Congratulations! The Analyser Pro is a joy to work with.
Congratulations! The Analyser Pro is a joy to work with.
I will throw in my method.
I have found I can usually be pretty close by looking at a contact sheet and the image on the easel first time around. I will use 3 test strips, one at my estimated exposure and then one 1/2 stop less and 1/2 stop more. I am looking for the best highlight values I can get with these strips. Then I can adjust filtration to match the disired contrast range.
If I am going to split grade the print these first three strips will be with the #0 filter and then after determining the best initial exposure, will repeat the process with the higher number filter.
If there is an area of the print that requires burning and dodging that I am not sure about exact time, I will use small test strips for the area and then lay them on a first proof in that area to see how they work.
Test stirps also come in handy to evaluate how bleaching will work in certain areas before attempting on a fnal print.
And there are many images where the tonalities of the image are pretty consistent across the whole negative. In this case I will use a full sheet of paper and just expose in increments of 1/3 or 1/2 stops.
I think I'm getting out of sync with other photographers. After a break of a few years I've just returned to darkroom work and I am finding I get the best results from a test strip by making a series of exposures, using f stop steps, across the whole image on a sheet of 10 x 8. I repeat the process, narrowing the size of the steps down until they are 1 second apart. I've found that I'm producing prints that are better exposed and I am usually able to judge the degree of any dodging or burning form one of these strips, the right exposures usually in there somewhere and if its not immediately apparent I produce a second strip across the whole image at right angles to the first. This may use a lot of paper, anything up to five sheets to get the result I'm looking for but comparing prints produced a few years ago and those produced a few weeks ago I feel that the labour is worth it. Once i've determined the exposure I usually cut paper into strips to determine grade, sometimes exposing multiple strips for each grade to check for different parts of the image.
I can certainly see where an F stop timer would come in handy and I am considering one myself in the new year.
I'll add my $0.02
My method is to use 1/2 sheet of 8X10 paper, f8, start with 10 sec exposure, then take my burning board and do 2 sec exposures across the sheet. This way I end up with exposures of 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 seconds. If it's way off (too light or too dark) I'll change the fstop the appropriate way, make another strip. This happened more when I started back, with some experience now I can usually judge fstop correctly. How do I decide which time to use? I look for the first true black and print with that time......
Good luck. And remember, practice, practice, practice..........
I use a home made version of the analyzer pro. In my case the analyzer records the most dense, and least dense values from the easel, and from this I get both exposure and contrast information. I feed these values into a calculator of sorts and come out with the split filter timing for #00 and #5 times.
The advantage of this method is that I can see if I have a problem on the negative that I can correct using burning, dodging and split filter burning and dodging. For example I can see if part of the image has too much contrast to print, then tame that portion down.
It works, however I have recently been stung by batch to batch differences in the paper I use, the result is that I had to make multiple sets of calculator constants to compensate for the different batches of paper.
One last comment, sometimes what you think you want from the print is not what you really want. In other words the analyzer will help you get what you ask for, but that may not be the way you want the print to look once you process it. Sometimes I think I should spend more time looking at my proof sheet to figure out what I really want the final print to look like before jumping the gun and creating a print.
I like to work in f/stops (even in the darkroom). I make my test strips two stops down from wide open on the lens (the sharpest aperture) and use the following sequence: (This is done by covering a small part of the strip with each new exposure, not uncovering)
1 second, 1, 2, 4, 8
If you make a 1 second exposure, then cover a little, another second, cover more and so on you end up with an exposure series that provides 5 full stops of exposure. If you add up the exposures you get 1 second, 2, 4, 8 and 16. Other than the fact that making the exposures in a sequence creates a small inacuracy in the times (because adding the exposures is not exatly the same as making one 16 second exposure) you get a five stop range.
If you are still underexposed open up all the way and try again. If you are too dark, close down and make another test.
Another suggestion is to test strip different parts of the image. Sometimes the foreground and sky in a landscape (for example) need radically different exposures. Instead of trying to guess about dodging or burning, test them individually and get accurate exposure times. This makes printing a lot faster.
Some time ago Durst made a test trip printer, where a strip of paper is pulled across a light-tight cassette a little at a time, exposing a slice of it to the same part of the image. I use it in conjunction of my Wallner timer system where five clicks on the dial makes a doubling of exposure time. I just run the paper across, and run through the Wallner's dial. This makes it possible that the selected samples are all consistent where the only variable is exposure time, and as each slice of the exposure corresponds to one run of the timer setting, the possibility of tolerance build-up by multiple exposures is also eliminated. It is odd that Durst did not produce this test strip printer for very long, but it is the only one which I think actually works in the sense of telling me what exposure (and with some analysis, filter number) I should use for making the print.