the negatives are thin enough. The results were very flat, so I adjusted and adjusted and adjusted the levels in ps until I had nice contrast, but I ended up with huge lumps of grain resembling TV static. And it was PERFECT. Now, I'm a firm believer that anything that can be done in ps can be done in the darkroom BETTER, but I think I may need some help on this one.
Click on my name if you think you can help... I posted the full length image in my personal portfolio but the 650 pixel limit left it pretty small, so I cut it in half and posted that as a detail.
I do indeed have a plan... though I have no clue whether it will work or not. I developed some tmax 3200 in dektol just before I packed up. I was planning to enlarge that onto a 4x5" piece of arista ortholith to make a grain screen (side question - can I use the positive i get from the first enlargement, or do I need to make a negative from that?). I was then planning to sandwich the 'grain screen' with the roughly 6x18cm strip and enlarge in three 6x6 sections onto 8x10" ortholith, which I will then peice together (after reversing again) into an 8x24" negative. I thought I'd contact print it on rough textured cyanotype-sensitized 120lb fabriano paper, or perhaps use liquid emulsion, because it's so easy to distress afterwards. I even have the means to make a gum print (chemicals, equipment), but I haven't tried that yet...
So, is it a good plan, or am I doomed for failure? Has anyone ever tried anything like this before? If the challenge were yours, how would you go about recreating this digital 'effect' (aka accident)? I started working in alt. processes 6 months ago, so I'm a newbie, and you're welcome to talk down at me as such.
Thanks in advance.
Looks like something I'd done once when I pushed the unsharp mask too far in PS on a grainy picture. You might look into trying a real unsharp mask on the film. I remember with PS the smaller the radius the more the grain stood out so you would want to use the unsharp mask with minimal diffusion to snag the grain detail.
In working with litho film (over 30 years ago) the best results was when I went from camera negative to enlarged positive, then contact printed the enlarged positive to make the negative. You can sandwich the film grain screen with the film negative to get the effect you want. That way you can play with different grain patterns without ruining the actual image.
Aurore, your scans look a lot like badly pepper-fogged lith prints. This is one of the way a lith print can "fail", but sometimes it really works. Some papers are more prone to this than others, the "best" I've found so far is some old Varycon PE.
I'll put up some examples later today.
Examples now in place in Technical Gallery. The scans were not sharpened or manipulated in any way, except a slight tweak to the gamma to get the representation as ccurate as possible.
Note that pepper fogging is a characteristic of the emulsion, so the spots are always the same size. A 30x40" print will have spots just the same size as a 4x6" one...
Aggie - The scratches, grain, artifacts, dust, etc, are from PS. This was 120 TriX developed in D-76 (straight or 1:1, can't remember), as 400asa, with a coupla extra minutes. Because of the unreliability of the diana exposures and my taste for high contrast I always find it safer to add some extra time... Anyhow, it was the fiddling with levels that exaggerated everything (artifacts, grain, etc) so much. An 8x8 print would probably be pretty much grain free from a comfortable viewing distance. And the contrast in the negatives is fine, it's just that my scanner doesn't do negs that well.
glbeas - I've never used an unsharp mask in the darkroom! *blush* I remember reading about it, and it sounded horribly complicated. I don't remember how to do it now, but I'll look up some info. Thanks for the suggestion.
Joe - You mean make 3 8"x8" grain negatives to sandwich with the enlarged diana negs? That's a good thought, rather than take the chance of ruining an otherwise good enlargement by messing up the grain somehow. It would require more positive/negatives but might still be worth it. Hmm... maybe I could just enlarge the tmax 3200 35mm onto paper to see how the grain looks... maybe sandwiched with a neg containing only middle grey, so I can see the grain. And then make the negs when I like it. But I still don't know if it matters whether the 'grain screen' is a positive or a negative... anybody?
Ole - those examples look promising!! I have no clue about lith... I'm 22, bought my first real camera when I was 19 (Canon FTb), and built my darkroom a year and a half ago after taking a summer course (photo 101). So I mean it when I say I'm a newbie. I certainly know what a lith print is, and yet I really don't know, if you know what I mean. I'll look that up too.
Thanks for all the help! Somebody also directed me to a site where I could get affordable 8x10 dupe film, continuous tone, even, so I don't have to go through all the trouble of altering chemicals to be sure the ortholith comes out with a decent tonal range, and then have to make a negative from the positive. I think I ought to order some and make this easier...