There is a 4 page article on this in Black and white magazine (I think it's the March issue, but I could be wrong). I think the author is Andrew Saunderson who also did an article in this mag on the new Walker 8x10 camera.
I have only recently started using split grade printing and have found it very helpful with some difficult negatives. As others have said, you don't need it for every neg, but for others you do.
Gosh, maybe I'm doing something wrong. The technique I learned, which came via Les McLean, exposes with the 00 filter until the midtones are as desired. Then, the 5 is used to get the popping contrast. Everyone's mileage may vary, but I've seldom found it necessary to do much B&D. Maybe some, but not very much.
Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan
I started out trying to guess the right contrast grade and never felt confident. Then I tried split grade printing and my printing improved dramatically. Split grade printing is a great way to get started and also a great technique for people who really know what they are doing to manipulate a print.
However, then I switched to BTZS techniques and my negatives got much better and much more consistent. I also gained more experience. Then I did a one day worskshop with Per Volquartz which was excellent. Now I just look at the negative with a loupe and guess the contrast between grade 2-3 for the test print and tweak from there. I find it is much quicker that split grade printing and I can still burn with soft/hard filters.
Maybe "sophomoric", but it's a start. I've seen very very few successful B&W prints that didn't have the 'bit of pure white and a bit of pure black'. Only the rank beginner (and digital photographer) would stop there.
Originally Posted by Nicholas Lindan
In theory a base exposure of 10 seconds of grade 00 and 10 seconds of grade 5 equals somewhere around grade 2.5. (give or take depending on paper, enlarger bulb type, filteration, etc.,). Like I previously mentioned, the benefit is the ability to adjust the ratio of of the two which effectively elongates the higher values while compressing the low values, or elongates the lower values while compressing the high values. In the digital world, this is known as adjusting the gamma.
Split-grade isn't for everyone or for every negative.
Exactly, people that have never tried it don't understand. Once you try it and fully understand its advantages, it is a godsend for certain negatives.
Originally Posted by Ken N
Thanks to everyone for their replies.
I'd just like to clarify. Are you using split filter printing because you are printing with the ilford or Kodak filters and split filter allows you to get in between the grades of the filters?
When I start printing again it will be with a colour head so am I right in assuming that the issue of split filter printing is a moot point when using a colour head as any degree of contrast is available with a colour head.
No and yes and no
Your new question is going to start the discussion all over again.
I do both.
But my principle theoretical problem with the colour head is the infinitely variable choices that can be made.
I use the combined, constant time settings for kodak colour heads and I know these give different results for my two enlargers. LPL and Omega.
No matter, it is the print that is the point.
But if I want a little more or less contrast, do I add or subtract yellow or magenta or both and do my times stay the same? I don't know; just too many choices and too little time to test them all.
Split filtering at least limits my choices of filter values to two, all yellow and all magenta.
Burning and dodging aside, I am sure there is always a dichroic combo that would match. Scientifically there has to be. The question is finding it.
I use both methods but use the split filtering on the dichroic heads when I get too confused over a print.
Everybody eventually settles on a technique that suits their brains.
You have to find yours.
Thanks to all for the very instructive and interesting comments regarding SG printing.
I use a color head to do my split grade printing.
If you want to use single grades you'll need to calibrate your head (to keep your exposures the same through out the different grades). Check out this article by Paul Butzi. Hope this helps. All the best. Shawn
In the workshop I took a few years ago from Dave Vestal and Al Weber, they had us use split filtration while printing. We were required to expose some shots with extremes of shadow and highlight with high lighting ratios and then print straight, print split and print with dodging and burning.
The results were in the improving order, straight, straight d&b, split grade, split d&b. There is no question in my mind that split grade improves the quality of some prints and adding in some d&b gives even more control.